Mother’s Day is coming up, and the annual conundrum of how to make mom feel special is gnawing at us, especially now, when we’re either unable to shower her with hugs and kisses thanks to social distancing, or we live too far away to visit anyway. But what better way to show love than through the stomach? We’ve got your guide to the best culinary gifts mom could ever ask for:
Bouquet with a Bonus
The traditional bouquet is of course always appreciated, but what about pairing that with a nice bottle of something? Champagne, Prosecco, or other sparkling wine will add both sparkle and bubble to your floral greeting. Depending on her tastes, you might alternately send your mom a sweet wine, also known as dessert wines, such as those famously made in Bordeaux – a “Sauternes” or “Barsac.” With notes of apricot, peach and honey, Bordeaux Sweets are often called “nectar of the gods.” Well-made sweet wines strike a balance between sugar, acidity, and alcohol and exude a complexity of aroma and texture – love at first sip!
For the Hostess-with-the-Mostest
If your mom likes kitchen gadgets that she could actually use, there are many handy options. For cutting herbs quickly, I use a half-moon shaped mezzaluna chopper, a semi-circular blade with two handles that chops herbs and small things like garlic in no time. I use it almost daily for chopping rosemary and thyme. Also, in the sharp utensils category, would be a chef’s knife – everybody loves a new knife in the kitchen, and/or a honing rod, used to hone knives. The French tend to not give knives as gifts, as there is a superstition about “cutting the relationship,” but when I recently took a chef’s knife as a gift to my chef-host in France, he was delighted!
Anyone who spends time in the kitchen will also relish a new, high quality pot or pan. More specifically, Staub or Le Creuset Dutch ovens, enameled in beautiful colors and made of cast iron, are a joy to cook with. They come in every size and shape and look beautiful on the stove or as a centerpiece on the dinner table. Both brands make lovely cast iron and porcelain casserole dishes as well, at varying price points.
Etsy, an online shop in which artisans sell their handcrafted wares, has many options from beauty creams to paper products and everything in between. Several vendors offer kitchen towels printed with a scan of your favorite hand-written recipe from your mom or Grandmother. In general, no home cook will refuse a nice kitchen towel, such as a French Jacquard, whether personalized or not, and whether to use it or display in the kitchen.
Hand-Curated Cheese Boards
For moms who love cheese, try ordering a gourmet cheese platter of French cheeses online, such as from igourmet.com or from a local creamery or cheese shop. Better yet, design one yourself, sourcing the ingredients at your local Whole Foods or other gourmet cheese purveyor, and drop it off in person (from a safe distance) if you are located close enough to your mom. And if you are making the platter yourself, order a nice wooden cutting board and/or cheese knife ahead of time, decorate the board with the cheeses and knife and garnish with grapes and/or fresh herbs of rosemary or thyme. Add a jar of fig or cherry spread, a jar of olives or cornichons (mini pickles), or some charcuterie to the platter for variety, and voilà! You have shown your love for her and your creativity with a custom cheese board! Personally, as a mom, I am secretly hoping for a copy of French chef Jacque Pépin’s book, Essential Pépin. For my own mom, I might take my own advice and get creative with a cheese board while there’s still time. Shhh, don’t tell her!
Tania Teschke is a writer and photographer who is passionate about French food and wine and is the author of The Bordeaux Kitchen,: An Immersion into French Food and Wine, Inspired by Ancestral Traditions. Tania has learned from cooks, butchers, chefs, and winemakers in France and holds a diploma in wine science and tasting from the University of Bordeaux. Tania continues to explore the deep connection the French have to their land, their cultural heritage, and to the nutritional density of their foods.