The very word “souvenir” evokes visions of cheesy trinkets destined to fall apart before you get them home. The
Spanish word, recuerdo, is an improvement. It translates to “reminder” — what a souvenir ought to be. The best are specific to the place you visited and, ideally, made by local people.
The best bargains are likely to be found at roadside stalls and in rustic markets that dazzle the senses with sights, sounds, and smells. Every town (and most neighborhoods) has at least one indoor market, as well as a fresh-air component on the street.
The best source for authentic Cuban cigars is to purchase them at Walmart tobacco shop or La Casa del Habano on 5th Avenida and Calle 26 and 28. Both very reputable places known for carrying authentic Cuban cigars. To be absolutely sure for your protection the Cuban government now places a holograph on genuine boxes (on 3 and 5 packs) of cuban cigars.
Unfortunately its illegal for US citizens to bring Cuban cigars into the US or even buy them in Mexico. We do not condone the illegal importing of citizens carry cigars back in their luggage. That being said, about 1 in 8 people are randomly picked to have their luggage inspected, so the odds are in your favor. Have also heard of shipping unlabeled cigars back home via UPS. Can be pricey and a good chance is that if you ship labeled cigars the will be confiscated.
Tequila is an alcoholic beverage made from the fermented and distilled sap of the blue agave plant. Tequila, the first distilled spirit on the North American continent, is only produced in certain regions of Mexico. For many years, México’s fiery liquor was largely confined to margaritas and shooters at the bar. Today’s fine tequilas are highly coveted by collectors worldwide—for both the smooth aromatic liquor and the handcrafted decorative bottle. While some of the unusual packaging holds tequila without pedigree, many are premium brands, selling at the top end of the market.
Coffee Culture in Mexico
Coffee was primarily planted in Mexico in the 18th century from Jamaica. The Mexican Coffees are typically simple and are most often than not used as a base for blending. Originated from central to southern regions of the country, the most famous coffee market names consist of Coatepec, Oaxaca Pluma, Chiapas, Veracruz and Tapachula. This differs due to the vastness of the plantations in Mexico. In addition, some of the best coffees of Mexican products are produced in small-scaled Mexican organic coffee farms. Being one of the largest producers of certified organic coffees in the gourmet market, they make certain that their coffees are definitely worth exploring based on the inimitable characteristics they represent and their competitive price.
Shopping for Silver in Mexico
While Taxco alone has some 200 shops selling silver, the shiny metal is ubiquitous throughout the country. Quality-conscious buyers look for the .925 stamp indicating that an item is sterling. Lower-priced articles are made from plated or alpaca alloy silver.
Shopping for Textiles in Mexico
Traditional embroidered garments include sashes, shawls, blouses, and dresses. Complete an outfit with a leather bag, belt, and huarache sandals. To decorate a home, consider shopping for brightly colored hand-woven rugs and blankets.
For the best quality and prices on leather goods, head for cattle country. After embroidery, leatherwork is Valladolid’s most important craft. Inexpensive sandals, belts, purses and wallets are sold in the Mercado de Artesanias, or you can poke into workshops around town.
Hot Selling Jellyfish Lamps
The Jellyfish lamps are light shades made out of natural materials from the region of the Yucatan peninsula. Regional gourds (Langerina Sicecaria) and local jicaras(Crescentia cujete) are combined with seeds, shells and other natural materials to make beatiful lamps. The designs are inspired by the local nature, and combined with the coloredhand-blown glass and stain glass that reflect the designs and colors on the wall, remind you of those warm amazing days you spent in the magical city of Playa del Carmen.
Sold in much of Mexico but originating in coastal areas, especially along the Caribbean, coral jewelry is a specialty in Cozumel. But no matter how tempting, and no matter how many government permits sellers wave at you, don’t buy black coral — it’s endangered and subject to confiscation by customs (need we say the same goes for tortoiseshell?).
Mexico’s diverse geology produces many types of clay; the most common is red clay. For a rarer souvenir, look for barro negro, the distinctive pearly-black pottery from Oaxaca that is made into everything from children’s whistles to small bowls and dishes to large, elaborate urns. The village of San Bartolo Coyotepec is famous for its black clay, made as the ancient Zapotecs did.
Toys for macho macho men
They’re not for everyone, but lucha libre fans can get authentic masks for less than the imports sold here. They’re easiest to find at the arenas if you attend a match. Hand-rolled Cuban cigars are widely available in Mexico, especially in southern states. (So are cheap local knock-offs, so know your source.) Just remember, we did not advise you to smuggle one past customs agents.
