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5 Dishes That Will Make You Fall in Love With Peruvian Food

When I decided to spend some time in South America I went with my gut (literally) and chose the country that seemed to have the most positive food reviews: Peru. I am happy to say that Peruvian food did not disappoint — I ended up staying in that glorious, delicious country for six months. If you want unique travel in Peru or are simply looking for new dishes to spice up your diet then read on and check out my favourite Peruvian food.

 

Cuy

It’s not everyday you get the opportunity to eat what is commonly considered a household pet – and why would you want to? But, when you’re in Peru you have to keep an open-mind. A dish steeped in history and culture, cuy is what the Peruvians call guinea pig. These little critters are usually served whole (face and all) after being either roasted or deep-fried. The taste is a bit like rabbit and nothing like chicken – so ignore anyone who tells you that. I’m not going to guarantee that you will love cuy, but if you are in Peru and you want to go on a unique travel adventure, it is a good place to start.

 

Lomo Saltado

This dish very quickly became a staple in my life while I lived in Peru. I used to eat lunch every day at the San Blas market in Cusco because I could get a big plate of lomo saltado for $1.50. The king of Peruvian food, lomo saltado consists of sautéed beef, tomato and onion served with rice and chips. Rice and chips might seem like a weird combo – we would normally just choose one, right? Well the double – even triple carb thing – is pretty common in Peru. You will get used to it, and even grow to love it, in no time. Here’s a recipe in case you fancy making lomo saltado yourself.

Alpaca Steak

I’m never one to turn down trying some exotic dish you wouldn’t be able to find at home. So when I heard that alpaca steak was a popular Peruvian dish, I rushed out to go and find one. Delightfully low in cholesterol and higher in protein and iron than its cow-based cousin, alpaca steak is basically a super-meat. And, it tastes really good. It is slightly milder than beef, but otherwise you would have a hard time distinguishing the two. As far as Peruvian food goes, the alpaca steak is definitely one of the healthier dishes available.

Ceviche

Some people are wary about eating raw fish but when it comes to eating ceviche it is well worth throwing caution to the wind and tucking in. Obviously be careful if you’re eating ceviche from a tub on the side of the road – stick to restaurants if you can. The same goes for all Peruvian food actually. Ceviche is chunks of raw fish and seafood that has been marinated in lime juice, raw onion, and chilli. You can get ceviche all over Latin America but it is a well-known fact that Peruvian ceviche is the best. Served with sweet potato, Cusco corn and crunchy maize nibbles, the combination of the flavours and textures is utter perfection. If the acidic leche de tigre sauce becomes too much, you can cool your mouth down with a bite of sweet potato. Similarly, if the soft fish leaves you craving something crunchy then the maize nibbles will sort you out. Want to try making it for yourself? Try this recipe.

Anticuchos
Have you ever eaten heart on a stick? No? Peru offers a chance to change that. Anticuchos are probably the most popular street food you will find in Peru and they are much more delicious than the description “heart on a stick” makes them sound. A better image to paint would be succulent chunks of marinated beef heart on a skewer. Head to any street corner and you have a good chance of finding a Peruvian mama with a little barbecue and a stack of anticuchos ready to be grilled up for you. If you’re lucky, she might even spear a potato onto the end of the skewer. Check out this website for info on where to find great anticuchos in Lima.  

What Makes Vietnamese Food Different?

Vietnamese food is unlike any other in Southeast Asia – so what makes it so special?

Fresh. Invigorating. Fragrant. Sweet. Sour. Fermented. These are all adjectives you might use to describe Vietnamese cooking. It’s all about the yin and yang, the perfect balance of opposites within a dish that really makes each ingredient sing.

If you’ve tried food from several different Asian countries, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like Vietnamese cuisine. What are the elements that make the dishes of this vibrant country unique?

It’s Not All About Spiciness

Unlike some other dishes in Southeast Asia that will melt your face off with spiciness, such as Tom Yum in Thailand, Sambal in Indonesia or Vindaloo Curry in India, Vietnamese cuisine isn’t focused on being as hot as possible.

Instead, the goal is to balance all of the five taste elements of sweet, salty, bitter, sour and spicy. This results in a more balanced, aromatic and subtle dish with a complex flavour – perhaps with a bit of a kick to it but never screaming hot.

Vietnamese chefs believe that every ingredient has “heating” or “cooling” properties. So, for example duck meat is considered cool so it should be served in the summer. Chicken is a warm food, so it is served in winter and paired with a sour sauce which is considered cool. The chef strives to create a perfect equilibrium between the different elements within each dish.

It’s Light and Fresh

If you have ever had Burmese cuisine, you’ll know how rich, heavy and oily the curries are – but this is not the case with Vietnamese dishes.

