Articles in Food Culture
Portugal is known for its pastries. The most famous is the pastéis de nata. The original version of the famed pastéis de nata dessert was created more than 200 years ago. If you are in the Belem district of Lisbon and see a line of eager people as the author of this piece did, they’re likely waiting outside Café de Belém, better known as the Pastéis de Belém, home of the pastries and where 19,000 are sold on an average day.
Entering Wieliczka Salt Mine is like being transported into another world. A unreal, mystical, subterranean nether-world. Salt mining started here in the 13th century. Not surprisingly if a little eerily, the adventures, the stories, the lives of men and women who have lived and worked (and sometimes died) here, deep in the bowels of the earth, infuse the place. You feel it, sense it — or at least I did — as you descend after entering. As you climb down, down, down the narrow wooden stairwell into a nether world of caverns and tunnel-paths and overhangs. Small wonder this UNESCO Heritage Site is one of Poland’s top tourist attractions.
Plentiful: The Big Book of Buddha Food (Jacana) is the Buddhist Retreat Center’s third cookbook. Plentiful was launched at Adams Bookstore in Durban by journalist and longtime Zen student Wanda Hennig. Plentiful’s chef is Paul Atkinson. Editor is Chrisi van Loon. Photographer is Angela Shaw.
Pudding and Prana had us do a lot of yoga with Amy Best and cooking demos (followed by eating) with Paul Atkinson. Vegetarian curries and a Moroccan stew. A beet and feta salad. A “bejeweled’ cous cous. Poached pears in a yummy rich chocolate baked pie topped with whipped cream blended with double-cream yogurt. All were recipes he had perfected while working in the Buddhist Retreat Center kitchen and were destined for Plentiful: The Big Book of Buddha Food (Jacana).
On her “roots” and culinary travel trip to Poland, Wanda Hennig comes to appreciate her vodka-pouring hosts, learns about nalewka — a traditional vodka-like drink infused with herbs, fruit, and/or spices — first at Krakow’s legendary Cafe Jama Michalika and later at upscale seasonally-inspired Pod Baranem restaurant (among other places). Not surprisingly, she comes home with the T-shirt…
I sign up for the free two-and-a-half hour Doha bus tour; the 4pm run. The 100-year-old market is the highlight. The women encouraging us to try spoons of their brayani and other cooked food offerings — in heat that could probably melt my Crocs if I left them out for half an hour. Offering me tissues to dab at my face. Alarmed that I am sweating because they don’t seem to.
Search and you will find. No need in fact to search. Just take a walk and chances are you’ll find a market. Fresh and local. The equivalent but down-home and just-how-it’s-always-been version of the San Francisco Ferry Plaza Saturday farmer’s market.
I believe home is where the heart is, and we carry our hearts with us, like our breath, so anywhere and everywhere is home. And being “at home” on the move has a sense of adventure while “home” in the conventional sense comes with duties and suchlike.
The strips of texture, it turns out, that I thought might be strips of mushroom, is young bamboo, grated. There are mushrooms. There is onion, red chili and spring onion, a mix of intense and subtle flavors. The rice noodle roll is somehow sensual in texture; the fish plump and decadently fatty and warm. Perhaps another nine on the mouth orgasm scale.
Old Phuket Town is cool to roam and the outdoor market is is a great lunchtime spot. I relish my final days of “freedom,” which is what traveling typically feels like. Not like I am not free at home. But traveling, I am free from most commitments, I guess. And there is freedom of seeing so much and doing so much when it doesn’t feel like doing but like “being” in a novel place.