Building my Culinary Repertoire through Travel-Sister #3


When I travel, one of the things I look most forward to is experiencing the food. The reality is that the version of ethnic food that we get here in Canada is not the same as when you taste it in its country of origin. Sometimes the food has been altered to better suit the North American palate. For instance I knew that my trip to Beijing China would be full of culinary surprises and there is no restaurant that I have encountered here at home that would come close to the crazy and diverse food I was offered there. Frog stew anyone?

Sometimes the difference comes from the fact that the produce is readily available in that country and looses something when it is shipped here. I love to sit on the beach in Mexico and eat fish that was caught that morning, served with guacamole made with avocados of perfect ripeness. There is just no way to capture that freshness 2,000 miles away.

Three Sisters in Dublin
In Prague
In Malaga

I love tasting food prepared by hands that have been making it their whole lives. I always want to sample things a place is known for. Last autumn alone, I ate boxty in Dublin, schnitzel in Prague, tapas in Malaga.

Many years ago I traveled through Turkey and Greece I discovered that many of the dishes were almost identical. They both have versions of tomato, cucumber, onion, olive, and feta salad, as well as crispy filo pastry with nuts and syrup. The difference is one country just seems to have better cooks than the other. I won’t tell you who I thought did it better. There is already enough rivalry between the Turks and the Greeks.

When I return from a trip, I like to find recipes for the foods I ate on my trip and try them at home. Below you’ll find a recipe for Turkish lamb stew cooked in paper- a uniquely Turkish dish.

I think the trick is to be as open minded as you can when trying food from another country. I remember I was traveling with a Canadian woman who mid trip announced “You can’t even get a good hamburger here” to which I replied, “it’s pretty hard to get a really good kebab in Winnipeg”.

You can pretty much rest assured that not everything you eat will be to your taste, but try it all, or at least the things you are brave enough to try. Scorpion on a stick anyone, anyone? And you might be surprised at the fabulous taste sensations you discover along the way.

Kagit Kebabi (Turkish lamb stew in paper) Serves 6

1 lb. potatoes
2 tbsp butter
2 lb lamb, cubed
1 onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 tomato, peeled and diced
1 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp fresh dill
1 tsp dried thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a fry pan, brown meat evenly. Add onion and carrot, cover and cook until the juices are absorbed. Add the potatoes, tomato, peas, tomato paste dissolved in a little water, and vinegar. Cook for a few minutes more. Then add 1 cup of water, cover and cook over low heat for 1 hour. This is a good time to add your salt and pepper. It will need a significant amount of both. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Cut six generous size pieces of parchment paper. Place equal portions of the mixture in center of each sheet. Sprinkle with herbs. Gather the sides together and give a twist. Place the parcels on a cookie sheet and bake for 20 minutes. Serve in the packages. If you don’t wish to cook in paper you can let the stew continue to cook in the pot for 20 minutes longer but I don’t think it’s as good.

Kath’s quote: “Eating good food is a global achievement and I find that there is always something new and amazing to learn – I love it!”-author unknown

Love never fails.

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