Occam’s razor, bizarre food, and exploration – Part 1.

Balut egg in Dalat, Vietnam.

Balut egg in Dalat, Vietnam.

BR85R5 Corn Smut Ustilago maydis growing on field corn Michigan USA corn

Corn Smut Ustilago maydis growing on field corn Michigan USA cor

The drawing of this Love and the voice of this Calling
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
Thomas Stearns Eliot OM, better known by his pen name T. S. Eliot
Poem : 4 quarters – section 5

I am structurally atypical in my likes and dislikes when it comes to eating food. I am happily in the company of Andrew Zimmern of the bizarre foods. Just like in Star Trek, the Original series – TOS, which I watched during my formative years in India, I love exploring foods of different cultures. I am fascinated by people, places, and the unique contribution food makes to human history – warts and all – the good, bad, and the ugly.
I have just discovered through BBC travel about a quora question that is absolutely my heart’s question: Ethnic and Cultural Differences: What food is popular in your country, but unacceptable in other countries?
Why do I like that?  I guess it could be my life long yearning to go off the grid and explore.
What I mean is this: What would I need (using the basic Occam’s razor principle) that would free up my time to explore the universe?
No let’s first look at foods that are popular in some parts of the world and then other people from elsewhere cringe at even the thought of it.

This is from Quora

Country (Subregion), Food (further info on food and its preparation if

•Australia, various atypical Meats (including Kangaroo, Alpaca, Wombat, Camel, Emu, Crocodile, Possom…)
•Australia, Witchetty grub (a 12 cm long grub, served raw or cooked)
•Australia, Vegemite (a paste made from brewer’s yeast, served spread on toast)
•Bangladesh, Panta Bhaat (rice soaked in water overnight)
•Bangladesh, Beef Tripe (served as a spicy fried fried curry)
•Bangladesh, Shutki (processed smelly dry fish, cooked into various dishes)
•Brazil, PET bottle contaminates (various foods are placed inside a PET bottle, then cooked over an open flame, possibly contaminating the food), abacate (avocado) with sugar, chicken hearts
•British Virgin Islands, peas soup (made with kidney beans, milk, and sugar)
•Chile, Ñachi, coagulated pig or lamb fresh blood, dressed and served in cubes with bread
•Camaroon (Northwest), Palm grubs and grasshoppers
•China, Thousand Year Egg (Egg fermented for several weeks)
•China, cow/bull genital and testicle (stew in Chao Shan beef hot pot)
•China, Virgin Boy Eggs (eggs simmered in the urine of young boys)
•Egypt, AkaWei (cooked cow or buffalo tails with vegetables), Lesan (Cooked cow tongues, Makhasi (cooked calf or buffalo testicles), KawaRee (cooked cow legs).
•Ethiopia, Raw Beef (from newly slaughtered cattle or delivered fresh meat, usually eaten along with spices, and kifto is a popular variant)
•Finland, False Morel (a toxic mushroom)
•France, Mimolette (a cheese that cheese mites are encouraged to run rampant upon)
•France: Rabbit meat (considered a pet in other countries)
•Germany, Blutwurst (a cured sausage made with pig’s blood and fatty bacon)
•Germany, Hackepeter or Mett (finely minced raw meat, eaten on bread, often with raw, chopped onions)
•Germany, Saumagen (a fresh sausage made inside a pigs stomach, incredients can include: potatoes, meat, onions, and more)
•Greece, Kokoretsi, (Sheep or goat intestine stuffed with liver and spleen and roasted
•India (southern), Oorugai (concentrated mix of pickled chillies and vegetables)
•Italy (Sardinia), Casu Marzu (”rotten cheese”, cheese that maggots are encouraged to live and grow in)
•Japan, furikake (anything you sprinkle over rice to add flavor, starting with dried salted vegetables through salted salmon)
•Japan, Natto (fermented soybeans, served mixed with rice and a sauce, has an extremely sticky, stringy texture and a strong smell)
•Japan, Tuna Eyes (unknown)
•Lebenon, Raw Liver (served with pita, mint, pepper and salt in bite sized portions)
•Macau, Fish Balls (made from shaped fish paste, served cooked, sometimes with a sauce, has a gelatinous texture)
•Mexico, Maguey Worm (moth larva, served fried with guacamole)
•México, Huitlacoche (aka corn smut, a fungus that parasitizes the kernels, served in quesadillas)
•México, Tacos de seso (cow brains tacos)
•México, Moronga (pig’s blood sausage)
•México, Tripas de cerdo (grilled pig’s small intestine, taco filling)
•New Zealand, Rotten sweetcorn, (Kanga Wai, a porridge made from sweetcorn kernels soaked in water for months)
•Norway, Smalahove (roasted sheep’s head)
•Philippines, Balut (also balot, cooked duck embryo, boiled in the shell)
•Russia, Kholodets (Meat Jelly)
•Scotland, Haggis (heart, lungs and liver of a sheep cooked inside its own stomach)
•Singapore (also S.E. Asia), Durian (aka the King of Fruits, an extra-ordinarily strong smelling fruit with a creamy texture, many find the smell unpleasant, banned on public transport there)
•South Africa, Biltong (dried meat, rather like jerky)
•South Africa, less typically used parts of Meat (BBQed sheeps head, chicken head and feet, tripe)
•South Korea, Sannakji (small raw octpus, seasoned with sesame oil and seads)
•UK (and others), barbecued hamburgers, (not considered proper to be barbecued in Brazil and maybe other S.A. countries)
•Vietnam, Balut (cooked duck embryo, boiled in the shell) , Dog meat , Cat meat.

