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How to Eat When you Travel

A Taste of Something Different. Enjoying local cuisine is a special part of traveling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Travelers who tend to dine on their creature comforts while otherwise being adventurous always perplex me. Why fly halfway around the globe only to eat at McDonalds? I travel specifically to sample the local flavors, explore the […]

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A Taste of Something Different.

Enjoying local cuisine is a special part of traveling that shouldn’t be overlooked. Travelers who tend to dine on their creature comforts while otherwise being adventurous always perplex me. Why fly halfway around the globe only to eat at McDonalds? I travel specifically to sample the local flavors, explore the regions’ spices and cultural specialties. The cuisine says a lot about the culture and diving head first is how I travel.

Obviously there are restrictions that I usually follow, never drink the water in Central America, avoid extreme spices and be wary of some street food. I tend to eat too much street food, but I figure if the locals eat it, why shouldn’t I? Water in third world countries in general should be avoided due to parasites that your insides might not be used to. Eating extreme spices when on a road trip is another danger all together.

Countless times I’ve been unsure about tasting something only to be completely surprised and amazed by the new flavors. Eating live octopus in Japan sounded and looked insane but once I actually did it, well, it was pretty gross, to be honest. Not everything you try will be appetizing but at least I can say that I tried it. The memory is always with me and the experience was unforgettable. Had I decided not to push my boundaries and try the still alive octopus, I don’t think the memory would last.

My travel memories are constantly awakened by smells, tastes and textures. It’s amazing how the mind connects memory and experiences. I can’t walk past a gyro shop without being reminded of my time in Greece, the aromas are so overpowering and pleasurable. Gyros are now one of my favorite dishes and I have an afternoon in Athens to thank for that.

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Rule #1:

I have a few simple rules that I live by when I travel that apply to food. First, I always eat local my first meal. You won’t find me eating at an American chain restaurant anytime soon, even if it’s in Istanbul. Instead I’ll ask my cab driver or concierge at my hotel what food I NEED to try. You’d be amazed by how many suggestions you’ll receive.

I find that people are generally proud of where they are from and revel in the opportunity to share their favorite local spots. I know that when friends and family visit me in Los Angeles, I am a venerable fountain of information, just spewing restaurant names and my favorite dishes at anyone who will listen.

http://www.experienceproject.com/stories/Wtk-Did-You-Ever-Eat-A-Balut/2390649

Rule #2:

My second travel cuisine rule is simple… do not be afraid. Many of what you are about to eat may look, smell or even taste bad, but you cannot show fear. Instead be brave and just go for it, take a big bite, chew it up and savor the flavor. Granted, you may spit the food immediately out and that’s fine, I’ve done it. It’s a natural reaction of your body to reject some tastes, but at least you now know that whatever you just ate is bad.

My wife and I were traveling in the Philippines a few years ago and my cab driver said that we had to try balut, which if you don’t know is fermented bird embryo, and is a very acquired taste. When I first saw balut I was honestly scared, it does not look appetizing, in fact it doesn’t even look edible. The smell was horrendous and all the locals stared at me like I was about to do something real dumb, and I was. I followed my own rules and I took a bite, not a large bite, but a bite nonetheless and my reaction was violent and over the top. I spit out my bite, threw my arms into the air, yelled a primal scream and tossed some water down my throat. Was I overreacting? Sure, but with the added audience I figured a larger than life response was warranted. I got a loud boisterous reaction from the gathered crowd followed by applause. This was my favorite moment from our trip to Manila. A simple taste of local cuisine has stuck with me for years like it happened yesterday and to think, if I hadn’t been adventurous I wouldn’t have ever experienced this. Of course I remember the awful taste, but what I truly remember were the connections I made with a dozen locals that day.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npF_5k9R7s0

Rule #3:

My last rule of eating while traveling involves your intestinal fortitude. When I travel, I always try whatever on the menu scares me the most. In England, this was blood pudding. Just the idea of eating coagulated blood is so unappealing to me its no wonder I was terrified by this choice. But just like all my other food related travel memories, I can perfectly paint a picture of that day. I was visiting my good pal Simon, who was on weekend leave from the British Army. We met at a local pub and began drinking pints, as the locals were known to do. Who was I to shy away from local traditions?

Simon and his mates knew I was terrified of eating blood pudding, so they egged me on for hours. I finally caved to their taunts and ordered blood pudding. A horrid looking dish, much darker than I had ever imagined and the smell was similar to an old dumpster. They come in sausage casing, which is already a strike against them, and are cut into bite size pieces. All that build up and you know what… they weren’t half bad. They taste similar to liver, very irony and grainy. The texture is one I won’t soon forget, but you know what… that day was incredible. I’m honored to have spent it with young soldiers while we sampled their local cuisine.

Remember friends, travel with your senses and you will never forget.

 

AJ

 

 

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Food

Cold Brew vs Iced Coffee: What’s the Difference?

