Food for Thought with Places People Stories

Food and drink are sustenance. We need both to live. But it’s much more complicated than that, isn’t it? Examining peoples’ relationship with food, we are able to examine many other elements of society and culture. Food reflects our history, economics, environment . . . even our personality. As we travel, food can be an important “in” when it comes to experiencing local culture. While it’s not the only way, many travelers would agree it’s one of the most enjoyable, as evidenced in the unending stream of delectable meals flowing through social media. Our Food for Thought series examines this topic through interviews with bloggers who share their perspectives on how food influences their travels. This week’s interview is with Hanne, creator of the blog, Places People Stories. Hanne is a thinker, and her stories reflect her thoughtful observations of the world as she travels. Read on to find out hear her thoughts on everything from what she likes about fishing to her favorite insect snack!

BiopicMeet Hanne

Hi! I’m Hanne. A twenty-something travel junkie from Norway. So far, I have been to over 50 countries. Still, many more to go! In this blog I write a bit differently related to travel than the common “10 things to do in Bangkok/Paris/Madrid,” you name it! I focus more on the not so obvious, and share stories and experiences about places I have been and people I have met during 5 years of travels. …

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Food for Thought

The underlying idea of the “Food for Thought” series is that to truly experience a culture you must taste it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

I could not agree more. When I travel I like to try most of the typical local food, and doing so have given me some of the best and memorable experiences I have had on my many travels.

Food in many ways reflect a culture, place, the people, their traditions, history and lifestyle. Though food is not the only way to experience a culture, it is for sure one of the most important. And I definitely think that a cultural experience is not complete without tasting the food.

For example I have been living in Bolivia for a long while now, and I have seen how important the local cuisine is for the Bolivians. It is their pride. I have truly become a big fan, as well. However, I have received many international volunteers through my job here that did not want to try any of the local foods. They preferred to stay at home a cook pasta with tomato sauce. And by doing so, I believe strongly that they missed out on one of the most important aspects of exploring the Bolivian culture.

Food for Thought

What food do you identify with “home?” Does it reflect something about your own culture or upbringing? Do you crave it while you’re away?

In Norway we eat a lot of seafood. When I am away, I especially miss salmon and shrimps. Fish, in many ways reflect the Norwegian culture. We have for hundreds of years lived on fish, and back in my family we have had a lot of fishermen. Most children growing up on the coast, learn to fish at an early age as well. I just love to catch my fish, and then eat it. It tastes extra good when you have fished it yourself. I think most families still eat fish 2-3 times a week for dinner.

In addition to this, Norwegians just love whole-wheat bread with cheese, meat or other delicious topping on. It is often eaten for breakfast, lunch and evening food. Maybe it does not sound so gourmet, but it is a big part of the culture and history. As we were a very poor country before, this is what people ate. Though today, the country is much richer and we could afford to eat more gourmet, we still keep to our bread and traditions.

How has travel affected the way you think about food?

Before I started to travel, I was very careful regarding trying new foods. I was very picky. After starting to travel, everything changed regarding to this. I understood that I will not die if I try a new dish. Furthermore, I figured that trying new dishes brings so much positive. Usually, you only have one chance to really try the local cuisine, and that is when you are in that country. You might try it in a restaurant in your home city, but usually it is not the same. Now, I try almost everything I come across when I am in a new country or place.

Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)

Often when I travel, I live with local people. I ask them which typical foods it is worth to try. They are usually willing and proud to share and tell me about their local cuisine. Because, who knows the local food better than the people living there? No one, not even a guidebook. Furthermore, they often cook some of that food for me, and we share together. Others dishes I go out to restaurants to eat or try in the street.

familymakingfoodformeIndia

Tell us about a memorable meal that was so special it is forever ingrained in your memory. Where was it and what set it apart? What was served, and who shared it with you?

In India, I lived with a local family. It was the Raksha Bandhan festival, and in this festival food is very important. I was invited to take a part of that as well. For a whole weekend, the family cooked delicious local food. I just love the Indian foods. We sat on the floor and eat with our hands.

I have a similar experience from the countryside in Uganda at Christmas 2011. I was celebrating with a local family that had prepared very tasteful foods, and we were all gathered on the floor eating it with our hand.

These are two experiences I will never forget.

DognNigeria

What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?

I have tried dog in Nigeria. The worst thing of it all was that when we were eating, a lot of dogs were walking around us, not knowing that they might be next on the plate. I will never try this again though.

