Tag Archives: Food

Embracing Flaky, Turkish Pastries and Gluttony at Dawn

Burek in Cappadocia

A rogue wind swept past the street and left my teeth clattering. My hands were numb, and I couldn’t feel my feet. March in Cappadocia can be unforgiving, especially for someone from the plains of southern India. I was in dire need of a warm cup of coffee.

We had been up early that morning, hot-air ballooning. It was magical; we soared precariously over fairy chimneys against a gloomy dishwater sky that miraculously turned a tinge of fiery orange as the first rays of the sun strained its way in. Once we touched ground, we trudged through ankle-deep snow, and took a swig of the celebratory champagne on offer (it was, unfortunately, non-alcoholic), after which we ambled over to the neighboring town of … Read the rest

Australian Underground

While crossing the Simpson Desert in the center of Australia in 2015, our van got a flat tire. It looked like we were in the middle of nowhere, but we began to wander around and discovered an underground church. We walked down a red carpet into this surreal place that was devoid of people. Seven or eight candles were still burning. Everything was clean and organized. I immediately knew I wanted to stay here longer.

We walked around the streets for five days without finding a soul. We rambled for hours with our faces covered in dust and the dry heat burning our cheeks. I felt the loneliness and the immensity of the vast desert land.

Drilling machines used to mine oil create mounds of … Read the rest

Putting Milk in Turkish Coffee Is Completely Wrong

Coffee in Istanbul

I had come down with bronchitis on the Turkish coast two days before, so exploring the treasures of Istanbul in 100-degree weather was more ordeal than fun. The heat was unbearable, and the medicine I had been prescribed was taking its time to kick in. All I wanted was to sit in some shade, feel the breeze on my face, and do nothing.

As I daydreamed about the perfect rest spot, we saw an ancient cemetery with neat gravestones and bushy trees. The gate was open, so we entered, not so much to admire the architecture as to cool off. Then I heard distant chatter, a mixture of laughter and high tones, not the silent murmuring I expected to hear among the tombs. … Read the rest

The Greasy American Dream, Wrapped in Newspaper

‘American’ noodles in Kuala Lumpur

Most mornings in Kuala Lumpur, it’s bearably cool and there is a mild level of activity around the neighborhood. You see shopkeepers setting up shop in the wet markets. You watch the silver-haired aunty next door perambulate around the neighborhood. You hear the myna bird singing her good mornings in the distance.

Growing up, weekday mornings meant the harried rush to school without breakfast, my father waiting tight-lipped in the Jeep for my sister and I. But weekend mornings meant traipsing downstairs at 9 a.m. to see what Phor Phor—my grandmother—had brought for breakfast from the wet market. I always hoped for nasi lemak. I especially loved the one that came with a side of mutton rendang, the most … Read the rest

Always Eat the Fish Eye At the Bottom of the Bowl

Fish broth in Barranquilla

It’s Carnival in Barranquilla. There are marimondas, negritas Puloy, ITALgarabatos, monocucos, and many other traditional figures joyfully wandering in every street. There is dancing in all the ways the locals know: cumbia, mapalé, chandé, fandango, porro, merecumbé, bullerenge. There are kids, adults, pets, houses, and cars dressed up in colorful costumes.

A very well-organized recocha (which Urban Dictionary defines as “to be disorderly in the name of fun”) reigns in the town. There also is, of course, lots of alcohol involved. It’s been like that for more than a century, so the mayor and the police have agreed to make an exception from the recent national law that forbids the consumption of … Read the rest

From Feeding Gods in the Temple to Mortals in the City

My favorite place to eat in Mumbai is A. Rama Nayak’s Udupi Sri Krishna Boarding, a real mouthful of a name for a simple place. Set in a leafy South Indian enclave called King’s Circle, Rama Nayak’s occupies a pair of bright, breezy rooms up a flight of stairs in a nondescript building next to the Matunga Central railway station. Crowded, Formica-topped tables flank narrow aisles patrolled by a small army of lungi-clad kitchen attendants who ladle food relentlessly from small metal pails onto banana-leaf plates until you tell them to please-god-stop.