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Coffee consumption has been steadily rising since 2015. With an increase of 5%, an average coffee drinker now drinks over three cups per day. 

However, American’s drink of choice has often shifted from cold brew to iced coffee and then back again. But what’s the key difference between the two, and why are these two so popular? 

Don’t worry, with this guide; you can find out! From it’s brewing strategy to its varying tastes, you can find which one you like better. 

Now, are you ready to get started? Here’s a quick look at cold brew vs. iced coffee: 

Definition 

First things first, in order to understand these different coffee choices, you first need to know what they are. 

While most speculate that cold brew refers to its temperature, that’s simply untrue. By definition, cold brew coffee refers to the process of making coffee with cold water, not the temperature of the final cup. 

Cold-brew has a unique flavor. In fact, it’s even known for its smooth and refreshing taste. 

Whereas iced coffee is brewed over ice. Unlike cold brew, iced coffee has a sharp and distinct taste. The ice makes the coffee taste crisp with flavors and even a little acidic too. 

Brewing Strategy  

Now that you understand the basics, it’s time to fasten your seatbelts as we look into the brewing process:

Cold-brew

Since cold brew coffee is brewed with cold water, it creates a completely different experience than hot water. For instance, cold water doesn’t remove the extracts as fast as hot water does, so the overall process can take over 12 hours to complete. 

Usually, this happens when the grounds are submerged in water in a device like a french press. However, there is another method where cold water slowly drops over the coffee. 

Although, cold water doesn’t extract the same flavors as hot water does. In fact, it pulls less acidic and caffeine flavors, making the coffee taste fresh and silky.   

To get the best cold brew blend, check out Grounds & Hounds Coffee Co. They have a variety of products that would suit any coffee lover! 

Iced Coffee

To prepare the best iced coffee, use hot water to make your coffee, then brew it directly over ice. That way, the coffee chills and traps in all those natural extracts. By locking in those flavors, it will make the coffee taste rich and creamy. 

Cold Brew Vs. Iced Coffee: Which Is Better? 

Cold-brew and iced coffee have two different flavor profiles, but which one tastes better is up for you to decide. Do you like a light and refreshing cup of joe or one that’s more flavorful and decadent? 

If you’re unsure, why not try some coffee today! Start with a good cup of cold brew, and work your way from there. 

Now, for more information about cold brew vs. iced coffee, visit our website today. We look forward to helping you! 

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Food

What To Eat When You Find Yourself In Belgium

Belgium may not be one of the most popular vacation destinations in the world, but it’s particularly culinary style makes it definitely worth a visit.

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Belgium isn’t considered a big tourist destination. In fact, most people probably couldn’t even locate it on a map, or name another city in it besides Brussels. But, mention Belgium, and most people will be able to at least tell you that the beer is good, the chocolate is amazing, the waffles are delicious, and the frites are outstanding.

Despite its small size, Belgium holds its own in the culinary world and, while the food may not be the healthiest in the world, it is certainly considered mouth watering delicious. There’s nothing better than sitting outside on a nice day with a cone of frites in one hand and hearty Belgium beer in the other.

Belgium is probably most famous for its beer. It has been brewing beer since the Middle Ages and there are approximately 125 breweries in the country, that produce about 800 standard beers. When special one-off beers are included, the total number of Belgian beers jumps to about 8,700. Belgium is clearly for beer lovers. 

One of the most famous beers here is the Trappist beers. These are beers brewed in a Trappist monastery, where the monks control its production and policies, and the profits from the sale must be used to support the monastery. Only seven monasteries currently meet these qualifications, six of which are in Belgium.

Another main beer is Lambic beer, a wheat beer brewed in the southwest of Brussels by spontaneous fermentation. Lambic’s fermentation is produced by exposure to the wild yeasts and bacteria in the air. These beers can be aged for up to three years. 

Belgium chocolate is supposed to be the best in the world. Belgium chocolate has a high quality of ingredients and producers strongly adherence to Old World manufacturing techniques. Belgium chocolate itself has been popular since the 18th century but increased its popularity during the 20th century when prices dropped and it became more affordable.

The most popular variety here is chocolate pralines that can be filled with a variety of flavored creams, alcohol, fruit or more chocolate. You’ll find a chocolate store on every corner in Belgium. The expensive stores Like Neuhaus and Godiva are worth the money.

Belgian waffles, those large, light, and thick waffles are famous worldwide. However, the Belgium waffle is really the Brussels waffle. Belgian waffles were popularized in the United States during the 1964 New York World’s Fair. Many Belgium waffle shops have the popularized version closest to the tourist areas wherein the local areas there is more of a mix, and more often sold as a pastry instead of a breakfast food. You can get them with bananas, ice cream, chocolate, whatever your heart desires.

Frites, or french fries, is an on the go specialty in many parts of Europe. In Belgium, it is an art. Everywhere you go you see a frite seller and locals walking around with a cone of frites and some mayo. Everyone claims to know the best frite place. And when you eat the frites, make sure you eat them with mayo. It’s delicious.

