Travel Meets Food https://travelmeetsfood.com Travel and food Mon, 31 May 2021 14:55:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.8.1 https://i1.wp.com/travelmeetsfood.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/05/cropped-logo.png?fit=32%2C32&ssl=1 Travel Meets Food https://travelmeetsfood.com 32 32 47729781 Why I Love German Christmas Markets https://travelmeetsfood.com/why-i-love-german-christmas-markets/ Mon, 24 May 2021 19:00:37 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/why-i-love-german-christmas-markets/ Just a short while ago I was wandering around golden-leafed vineyards wearing short sleeves and soaking up the final hours of late autumn sun. Now the days are shorter, the nights wetter and colder, which means I’ll be packing a warm coat and a few pounds as I prepare to infiltrate German Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt) [...]

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Just a short while ago I was wandering around golden-leafed vineyards wearing short sleeves and soaking up the final hours of late autumn sun. Now the days are shorter, the nights wetter and colder, which means I’ll be packing a warm coat and a few pounds as I prepare to infiltrate German Christmas markets (Weihnachtsmarkt or Christkindlmarkt) in search of the best food and drink, which is the main reason why I love German Christmas markets.



Weihnachtsmarkt foods, Christkindlmarkt foods


© Wikimedia Commons, Glühwein by Mr.choppers; Almonds by Mattes; Chestnuts by Achromatic; Cookies by AndrewPoison; Lebkuchen by Leon Brocard; Brat by Jarlhelm

Starting from the first Advent of the holiday season it’s essential for Germans and Expats living in Germany to visit the Christmas markets with friends, family, and business associates too for shopping, fun, food, drink, and lots of laughter. Perhaps the laughter is due to the Glühwein (literally means glow wine) a popular mulled wine drink served warm.

Historic German Christmas Markets

The history of German Christmas markets dates back to the late middle ages in the German-speaking part of Europe. During that time, from the first Advent of the holiday season, townspeople gathered on the town square or local pedestrian zones to commune with one another–a sort of middle age ‘meet and greet’, ‘see and be seen’ event.

The weather may have turned cold and dreary in Germany, but the discussions will soon heat up as Christmas market aficionados present their opinions on the components of the best Christkindlmarkt including coziness (Gemütlichkeit), food, and most importantly who serves the best Glühwein.

Every year, I follow suit and plan another foodie rites of passage for the upcoming German Christmas markets in search of local German sweet and savory essential Christmas market favorites below.

The German Christmas Market Experience

We wish for snow and cold temperatures to add to the cozy nature and gather together after the sun sets and huddle under the festively decorated huts, drink mulled wine and snack and devour quintessential Christmas market foods to warm us up or satisfy our sweet tooth.

After the sun rises, we go back to the office and huddle in the coffee corners discussing which Christmas market offered the best Christmassy feeling and why. The following Advent weekends we do it all again, maybe even in the same town. Who? Where? What? Why?

So yes, it’s a simple, repetitive thing we do every Christmas, but we are glowing and not because of the Glühwein, but because nowhere else in the world can you pack tight like an Eskimo, huddle around an open fire eating chestnuts, trying not to let Jack’s frost nip at your nose and toes, all the while singing Yule-tide carols.

Put a little jingle in your holiday and visit one of Germany’s fantastic Christmas markets.

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Breakfast at the Acropolis Museum https://travelmeetsfood.com/breakfast-at-the-acropolis-museum/ Sun, 16 Nov 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/breakfast-at-the-acropolis-museum/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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I’ve enjoyed an early morning breakfast in some of the world’s most beautiful places, from a hot-air balloon-ride above the North African mountains to a table on the Grand Canal in Venice. So far, nothing is as surreal as sitting in the Acropolis Museum with a view of the Acropolis in near reach.

Views from the Acropolis Museum restaurant

Located in the historic area of Makryianni, the museum stands only 300 meters (980 feet) southeast of the Parthenon so you get a sense of interconnection from the important archaeological sites. From the Dionysios Areopagitou pedestrian street, you look down toward the museum as if to prepare you to enter an excavation site—which in fact you do. As you approach the entrance beneath your feet thousands of years of history are revealed under the glass walkways.

When we arrived at 7:50 a.m. there were only two gentlemen and a large group of excited Greek school children waiting to enter. We walked past the kids, towards security; the gentleman greeted us with a hearty Kalimera (hello in Greek). All week I had experienced the immense Greek hospitality, but at 8:00 in the morning was thoroughly impressed with his cheerful mood.