The cooking in Vietnam is done with minimal use of oil and dairy and relies more on the light, fresh flavours of herbs and vegetables. As a result, Vietnamese cuisine is considered one of the healthiest cuisines in the world.

Some of the yummy aromatic herbs that are commonly used include mint, cilantro, basil, lime leaf, lemongrass, green onion, perilla leaf, turmeric, ginger, Saigon cinnamon and tamarind pulp.

There’s a French Flair

No other cuisine in Southeast Asia has such a strong French influence. Although it has been more than six decades since the end of French colonial rule in Vietnam, you can still taste the French culture in every fluffy baguette. The perfect banh mi baguette is soft and airy on the inside and crusty on the outside, is smeared with pate and loaded up with fresh cucumber, meat, fried egg and other veggies. You must try one – they are available from street vendors in every major Vietnamese city.

Some of the other culinary leftovers from the French colonial era include creme caramel and coffee. In some of the chic cafes of Ho Chi Minh City you’ll even find macarons and croque monsieur for sale (at Parisian prices!). However, although coffee in France is served black and hot as an espresso or with steamed milk as cafe au lait, the coffee in Vietnam is enjoyed iced and sweetened with condensed milk.

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Soups are Clear

Both the French and Southern Chinese influence on Vietnamese cuisine shows in the tendency towards clearer soups and sauces. For example, the Vietnamese signature dish Pho is made with a meaty, rich clear beef broth. In these clear soups, the simple tastes of the principal ingredients is showcased. You can taste every element distinctly, from the cilantro to the lemongrass to the long-simmered beef bones and the fish sauce.

This is different to Thai cuisine, which often strikes a balance between featuring the main ingredients and emphasizing the flavour of the broth or the sauce.

These are just a few of the ways that Vietnamese cuisine is different than the food in other nearby Southeast Asian destinations. What’s your favorite Vietnamese dish?

Durian: What You Need to Know Before Eating This Smelly Tropical Fruit

I tasted Durian for the first time at a night market in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia with a group of happy, drunk couchsurfers. We purchased the fruit, as heavy as a baby and as sharp and prickly as a hedgehog, then watched the seller hack it open with a huge knife.

As soon as the creamy, soft flesh was exposed the odor hit our nostrils. It reminded me of rotting compost, or what my socks smell like in the Southeast Asian heat when I haven’t done laundry for a while. Even with the husk unbroken, this notorious fruit is so pungent that it is banned on Singapore Rapid Mass Transit and in many other public places in Southeast Asia. It’s aroma has been compared to rotting meat, feces and dead bodies.

I reluctantly sampled a spoonful of the gooey fruit.

At first, I was fooled into thinking that the taste was sweet. The initial impression on the tongue is sugary, but as the aftertaste takes over the flavour is pungent and bitter like rotten mushy onions. The final flavor stings the mouth with an acidic burn, like after vomiting.

I’m not a fan – and I’m not the only one. Writer Anthony Burgess compared the taste to “eating sweet raspberry blancmange in the lavatory.” In this Munchies article, the writer describes it as a “hellish monstrosity of Satan food”. There’s something quite heady and nauseating about the combination of sweetness and the earthy, ripe, rotten smell.

In an article in China’s Global Times newspaper there was a story of an early importer who brought samples of Durians to China. When a hotel cleaner opened the door to the importer’s room, she immediately vomited in reaction to the stench of the fruits inside.

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However, a surprising number of people like it! It is known as the “King of Fruits” in Southeast Asia and it is commonly used as a flavour in many yummy edibles including baked goods, biscuits, milkshakes, ice creams, candy and more. In fact, Pizza Hut in China is even using it as a topping! When durian is combined with other flavours such as in baked goods or pizza, some find that it’s potent taste is balanced and more palatable. You may agree, or you may think that there is no way this fruit could possibly be delicious.

Whether you love it or you hate it – sampling Durian is a must when you are traveling in Southeast Asia. Be adventurous and go outside of your comfort zone! Just be prepared with a drink to wash the taste out of your mouth if you don’t like it!

Things You Should Know About Durian

  • When choosing a durian, look for a fruit with light coloured spikes and avoid the ones with dark brown patches. Also, avoid fruits with bits of white between the spikes, as they are signs of over-ripeness.
  • Be careful when handling the fruit – the spikes are sharp enough to cut your skin. 
  • Watch where you eat durian – it is banned in many public places.
  • When it comes to washing your hands after eating the fruit, try running hot water on the durian skin. It will create a mild lye water which you can combine with soap to get rid of the smell.

Have you tried durian? Would you try it? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

How to Recreate Travel Food at Home

Discovering unique travel food from foreign countries you’ve never dreamed possible is half the fun of traveling. After diving into food classes and local markets, you may miss that favorite new dish when you’re back on familiar soil. What better way to take a trip down travel memory lane than recreating that dish once you’re back home?

