Travel Souvenirs – Edible Mementos from my Solo Trips

There are a couple of travel souvenirs which I have a tendency to buy more often than not, when I travel to someplace new. Years ago I collected coffee mugs from everywhere I traveled but the collection was getting to be too large and I moved too often to keep lugging all those ceramic mugs around with me. Goodwill inherited my souvenir coffee mug collection several years ago. While backpacking in Asia I began to collect handmade earrings as my souvenir and gift item for friends & family.

The other thing that I have a tendency to buy is chocolate. I love dark chocolate. I buy dark, delicious chocolate both as a souvenir for myself and occasionally, if I have the will power to resist keeping it all to myself, as a treat for friends.

Did you know that dark chocolate releases the same endorphins in the brain as when one is in love? That is why I refer to chocolate as my boyfriend. Every day around mid-afternoon I select a square of dark chocolate to be consumed with either a cup of aromatic chai tea or a demitasse espresso. Endorphins dance in my brain.

I prefer chocolate with at least 80 percent cacao but that is not always available so I will settle for 60 percent or better.

While on a day trip from Barcelona to do some hiking at Montserrat I rewarded myself for the hours of hiking with a couple of big bars of 70 percent chocolate, purchased from one of the shops on the mountain. No I did not eat the while bar all at once, I stuck with my one square of chocolate per day habit.

 

Edible travel souvenirs and mementos - dark chocolate from Montserrat

Edible souvenirs – Montserrat 70 percent cacao dark chocolate

 

On my first visit to my father’s hometown of Ottawa Ontario I found a wonderful shop called Thyme & Again in Wellington West neighborhood that carried a variety of chocolate bars from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker, in Almonte, Ontario. I loved their label design. Delicious chocolate! Handcrafted in the Ottawa Valley, Canada. These single origin organic cacao dark chocolate bars would make a great gift for chocolate loving friends. Evidently I am a greedy dark chocolate hoarder, for I kept these all to myself! I did bring back several boxes of Canadian maple sugar candies as souvenirs for friends and clients.

 

Travel souvenirs - edible mementos make great gift items for friends and family - Hummingbird Chocolate Makers - hand-crafted single origin organic cacao

Ottawa Hummingbird Chocolate Maker dark chocolate single origin organic cacao

 

Dark chocolate single origin organic cacao from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker in Almonte ON Canada

Ottawa Hummingbird Chocolate Maker labels with tasting notes and ingredients

 

The inner side of the label from Hummingbird Chocolate Maker explains the process of making chocolate directly from the cacao beans. Note the ingredients list consists of only three items: cacao, organic cane sugar, and cocoa butter.

Last year I opted to spend Thanksgiving in Mexico City and I loved it! It is a huge city but there are so many neighborhoods that are walkable. The metro system in Mexico City is the cheapest I have ever seen – about 38 cents per trip. The abundance of amazing art museums will lure me back again. Be sure to go to Frida Kahlo Museum and Museo de Bellas Artes when you visit Mexico City!

 

Travel souvenirs of the edible variety - Tout Chocolat in trendy La Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City - delicious dark chocolate bar or buy individual chocolates

Mexico City La Condesa shop Tout Chocolat dark chocolate

 

While enjoying my first night in La Condesa neighborhood I was longing for a chocolate treat after my dinner of spicy Asian cuisine. I was surprised at how many Asian restaurants I saw in La Condesa. After a dinner of spicy shrimp and a couple of beers I was walking off my dinner and getting acquainted with my new neighborhood. Exploring La Condesa via the oval-shaped Avenida Amsterdam I made mental notes of buildings I wanted to photograph during daylight hours, but my mind was still thinking about chocolate.

A small miracle appeared along Avenida Amsterdam – Tout Chocolat was still open! I purchased a dozen single chocolates – the spicy one was my favorite – I devoured the whole lot while strolling around La Condesa. I bought a couple of dark chocolate bars for souvenirs.

Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote of the miracle of ice in his novel 100 Years of Solitude. Long before the miracle that is ice, the extraordinary magic of chocolate was revealed by the people of Mesoamerica (central Mexico to Central America). The word chocolate is derived from the Aztec language – xocolātl was the word for their cacao drink.

According to the Mayo Clinic, dark chocolate may help reduce the risk factors associated with heart disease. An article appearing on the Cleveland Clinic lists the health benefits of chocolate, including antioxidants and flavonoids.

Not only do I receive the endorphin effect from eating dark chocolate every day, turns out it is good for me too!