I had wondered if the building designed by architect Bernard Tschumi with Greek architect  Michael Photiadis had retained its opening day glory after Greece’s unfortunate financial crisis. Fortunately the museum is still as striking and elegant as the day it opened in 2009. The sheer size (25,000 square meters) might be intimidating, but the use of glass, marble, and natural light provide an airy feeling as you explore the extensive range of artifacts.

Our museum visit was too short, so consider planning more time to view some of the world’s most treasured artifacts. As I walked through the exhibitions there were museum archaeologists and artists re-creating artifacts on-hand to answer questions as well as hosts, but I was so mesmerized by the collections I didn’t get a chance to do so.

Next stop was breakfast at the Acropolis Museum restaurant where shades of gray and black provide a simple yet refined color scheme. As we were the first to enter the restaurant, we had the choice of sitting inside or outside under the shaded terrace. At any table you’ll see picture-perfect views of the Parthenon and historic hills of Athens.

The Acropolis Museum breakfast card has an adequate choice of Greek breakfast items all of which proudly use Greek products. I ordered the three-egg omelet filled with cheese from Crete and homemade bread. Both of which were delicious and affordable as museum prices go.

Aside from the cheesy omelet, the best part of breakfast at the Acropolis Museum was most definitely the views from the exhibit floors and the restaurant. They are simply incredible especially. Now I can add the Acropolis Museum to some of the world’s most beautiful places to enjoy breakfast.

Who needs breakfast at Tiffany’s when you can have breakfast at the Acropolis Museum!

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Must Have Travel Items https://travelmeetsfood.com/must-have-travel-items/ Wed, 22 Oct 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/must-have-travel-items/ img.wp-smiley,img.emoji{display:inline !important;border:none !important;box-shadow:none !important;height:1em !important;width:1em !important;margin:0 .07em !important;vertical-align:-0.1em !important;background:none !important;padding:0 !important}

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I’m getting ready for another trip and as usual never know which clothes to bring until the last minute while waiting for the updated weather forecast. This trip will be to the TBEX conference in Athens, Greece and one thing is for sure, I’m not going without my must have travel items.

Packing for any trip can be daunting, especially since excess baggage fees have skyrocketed. Not to mention, carrying around heavy bulky bags simply puts a damper on my holiday. While visiting a new city or country can be exciting and fun, I still like some of my favorite items to keep me in my comfort zone.

There are ten must have travel items that are always ready for my next trip—for me they’re in my carry-on bag. Here’s the list of my must-bring travel items:

Comfortable shoes
I love heels, but let’s face it airports and train stations are full of long hallways and not built for high heel wearing travelers. I also love comfort, so keeping my feet happy and looking good shouldn’t come at a price and it didn’t with my new Skechers. I’m going to test the new shoes which are supposed to really comfortable. Will let you know after I walk to the Acropolis to see the Parthenon. Does this mean I’m giving up wearing heels on vacation? No, way! I’ll still pack a pair of heels and take a taxi for a night out on the town in Athens at Placa.

Pretty Scarf
Let’s face it, we do like to look our best on vacation, but can’t always pack everything we need to look chic and fashionable. Pack a scarf to provide a versatile look, warm your neck, cover your legs or shoulders in sacred buildings, or shield you from light showers. Scarves expand your wardrobe options and liven up your wardrobe with a flash of color or pattern and most importantly don’t take up much space in your suitcase.

Stretch Jeans
I don’t necessarily like jeans as travel pants because I require more movement due to DVF (Deep vein thrombosis) issues. I do highly recommend jeans with stretch to provide comfort and to keep them from sagging at the knees. Dark colored jean hide food and drink mishaps, can be dressed up or down, are durable, versatile, and comfortable. Lastly, ditch the zip off pants and wear nice jeans so you won’t look so much like a tourist.

Smartphone
Yes, it’s costly to phone overseas, but why would you unless there’s an emergency? Before I travel, I make sure to turn off cellular data and use Wi-Fi exclusively. If phone usage is a must inquire with your provider about international calling plans. The beauty of the Smartphone it’s no longer about telephoning. These days a Smartphone is awesome camera that holds my music, contains an alarm clock, books, travel documents, notes, and more. Once back at the local accommodation I take full advantage of free Wi-Fi to tweet and chat with family and friends.

Swiss Army Knife
So many young lads dreamed of receiving their first pocket tool knife from dad or grandpa. The handy gadget is not just used by soldiers or trekkers anymore. As a former Girl Scout, I find plenty of uses for my practical Swiss Army Knife which replaces the need for lots of tools. I use mine to open my suitcase without breaking my nails, chop onions, slice off a piece of cheese, or even open a bottle of chilled wine. Don’t forget to check it in with your luggage or TSA may confiscate it.