Follow our tips outlined below for travel food and you can take your taste buds on vacation again and again —  right from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Start your research while you’re still traveling

The most important part of recreating travel flavors at home is to start your investigative journey whilst you’re still actually traveling. Take cooking classes, source authentic recipes, search for local English-written cookbooks and bring home the most essential ingredients, especially if you’ve never heard of them before. Everything back home will be a lot easier to source if you have detailed information and actual tangible ingredients to compare, as well as first-hand experience on how a dish is prepared. Locals the world over are always more than happy to enlighten you – and your taste buds – by helping you source out any travel food recipe or particular ingredient you’ve fallen in love with.

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How to find a local supplier: start local

Once you’re home and your precious supply of exotic spices is dwindling, it’s time to find a local supplier. First of all, it’s worth noting that just because an ingredient is foreign to you, it doesn’t mean you won’t find it at your local grocer’s. Our own local supermarkets can be full of surprises, especially as ethnic cuisines gain in popularity. Just a few years ago, you’d have to buy a return ticket to Jordan to restock your sumac supply but, nowadays, sumac is easily found alongside dried rosemary, thyme and basil at most supermarkets. So start with your local and most obvious choice first, before moving to dedicated exotic spice stores and specialty food stores nearby, which are only a Google search away.

Hone in on the foreign community closest to you

Your own wonderfully multi-cultural country is possibly a hub of delectable concoctions, with entire suburbs renowned for hosting specific communities, be they Italian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Mexican or Malay. Whatever dish you wish to recreate at home, start with its corresponding community that’s closest to you. Or, if one can’t be found, a restaurant which specializes in the desired cuisine. Go straight to the source and ask locals in the know (ie. restaurant owners and chefs) where they buy their supplies and the best dedicated grocery store can be found.

Find alternative travel food ingredients

Ginger is the best substitute for Cambodian galangal and, if for some reason you can’t find Moroccan ras el-hanout spice at your local store, you can easily make your own by grinding together coriander seeds, cumin, chilli, cinnamon, paprika, cardamom, ginger and turmeric. For just about every exotic ingredient you discover on your travels, you will find either a substitute back home or, better still, a recipe to make your own. So get creative with your Google search and become the resourceful chef you always knew you could be.

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Order ethnic spices and pastes online

When all else fails and you really couldn’t possibly recreate your travel flavor at home without a teaspoon of whatsitnot, then look for it online. There’s a ton of amazing online spice stores, some offering over 450 hard-to-find spices hailing from every corner of the globe. From SpiceJungle to SpicesInc and a head-spinning array of Amazon online stores, you could easily fill your pantry with all sorts of incredible spices and flavors, without ever leaving the comforts of home.

There’s no better way to relive an unforgettable journey – and to cure the post-holiday blues – than by recreating travel flavors at home. Because even if you can’t pack your bags and travel the world at a whim…it doesn’t mean your taste buds can’t! So enjoy your culinary journey and continue the feasting long after the vacation has ended with these handy recreation hacks.

Step-by-Step: The Ultimate Taco Pizza

I had become obsessed with this idea of an ultimate taco pizza recently, but I wanted something with a Mexican authenticity that hasn’t been attempted. I wanted to take the flavors of the region and apply it to a tantalizing dish. I made this happen in my own home and I’ll show you how you can do it too.

I first heard of the taco pizza when I was about 12 years old. I vividly remember it sounding so strange and bold and the trepidation I felt as I sat in the pizzeria waiting for it to arrive to our table. Tacos and pizza couldn’t possibly go together… so what did we just order? When there was finally a slice on my plate, I dissected the elements: lettuce, tomato, beef, cheddar cheese, and crushed Dorito’s. While my taste buds accepted this, something didn’t seem right. I felt betrayed; lied to. As an adult, I have never ordered a taco pizza.

There have been a number of pizza’s that have gone viral in the past year, like the pizza served in a box made of pizza or the $2000 squid ink pizza with the 24k gold leaf sprinkled on top, yet there was one that really caught my attention: Tony Baloney’s taco pizza. The motif was so simple, and thus brilliant. Just put some tacos on top of the pizza. This was the taco pizza I had been expecting since I was a child! However, I am not going to New Jersey for a slice.

There are three simple elements in play here: pizza, tacos, and guacamole.

We will infuse the pizza with the smokey heat of chipotle peppers and use a blend of mozzarella and oaxaca cheese. We will build a simple street vendor style taco and make guacamole from fresh avocados.

