Quirky kitchen gadgets from around the world that you might not find in the U.S.

One of the best parts about traveling is learning about new foods and how they’re prepared. On a visit to Istanbul, I drank cup after cup of tea poured from samovars, the device used to boil water and brew the beverage. It’s not something you’ll find in many homes in the U.S., and the same can be said for many other kitchen gadgets from around the world. Next time you’re planning a trip, make sure you leave some room in your suitcase for a culinary souvenir.

Thermomix – Europe, U.K., and Australia ($2,089)


We’ve written about the Thermomix, and the devotion it inspires, before. In Australia, it sells, solely through a Thermomix Consultant, for $2,089 Australian (about $1,600 U.S.). The company claims it replaces 12 other appliances, because it steams, chops, whips, mixes, emulsifies, blends, kneads, cooks, stirs, weighs, and heats. It makes soup, sauces, baby food, frozen cocktails, and a host of other recipes that also require popping the food into your oven. Read more here.

Thermomix AU Thermomix UK Thermomix Worldwide Thermomix USA

Raclette grill, Switzerland ($140)


Mmm, cheese. The French word racler means “to scrape”, and raclette is a cheese that’s used to make a Swiss, fondue-like dish using an electric tabletop grill. Trays along the sides of the grill can heat up individual portions of cheese, while the main surface can cook meats, fish, and veggies.

Amazon Williams-Sonoma

Cezve, Turkey ($14)


There’s a coffee shop in Istanbul whose name roughly translates to “so thick even the water buffalo won’t sink.” The strong, dense coffee is made from super-fine grounds, water, and, often, sugar. The small pot used to make Turkish coffee, either called a cezve or ibrik, is often made of copper or brass, with a long handle. It’s heated over low heat, and the resulting brew is served in small cups. You can order a $14 cezve from Amazon; just don’t swallow the grounds if you make it at home.


Molinillo, Mexico ($14)


If you’ve ever had Mexican hot chocolate, you’ll understand why there’s a special whisk just for the spicy drink. Carved from wood, the molinillo turns hot chocolate into a foamy concoction, with an almost cappuccino-like consistency. To use it, you hold the molinillo between your palms, insert the end into the cup of chocolate, and rub it vigorously until the liquid starts to froth. It’s $14 on Amazon, but way more authentic than using an immersion blender.


Tamale steamer, Mexico ($30)


Hats off to anyone who tackles homemade tamales; it requires both time and effort. But a tamale steamer can make things a little easier. It looks much like any large stainless steel or aluminum pot with a lid but it has something extra inside: a removable rack or basket with holes that holds the tamales a few inches above the hot water. Without the basket, you can use the steamer as a traditional stockpot as well.


Tagine, North Africa ($32)


Get ready to drool. Found in countries such as Morocco and Tunisia, clay tagines are conical pots that are perfect for making stews (known as tagines) and couscous. While it cooks slowly over low heat, the dome-shaped top helps funnel steam back to the dish, meaning less water is required for cooking. Lamb, chicken, and fish tagines are full of spices and veggies. Excited to try some recipes?


Jaffle Iron, South Africa and Australia ($18)


Modern jaffle irons are basically sandwich toasters, but originally they were hinged plates, either round or square, joined to a long stick. The idea was that you stick bread and fixings inside, clamp it up, then grill yourself a sandwich over a fire. It was an Australian, John O’Brien, who — inspired by jaffle irons — imported sandwich toasters from Belgium in the 1970s and sold them through his company, Breville. Of course, these versions aren’t conducive to camping trips, but you can snag an old-school version for $18 on Amazon.



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