Travel Adapter
When I first moved to Germany, I bought a cheap set of adapter strips and after a few years of international travel they no longer worked. During the old days, I had multiple devices to charge so I needed multiple adapters. A few years ago I invested in and am loving my SKROSS World Travel Adapter PRO+USB another fine example of Swiss form, function, and design. With two USB ports I can charge multiple devices. Not only is it small, but offers a safe power connections in over 150 countries.

Homeopathic Travel Kit
Many years ago on a trip to Portugal, I fell ill. It wasn’t so bad that I needed to visit a doctor or hospital, I just required over-the-counter medication to get me through the discomfort. Unfortunately we were outside of the city and I didn’t bring a travel kit, so I endured minor suffering throughout the night. So when I found a small Homeopathic travel kit in London, I was elated. For me, it provides small portions of the basic remedies against colds, stress, and the occasional bad meal. Mine contains globules so I don’t have any liquid hassles with TSA.

Wipes & Moist Towelettes
When you need a refreshing pic-me-up in transit or to kill germs on tables, doorknobs, tabletops, hotel bathrooms, and other public places, a wet towel will do the trick. I carry sanitizing wet towels and also ones to wipe away make-up while moisturizing my skin. The mall size makes it easy to stuff them in a free space of your luggage.

Fragrance Atomizer
Scaling down on excessive luggage used to mean I had to leave my favorite fragrance behind or bring a bunch of sample fragrances no one ever purchases. Now I have carry an atomizer by Travalo. It’s a genius invention I wish I had thought of. You simply remove the spray cap on most fragrance bottles & pump on the nozzle to fill.

Tote Bag
I’ve been attempting to travel with only a carry on bag and tote bag, which holds my small purse and other items and so far, it’s working for me. A tote is easy to handle, can be worn on the shoulders or even as a back pack too, and mine can be folded to about half the size of an iPad. A tote bag is great for market shopping, holding travel devices or anything you quickly need to get to while traveling. Best of all, near the end of your vacation it can be stuffed with gifts and souvenirs. Whether it’s a bio-cotton tote or an elegant tote (I’ve had my Longchamp Le Pliage tote for over 10 years) you’ll find they offer multi-purpose solutions when traveling.

These small must have travel items really do make a big difference for me when traveling. Tell me, what are your favorite travel items and why?

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My Glamping Experience at Feather Down Farms https://travelmeetsfood.com/glamping-expereince-at-feather-down-farms/ Sat, 14 Jun 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/glamping-expereince-at-feather-down-farms/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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Next to the calves in the same barn the fragrance of fresh hay was replaced by the scent of freshly cut wood and wood chips. We loaded our cart with wood and it hit me that the next phase would be our ability to make a fire and cook on a wood burning stove. Thank goodness my husband spend time in the wilderness and volunteered to make the fire which most definitely made my glamping introduction at Feather Down Farms warm and comfortable.


© Feather Down Farm
© Feather Down Farm, the cows have right of way

On the way back from the calf coddling session and after selecting our precious wood, we stopped in another barn where we heard squeaking, cackling, and clucking tones. And there they were, a family of guinea pigs scrambling around in one pen probably exchanging messages that another set of humans were on board.

The other pens in the petting barn included rabbits, and yet another where hens bobbed their necks as they walked and would hopefully lay some fresh eggs. If not, I’d just pick some up in the Honesty Shop and note down the quantity.


The Honesty Shop (General store) from our Feather Down Farms vacation
The Honesty Shop (General store)

This Feather Down farm in Holland encourages you to get in touch with the animals and the children and parents did just that by sitting on wooden benches petting, feeding, and watching the furry little companions scurry around.

From the petting barn, we meandered our way through the trees and vegetation along the short route were beautiful sounds of the forest entertained us. Birds, owls, and the sounds of my Wellies stomping on wet fresh fallen leaves quickly got me in the mood to enjoy nature if just for a long weekend.

The final stop was our tent where we’d be roughing it for the next 72 hours. Well, not exactly because it’s glamping after all.

In front of the tent our vacation pet ‘Hasi’ as we named him was waiting in his pen. We took care of the rabbit (for a small fee) and treated him as our own pet—feeding and petting him during our stay.

 


Our rented vacation rabbit from our Feather Down Farms vacation
Vacation rabbit from our Feather Down Farms vacation

Our hostess presented us the tent basics such the wooden cool box, wood burning stove,  bio-toilet (that actually flushes), sleeping quarters accompanied with thick comforters, and lastly running water. What else can a girl ask for?