This is what you’ll need:

Pizza crust

  • Tortillas
  • 1 can of diced tomatoes with chipotle peppers
  • 1 ball of fresh mozzarella
  • 1 wheel of oaxaca
  • 1 lb of steak, diced
  • 2 limes
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • Fresh cilantro
  • 4 avocados
  • Pineapple salsa

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I prefer to throw the steak, ¾ of the chopped onion, and juice of 1 lime together to marinate and then throw it all in the pan to cook.

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While it’s cooking, mash up your avocados and throw in the remaining chopped onion and squeeze the juice from the other lime for a simple, fresh guacamole.

Build the pizza using the tomato and chipotle pepper blend as the base and be generous with the cheese! Bake at 425 for about 8 minutes or until the cheese is nice and bubbly. Protip: use the broiler briefly to get that nice touch of brown on the cheese. Slice the pizza into… let’s say 4 to 8 piece, depending on how generous you’re feeling that day.

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When the meat is ready, scoop into the tortilla and sprinkle some cilantro on it.

Add as much guacamole and pineapple salsa as you prefer.

From here, just build a ring of tacos directly on the pizza until you can’t fit any more. On my pizza, I was able to fit about 12 tacos all the way around.

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Did you figure out how to eat this thing? Let me know how you tackled this glorious pizza!

5 Tropical Getaways for Active Adventures

Some of us travel for relaxation, others for food, but for many of us — travel is about finding active adventures. We want to hike mountains, explore ancient ruins, snorkel to new depths — anything to keep us moving and excited. If you’re a body constantly on the move, we have 5 tropical getaways to satisfy the most active adventurers.

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Nosara, Costa Rica – Surf, Paddle, Snorkel

Nosara (Playa Guiones), Costa Rica is a hidden gem in the surf community that is not quite as tourist driven as Tamarindo or Jaco beach. With over a dozen surf schools available, Nosara Beach rivals among the best surf beaches in Central America for both advanced and novice surfers. Here you will find protected forest full of wildlife, quiet beaches, and long stretches of shore break.  Among the multitude of outdoor activities offered Nosara is also a yoga meca.  Yoga retreats and practices are easy to find as the sounds of the jungle or ocean are only steps away no matter where you practice.

Belize – Best of Land and Sea

Belize will keep you moving throughout your trip with plentiful activities on both land and sea. Along its coast you will find snorkeling and scuba-diving among multiple areas including Ambergris Caye, Belize’s largest island, Laughing Bird Caye, one of Belize’s National Parks, and World renowned diving at The Great Blue Hole at Lighthouse Reef. Travelers can also rent kayaks along its beaches or partake in a cave kayaking tour in Belize City.

Back on land, strap on a helmet and tour Actun Tunichil Muknal “Cave of the Stone Sepulcher” where you will hike, climb, and swim your way through these pristine caves. There are over a thousand pieces of pottery, skeletons, and ancient artifacts left just as they were discovered to maintain its unique presence in time. Belize is also home to the Xunantunich Temple and Lamanai Mayan Temple where you can hike ancient temple ruins and gaze at the wonderment of the Mayan Era. Take a tour or hike on your own, this experience is an unforgettable sight.

Machu Picchu, Peru – The Advanced Explorer

Machu Picchu is a historian’s dream. Most travelers are so consumed with the intricate details left from the Incan culture that they leave wanting more. Tours are available to grasp the most of this ancient civilization. You can customize trips to Machu Picchu to last a day with use of buses and tour guides, or a week by camping the original Inca Trail through mountains and jungle terrain of Peru. To see the lost civilization that remains is worth the time and hike no matter your skill level.

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Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – The Wildlife Adventurer

The place where Darwin developed his theory of evolution is a must see in South America for the wildlife adventurers. In the Galapagos Islands will you will find a wide range of wildlife. Due to the lack of predators in the area, you can find blue footed boobies, albatross, and even penguins roaming around the Islands. Hike craters and volcanoes, kayak, surf, or snorkel around Santa Cruz where you will be sure to see sea turtles, sea lions, and exotic fish. Dive around the Darwin Islands to see even more amazing creatures like the hammerhead shark and the whale shark. Guides are available or rentals are located all around the Island. If you are feeling extremely adventurous you will find packages that offer trips from Machu Picchu to the Galapagos island, a great way to kill two birds with one stone!

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Maldives – Paddle your heart out

One of the most beautiful places to stand up paddle board is along the Maldives of South Asia. Known for having beautiful reefs home to exotic wildlife, it is comprised of over 1,000 islands with beautiful lagoons and beaches along its coasts. The Maldives are famous for  vibrant teal-blue color waters with clarity that allows you to view wildlife up to thirty feet deep. Rentals for a full day is only thirty dollars and will get you a total body workout.  Not only known for paddle boarding you can take part in other fitness experiences such as pilates and yoga classes or retreats, clear bottom kayaking, scuba, and snorkeling adventures, and the pristine white sand beaches host rentals for jet-skiing, water skiing, and parasailing.

