Tag Archives: spain

Places To See…Places To Eat

A good friend and I were talking about places we’ve always wanted visit.   At the top of her list was Egypt. Spain was my top choice. We tried to think of a place that would interest both of us, if we ever got the opportunity to travel together, and could only agree on an African safari.

(Of course if time and money were not factors, we could have easily picked a spot or two!)

We realized two important things. All her top destinations had ruins or monuments of some sort, while most of my choices were known for good food!

So here’s my list (some I’ve been to, some not yet):
1 ) Italy – cappuccino, trippa, fresh porcini, pancetta, focaccia and more!
2 ) Spain – tapas, paella and jambon
3 )  France – crepes
4 ) Argentina – how can beef be so tender?
5 ) Greece – moussaka and more
6 ) China / Hong Kong – dumplings, noodles, dim sum and more
7) Africa (safari)
8 ) New Orleans – creole cooking, jambalaya
9 ) Thailand – I love Thai food
10 ) Mexico – carne asada, fresh fish, stews etc..

Other possibilities: Portugal (another exception: I don’t know what foods they’re known for), Japan, Quebec and New York (been there as a child; deserves a revisit).

We finally decided that Rome and Pompeii could be a good, more realistic meeting point than Africa.  Hopefully someday we’ll have one travel adventure together that involves food and monuments!

This seems like a timely post since there is a lot of discussion at several blogs (Brazen Careerist, Frugal Bachelor and Dog Ate My Finances) about the pros and cons of traveling. 

Obviously I believe that travel is worthwhile.  It is not life-changing or eye-opening for everybody, as it was for me, but stepping outside your routine and your own little corner of the world is important. From my personal standpoint, it always seems that the most open-minded people have done some traveling and not just the relax-on-the-beach kind of traveling.  We Americans are insular enough as it is. Our movies, TV and foods dominate. The English language dominates.  If you don’t travel to other countries, it’s easy to be self-righteous and pompous without reason. 

At the same time, I know that not all travel is equal. My experiences in Italy were vastly different because I studied the language (and now am married to an Italian).  I am able to participate in real conversations and get to know people. Contrast that to a tourist who can only exchange a few words with the waiter or taxi driver.  I know it’s different. I had a nice time in France but language limitations also limited my experience. So before traveling, I would recommend learning a foreign language. It will enrich and humble you.

Food Flashback: Paella

blog_paella
To give this post some context, I am dying to visit Spain.  It’s been at the top of my travel list for years and yet somehow I never get there. During my first European trip, I fell in love with Italy too much and never got around to Spain.  My husband has been there twice and would love to go back but so far,  family obligations, time and expenses have taken precedence.

Although I have yet to taste Spanish food in Spain, my husband consoles me with one of the country’s most famous dishes – paella – and it has become one of my favorite dishes. He usually includes mussels and/or shrimp but for this version (see photo, which does not do it justice), he used chicken, sausage and vegetables we had on hand.

Ingredients:

saffron

green beans

red bell pepper

chicken

chorizo sausage

peas

arborio rice

extra virgin olive oil

salt and pepper

There are a million paella recipes on the internet, some without saffron even. This is my husband’s version and he says it’s not paella without saffron!

1 ) Sauté chicken until well done and set aside. Cook the chorizo sausage until done. You can also cook both together but the chicken needs a bit more time.

2 ) Steam green beans (optional). We had leftover green beans that my husband threw in.

3 ) Sauté bell peppers until done.

4 ) Put meat, bell pepper and onions in the same skillet. Add in dry rice and toss to flavor for about 2-3 minutes. 

5 ) Add water or chicken stock directly into the pan. Keep adding and let the rice absorb the water.

6 ) Add peas and green beans.

7 ) Add saffron strands, just enough to get the right coloration.

8 ) Cook until the rice is done, about 20 minutes.

Important Note: You’ve got to taste the paella to make sure the rice is cooked and the flavors have melded together.  One time, at a dinner with my husband’s colleague, his wife served us crunchy rice!  She had cooked the rice according to package instructions but had neglected to actually taste it. One bite and she would have known the rice wasn’t done!