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The Unique History of Dumplings

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Did you know that a dumpling eating record was set in Sydney, Australia in 2019?

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, they held a celebration in Sydney in which 764 people all ate dumplings at the same time. They met the previous record in 2013 when 750 individuals participated.

Whether you choose to eat them at a massive celebration or in the comfort of your home, dumplings are an indisputable part of global cuisine. But where exactly did this tasty meal stem from?

We’re here to fill you in! Check out our guide below to learn the evolution and ancient history of dumplings! 

Intro to the History of Dumplings

Dumplings have popped up in various cultures throughout history. The easiest way to narrow down their origin though is by first asking: what is a dumpling?

Dumplings are pieces of dough that are fried, boiled, steamed, or baked. Typically the dough holds meat or vegetable fillings. Occasionally the dough is cooked without fillings.

We can trace dumpling-like recipes as far back as Ancient Rome. However, the classic dumpling we all know and love has its origins in Ancient China.

The history of Chinese dumplings began over 1,800 years ago under the Eastern Han Dynasty. A man named Zhang Zhongjian returned to his home village and found that the villagers were suffering from frostbite.

Zhongjian was a medicinal practitioner and searched for a way to assist his fellow villagers. To fight the cold, Zhongjian blended together meat, vegetables, and herbs and wrapped the mixture in scraps of dough. The dumplings were then steamed to bind all the ingredients together.

It’s believed that Zhongjian used his skills as a doctor to create the dumplings. He chose herbs that would help combat frostbite and keep the villagers safe and healthy.

The steaming hot dish was a good way to fight the ill effects of a harsh winter. The villagers enjoyed the meal so much that they continued to make dumpings even when spring arrived.

The Spread of Dumplings

The history of dumplings doesn’t end with its conception in Ancient China nearly 2,000 years ago. Dumplings have pervaded throughout the centuries, and they’ve evolved and changed to fit the needs of the people.

We can see the passage of dumplings as early as the 1300s. At this time, traders often carried their goods along the Silk Road. It’s suspected that this is how one dumpling recipe came to pass from one culture to the next.

At this time, it’s suspected that the Turkish peoples adopted the manti dumplings, likely from the Mongolian peoples traversing the Silk Road. Manti dumplings are made from a spiced meat mixture—typically lamb or ground beef—which is then wrapped in a thin dough before they’re boiled or steamed.

This type of dumpling is most commonly compared to the Chinese jiaozi and baozi dumplings. The manti steamed buns are now a staple even in Russia and post-Soviet countries, where they’ve crossed over from Central Asia.

Pierogi is the Polish word for dumplings and another dumpling variety that many Westerners have grown familiar with. Pierogi—which is actually the plural of the word pieróg—are a Polish staple and are even commemorated with a yearly festival. These dumplings, wrapped in unleavened dough, are stuffed with either savory or sweet fillings before they’re boiled and then pan-fried.

Pierogi have a debated origin story. However, some suspect that pierogi entered Poland from China via the Silk Road, much like the manti dumplings that emerged in Turkish culture. 

Additional Cultural Adaptations

While China is often considered the earliest origin site for what we now refer to as dumplings, other dumpling variations have cropped up around the globe since then. Whether you travel through Latin America, Africa, or Central Europe, you’re sure to find the local take on dumplings.

Many dumpling recipes arose as a solution to poverty. It’s much cheaper to combine a ration of meat with vegetables and dough scraps than to create a more meat-hearty entree.

Many of these recipes even take a different route and create sweetened dumplings, perfect for desserts. Others incorporate cheese, much like the Italian ravioli and tortellini and the potato-based gnocchi. You’ll even see an American spin on dumplings in the classic Southern chicken and dumplings dish. 

The Globalization of Chinese Dumplings

However, the tasty variations from China still prevail around the world and are a notable addition to American cuisine.

In fact, Chinese food in general has become an integral part of the diets of many Americans. It’s likely that dumplings, as with many other popular Chinese dishes, arrived around the same time.

Chinese immigration to the U.S. began in the 1800s, so we can safely assume that dumplings arrived in the U.S. at this time as well. The Chinese diaspora would still indulge in traditional Chinese celebrations throughout the year. Food played an important role in these celebrations.

By the mid-1800s, Chinese restaurants were becoming more popularized in America. Chinatowns, such as the largest one in San Francisco, were growing in popularity, and their cuisine was too.

Dumplings were but one of many Chinese dishes to emerge in America, but the mass Chinese immigration in the 19th century certainly solidified the dumpling as an addition to the ever-evolving Chinese-American cuisine.

The Importance of Dumplings

The history of dumplings stretches back hundreds of years and has been passed down by hundreds of thousands of hungry travelers and chefs. We’re happy to say that there’s a dumpling for everyone, whether you’re indulging in Chinese potstickers or Italian ravioli!

For more articles on travel and your favorite foods, check out the rest of our website!

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