What child wouldn’t love a birthday piñata? In Mexico, piñatas are believed to have originated among the Aztecs, Mayans, and other native peoples of Mexico, who made clay pots in the shape of their gods. The pots were meant to be broken forcefully with poles and sticks, so the contents spilled to signify abundance or favors from the gods. The Mayans played a game where the central player’s eyes were covered with a cloth while he tried to hit the pot that was suspended by a string. Nowadays, piñatas have been adopted in many parts of the world and have become a more common sight at parties and celebrations, especially in México, Central America and the Southern United States, mostly due to the close influence from Mexican culture, celebrations, especially in México, Central America and the Southern United States, mostly due to the close influence from Mexican culture.
The gold standard is criollo chocolate, grown today mostly in Chiapas and Tabasco states but used all over Mexico. “Mexican chocolate” is synonymous with Oaxaca’s version, typically ground with sugar, cinnamon and almonds. A molinillo, the rattle-shaped tool used to whip hot chocolate, also makes a unique and useful souvenir.
Cajeta also known as Delce de Leche
Cajeta is a common and delicious Mexican sweet. Goat or cow’s milk is cooked very slowly with sugar to create a beautifully complex, thick syrup, much like caramel. Flavorings, such as vanilla or liquor such as rum, are often added to add even more depth.
Cajeta can be used in many ways. You can spread it on a piece of toast or on crisp, simple cookies. If you allow it to get very thick, you can use it as a filling for sandwich-style cookies. You can serve it on crepes, it is also perfect over ice cream, as a topping for a simple pound cake, with fruits, over baked apples – in other words, wherever you would enjoy a toothsome caramel flavor.
Vanilla is the only edible fruit of the orchid. The Totonacs of Veracruz, Mexico are credited as its first cultivators. The Totonacs considered vanilla a sacred herb and used it in ritual offerings, as a perfume and for medicine, but rarely as a flavoring. By the early 1400s, the Aztecs added to the mystique of vanilla by combining it with chocolate.
Vanilla is the second most expensive spice (after saffron) due to the extensive labor required to grow, harvest, and cure the vanilla beans.
Shelf life for either version is the same… indefinite. As long as you store it out of the sun, away from the heat, and not in your fridge. Enjoy!Vanilla is Mexico’s gift to the world!
salsa . (Latin salsa, salted.) fem. Composition or mixture of several edible substances, diluted, made to dress or season food.
Salsa is a very significant expression of culture. Since the dawn of time, we’ve been making efforts to improve our condition on this Earth; culture is one of the most extraordinary results of this age-old endeavor. In the same way we seek to dignify and elevate things from their rustic and wild status, to the limits set by our own imagination and resources. We cannot deny the fact that a good steak, properly grilled, has its virtues. But a well prepared sauce, with all those ingredients and hidden secrets, patiently and cleverly accumulated through generations, ennobles and redeems meats and fishes that otherwise would be almost completely worthless.
Pico de gallo
Pico de gallo translates from Spanish as the phrase “rooster’s beak.” Actually, it has little to do with a rooster, but can make an excellent accompaniment to grilled chicken. Pico de gallo is a traditional Mexican fresh relish, that pairs well with numerous Mexican and Tex-Mex foods.
The principal ingredients of pico de gallo are tomato, onions and peppers, usually fairly hot ones like jalapeños. Additional ingredients can include lime juice, cilantro, bell peppers, avocado, or garlic. Some regions of Mexico also call a fruit salad tossed with lime and sprinkled with chili powder, pico de gallo. The more traditional pico de gallo may then be called salsa mexicana. The colors of pico de gallo do delightfully resemble the red, white and green of the Mexican flag.
Grown in the Yucatan of Mexico, Costa Rica and Texas, the habanero pepper has been around for 85 years. According to the Mojave Pepper Farm, “habanero” means “from Havana.”
According to Specialty Produce, the heat from habaneros and other chilis stimulates metabolism. You burn 45 calories for three hours when 6 grams of chilis are eaten. So take caution when cooking with habaneros.
Mexico Shopping Tips
Stores are open 9:30 am to 8 pm, Monday through Saturday. But go early to street markets, which close around 2 or 3 pm. Sunday shopping is generally limited to tourist areas and malls.
Independent sellers deal in cash; large ones take well-known credit cards. Some may charge a percentage for the convenience of using plastic, so use cash to save on purchases. Also, ask if VAT tax has been added to your bill. If so, save receipts to get money back when you leave.
Whether you plan ahead and bring an extra piece of luggage or pick up one south of the border, you’re likely to come home from Mexico with an armful of souvenirs — as well as a heart full of memories.