 

7 Travel Apps to Help You Eat Like a Local

Discovering local food treasures in a new country rates as one of the best travel experiences you can have. Yet sometimes, no matter how much research you do, or how clever you think you are at spotting an authentic local eatery, falling victim to a touristy-food-trap happens. Want to know how to eat like a local when traveling the world? Then tuck these nifty apps into your smartphone and take your taste buds on a delectable (and trap-free!) culinary adventure.

  1. Meal Sharing Apps

Committed foodies have been rejoicing ever since virtual peer-to-peer agencies started to pop up on every corner of the globe. With these kinds of unique culinary experiences, you can hook up with a like-minded local who’ll prepare you an authentic local meal in his or her home. Think of it as a private dinner invitation where you pay a modest fee and, in return, you are guaranteed a local feast you’d be hard pressed to enjoy in a restaurant.

There are a ton of meal-sharing apps out there and although most are country or region specific, some are spreading their wings. The most comprehensive of these is EatWith, which has set up services in about 150 countries and now boasts over 500 chefs which have all been vetted. Check out TravelingSpoon to eat-off-the-beaten-path in Southeast Asia and Japan, with hosts offering home cooked meals as well as cooking classes and food tours. Download Cookapp if you’re headed to Argentina (now also includes a few cities in the US) and definitely use Home Food when visiting Italy. The brainchild of an Italian professor keen to help nurture traditional regional cuisine, Home Food encourages the preparation (and enjoyment!) of traditional dishes, the way nonna used to make.

  1. Colunching

A fantastic meet-up service that’s ideal for solo travelers, Colunching is set up in 20 countries worldwide, and lets members organize an informal group dining experience in authentic local eateries. A great way to make new friends and feast like a local when traveling, Colunching lets you tag along and even initiate a group meal out when traveling.

  1. LocalEats

An impressive directory of the best local restaurants on your phone for less than a dollar? Now that’s what we call a fantastic travel app! LocalEats prides itself on recommending only personally vetted independent restaurants that are a world away from your run-of-the-mill chain eateries. From delicious food stands to fine-dining establishments, LocalEats offers every dining experience imaginable all over the US and in over 50 cities abroad, sourcing info from local food bloggers, guides, travel writers, and restaurant critics. The handy GPS feature allows the app to notify you when an authentic dining experience is just around the corner.

  1. Field Trip

Keen to learn fun facts of your chosen destination while enjoying an authentic meal? Then Field Trip is for you. This handy app is a treasure trove of recommendations, from what to see and do, to where you can enjoy your next scrumptious local meal. The app bases its recommendations on your GPS location and sources its info from hidden-secret sites like Atlas Obscura, Zagat, EatOut and Spotted by Locals. You can set up your interest to only include eateries and the app will ping you when something utterly delicious pops up near you. Field Trip was launched by Google in 2013 and has now extended to operate in over 80 countries worldwide.

  1. Vayable

Vayable brings together a host of unique travel experiences and the most popular, by far, are its food-themed tours. From pizza-crawls in Rome to winery tours in Austria and cooking classes in Slovenia, Vayable connects you with local guides running personalized food tours and experiences, all over the world.

  1. Foodict

While Google Translate may come in handy when perusing menus in restaurants abroad, Foodict Gourmet Food Dictionary goes a lot further and includes thousands of food-specific translations of dishes and what they’re all about. The great thing about Foodict is that you can download the content and use it offline no matter where you are.

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  1. Foodspotting

What so many apps and sites offering recommendations for the best restaurants, it’s refreshing to find a service that hones in on specific dishes and where to find the best in town. With Foodspotting, you get personal recommendations, descriptions, and even photos of amazing dishes local foodies enjoy. Time Magazine has rated this one of the 50 best apps to download, and we couldn’t agree more. Foodspotting lets you see the best-rated dish in specific restaurants or entice you to travel far and wide to satisfy a unique craving. Currently, the app works extensively in the US, as well as several destinations in Europe and Asia.

The World’s Most Unique Coffee Experiences

To any coffee obsessed traveler, there’s nothing more rewarding than sitting at a local café — in some far-flung corner of the globe — and enjoying a cup of coffee whilst people watching. There are some coffee experiences, all over the world, that are bona fide travel highlights in their own right. Keen to take your taste buds along for an unforgettable ride? Then you’d be well advised to add the following to your must-drink list.

From the smooth taste of an Italian ice cream coffee to the long and laborious Ethiopian coffee ceremony and some seriously questionable drops in Vietnam, Indonesia and Senegal, the world’s most unique coffee experiences are guaranteed to make you, and your taste buds, stand up to attention.