The Experience

Once alone in our tent, I seriously wondered if I could make it for the next 3 days without the ability to turn on the light switch and turn the stove know to boil water.  There was no turning back (although my husband asked about checking into the hotel in the next village). We quickly divided up our tasks to which included, lighting, heating, sleeping, unpacking the perishables, and preparing a warm evening meal.

The Feather Down Farms info sheet includes instructions on starting a fire, but my handy husband didn’t need it. He checked the damper air flow, placed the primary and secondary wood pieces in the stove, and later added a piece of coal to keep the fire burning for longer than normal, and in a few minutes it was roaring. By that time I had finished making the beds and organized our belongings.



© Feather Down Farm tent interior
© Feather Down Farm tent interior

Next challenge would be preparing a meal. No it wouldn’t because this planner girl had cooked a Sweet Potato Thai Curry chicken Soup ahead of time. The slightly frozen soup heated up quickly and within a few minutes, we were enjoying a bowl of delicious hot soup in the candlelight, with kerosene lanterns, and a few flashlights to brighten the dimly lit tent.

Insider Tip #2

Everyone in your party, including the children should have their own flashlight with fresh batteries, in order to find their way around the tent and farm surroundings. We even slept with our flashlights because there are no windows in the bedrooms. In addition, I’d recommend a clip lamp for the bathroom.



cooking while glamping
Soup cooked on Feather Down farm wood burning stove

After a second helping of soup, we rinsed and dried our dishes using the bio-cleanser and towels included in the tent fee and scratched our heads wondering what we should do next. It was raining cats and dogs, so a walk in the forest was out of the question. At 7:00 PM it was too soon to go to bed, so being the planner I am, I dug out the game bag of Banagrams, Uno, Monopoly, and more.

After a rambling round of games we carried our lit flashlights to the master bedroom in the back of the tent and would hopefully enjoy a restful night of sleep dreaming about what would be in store our first glamping morning.

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Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James) https://travelmeetsfood.com/santiago-de-compostela-way-of-st-james/ Mon, 14 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/santiago-de-compostela-way-of-st-james/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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Ever since watching the film with The Way with Emilio Estevez and Martin Sheen, I’ve had a great interest in Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James) pilmgrage. The large network of ancient pilgrim routes are like a river system of brooks and streams which join together to make a larger body of water or in this case, the Camino Frances where pilgrims set out to the reported tomb of St. James (one of the one of the apostles of Jesus Christ) in the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela.


Way of St. James Shell

During the middle ages, people walked the “Camino” or “Ways” as a traditional penance and pilgrims received an indulgence to pardon their sin beginning by walking out of their front doors toward Santiago, which was how the network grew up.

Nowadays, people begin their walk all over Europe, hoping to complete at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) of a Camino to earn their Santiago de Compostela (the Way of St. James) certificate when they reach Santiago. The pilgrims carry a passport or credencial which is stamped along the Camino.

The Three Main Santiago de Compostela Pilgrimage (the Way of St. James) Routes

  1. The French Way (Camino Frances) stretches 780 kilometers (500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago. It’s the most popular route and gets very crowded in mid-summer). The route then continues through Pamplona and Leon to Santiago de Compostela.
  2. The Portuguese Way (Camino Portugues) stretches 227 kilometers (141 miles) from Porto in northern Portugal. It’s a sister trail that runs beside Portugal’s Atlantic coast before passing into Spain. You’ll pass along villages and towns along the way, and beable to view many cultural sites just as Queen Isabel of Portugal did when she walked the Camino Portugues.
  3. The Northern Way (El Camino Norte) is a very quiet and beautiful route along the northern coast of Spain yet is very hilly and mountainous. This extremely demanding El Camino Norte route is 825 kilometers and since it is situated on the Bay of Biscay, is prone to rain, fog and harsh weather conditions.

The Long Walk to Santiago

I’ve heard walking the Camino is not really difficult since most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths, but if you plan on completing the entire Camino Frances, from St Jean Pied de Port in France to Santiago de Compostela, you’ll need about 30 to 35 days walking between 23 and 27 kilometers (14-16 miles) per day. This means you need to train, train, and be prepared for inclement weather. Along the way, many of the overnight accommodations fill up quickly, so you’ll be stuck camping in the woods.