We also eat whale in Norway, which many find shocking.

Also I often eat grasshoppers, if I am in a country that serves it. I really love this snack. However, I prefer the small ones.

And just for fun, if you had to choose one country’s cuisine to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?

That must be Italian food. I love all kinds of pastas. I also love pizza. I will never get tired of that.

All images were provided by Hanne. You can connect with her on Places People Stories or via Social Media: Facebook or Twitter.

 

Tunnel Visions in the Tunnelbana

Stockholm Subway Art

Spending time in major cities can get expensive, so we love finding ways to have fun without breaking the bank. Stockholm was no exception. The city’s network of subterranean transport is a kaleidoscope of color, texture and symbolism. There are pieces by 150 different artists spread throughout most of Stockholm’s 100 or so stations. Styles include mosaic, painting, sculpture, tile and mixed media installations among other mediums. All have a different feel, but exposed rock in many of the stations creates a cave-like quality we found ourselves really digging (pun intended)! Since we were visiting in winter, exploring Stockholm subway art also turned out to be great cold-weather/rainy day activity.

We each purchased a ticket for 44 SEK (about $5.50) which entitled us free roaming on any subway line in Zone 1 (central Stockholm) for a total of 75 minutes. We were moving pretty fast to see as much as we could in that amount of time. If we did it again, we might opt for a “travel card,” which can be purchased for 115 SEK (about $14). This gives you 24-hour access.  Our route is mapped out below. You could just as easily start at a different station, making T-Centralen your main hub. We got a lot of good info for planning our initial exploration from Lola Akinmade Åkerström’s post on Slow Travel Stockholm. She traveled with one of the certified guides from the free weekly guided art tours run by Storstockholms Lokaltrafik, another option for checking out Stockholm subway art. (English tours available in June, July and August.)

Kungstragarden stockholm subway art

Kungsträdgården Station (Blue Line)

Since we were staying right near Kungsträdgården, a central Stockholm park, we began our tour at Kungsträdgården Station on the Blue Line. After descending the escalator, you’ll come upon what looks like an archaeological dig. In a cave-like setting, there are 17th and 18th century artifacts from Makalös Palace, which stood nearby, as well as relics from other areas of the city. You can see Roman columns, ancient streetlights, pots and statues. These items all belong to the National Museum, but have been on display here since the station was opened in 1977. The paintings in the station were done by Swedish artist Ulrik Samuelson for the station’s opening. He added to his work there again in 1987. Even the floors are painted. The colors are symbolic, and are supposed to remind us of the history of Kungsträdgården above: red for the gravel pathways green for the plants and trees of the garden itself and white for the marble statues that decorated the garden.

Central (4)

The Hub: T-Centralen

Just one stop away, the blue and white floral and leaf motifs of T-Centralen were painted by artist and sculptor Per Olof Ultvedt.  The main hall of the Blue Line connection at T-Centralen features silhouettes of workers who contributed to the making of the station. You can pick out men with hardhats up on scaffolding. They’re using power tools, hammers, drills, welding. Take time to check out the detail. We thought the colors gave the station a kind of Greek feel.

Hotorget stockholm subway art

Hötorget  and Thorildsplan (Green Line)

A quick transfer to the Green Line, and we hopped off at the very next stop, Hötorget. While interesting, this wasn’t a favorite. The light teal and neon remind many of a toilet, and the station is sometimes called the “bathroom station.”

Continuing on the Green Line, we exited at Thorildsplan. Swedish artist Lars Arrhenius was commissioned to design this station in 2008. Clearly, he was inspired by the pixels of 8-bit video games of the 1970s and 1980s, recreating scenes from games like Super Mario Brothers, Dig Dug and Pac-Man. We also found an appropriate friend for Donny in Oscar the Grouch.

We then backtracked to Fridhemsplan, which features a nautical theme, with a model ship in a glass case, lots of green shades, a compass and an anchor. From here, we switched back to the Blue Line.

Thorildsplan (3)

Solana Centrum (6)

Solna Centrum (Blue Line)

Solna Centrum has a distinctly political feel to it. Paintings by artists Anders Åberg and Karl-Olov Björk depicted social issues such as “rural depopulation and destruction of the environment.” There is a large section dedicated to the outdoors, with vast green forests and hills, moose, people fishing, etc. Most striking at this station is the deep, red ceiling. We went up the escalator just so we could descend again into the fiery depths.

