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4 reasons why new food is awesome

3 Aug

1) New food is a hot commodity

You can’t get new food anywhere. I mean, c’mon, I’ve had a lot of food in my life. It’s not every day I can get my hands on something I’ve never tasted!

2) It’s exciting and mysterious

I love surprises. I love not knowing what something will taste like, or even what’s all in it. The thrill of experiencing the hustle and bustle of a new city is on par to tasting that city’s specialty dish (mmm!).

The meal on my flight to Japan might have been more mysterious than exciting…

3) You can more fully experience small details

Think of meeting a someone new. You say hello, shake hands, maybe ask a few general questions. Five minutes into your conversation, you’ve judged whether or not you like them. If you do, you talk longer and discover a smidgen of their past, their favorite places to hang out and other details that make them unique. Accordingly, when you spy a new food, you scope it out. Give it a cautious sniff and inspect its ingredients. Then you take a bite. If you like it, you eat more, and as you do, you experience its notes of flavor fully and form adjectives for certain characteristics of it in your mind. Granted, you might learn more about a food each time you eat it, but that first bite has your total attention, allowing you to fully enjoy the details.

4) It tells about a country’s identity

In nearly every culture, meals are a time for community. What get-together doesn’t have food in the mix? A lame one, believe you me. If you want to call up that friend you haven’t seen awhile, you ask her to meet you for coffee or at a deli. Why? Food lightens the mood. We’ve been trained to associate food with good feelings (aka, coffee and friendship). Since food is such an important part of everyones’ lives, the things a person eats tells you a bit about them.

I’m not sure what this snack says about me…

Why do you enjoy new food?

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Yogurt is taking over the world

12 Apr

A few weeks ago, I told you about the world’s (and my!) coffee obsession. Today we’ll learn about another food item that spread all around the world. Yogurt! Although yogurt doesn’t exactly cause as much excitement as coffee, I, for one, love it.

My yogurt adoration picked up steam when I got a job at Pinkberry. Every time I worked a shift, I was allowed one free cup of frozen yogurt. It was my first experience with tart yogurt, although I was a moderate fan of Yoplait at the time, which is more sweet and fruity.

Another factor in my yogurt love was my five-month stint in Eastern Europe. A normal breakfast drink there is creamy tart yogurt. When I returned home, I missed it so much that I made my own jogurt. Essentially, that entails boiling pasteurized milk, mixing it with live active culture yogurt and letting it sit out for 12 hours. My mom thought I was going to die.

One of my favorite breakfasts - yogurt parfait!

After researching several countries through this blog, I found out a lot of other people are crazy about yogurt too! In fact, it’s next to impossible to go anywhere in the world where they do not consume yogurt.

Here are some interesting varieties of this delicious, nutritious food item:

Iceland

Called skyr, Icelandic yogurt is strained of all its water content to create a thicker consistency (it’s similar to Greek yogurt, which has become popular in the U.S.).

West Sumatra

Dadih yogurt is made from water buffalo milk and fermented in bamboo tubes.

Tibet

Tibetan yogurt is made from yak milk!

The Balkans

Jogurt is often made into cold soup with cucumber, olive oil, salt or dill. It’s usually a side dish.

Jordan

Jordanians salt their yogurt, dry it into chunks and call it jameed.

India

Raita is yogurt seasoned with cilantro, mint or other herbs and mixed with vegetables such as cucumber and onions. The mixture is served chilled and works as an antidote for spicy Indian dishes.

Japan

This doesn’t really count, but I had to include it. Pepsi came out with a new flavor of cola that they sold only in Japan. It was called Pepsi White, “pepsi and yogurt flavor.” This didn’t catch on. I wonder why…

Do any of these international yogurts catch your eye (or stomach)?

Visiting Belgium through “french” fries

8 Mar

I could eat all of these by myself

French fries are a highly debated food item. Because of the name, you would think they originated in France, but Belgium, Spain, and Great Britain have all laid claim to their origin as well.

I think Belgium is the mostly likely contender, so today we explore Belgium! It’s a small country between France and Germany, often called a crossroads of Western Europe and a melting pot of cultures. You can see this clearly by Belgium’s multiple languages. Northern Belgians speak French, while southern inhabitants speak Dutch and central inhabitants speak a mix. A smaller group in the east speak German.

Belgium boasts of the best chocolate and beer in the world as well as premium fries. Food is a huge part of the culture, and there are more than 5,000 frietkot (fry shops) in the country! Not to mention the fry museum and the chocolate museum. Mmm!

Another attraction of Belgium is the deep history. In Wallonia, one of the French-speaking cities, visitors have the opportunity to take a route to the past by going from villages to monuments to museums, all commemorating World War II.

Belgium has more castles per square mile than anywhere else in the world. Imagine living in Belgium and passing four or five castles on your morning run. Just another day for the average Belgian, where modern cities are situated side-by-side with rural villages.

I also found a couple unique things about Belgium. First is the Chinese pavilion located in Brussels. Oriental architecture is not something you expect in Western Europe! Another is called the Atomium. It’s a huge structure made of tubes and spheres that you can walk through. As a musician, I found the Musical Instrument Museum interesting as well. They feature more than 1,200 instruments, both antique and modern.

But, back to food…if Belgians are truly responsible for french fries, I am thankful to them! Whether fries are curly, steak-sliced, spicy or made out of sweet potato, I am a fan. I don’t know why I didn’t try making them until recently! It’s simple enough if you have the time to wash, peel, dry and slice potatoes. True Belgian fries are then deep-fried in fat, but I used a big pot of vegetable oil instead. For some reason, I just couldn’t make myself buy fat, and I think I’m OK with that!

Slightly random info: while researching the french fry, I came across some interesting history about the potato. Until a few hundred years ago, most of the world considered potatoes inedible. They were thought to cause leprosy or other diseases. In some cases this could have been true, as eating potatoes raw is dangerous. However, the danger of potatoes was exaggerated, and even today, school-aged kids in Europe believe eating a raw potato will give them a high enough fever to skip school over!

So I’m curious – where did you eat the best french fries you’ve ever tasted? (it doesn’t have to be outside the U.S.)