Some people walk the walk but not in its entirety or span the walk sections across years traveling to a point by plane. Others even travel by horse or even bare foot. The receipt of the credencial (stamp of authenticity) is rather difficult to come by when reaching the end of the route in Santiago de Compostela, but I just can’t help but think God will stamp a passport for you in heaven or your efforts.

On your next vacation across Europe, look for the routes marked with a yellow arrow or monuments with the traditional scallop shell, symbol of the pilgrim or bake a Tarta de Santiago cake at home.

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The Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking https://travelmeetsfood.com/the-holy-trinity-of-cajun-cooking/ Thu, 03 Apr 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/the-holy-trinity-of-cajun-cooking/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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The Holy Trinity of Cajun cooking is nearly as important to the mostly Catholic French Cajuns’ as the churches Holy Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) as it is to attending Mardi Gras, eating Gumbo, attending a crawfish boil, and much more. Ask any Louisianan and they’ll tell you so,which is why good things come in threes, right?



Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking
Holy Trinity of Cajun Cooking

Creole and Cajun cuisine is distinctly full of flavor, culture, and history and you smell it when you enter a Cajun or Creole home. Three simple vegetables make up the holy trinity (bell pepper, onion, and celery) and once they are sauteed together they form the base for some of the most delicious dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, and Étouffée. Throw in fresh parsley, garlic, green onion, bay leaf, and cayenne pepper and your dish comes alive!

Other holy trinity versions

In France onions, carrots and celery form the holy trinity commonly referred to as a mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwah) named after a French town. The three simple ingredients add sophistication to French dishes.

In Italy, they have their own “holy trinity” called soffritto (sufreit, odori or battuto), the Italian word for “under-fried” or “fried slowly”. This describes perfectly the process of gently cooking olive oil, carrots, celery, and onions in a 2:1:1 ratio to soften them and release their flavor.

Which ever “holy trinity” version you decide to use, your meals will be blessed with flavor. Can I get an Amen?

Cajun holy trinity

  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 1 green bell pepper
  • 6 celery stalks
  • Oil


Jambalaya
Jambalaya

Directions

  1. Wash bell peppers and celery thoroughly and pat with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Chop (you don’t have to be so precise with the size) and sauté in oil until soft.

This is the base of your next Cajun dish!

Italian holy trinity (Soffritto)

  • 80 gr. (1,6 oz) of Onions
  • 80 gr. (1,6 oz) of Carrots
  • 60 gr. (1,0 oz) of Celery
  • 5 gr. (one clove) of garlic
  • 10 gr. (0,2 ox) of Salt
  • 10 gr. (0,2 oz) Extra Virgin Oil
  • 2 gr. (0,05 oz) of Vinegar from wine
  • 20 gr. (0,4 oz) Rosemary (optional)
  • 10 gr. (0,2 oz) Sage (optional)
  • 25 gr. (0,5 oz) Persil (optional)
  • 20 gr. (0,4 oz) Basil (optional)

The uniformly finely chopped vegetables are cooked for about 5 minutes or until they are soft “dorata” or golden in color.

  1. Wash vegetables and herbs thoroughly and pat with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Chop vegetables to even size.
  3. Mince the herbs to even size.
  4. Sauté vegetables and hers in olive oil until soft.

French holy trinity (Mirepoix)

The sizes should be relatively uniform and the more finely chopped the vegetables are, the more quickly the flavor and aroma are released.

  • Two parts onion, to one part each celery and carrot, diced evenly
  • Butter
  • A small quantity of tomato paste for color (Optional)
  1. Wash vegetables thoroughly and pat with paper towels to remove excess water.
  2. Chop to even size and sauté in olive oil until soft.

Whether your next dish is Cajun, Italian, or French, the holy trinity of Cajun cooking will add distinct flavor to it.

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The Six Tastes of Ugadi Pachadi https://travelmeetsfood.com/six-tastes-of-ugadi-pachadi/ Sat, 29 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/six-tastes-of-ugadi-pachadi/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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This year on Monday, March 31, Ugadi is celebrated to commemorate the New Year of Andhra Pradesh marking a change in the lunar orbit along with the beginning of the new Hindu lunar calendar. As Mother Nature awakens and spring blooms, the Karnataka Indian New Year festival brings a feeling of joy, growth, prosperity, and new ventures and the six tastes of Ugadi Pachadi.


Ugadi Pachadi
Wiki Commons Photo: Ugadi Pachadi, by Srinivas14

Ugadi begins early in the morning around 4:30 a.m. when the elderly women of the family chant mantras. The day continues with a ritual oil-bath followed by prayers. Oil bath and eating Neem leaves are also must rituals suggested by scriptures.