Stadion (1)

Stadion (Red Line)

Back to T-Centralen and now running out of time, we ran to catch the Red Line, taking it to the Stadion Station. This is probably the most photographed station, with a huge rainbow as the central feature. It’s a happy atmosphere, with everything cheery and colorful. We imagined there must be a unicorn painted there somewhere. Let us know if you spot one! This station was designed by by Enno Hallek and Åke Pallarp in 1973 to commemorate the 1912 Olympics.

 

 

 

Food for Thought with KarolinaPatryk

The Food for Thought series, now entering its second year, continues to explore the intersection of food, travel and culture. Many travelers see food as a natural and enjoyable way to gain insight into a new destination. Exploring local markets and chatting with local residents about what they like to eat and why paves the way toward deeper conversations. This week we chat with Karolina of the blog KarolinaPatryk.com.

our pictureMeet Karolina and Patryk

“Karolina and Patryk are a young travelling couple who decided to follow their hearts and live a free life. They opened a company and started travelling around the world. On their blog, they inspire other people to fulfill their dreams and give best travel, relationship and making money online tips.”

Food for Thought

The underlying idea of the “Food for Thought” series is that to truly experience a culture you must taste it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

Of course! Food is always a huge part of the whole culture. A wise man said: “you are what you eat.” Ingredients, meals, and spices constitute the entire culture of the country. Food is also smells. For us, the sense of smell is one of the most important senses. When you are abroad, you just need to try traditional dishes to understand locals.

What food do you identify with “home?” Does it reflect something about your own culture or upbringing?  Do you crave it while you’re away?

Definitely pierogi and schabowy z kapusta. We are from Poland so we are accustomed to fat, unhealthy and high-calorie food. Pierogi ruskie are dumplings filled with potato, cottage cheese and onion. Schabowy z kapusta is breaded fried pork with hot sauerkraut and potato.

We always miss these dishes when we abroad. What’s funny is that when we are in Poland, we rarely eat this kind of food! Only when we are far away from home do we miss our native flavors.

Patryk eating fish balls

How has travel affected the way you think about food?

We understood that eating is a big part of every culture when we started travelling. It’s not only about eating- it’s also preparing dishes and spending time together.

It’s different in every country. For example, in China people spend hours in the restaurant. They order plenty of dishes and lay them the middle of the table, so that everyone can try everything. It’s completely different from Europe. On the Old Continent, people eat fast, healthy and often alone. Eating is not celebrated like it is in Asia.

Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)

We always choose places where locals eat. We avoid ‘western’ restaurants and famous fast foods. The principle is simple: the less foreigners in the eatery, the better local food will be.

It happens very often that we are only foreigners in the restaurant. We have no idea how it works, but in a few minutes other Europeans or Americans come. Maybe because people subconsciously choose a place where there are already other foreigners?

Food for Thought

Tell us about a memorable meal that was so special it is forever ingrained in your memory. Where was it and what set it apart? What was served, and who shared it with you?

Definitely street food in Thailand! We absolutely LOVED it. At first we were a little afraid that we might get sick after eating it (it is not very hygienic to eat on the street). But all the worries disappeared with the first bite :). We most enjoyed the grilled meat and fish balls on a stick. Mmmm. yummy!

Karolina eating scorpion

What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?

Scorpion. We tried it in Thailand and it was surprisingly… good! It tasted like chips ;).

We’ll definitely eat it again. We are going to Thailand in 3 weeks and we are planning to eat locust and other fried insects.

Tom Yum thai coconut soup

And just for fun, if you had to choose one country’s cuisine to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?

Asian cuisine. It’s really difficult to choose one but we’ll go for Thai or Vietnamese food.

Pad Thai, Tom Yum (spicy coconut soup) and Pho soup are our favourite dishes :).

All images provided by Karolina and Patryk.  Connect with them via Twitter, Instagram, G+, Youtube or Facebook!

 

 

 

Food for Thought with The Vintage Postcard

During a recent, short hiatus, the Food for Thought series turned 1 year old on February 28! We continue to enjoy visiting with both successful, longtime members of the food and travel blogging community and some inspiring newcomers. Through each interview, we learn more about how food affects our experience of new destinations and cultures as we travel. This week we share the perspectives of Alli, who writes about her travels at The Vintage Postcard. Like us, we know you’ll be drawn to Alli’s sincere and thoughtful observations as she expresses them on her blog, with a focus on food, photography and storytelling. Her “favourite foods are Vietnamese, Greek cuisine, and strawberry banana smoothies,” but I can totally relate to real maple syrup bringing on some serious nostalgia.