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Affogato, Italy

Italy is one of those countries where it’s literally impossible to have a bad coffee. You can order the wrong coffee, mind you (ordering a cappuccino after 11am is a cultural faux-pas bar none) but never a bad one. Long considered the world’s original and best coffee mecca, Italy boasts an extensive list of coffee options, including the ubiquitous short black (espresso), with a dash of liquor (caffé corretto) or with a splash of hot milk (macchiato). Our favorite coffee of all, however, would have to be the affogato, which is a shot of espresso poured over a scoop of vanilla gelato. On a hot summer’s day, and after spending hours on end wandering among millennia-old ruins, a sublimely creamy affogato is like a drink sent from the heavens.

Ethiopian

In Ethiopia, drinking coffee it isn’t something you do in an absentminded hurry. This gorgeous African country — the birthplace of coffee —  may indeed boast the most elaborate coffee ceremony in the world. Recognized as an intangible treasure of the local culture, the renowned Ethiopian coffee ceremony is a very social event, one that requires an audience and a lot of patience. The event can take hours from beginning to end and is preceded by a young woman dressed in traditional costume, who’ll wash the raw green coffee beans and roast them in a pan over an open fire, right in front of you. Once blackened, the beans are crushed by hand using a mortar and pestle, and the powder boiled with water in a heavy-based clay pot called a jebena. The resulting liquid is passed through a sieve several times before being finally served to expecting guests. Coffee is poured in small intricately hand-painted cups, and each participant is expected to drink three cups. Interestingly enough, coffee in Ethiopia is usually served alongside crunchy popcorn.

 

Cà Phê Trứng – Vietnam

Firmly in the ‘What the…?’ category of unique coffee experiences, the Vietnamese egg-coffee rates as one of the most unusual blends you could try in all of Southeast Asia. Cà Phê Trứng is a traditional coffee prepared with condensed milk, sugar, and beaten egg yolks, and although this may sound odd at first, you’ll be surprised just how deliciously smooth and rich the taste really is.

In the preparation of this coffee, the egg yolks are beaten vigorously with the condensed milk and sugar, creating a fluffy cream that’s not unlike custard. The cream is then dolloped in a glass and a shot of unsweetened coffee poured over it. Due to the density of the cream, the coffee tends to settle at the bottom, so every sip delivers a mouthful of silky cream mixed with strong coffee. As an after-meal drink, Cà Phê Trứng is simply superb, especially if you’re craving a sweet treat. Cà Phê Trứng was invented in Hanoi in the 1940s and although this variant is nowadays found all over Vietnam, it is still best enjoyed in the country’s capital where you’ll find quite a number of dedicated egg-coffee shops.

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Mazagran – Portugal

Originally from northern Africa, Mazagran is a cold coffee and lemon drink that seems to be taking over most of Western Europe. Legend has it that members of the French Foreign Legion stationed at the Mazagran Fortress in Algeria in the 1840s brought home an impromptu coffee concoction they created, using lemon juice, sugar, ice cubes and rum. Not long after, a few Parisian cafés started serving the refreshingly unique beverage, minus the alcohol. Fast forward a century and a half and it’s next door, in Portugal, where you’ll find Mazagran served and marketed as an iced coffee lemonade, sometimes with the addition of sparkling iced water for added bubbles.

 

Café Touba – Senegal

Need a serious coffee hit to wake up in the morning? Then a shot of Senegalese café touba may be just the morning drink you need. Prepared with a generous serving of freshly ground Guinea black pepper, which is roasted alongside the coffee beans, café touba is swiftly becoming the drink of choice throughout all of Western Africa. It’s become  so popular that Nestle reacted to a drastic decrease in the amount of Nescafe sold there by creating and marketing a ‘spiced coffee’ instant blend in the region.

To prepare a café touba, the coffee beans are roasted alongside a specific type of African black pepper (called djar). The powder mix is then boiled, sweetened, and filtered. In Dakar, you’ll come across a multitude of touba stands and although we urge you to try a cup of the intense, sweet and spicy brew, we also urge you to have a bottle of water at the ready. That first sip can be quite breathtaking! Said to have wonderful medicinal properties, touba is part and parcel of Senegalese culture nowadays and you just can’t visit without trying it at least once.

Kopi Luwak – Indonesia

Widely reputed to be the most expensive (and questionable) coffee in the world, kopi Luwak is made using coffee beans which have been eaten, digested and secreted by Asian civet cats, known as Luwaks in Indonesia.

The production of the world-renowned Luwak coffee started in Indonesia in the colonial 1800s when local Indonesians were forbidden from consuming the coffee beans they farmed because all had to be exported to Europe. In their coffee-withdrawal desperation (OK, we all get that!) local farmers resorted to collecting partially-digested coffee seeds which had been eaten and secreted by civets. Soon enough, the Dutch farmers came to taste and enjoy this special brew and the rest, as they say, is coffee history.

