We spent a few days in La Paz, Bolivia after our awesome salt flat tour, and every day we’d walk through a market near the hotel to find the woman who made these pastries. She’d be there bright and early with fresh sugary goodness for us to try. We must have eaten dozens of these treats over the span of four days. Delicious!
Mmmm….fried bugs. You can find carts full of fried bugs all over SE Asia. Apparently they are not only filling, but can be really healthy for you. Some seem like they’d be more horrible to eat than others (see the giant cockroach?) whereas others are so crispy that they just taste like a very well done french fry. One thing I didn’t know about eating bugs is that in Thailand, most of these critters are raised in captivity for the sole purpose of being sold as snacks. Yum!
We could not find a decent cup of drip coffee to save our lives in Australia or New Zealand. Down under, they are all about the ‘long black’ or the ‘flat white’ or any other variety of fancy espresso based coffee, non of which really satisfied my need for a basic morning cup of black sludge. That said, they really have perfected the art of the fancy coffee, as evidenced by the multitude of patterns you are sure to discover in your milk foam at any decent coffee shop. We particularly liked this one, the New Zealand silver fern.
For some reason, bananas have been pretty expensive in parts of New Zealand. It seems like they might grow well here, so it’s a tad confusing. In any case, it made me think of the time we were walking through this huge market in Mysore, India. It’s hard to tell just from this picture, but this entire section was filled with bananas, including the three sections behind this, and all the stalls opposite of it. Seriously, there were millions of them. I kept thinking, “How can they possibly sell all these before they rot?”
When Justin and I were living in NYC we spent many a Saturday afternoon sucking down gin martinis and eating mussels at a little restaurant just around the corner from our apartment. Unfortunately, mussels aren’t usually in our backpacker budget, so we were thrilled to be passing through Havelock, New Zealand (the green lipped mussel capital of the world!) where mussels are a dime a dozen. Ok, so not really a dime a dozen, but about $3.50 per kilo. That’s $3.5 for more than two pounds of mussels. Big ones. Fresh ones. Delicious ones.
We wasted no time hitting up the local vendors and were steaming up a massive batch for dinner at our campsite. We may have done this for three nights in a row. It was amazing.
Thanksgiving arrives a little earlier here in Australia, so we’re busy stuffing our faces even though it’s really still just Wednesday for most of our friends and family. This is my favorite of the American holidays, so much so that I requested that my mother make the full turkey feast for us on Halloween in 2011 since we were leaving just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. We sat around the table with construction paper caps – Pilgrim buckled hats for the men, feathered headdresses for the women – and took turns answering the door for the trick-or-treaters.
Just a few weeks later we were preparing our favorites again with friends in Santiago, thrilled that we got to have a second traditional turkey dinner with expats who craved the stuffing and cranberries just as much as we did.
This year we’re in Melbourne, Australia and we’ll probably have enough food left over to have seconds for breakfast on Friday morning, which might coincide nicely with the actual meal time state side.
All month we’ve been reading the ‘Today I’m thankful for…’ posts of our friends and family on Facebook. One of the side effects of all our travel has been that we realize how thankful we are, not just on Thanksgiving or in the weeks leading up to it, but every day and for all the things we tend to take for granted. We all struggle in our lives to varying degrees, but this world is filled with adversity on a scale that’s so enormous many of us can’t even fathom it. This year we’ve seen poverty in such magnitude that we thought our hearts might break on the spot. We’ve seen sickness that can’t be treated and pollution that may never be eradicated.
On the flip side, we’ve seen incredible love and generosity between people, even in the face of insurmountable hardship. We’ve also seen some of the amazing things that people can produce – towering monuments and architectural wonders, as well as art that only begins to scratch the surface of mankind’s creativity.
This year we are thankful for everything. That’s right everything. We’re thankful for the times we’ve laughed and fought and cried and sang and danced and mourned and questioned and doubted and hoped. We’re thankful for our families and our friends and even for the people who don’t like us so much. I guess what I’m trying to say is that we’re so grateful to have our messy little lives in the midst of this one crazy and beautiful world.
We’ve only been in India for a week, but already it feels like we’ve had a million food adventures! Coming from New York, you’d think we would have more experience with this cuisine, but the truth is we really know almost nothing about Indian food. As such, we’ve been ordering at random every time we need to eat, and we haven’t been disappointed yet! This week’s photo is thali, which is like a sampler with all kinds of different flavors. They have been our favorite because you get to taste a bunch of different things and they usually include something sweet like the honey soaked ball of bread or dough or something you see in this one. Delicious!
Local markets are probably my favorite place to spend time in a new city. You can learn an incredible amount about local culture by wandering around the market and seeing what’s for sale, which usually includes everything from local produce to local fashion. Jerusalem’s old city has an extensive market. Parts of it are geared nearly completely to tourism and you’ll find stall after stall of t-shirts, rugs and trinkets, BUT, if you wander off a bit down the side streets you’ll encounter the local market stalls. We passed this vendor selling spices, clearly still close to the tourist center as the labels are in English, and the smells were intoxicating. I want to bottle it up and be able to take it with me…perhaps a new flavor of scratch-and-sniff is in order?
This week I don’t have the most spectacular or artistic of photos, but it’s something that’s been very representative of our time in Turkey. Turkey is the only country in the world that produces enough fruits and vegetables to feed its entire population. The only one! I am pretty amazed by that, and it certainly explains both the quantity and quality of fruits and veggies we’ve encountered here. You can get a kilo (that’s more than 2 pounds!) of cherries or apricots for about 1.75…it’s unreal. Breakfasts consist of tomato, cucumber, cheese, olives, bread, honey and in some places we also get huge slices of watermelon.
I’ve never seen tomatoes this consistently magnificent anywhere else in the world. I kid you not, every veggie stand we pass has crates and crates of the most perfectly ripe tomatoes. They don’t ever seem to be bruised, or picked too early, or worm infested. I buy them sometimes just to eat whole, like an apple. Mmmmmm.
After what felt like a million hours of travel, and a near fiasco at JFK airport where we were told that we weren’t actually booked on a flight to Turkey (to which I replied “well we better be, because you took my money two months ago for that ticket”), we managed to make it to this fantastic eastern capital of Istanbul (or Constantinople?).
Totally randomly, two different sets of people we know from our ‘real lives’ back home are here at the same time as us! We met up with one of them tonight for a lovely traditional dinner and ice cream before they had to leave to jet back to NYC and I have to say, there is a real danger of me gaining 100 pounds here. The food is delicious! Loads of eggplant, an abundance of lamb, olives galore. The only downside so far is that most things are sprinkled with pistachio, which I am allergic to. I’ve already taken to carrying around a little note in Turkish that reads “I am VERY allergic to nuts!” to try and avoid any mishaps.
We’re excited to start exploring this part of the world and we hope you continue to follow us as we make our way through the Middle East and into Asia!