Tag Archives: Food

Mexican Food Surprises, Disappointments, and Discoveries

Ummmm, salbutes

Mmmm, salbutes

After nearly three weeks in Mexico we’ve still only just scratched the surface of the country’s cuisine. And having only traveled in the Yucatan we haven’t yet had the opportunity to explore its regional nuances. But first impressions still matter. So here are some of ours about this foreign cuisine that we Americans know so well.

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Where to Eat in Hanoi

Typical sidewalk restaurant in Hanoi

Typical sidewalk restaurant in Hanoi

Travel in Asia is all about the food. At least it has been for us. And nowhere have we found ourselves so overwhelmed with dining options than in Hanoi, Vietnam. It’s hard to take a step in the city’s old quarter without passing someone cooking up something wonderful. Deciding from which of the many food shacks, sidewalk stalls, and sit-down restaurants to sample is the hardest choice we typically faced on any given day.

Making matters worse, restaurant review sites like Tripadvisor and Yelp aren’t terribly helpful here. We’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with those sites anyway. But in Asia they have the added challenge that many of the best eateries don’t have western names, or even any names at all.

You won’t find a review on Tripadvisor for the lady spooning up Pho Ga from some random alley because there really isn’t any way to add her to the site. What you will find instead are reviews for a bunch of larger establishments with identifiable names and addresses. They may not serve the best food, but they are popular among the westerners who use Tripadvisor.

Because of that dynamic we spent a lot of time trolling through alternative sources of information like blogs, travel articles, and local recommendations to find the best places to eat in Hanoi. We don’t offer this as a definitive list, but these are the best places we sampled during our week-long Hanoi food odyssey.

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Thailand, Where Food is an Attraction

Never have we had an easier—or tastier—time feeding ourselves on the road than in Thailand.

I thought if there was one thing that would wear me down during four and a half months of hotel living in Southeast Asia, it would be finding food. The endless quest for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners in ever-changing environments can quickly lead to travel fatigue. We can’t eat like we’re on a perpetual vacation, both for our waistlines and our wallets.

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You’re Not Worthy

Stone World Bistro and Garden Taps, Escondido, California

It takes a stone arrogant bastard of a brewery to, just 15 months after tapping its first keg, release a new beer and brand it Arrogant Bastard Ale. Even more so to market it with copy like this:

This is an aggressive ale. You probably won’t like it. It is quite doubtful that you have the taste or sophistication to be able to appreciate an ale of this quality and depth. . . If you don’t like it, keep it to yourself – we don’t want to hear from any sniveling yellow-swill-drinking wimps ‘cause Arrogant Bastard wasn’t made for you.”

Slightly over a decade later, those arrogant bastards of Stone Brewing were named “All-time Top Brewery on Planet Earth” by Beer Advocate Magazine. Shortly thereafter founder Greg Koch received knighthood from the Belgian Brewers Federation. Arrogance, for sure, but apparently also with the sack (or should we now say squirely sword) to back it up.

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Meet Meat

Cute Calves Cows Livestock Animal

One thing I never noticed about cows is how absolutely adorable they are. And thinking that, I couldn’t help thinking about something else. About how arbitrarily we categorize things. And also about the consequences of those categorizations. Dogs are pets, for example, while cows are food.

Those differences are cultural, of course, which is just another way of saying that they’re what our parents and neighbors believed. And they believed what they did for no other reason than their parents and neighbors before them believed those same things. If we had been born in India, where cows are often revered, we’d see things entirely differently.

If that is true then it is also true that our strongly held feelings regarding meat (among other things) are really based on nothing more than random chance. There is no law of nature dictating that we react with horror at the thought of eating Fido but be completely indifferent to the sight of Bessie on our plate. It’s simply what we’re used to. A more rational approach to our foods would have us either recoiling at eating all dead animals or at none of them.

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