Civets love the pulpy flesh inside coffee beans and the seeds pass through their digestive system untouched. Proponents say the digestion process adds a unique taste to the coffee, yet critics say any roasting would surely rid the seeds of that. Instead, it is claimed that the smooth taste of a good cup of Luwak coffee is simply due to the civet’s propensity for only picking the best and juiciest coffee berries in the first place. In Asia, and indeed the rest of the world, Luwak coffee has a dubious reputation. The novelty factor alone would certainly make it worth a try, yet nowadays unscrupulous farming practices in the region – which see civets kept in deplorable caging conditions and force-fed coffee beans – make it difficult to pinpoint an authentic coffee made from beans collected in the wild. Still, as far as crazy coffee experiences go, a cup made from beans pooped out by a wild cat rates right up there among the most unique coffee experiences in the world.  

5 Tropics-Inspired Breakfast Recipes

Breakfast doesn’t have to equal boring. Switch out the toast and try these 5 delicious tropical breakfast recipes to jump-start your day. These delightful breakfast dishes are uncommonly tasty; and as a bonus, they are incredibly healthy too!

 

Breakfast Chilaquiles – Mexico

When thinking of Mexican food and breakfast, you may have visions of a yummy breakfast burrito. While breakfast burritos are delicious, and a favorite of many, the dish was actually created in the United States. There are endless options of tasty breakfast recipes from Mexico, but a time-honored favorite are breakfast chilaquiles.

Breakfast Chilaquiles
 
Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon oil of your choice (vegetable, olive, rapeseed etc.)
  • 4 (6 inch) corn or flour tortillas (torn into strips)
  • 1 diced small onion
  • ½ tomato - diced
  • 3 chili peppers - diced
  • 2 eggs
  • add salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Heat the oil in a medium skillet over medium heat, and fry the tortillas until lightly browned and crisp.
  2. Mix the onion, tomato, and serrano chile peppers into the skillet. Season with salt and pepper. Continue to cook and stir until onions are tender.
  3. Fry eggs to desired consistency (over easy, sunny-side up, etc). Place on top of tortillas and veggies.
 

Enkulal Tibs, Breakfast recipes, breakfast, tropics, eggs, ethiopia,

Enqulal (Enkulal) Tibs – Ethiopia

An omelette-like dish with a kick, these enqulal tibs are sall on cooking time and big on flavor. This is one of Ethiopa’s breakfast recipes that can be served traditionally (spicy) for a unique breakfast experience or toned down for those who prefer a more mild version.

Enqulal (Enkulal) Tibs
 
Ingredients
  • 6 Eggs
  • 1 Chili pepper
  • 1 onion - diced
  • ½ of a tomato
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Salt
  • Ethiopian butter (niter kibbeh)
  • Berbere (optional: Berbere is a blend of spices commonly used in Ethiopian dishes. The seasoning can be ordered online, or at African markets, restaurants and specialty food stores.)
Instructions
  1. Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a hot frying pan or griddle
  2. Add the onion to the hot oil and cook on medium/high heat
  3. Sprinkle a large pinch of salt onto the onion and stir
  4. Add the diced tomato, stir, cover and reduce heat to medium temp.
  5. Beat eggs with a whisk and add to frying pan - increase to high heat
  6. Add chili peppers and scramble to liking
  7. Serve hot with fresh sliced tomato
 

Gallo Pinto – Costa Rica

Gallo pinto is the national dish of Costa Rica and can be served for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Traditionally gallo pinto that is served for breakfast includes the universal breakfast item – you guessed it –eggs! Although made with simple ingredients, gallo pinto is a breakfast dish from the tropics that is sure to bring warmth to your morning.

Gallo Pinto
 
Ingredients
  • 8 eggs - scrambled or over easy
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cooked black beans in ¾ cup reserved cooking liquid
  • ¼ cup Salsa Lizano
  • Link to a delicious Lizano recipe - http://www.thekitchn.com/recipe-lizano-style-costa-rican-salsa-176299
  • 3 cups cooked rice, preferably, day-old and refrigerated
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Sauté chopped bell pepper and onions until peppers are soft and onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add minced garlic and cook for 1 minute, until fragrant.
  2. Add black beans, reserved cooking liquid, and Salsa Lizano, stirring to combine.
  3. Simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly thickened and little bit of the liquid is evaporated.
  4. Gently stir in cooked rice and cook until heated through and most of the liquid is absorbed, but not dry, about 3-5 minutes.
  5. Stir in chopped cilantro.
  6. Season to taste with additional Salsa Lizano (we added about a tablespoon extra).
 