Food for ThoughtMeet Alli

Alli is a young travel blogger and photographer from Toronto, Canada with an incredible zest for life and adventurous spirit. Seeing the world while writing about it is her greatest passion and fuels her with more life and inspiration than anything else she knows.

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Food for Thought

Phnom Penh Food Market 2

The underlying idea of the “Food for Thought” series is that to truly experience a culture you must taste it. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

I couldn’t agree more. I am a huge advocate of eating local and being adventurous and open to a variety of cultural dishes! I even recently jazzed up my spice rack at home to include spices from different regions of the world in order to cook more culturally specific cuisines. This way, when I am not traveling, I can continue experimenting and tasting new and unique flavours and dishes! I think experiencing a destination through taste is one of the best ways to get to know and feel connected to a new country or culture.

What food do you identify with “home?” Does it reflect something about your own culture or upbringing?  Do you crave it while you’re away?

I identify pure maple syrup with home. I will consume real maple syrup from the bottle or by the spoonful as many other Canadians do, I’m sure. Whether I’m using it for pancakes, baking, or cooking, it just has to be real. It’s a great natural sweetener with many health benefits while being so delicious all at the same time! When I was young my parents would frequently take me to a maple bush in the winter months and I’d learn how the sap was removed from the trees and transformed into maple syrup. Afterwards we’d eat the maple syrup poured into strips in the snow or during one of their pancake feasts.

How has travel affected the way you think about food?

Travel has affected the way I think about food in that I am always open to trying new flavours and cuisines. Food has a way of connecting people together, whether it’s  back at home or in a new culture. After so many years of travel, the joy and excitement I feel while learning and tasting new foods is something that I hold close to my heart and regard as very special.

Phnom Penh Food Market

Do you have a technique to try and understand local cuisine? (ie: Attending cooking classes or food tours? Hunting the best street food?)

I absolutely LOVE attending cooking classes in a new country and participating in a food tour! The most recent cooking class I attended was in Chiang Mai, Thailand, where I learned how to cook some traditional Thai cuisines: tom yum soup, pad thai, chicken cashew, and green curry. Beforehand, the chef took us to the market to learn about the different ingredients we would be cooking with! It was a fantastic way to further connect with the culture. In Phnom Penh, Cambodia , I participated in a phenomenal food tour. If it weren’t for this food tour within the local markets, I couldn’t have said there was anything about Phnom Penh I enjoyed. It was an amazing experience and while I was in the markets I ate my most memorable meal.

Banh Hoi!

Tell us about a memorable meal that was so special it is forever ingrained in your memory. Where was it and what set it apart?

My most memorable meal was the Banh Hoi I had in the Phnom Penh morning market. The lady I visited is famous in the area for her Banh Hoi and she completely sells out by 11 am. She is then done for the day and spends the rest of her time at home with her family. Served with a fresh, cool iced coffee, it is a fabulous dish with so many delicious ingredients: rice noodles, cucumber, lettuce, bean shoots, anise basil, mint, chopped up vegetarian spring rolls, pork, pork loaf, coconut milk, fish sauce, crusted dried shrimp, crushed peanuts, and chili on the side.

What food have you tried in your travels that some might find shocking or surprising? Would you eat it again?

I tried guinea pig while I was in Cusco, Peru. I would not eat it again! I grew up with guinea pigs when I was younger, so I still can’t believe I managed to eat some. To me it tasted like very tender chicken so absolutely no need or want to try any again!

Chiang Mai Food Markets

And just for fun, if you had to choose one country’s cuisine to eat for the rest of your life what would it be?

I would choose Thailand. I just love pad thai, and am always seeking out the best spot at home to enjoy it when I’m not traveling, or even making my own recipe.

All images were provided by Alli. You can connect with her on The Vintage Postcard or via Social Media: Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Don’t Skip: Clovelly, North Devon, UK

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Clovelly

We debated long and hard over visiting Clovelly. Internet research led us to believe it would be over-touristed and cliché. How could a town require an entrance fee just to walk its streets, after all? In reality, we decided to skip it, but when an alternate route took us within a few miles, we changed plans. We’re very glad we did! Nestled into the face of a 400-foot cliff, this once-bustling fishing village is as unique as it is picturesque. Clovelly is a living village, not just a recreation, and we thoroughly enjoyed making our way down the cobblestoned street, meandering amongst the 300-year-old, whitewashed cottages.

