A walk through Bangkok's Khao San road, the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and other touristy sites generally results in more than a couple tuk-tuk drivers touting trips to a floating market. While many will accept their offer, there are some who shy away, not wishing to visit an overcrowded market that is filled with more tourists than locals.
My fingers are sticky and wet, and I can feel juice slowly trickling from the corner of my mouth to my chin; looking around I notice I'm not the only person who decided to eat with my hands, and I feel a sense of relief; I tend to worry about displaying bad manners when eating in a foreign country.
It's early morning and I've just walked through a gauntlet of souvenir stalls, locals setting up their wares and getting ready for the onslaught of tourists to hit. At first, I was reluctant, I'm not interested in shopping, I want to get a glimpse of local life and culture; and while souvenir hawkers represent a small sliver of a community's culture, this is not what I had in mind.
I stand on the corner of the hotel driveway, camera in hand, framing a photo of the street, and the colourful square stone houses that are creeping up the mountain. It is early morning and as a warm glow slowly stretches across the horizon I hear the faint sounds of roosters in the distance. I'm in Haïti. I let that thought sink in slowly as I start to ponder how I want to share my experiences here. Yes, there will be many photos, a few tweets, and a blog post each day, but what is the story? What will be my angle?
“Why does everyone think we eat pierogi all the time? We eat them maybe twice a year”, states my driver with a slightly annoyed tone. We’re talking about Warsaw, Poland, and food, and I've asked him what Polish dish he thinks every visitor should try during their time in Poland. As you can probably guess, pierogi seems the be the number one choice for many travellers, and who can blame them?! Pierogi are delightful. Mashed potato mixed with cheese, bacon, or onion, wrapped in a dumpling like dough, boiled or fried, and served with sour cream, fried bacon and onion. My mouth is watering just thinking about it! And while we can buy pierogi in the frozen food section of the grocery store, or buy fresh ones from a Polish or Ukrainian (There is a debate as to who invented the pierogi, Poland or Ukraine) shop, there is a part of us that want to eat pierogi in the country that made them famous.
I’ve eaten more than my share of lobsters over the years, but this was the first time I was cooking lobster at home, by myself. It’s not a big deal, you boil a little water with a whole lot of salt, cut the bands off the lobster claws - making sure your hands and the rest of your body is nowhere near the claws - before putting the lobster in the pot head first, and putting a lid on the pot. An easy process.
Mexico is one of those countries where street food is a mandatory experience. It’s home cooking at its very best, and the only way to truly discover the delights of traditional Mexican food. In other words, Mexican street food is the epitome of comfort food. And when I am not in Mexico, I find myself craving some of these foods - like I am right now!