Labouyi Bannann – Haiti

A healthy way to start your day is with labouyi banann which can be served either hot or cold. It is essentially bananna and plaintain porridge and it is as nutritious as it is delicious. This is a great breakfast dish to serve to a large family or group of guests as a little goes a long way in satisfying hunger.

Labouyi Bannann
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Green Plantain (Washed)
  • 1 ripe banana
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 Star Anise
  • ½ cup of Evaporated Milk
  • ½ cup of Coconut Milk
  • ½ tsp cinnamon Powder of 1 stick
  • ¼ cup of sugar
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
Instructions
  1. Peel the skin of the plantain and cut into small 4-8 small pieces. It is ok to leave some of the skin for extra nutrients.
  2. In a blender, puree the plantain and 2 cups of water.
  3. In a 1 quart saucepan, add 1 cup of water, evaporated milk, coconut milk, cinnamon, star anise and bring to boil.
  4. Once the pot is boiling, add the plantain puree to the pot and bring to a boil while stirring continuously for 5 min. The porridge will thicken slightly.
  5. Add the salt, sugar, vanilla and keep stirring for 10 min.
  6. Reduce the heat to medium and keep stirring for another 10 min while tasting porridge to ensure the plantain is thoroughly cooked. The porridge is ready when the texture is creamy.
  7. Serve warm with some Haitian Bread.

Egg Paratha – India

This dish lives a double life. It is known as a common street food in India, but is recognized equally as a breakfast must-eat. Egg paratha has all the qualities of an ideal breakfast meal: delicious, nutritious, fast and easy, but it packs in enough substance and flavor to be eaten any time of day.

Egg Paratha
 
Ingredients
  • ½ cup of wheat flour/atta
  • Warm water as needed
  • Oil as needed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 green chilli chopped (optional)
  • Large pinch of pepper powder
  • Tumeric as needed
  • salt to taste
  • add a few coriander leaves finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 tbsp. of finely chopped capsicum or carrot
Instructions
  1. Knead wheat flour with just enough warm water. Add a few drops of oil and knead again to make a soft pliable dough. Cover and set aside for 20 minutes.
  2. Sprinkle flour on clean preparation table, the roll and flatten paratha into a triangular shape.
  3. Heat a tawa or griddle on high heat. Place paratha in pan until golden brown spots appear on each side.
  4. Add Finely chopped vegetables, eggs, salt, pepper powder and tumeric to bowl. Beat the mixture until frothy.
  5. Heat tawa or griddle with oil on high. Pour the egg mixture and cook on a medium flame.
  6. When the egg is almost cooked, but still runny on top, place paratha on top and press gently.
  7. Flip and fry the paratha and egg.
  8. Serve egg paratha with chutney or vegetable salad.

Step-by-Step Guide to the Perfect Crockpot Red Curry

I love curry in all its glorious forms: from India to Japan. That being said, there’s something truly special about its Thai red curry incarnation that utilizes coconut milk, herbs, and aromatic leaves that makes such a great impression on my taste buds.

Traditionally, ingredients were chosen based on regional and seasonal availability like pork, chicken, fish, and shellfish and sometimes frogs, snakes, snails and wild boar. Some of the commonly used vegetables are eggplant, squash, and pumpkin. I share this because I believe it’s important to understand that anything is possible in cooking; that you have to experiment and find what you love to eat.

Naturally, I turn to my crockpot because slow cooking dishes like these brings out the best experience.

Follow this step-by-step guide and enjoy this non-traditional but awesomely delicious Thai red curry and spoiler alert: it’s even better the day after!

Red curry, crockpot, slow cooker, recipes, recipe, Thai

This is all you’ll need:

1 ½ pounds of small potatoes

1 yellow onion

1 red pepper

1 green pepper

1 can of full fat coconut milk

1 cup vegetable stock

¼ cup peanut butter

2 tbsp red curry paste

3 tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tsp lemongrass

½ tsp ground ginger

1 lime

Freshly chopped cilantro

 

First, chop your onion.

Then chop up your potatoes into perfect bite sized pieces.

Mix the potatoes, onion, coconut milk, vegetable stock, peanut butter, curry paste, fish sauce, garlic, lemongrass, and ginger in the crock pot on low for 2 and ½ hours. A note about fish sauce: it smells awful but will make your curry taste amazing.

While that simmers, cut up both the green and red peppers and add them for 30 minutes. You want them to retain some of the texture.

When it’s finished, squeeze all the lime juice you can into that crock pot and garnish with some freshly chopped cilantro.

This red curry goes great with rice or noodles, but I wouldn’t hold it against you if you just jumped in with a spoon.

Oh, you noticed there’s no meat? I made this for my mother, who happens to be a vegetarian. If you like meat, all you have to do is chop up 1 lb of your preferred animal protein and throw it in the crock pot at the beginning and follow this exact recipe.