Nearing the town, signs guide all vehicles to the car park at the visitor’s center. The one main street of the village is steep and cobblestoned, leading to the whole place being pedestrianized. After paying the entrance fee, most of which goes to maintaining the village, the first stop is an orientation film. We were the only ones in the small, basement theater, and enjoyed getting a bit of background before we took a look around.

Up Along, Clovelly

A Bit of History

The earliest mention of Clovelly is in the Doomsday book, which dates back to about 1100 AD, but the settlement itself likely existed long before that. The village of Clovelly has only been in the hands of three families in the past 800 years! From the 9th Century or so, the village was officially owned by the King. In the middle of the 13th Century it was acquired by the Giffard family, followed about 30 years later by the Cary family, who lived there for the next 11 generations. When the Cary line died out, one of the descendant’s widowers sold the estate to Zachary Hamlyn in 1738. One of his family’s descendants, Christine Hamlyn dedicated herself (and her husband’s considerable wealth) to the renovation in the early 1900s of many cottages and houses in Clovelly. The estate is currently run by John Rous, the son of Christine’s niece. From what we’ve read since, Squire John values the traditions of the village, and works hard to maintain them. From lower rents for his tenants to using the highest quality, traditional building materials, his job is a challenging and expensive one. Walking through the village later, we took note of the dates on some of the buildings, and the initials CH. These are the dates that Christine Hamlyn’s renovations of the buildings took place. As the video mentions, she combined many different styles, suiting her own taste of the moment. The doorframe of one house features a bunch of carved fruit, commonly seen in German architecture, for example.

Sledge Clovelly

Sledges and Donkeys, or How to Move Things Around

Since the street is so steep and bumpy, there is a long tradition of using donkeys as a form of transportation. We saw some historical signs talking about maximum weight for riders and goods, different for going up than for going down. Donkeys can still be seen in their stables at the top of the village. The guys working there can tell you all the details about the donkeys past and present. We were surprised to hear how long they live! One old mare was over 30, and tiny compared to her much taller daughter. These days, most everything is brought into town by sledge. These look like crates or wire baskets mounted to wooden blades. They look like they’d be hard to maneuver, but the people we saw using them didn’t seem to have any trouble. Bags of coal seemed to be the delivered item of the day, left on many front porches. We even saw one sledge with a baby seat attached to it. Good idea, considering the problems we saw one couple having with their stroller. Note: if you go with a stroller, don’t keep the baby in it!

Clovelly Sea Wall

The Harbor

The maritime history of Clovelly is understandably rich and fascinating. In the heyday, herring and mackerel would have been the catch of the day. The harbor still has plenty of boats, and the sea wall was piled up with crab and lobster traps, nets and colorful buoys. This isolated, protected area was also popular with pirates and smugglers, and there are some interesting stories on those topics, including one scary one about cannibals! Shipwrecks abound, and Clovelly still maintains its lifesaving boat and crew. The dangerous and unpredictable waters of the North Devon coast led to many tragedies, but some amazing rescues as well. In summer, you can visit the Lifeboat Station, which faces the middle of the harbor. In town, there is also a traditional fisherman’s cottage to visit. Don’t miss the attic, up a ladder on the top floor. This is where the boys would have slept on straw mattresses.

Fishermans House Clovelly

Literary Connection

19th Century writer and social reformer Charles Kingsley, perhaps best known for his works, Westward Ho! and The Water Babies, spent his childhood in Clovelly. He returned as an adult many times, and is said to have written Westward Ho! here. There is a small museum in Providence House, where he lived, dedicated to him, including memorabilia such as his favorite chair and christening shawl, along with papers, letters and other items of interest. In the main room, you hear one of Kingsley’s more famous poems being read, about three fishermen’s wives waiting for their husbands’ return, which wasn’t meant to be.

Clovelly Houses

Visiting Clovelly

Entrance fee for adults as of 2015 is 6.95 GBP. The village is open year-round except Christmas. Accommodation is available in the New Inn, in the middle of town, and the Red Lion by the harbor. In warmer weather, Hobby Drive looks like a great place for a nice, long walk. Also in summer, for those who can’t make the walk back up, there are Land Rovers to make that return journey, for a fee.  Keep your an eye out for the many friendly cats that seem to own a piece of the action here as well!