As with most Indian holidays, preparation of special foods is also an important. One of the main items prepared during the festival is Bevu Bella, a paste made from jaggery, neem buds, tamarind juice and raw mango.

Bevu Bella is bitter, sweet and sour reminding us that life is a mixture of happy and sad events. During Ugadi, family members eat the special mixture which consists of six tastes called Ugadi Pachhadi symbolizing that life is a mixture of unique experiences and that we should remain ready to accept everything in life throughout the New Year.

The Six Tastes of Ugadi Pachadi

Each ingredient denotes the six tastes of life:

  • Sadness – Neem Buds/Flowers for its bitterness
  • Happiness – Jaggery and ripe banana pieces for sweetness
  • Anger – Green Chilli/Pepper for its hot taste
  • Fear – Salt for saltiness
  • Disgust – Tamarind Juice for its sourness
  • Surprise – Unripened Mango for its tang

Are you ready to accept everything in life throughout the New Year? If so, how do you celebrate the season’s freshness?

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European Travel Myths https://travelmeetsfood.com/european-travel-myths/ Sun, 09 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/european-travel-myths/ img.wp-smiley, img.emoji { display: inline !important; border: none !important; box-shadow: none !important; height: 1em !important; width: 1em !important; margin: 0 .07em !important; vertical-align: -0.1em !important; background: none !important; padding: 0 !important; }

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It’s often comical to listen to first-time travelers give advice on traveling to Europe. Most times it’s personal opinions on their experiences which is fine, often times though, it’s just bad advice or not true.



Map of Europe
Map of Europe

Check out some of the European travel myths I heard from people from all over the world on the plane last month.

1. Europe is really small, you can get everywhere in a few hours

There are 28 European Union (EU) member countries. Russia, yes Russia, the world’s largest country, is a part of Europe, but is not an EU member country. So technically, since Russian occupies most of Eastern Europe and north Asia and is about 1.75 times the size of the US, Europe is not small at all.

Ok, the Russia example is a little far-fetched, but here’s my point, if you want to drive from the northern part of Europe to a most-southern part such as from Copenhagen, Denmark to Rome, Italy, plan for a 20 hour drive time. Even driving from Hamburg to Munich will cost you about 7 hours according to Google Maps and that’s on the German Autobahn, where there are driving areas without a speed limit.

The bottom line is you can’t see all of Europe on the standard 10-day American acation. You should plan according, re-plan and come up with a realistic itinerary, contact an experience Europe travel agent, or use Google Maps to get an idea of estimated driving times.

2. There’s only one currency in Europe

While it’s true that the currency of the European Union member countries is euro (sign: €; code: EUR), people often forget when they travel to Switzerland for example, that they’ll need Swiss Francs or when traveling to the Czech Republic they’ll need Czech koruna (CZK).



Euro Banknotes
© Wiki; Photo by Blackfish

It’s always a good idea to have a mix of the local currency on hand and a couple of credit cards. Check with your banking institution for the best exchange rate and ideally, exchange a few dollars to local currency before you travel.

American Express is not accepted as widely as MasterCard or Visa although I find most hotels and finer restaurants do indeed accept American Express cards (my preferred cc for collecting points).

Major credit card companies now have traveler’s check cards, because old-fashioned traveler’s check are basically dead. These traveler’s check cards looks like a regular credit card with your name on it and you use it like a regular credit card until you run out of the pre-selected amount of cash on it.

Tip: Buy a small travel wallet with a large coin holder and bring only the basic cards. I doubt you’ll be able to use your Walmart or Walgreens card in Spain.

Also, many small shops and restaurants don’t accept credit cards at all due to the high fees. They do often accept however, EC (Electronic cash) cards which are similar to using debit card system cash cards. Check with your banking institution for more details.

3. Stores and shops are always open

After 12 years of living overseas this is still my pet peeve. What, can’t buy a pair of jeans on Sunday? I enjoy a lazy Sunday around town or at home, but sometimes I would just like to go shopping for other than a candy bar or windshield wiper fluid on a Sunday.

Opening hours for pharmacies, banks, shops, museums and restaurants vary from country to country, so ask with your hotel receptionist for details.



Closed Shop Signs
Closed shop signs

Tip: If you need an emergency item from a pharmacy, ask someone in your hotel which pharmacy is open on that particular Sunday.

In general, stores and shops are closed on Sundays throughout Europe. In France on the other hand, bakeries are open until around 13:00 because the French like fresh baguettes. Me too as a matter of fact!