About the Author

Susan Moore’s first solo travel experience was traveling around SE Asia for 7 months in 1993. It was life changing and extraordinary. Currently Susan is living a nomadic life, working and roadtripping around the USA and Canada. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook
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27 Comments

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  1. Love all the rationales for eating chocolate because I’m a chocoholic! It’s amazing how many countries pride themselves on their chocolate. Curiously, when we recently visited China, a tour guide warned me NOT to be it. She said it would taste terrible. I’d probably be a lot thinner if I lived in China :-)

    • Susan Moore says:

      Chocolate is a gift from the gods! I swear I need my mid-afternoon chocolate fix each day, or I start to feel somewhat agitated. Espresso and dark chocolate go together so well :)

  2. Nancie says:

    I love your one square a day habit. I’m not sure I would do that! However, after reading the health virtues of dark chocolate I might have to at least try! Chocolate in Korea is not good. Most (probably all of it is imported) and you take the chance of it being white (from age) when you open it. I do bring back food when I travel. When I was in Budapest I bought tins of fois gras, and that was soooooo good. I always load up with maple syrup and blueberry syrup (among other things) when I’m in Nova Scotia.

    • Susan Moore says:

      Nancie, good to know – I shall bring a stash of my dark chocolate when I visit Korea so I can have my mid-day fix. Maple syrup is so good on waffles, and blueberry syrup yum!

  3. Donna Janke says:

    Years ago, when I travelled I liked to bring back something for the house as a souvenir – a picture or wall hanging or a piece of pottery, for example. I am no longer collecting things and don’t bother with souvenirs like this anymore. Chocolate sounds better. I too like dark chocolate, although I don’t think I’m as disciplined as you to stick to one square a day.

    • Susan Moore says:

      If I didn’t stop at one square I think I would eat the whole darn thing! I’m big on consumable gifts these days – people already have so much stuff and I travel light so I don’t have room to bring back souvenirs all the time. Now it’s just photos and stories, and some chocolate, when I find the good stuff.

  4. Chocolate as a souvenir is an excellent idea for you and I am sure your friends and family appreciate it too!! I enjoyed learning about all the great places to buy chocolate too.

  5. I’m a big chocolate lover too and taste it wherever we go. I try to get organic 85% when I can. I tasted 90% in Mexico- it was so dense. If you ever get to Santa Fe- we have a place that specializes in Mayan-style chocolate elixirs. Delish!

    • Susan Moore says:

      Thanks for the tip on the chocolate elixirs in Santa Fe, I’m overdue for a visit to New Mexico!
      I’m with you on the 85 percent cacao and organic – perfect with a cortado! I have tried the 90 percent too but there are few brands to choose from in that category.

  6. Talk about justifying your chocolate addiction. And you know what, I believe everything you have told me and will try and up my intake – purely for my health and well being

    • Susan Moore says:

      Absolutely right Paula! You must make an effort to improve your health and well being, get out there and find some dark chocolate to get those endorphins dancing along and keep your heart in top shape.

  7. I think this is a fine and civilized policy of yours regarding souvenirs. Ensuring you acquire only the highest quality by utilizing comparative measures and taste-testing regularly is the responsible way to travel. :)

  8. noel says:

    wonderful post and chocolate tours, those are such beautiful bars, I would really hate to even open them.

  9. I too love and seek out dark local chocolates when I travel. I like to have mine with a full bodied red wine. Unfortunately, some of that chocolate comes home as “souvenirs” on my hips!

  10. While we were in Central America we learned how chocolate is made – bean to bar – and had a chance to make our own individual bars. Nicaragua and Costa Rica both produce some fabulous chocolate and my favorite is mixed with just a hint of chili pepper for a wonderful contrast. Unfortunately, I don’t have the willpower to stop at a square a day… !

    • Susan Moore says:

      That would be fun to learn how the chocolate is made. I have tried chocolate with chili pepper – yummy! I think I need to go travel all around the chocolate making regions of the world and do a tasting tour. Research expedition :)

  11. Ooooooooh…..chocolate. Yup, you had me at chocolate.

  12. Sue Reddel says:

    I love the idea of edible mementos as souvenirs from travels. We often pick up local cook books or sauces but chocolate is even better! Thanks for sharing this terrific souvenir idea.

  13. Susan Moore says:

    I have a few cookbooks from travels as well – that’s another great souvenir idea, AND I can’t eat the book instead of give it to someone :)

  14. Anita says:

    Edible souvenirs are definitely the way to go…the problem with chocolate (for me) is that it never makes it home! I’ll keep practicing though, and perhaps one day, that will happen :-)

  15. Shelley says:

    I agree that edible travel souvenirs are the best! And nothing beats chocolate :) My daughter has the same chocolate habit as you – a dark chocolate square a day, and the higher cocoa content the better.

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