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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?

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 Peru through picarones

5 Apr

A plateful of picarones

My sweet tooth has been on fire recently. I don’t know if it’s the pollen or the extra sunshine, but right now key lime pie sounds as good for lunch as a juicy hamburger! Maybe that’s why I found myself Googling international dessert recipes. An intriguing pastry from Peru caught my eye: a sort of sweet potato doughnut called a picarone.

Basically, to make picarones, you whip up some sweet potatoes and butternut squash (yes, squash in your doughnuts!), and then add yeast and flour to create dough. All you have to do after that is fry ‘em up! It’s traditional to also top your picarones with syrup, but plain maple won’t do. This syrup has a brown sugar base, with a surprising citrus aftertaste due to added lime zest and cloves.

My picarones were good, but they were just a teaser. Now I want to go sample the real thing! When I chose to blog about Peru, I found out that I knew next to nothing about this country except for a vague notion of something called Machu Picchu. I’m glad I got the opportunity to learn about this absolutely gorgeous country!

If for no other reason, I would love to go to Peru just to hike. Mountainous Peru provides breathtaking scenery no matter what part of the country you visit. The famous Inca Trail leads from Cuzco to the legendary Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. The four-day hike through the Sacred Valley is not the only way to get there, and other routes are shorter and less strenuous. However, the beauty of the Inca trail is that, by the time you reach your destination, you appreciate it much more than if you had taken a short walk or car ride.

Tired of ancient ruins (ha!)? Then head to Manu National Park! The park, located in the Amazon Basin, is off-limits to visitors except for those led by an official tour guide. Having read and watched countless books and movies about the alluring, dangerous Amazon, I would take a tour in a heartbeat. Since tourists are scarce, nature thrives. The jungle is home to animals such as giant otters, black caimans, jaguars, sloths, wild pigs and thousands of colorful birds.

Peru is also home to the mysterious Nazca Lines, giant stone drawings with shapes that can be seen only from the air. Many historians have tried to explain how and why the Nazca people created the massive expressions of art. The most likely theory is that the drawings were a tribute to Nazca gods. Whatever the reason, these drawings are compelling.

I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Peru (and eating a Peruvian snack!). What feature attracts you most about Peru?