European store and shop opening exceptions are gas stations, airports, train stations where you can buy over-priced basic items such as milk, beer, and so on. In Europe there are special days where stores open on Sunday in conjunction with a festival or a special time of year.

4. Everyone speaks English in Europe

Well, almost all Europeans have had to learn some English in school, but that doesn’t mean they will all be able to speak fluently, quickly, or confidently. Of course in larger metropolitan cities or university towns, I’ve noticed more Europeans have a very good grasp of the English language especially in Scandinavian countries.

Tip: Don’t yell when you speak to Europeans, most aren’t hard or hearing and it makes you look really silly.

In addition, you’ll most likely find that in hotels and larger shopping malls, the staff will be able to communicate with you in English. Ideally, I recommend learning to say at least ‘Hello’, ‘How are you?’, ‘Thank you’, and ‘Do you speak English?’ in the country’s local language. You’d be surprised how far it will get you.

The phrase book method doesn’t work, because you’ll get an answer in the local language unless you use a language converter smartphone app to communicate. 🙂

5. All of my electrical devices function in Europe

Help! I’m traveling to Europe and need to know the following:

  • Do I need a transformer?
  • Do I need an adapter?
  • Do I need a converter?
  • What’s the difference between an adapter and a converter?


SKROSS World Adapter Pro+USB
SKROSS World Adapter Pro+USB (1 unit for all countries)

First things first, you don’t need a transformer unless you plan on bringing some large electrical device like your toaster or microwave on vacation.

Adapters – Almost all laptops, tablets, smart phones, MP 3 players, e-book readers, and camera battery chargers, and many flat irons are dual voltage. This means they will work on 110 volts (United States voltage) and on 220 volts (Europe and most other parts of the world voltage). They’ll also work with electric frequencies ranging from 50 Hertz to 60 Hertz.

The main problem is figuring out how to get the square thingy into the round thingy or vice verse. In other words, you’ll need an adapter plug, a connector that changes the plug shape to match the outlet for the country you are traveling to.

Converters – Hair dryers are a bit trickier. Since they are powerful and use a lot of juice, you’ll need a converter to switch from 110 volts to a 220 volt source. Often, hair dryers do have a dual voltage switch to convert the voltage when in use. If you have one of those, you then would just need an adapter plug.



Dual Voltage Hair Dryer
Dual Voltage Hair Dryer

Tip: Don’t forget to switch to the correct voltage for the country you are in, otherwise you’ll destroy your hair dryer.

I’d recommend leaving the hair dryer at home and either using the one in your hotel room or purchase a lightweight travel dual voltage hair dryer before you go on vacation. Don’t forget, you’ll still need an adapter.

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Po’ Boy History https://travelmeetsfood.com/po-boy-history/ Sun, 02 Mar 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/po-boy-history/ I like my Po’ boys dressed, and you? Before you ask, read on to learn about Po’ boy history and you’ll understand what I’m talking about. Po’ boy sandwich Around 1910, brothers Bennie and Clovis Martin left their Acadiana region home in Raceland, Louisiana, for the big city of New Orleans. Both worked as streetcar [...]

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I like my Po’ boys dressed, and you? Before you ask, read on to learn about Po’ boy history and you’ll understand what I’m talking about.



Po boy sandwich



Po’ boy sandwich

Around 1910, brothers Bennie and Clovis Martin left their Acadiana region home in Raceland, Louisiana, for the big city of New Orleans. Both worked as streetcar conductors and about 12 years later opened a coffee stand which would eventually make Po’ boy (also po-boy, po boy, or poor boy for your Northerners) sandwich history.

Imagine New Orleans in July 1, 1929, hot, hot, and even hotter after heated negotiations with union streetcar motormen and the street car owners went icy cold. There were around 1,100 streetcar workers union jobs in jeopardy and things really started to heat up when the street car company invited non-union workers or “strike breakers” from New York who were known career criminals to run the street cars. This really upset the union supporters and more than 10,000 New Orleanians gathered downtown as strike supporters gathered and then burned the first car operated by a strike breaker.

Sympathetic to the cause, the public avoided the streetcar transit system for about two weeks. Times were hard for the union workers, so businesses donated goods and services to the union including the the Martin Brothers, former union streetcar workers themselves, who said “Our meal is free to any members of Division 194.”

The free meal ended up being a sandwich, but not just any sandwich and whenever the Martin brothers saw one of the striking men coming, one of them would say, ‘Here comes another poor boy.’ Hence the Po’ boy sandwich is born.

What is a Po’ boy?