The food is simple, unchanged since the restaurant first opened its doors in 1942. Set lunches and dinners rotate through the week. You’ll get chutneys and bright-red mango pickle and a little … Read the rest

The Universal Struggle to Get to the Bar Before Happy Hour Ends

Wine in Amman

It is 5 p.m. in Amman, and I’m frantically dialing my bank in Pakistan to complain why a transfer hasn’t gone through. My Urdu seems accented and strange, as if I haven’t spent most of my life speaking the language.

I rush out of the house. It’s a Thursday night, the start of the weekend, and I want the same ritual as that of people working in offices everywhere–to get a drink. I emerge to the beginnings of rain, and shrug on a jacket and wrap my head in a scarf. It’s April, and yet I am still dressing like early winter.

I almost run to the stop for servees cabs: the shared-taxi service that runs in older Amman neighborhoods. There’s a queue … Read the rest

Fresh, Ripe Tomatoes: the Culinary Opposite of Airport Curries

Breakfast in Cyprus

As the rosy-red flesh of tomatoes basked in the light streaming through the stone-and-timber window frame, I could sense Karen’s reluctance as she mentally prepared herself for that first bite.

Less than 48 hours earlier we were in the U.K., slack jaws mechanically processing a lukewarm airport curry, a flaccid coda to our exploration of Scotland’s bonnie but slightly stodgy shores.

The tiny, cobblestoned village of Vavla, in Cyprus, was our new home, and we were hoping for something, anything, to resuscitate our neglected taste buds.

Over mugs of hot coffee, we could hear our hosts Donna Marie and George nattering back and forth in the kitchen; she with her Yankee drawl, rusty from disuse, he with his thick, gravelly, Greek-inflected English sporadically … Read the rest

Diamonds Aren’t Forever

Slate logo

TEMBO, Democratic Republic of Congo—

As the truncated rat cooks in the fire, its body slowly roasting over the smoldering logs, 30-odd diggers stand around in the sweltering midday sun. Some break boulders at the bottom of a 50-foot pit in a dry riverbed, trying to access the gravel beneath, which they hope holds hidden wealth. Others watch, talk or take shelter from the heat.

A mile upstream, the divers try their luck. In ragged, re-stitched wetsuits, young men resurface every few minutes, heaving sacks of earth from the riverbed into the hands of helpers on a patchwork flotilla of multicolored dinghies. The boats are as close to the Angolan side of the river as can be, tethered to Congo by 50-foot ropes and pale hosepipes … Read the rest

When Living in a World of Absurdities, Try Whisky

banner-5-oclock-2

South Africa’s largely peaceful transition from apartheid to democracy in 1994 was feted as a “miracle,” yet 23 years later, we are not Nelson Mandela’s “rainbow children”: race and class tensions bubble on the surface, often popping angrily into the nation’s eye like blobs of fat from a frying pork sausage.

The country’s new constitution is considered one of the most progressive globally, but the scandal-ridden administration of President Jacob Zuma appears increasingly authoritarian and unconstitutional. Zuma has also set up a shadow state of spies and intelligence networks while the repressive policing of grassroots communities who organize politically is pervasive.

These are the things we live with, but often try to drink away.

Drinking is something that South Africans—according to the World Health Organization, the … Read the rest

Ah, to Be Handed Deep-Fried Pork Skin by a Kind Stranger

Carnitas in Mexico City

The Mercado de Medellín feels like an open-air market stuffed inside an aircraft hangar. Whole baby sharks sit on ice, arranged artfully among freshly caught shrimp and starfish. Stall shelves are covered with neatly arranged apples, watermelon, plantains, and cartons of strawberries—the same brand I buy back home in Wisconsin. An entire wing is dedicated to flowers: fiery red lirios (lilies) and delicate gipsófila (baby’s breath).

The market is a cross-section of Mexico City culture, along the intersection of the traditional Roma Sur and hip Roma Norte neighborhoods. During the week it’s a sleepy, sensible grocery store. Saturday mornings are a different story.

Carnitas?”

By mid-afternoon on Friday, I had seen the carnitas vendors already beginning to set up: sharpening … Read the rest