All the Americans at our Independence Day extravaganza! Photo credit: Theresa Winters
Celebrating the 4th of July Aussie style.
I didn't realize what American food was until we had a USA themed potluck. I always considered it to be diverse and a mix of everything from all cultures, but there are a few distinctive classics that are strictly American:
- Mac 'n Cheese
- Hot dogs
- Krispy Kreme
For the foreigners, the potluck was American FAQ time. With a room full of yanks, when better to ask your burning questions about America?
Common FAQs about the US:
- Is it true meatloaf is a combination of like 15 meats smashed up and cooked together?
- Why would you ever consider grilling a hotdog? I thought they were only meant to be boiled...
- Aren't rootbeer floats alcoholic?
Tasting Wine with Italians. That's right, I went on a little day trip to a vineyard in er, the middle of nowhere! It ended up being me, my newly found British friend, Adrian and a slew of Italians!
Luckily, we got the VIP treatment, sipped wines galore and finished off the evening with a delicious homemade pasta carbonara from the locals!
Making lots of cupcakes...and Dylan eats them. Dylan is my latest Melbourne vegan BFF. We do random things like play guitar, make dinosaur shaped cupcakes and have frequent potlucks at his house! Thanks to Dylan, I'm getting quite good at cooking vegan food.
These are my banana almond vegan cupcakes with fudge frosting. Amazing!
How do people make the decisions they do? I am convinced that absolutely no one in this world knows exactly what they want. Sure, I could give you two options, and you could choose the best, but when it comes to issues like what do you want to do for the rest of your life or what makes you happy we're all clueless dummies. Still not convinced? Consider our divorce rate, extreme dissatisfaction with jobs and debt. Where do all of us dissatisfied employees and lovers turn? I'll leave that for you to answer.
So what does this have to do with traveling, you may ask? Well, I somehow ended up in Thailand without a very good explanation of why I chose to come here. I have a habit of making these flash decisions when it comes to traveling and they seem to prove more rewarding than the well thought out ones. My alibi? The food.
Eight months ago the word "Asia" made me cringe. Then, some girl said Southeast Asia was a real hotspot for backpackers. I went home that night and looked up Southeast Asia on the map. Thailand! I like Thai food, I should go there! Books closed, decision made.
Ok, I lied a bit. I don't just like Thai food, I have an abnormal obsession, a burning desire in my gut for the stuff. Pad se eew, tom yum soup, pad Thai, passion fruit shakes, I see it in my dreams and wake up wondering when I will have my next bite of deliciousness. I used to joke that I would go to Thailand just for the food, and well, that's kind of why I'm here.
Traveling through Thailand is like an ongoing food safari. Mealtime excites me and I'm sure to always scout out the sketchiest looking food stand for a true Thai treat, but it's the little snacks in passing that really make me happy. Kebab grills outside of shops, boba iced tea, fruit stands and pancake carts are just a few that fill every street and alleyway.
A few days ago I finally gave into my Thai foodie appellation and set off to partake in cooking Thai cuisine. The first words out of my instructor's mouth were, "my name is Gaye, but I'm not gay!" I knew I was in for a real treat. She was a little pistol, taking us through the market explaining different Thai ingredients and making sassy remarks to the two smart alec boys in the class, all in her loud Thai accent.
Once we had gathered our goods, we went back to our outdoor kitchens and chopped, mixed and cooked our ingredients into a scrumptious feast of curry, pad Thai, chicken soup, spring rolls and mango sticky rice. Need I mention food coma?
In the end we all received "master Thai chef" certificates (that one is getting framed when I go home) and the best part? No dishes to wash!
Thai chef students hard at work
Me and my instructor, Gaye
From 40 cent bowls of lentil soup to fresh bread filled with smoking meat, Morocco had some of the best cusine I have experienced during my travels. Actually, the Moroccan food scene isn't that diverse. I think the main attraction is that everything is cooked fresh and deliciously cheap! Sam and I have invented a daily routine scheduled around meals. Finding the greatest local dive cafe in each city we visit has become our hobby.
I have arrived at the conclusion that there are only six foods in Morocco:
1. Soup-either lentil or pea
3. Tagine (a mix of vegetables and meat cooked in a cone shaped pot on the stove)
6. Mint tea with heaps of sugar
We eat a crepe drenched in honey nearly every morning followed by a mid morning cookie, then find a suitable hole-in-the-wall soup kitchen or tagine shop for lunch and maybe couscous for dinner, while always drinking mint tea throughout the day. Life isn't half bad considering our daily food budget runs about $4 USD with all this scrumptious food, it's easy to go a little crazy!
One night we set out on a food safari. We decided to walk along the street and sample new foods that we hadn't yet tried, or that seemed really strange! Each sample cost about $1 USD so Sam, Andrew and me took turns buying the food for the three of us to share. We tried everything from cactus fruit to fried anchovies, snail soup and an assortment of Moroccan cookies. Here are some of the food highlights from our trip:
Bread filled with chicken, mystery meat, noodles and tomato sauce!
Experiments in tagine cooking
Yummy yummy snail soup