Now, a “real” Po’ boy contains Louisiana fried shrimp, oysters, soft shell crab, catfish, crawfish, Louisiana hot sausage, fried chicken breast, or roast beef. Equally important is that a Po’ boy isn’t’ a Po’ boy unless it’s served on New Orleans Po’ boy French bread which has a crisp crust and a fluffy center.

You see, traditional French bread has narrow ends which doesn’t usually get eaten, so the Martins worked with a local baker to develop a 40-inch loaf of bread that retained it’s uniform, rectangular shape from end to end and simply filled their Po’ boys with your favorite meat or fried seafood.

How to order a Po’ boy

My first experience to a Po’ boy stand was quite embarrassing. I was a newbie to the Crescent City and when the waitress asked me what kind of Po’ boy I wanted. I replied in my most mid-western accent asking  “What varieties of poor boy sandwiches do you have please?”

She graciously pointed to the menu wall and the seafood and meat combinations overwhelmed me, so I asked for an oyster poor boy. Then she asked me if I wanted it dressed or undressed? Luckily, a bystander helped me out explaining that a “dressed” Po’ boy has lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayonnaise and an “undressed” Po’ boy contains only the meat or seafood filling placed on the Po’ boy bread.

Since then I flock to New Orleans or anywhere is Southwest Louisiana, as often as possible because life without my dressed oyster Po’ boy is simply unbearable.

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Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe https://travelmeetsfood.com/mardi-gras-king-cake-recipe/ Tue, 25 Feb 2014 00:00:00 +0000 https://travelmeetsfood.com/mardi-gras-king-cake-recipe/ Hey, if you are reading this Mardi Gras King Cake recipe post you either yelled “I got the baby” at a king cake party or just want to bake a delicious piece of New Orleans history. Either way, remember, Laissez les bons temps rouler (Cajun French expression meaning) “Let the good times roll.” Mardi Gras [...]

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Hey, if you are reading this Mardi Gras King Cake recipe post you either yelled “I got the baby” at a king cake party or just want to bake a delicious piece of New Orleans history. Either way, remember, Laissez les bons temps rouler (Cajun French expression meaning) “Let the good times roll.”



Mardi Gras King Cake



Mardi Gras King Cake

Mardi Gras King Cake Recipe

Time: 4 1/2 hours

Yield: Two Mardi Gras King Cakes

  1. Scald the milk and remove from heat. Stir in 1/4 cup of butter and let milk liquid cool to room temperature.
  2. In a large bowl (or Kitchen Aid mixer bowl), dissolve yeast in the warm water with 1 tablespoon of the white sugar and let stand until creamy and bubbly, about 10 minutes.
  3. Once the yeast mixture activates, add the milk/butter mixture. Whisk in the eggs. Stir in the remaining white sugar, salt and nutmeg.
  4. Beat the flour into the milk/egg mixture 1 cup at a time (either by using the Kitchen Aid hook attachment or by hand). When the dough begins to pull together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic for about 8 to 10 minutes.
  5. Use a neutral oil to lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn it to ensure all sides are coated.
  6. Cover dough with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 2 hours. Once dough has risen, punch it down and divide it in half (for 2 cakes).
  7. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C) and then line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Mardi Gras King Cake Filling Directions

  1. In a medium sized bowl, combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, pecans, 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup raisins. Pour 1/2 cup melted butter over the cinnamon mixture and mix until crumbly.

King Cake Dough Final Preparation (we’re almost done!)

  1. Roll dough halves out into rectangles (approximately 10×16 inches). Sprinkle the filling evenly over the dough being careful not to get too close to the long edge and beginning at the long side, roll each half as tightly as possible like a cinnamon jelly roll.
  2. Bring the ends of each roll together to form 2 oval shaped rings. Place each ring around a buttered/oiled tall ceramic bowl or empty coffee tin on the lined cookie sheet. This will ensure the Mardi Gras King Cake shape maintains its shape while baking.
  3. Let the two king cake rolls rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 45 minutes.
  4. Remove the buttered/oiled tall ceramic bowl or empty coffee tin before baking.
  5. Bake in preheated oven for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Once the cakes are done, make a slit with a knife and push a doll or trinket into the bottom of each cake. Don’t forget to warn your colleagues about the trinket otherwise, you might be paying for their dental bill.
  7. Frost the cakes while they are still warm with the powdered sugar blend. I used a plastic glove to smear the frosting onto each cake.
  8. Quickly sprinkle the yellow, purple, and green colored sugars onto the cake.

Enjoy cake at your next Mardi Gras King Cake party and don’t forget to keep track of who finds the baby.

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