Malawian Rice Vendor

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Amazing cuisines

Traveling can be an assault on all of the senses.  We are so fortunate to have all of our senses and be able to travel.  We have our eyes and have been able to see such magnificent sights and bear witness to the happenings of daily life around this magic sphere.  The Taj Mahal and Macchu Picchu come instantly to mind.  Our sense of smell has been affronted not only by the spice markets in Marrakesh but to the fresh baked baguettes all around France.  Of course we have been confronted by the stench throughout India.  Our hearing has been soothed by the slow hum of the prayer wheels being turned in Nepal and by the fishermen singing as they head out to sea from the sandy shores of Thailand.  Our sense of touch has been peaked by the soft feel of the silk carpets in Istanbul or of the touch of a young lama in Bolivia.  But without a doubt , my favorite sense is the sense of taste.  I'll be the first to admit I LOVE TO EAT!!  Coming from the USA, we are overly priviledged to have an abundance of just about every type of food imaginable.  Portland is no exception and we are able to shop 24/7 or to frequent many restaurants both day and night.  The USA is known for the ubiquitous hamburger along with many regional cuisines including cajun food in Louisiana, gigantic pastrimi and corned beef sandwiches in New York, Tex Mex in our Southwestern states and incredible Cuban cuisine in Miami, just to name a few.  However, food overseas is a whole other incredible story.  From the thin crepes of Belgium to the polshers of Denmark, tapas in Spain or Spanikopita in Greece, one could easily spend a lifetime eating their way through Europe.  Food in Latin America is also quite tasty, whether it is the tropical fruits of Honduras or the moles of Mexico, it doesn't get much better than that.  Let me not forget the Thali plates of India and falafel bars in Israel which make my mouth water just thinking about them.  My absolute favorite region in the world has to be SE Asia.  The street food there is some of the best tasting food I have ever had the pleasure to enjoy. Whether it be Singapore with its array of Chinese grills offering everything from Peking Duck or lo mein to noodles in a hoison sauce to my personal favorite, Georgetown Peneng, Malasia, where three food cultures descend upon the food scene.  Chinese, Indian, and Malay all with flavors that melt in one's mouth from the fresh indian chapatis and currys to a huge bowl of malay noodles with lemon grass and prawns , each and every street corner seems to have a new succulent delight.   I have to laugh at Erika because every time we pass through bangkok she turns into a ravenous, crazed person totally ignoring me and concentrating on eating as much of the street food she can possibly fit into her flat stomach.  As she works her way down the street from the calamari filled phad thai to the boat noodles in red curry, she does not relent while concentrating on finding both banana pancakes and fresh fruit on a skewer.  It is fun to watch as she tries to sample the various soups and rice dishes usually all within one walk around the block.  Yes, being able to savour the various flavors from around the world is quite a treat.  Things here in Southern Africa are a little different though.  In Africa people eat more just to fill up than to enjoy specific enticing flavors.  We have found over the last month and a half that there truly is not a lot of variety in the food here.  From Zambia to Malawi the staple food is either Nshima, white rice or fried potatos.  Needless to say, with all the starch groups represented, Jeff's blood sugars are racing.  Nshima is a dish served breakfast, lunch and dinner.  It is basically corn meal mixed with water served as a paste that could easily be used as mortar for brickwork for that's the way it hits your stomach.  We have found that although we are in the tropics there is not a lot of fresh fruit or vegetables to be had.  The only thing we have an abundance of at the moment are tomatoes and more tomatoes.........and more tomatoes.... so, both Erika and I have had our share of Nshima, rice and of course tomatoes.  What I wouldn't give for some of that Ecuadorian cuy (guniea pig) just about now.........

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