We also have a bbc travel article.

E4PDN4 Brown False Morel (Gyromitra fastigiata), rare, Hainich National Park, Thuringia, Germany

Brown False Morel (Gyromitra fastigiata), rare, Hainich National Park, Thuringia, Germany

The false morel mushroom, described by some as having a nutty, sweet maple taste, is so good it might just be flavour to die for. The highly toxic mushroom is banned throughout most of Europe, but in Finland, the fungus is a delicacy. It requires delicate handling and preparation to remove most of the main toxins – it’s usually dried and parboiled at least twice. Even still, the preparation doesn’t remove all of the poisonous chemical – side effects can include everything from a queasy stomach to death for the metabolically sensitive.

Happy exploring and eating!!

Why India is a nation of foodies

food with pain staking patience getty images

ohhh this is good. I believe that one of the greatest unifiers of man and women kind (after the bread of life) is food across borders, skipping over bombastic, trivial disputations between nations. the next is personal immersion, with open hearts, embracing spirit, and willing minds people of different cultures.

The BBC has this article today (Ritu Agarwal, India Today). This is a  series and it should be one. Because India is too diverse and too non-homogenous to be categorized as ‘Chicken Tikka masala’ (which is BTW, the national, unofficial dish of England🙂 )

Hyderabad, with its wondrous complexity is the richest cosmopolitan city bar none in India.  You might call me biased, since I love it and have grown up it in. But it is the most hospitable (every language (exaggeration) of India is represented), there are “bastis” (localities) that have the communities from specific parts of India with its own cuisines (you can say that the entire city, with different areas, have cuisines of  India) savories and rasgulla (syrupy dessert, made of cottage cheese, semolina dough and sugar) from Bengal, Indo-Chinese chicken manchria !! (my friend, who came to USA for the first time, placed that order in DC and the look on the waiter’s face was priceless, according to my friend), gujarati thalis, kerala uttapams, Andhra meals, rajastani dal-churma, Mumbai’s pani-puri, rayalseema’s natu kodi pulusu (ohhh spicy country chicken), madras samabar, Kerala’s fish mapas (fish with coconut milk), mutton rogan josh from Kashmir, mugahlia paratha and chicken shorba ..I can’t write anymore without fainting with imaginations. I’ll end with my all time personal favorite – Idly with dal-chutney – heavenly!

Now lets get back to the article

“So the baniya (trader) community (to which I belong) in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh cooks very differently to the baniyas of Rajasthan.

For years India has struggled to translate this finicky food fastidiousness to restaurants.”

Similarly, my new friends considered all north Indian food to be “Punjabi” (the state of Punjab having given the universally popular Dal-Naan-Chicken Tikka Masala to the world) and were equally baffled with my cooking.

….

Happy eating and adventures on your own personal chronicles!

Photo credit : Getty images in the article

 

 

The amazing tale of Grace O’Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.

Clue Bay - George Karbus photography

Sitting in a Dublin pub nursing a pint of Guinness, I got talking to a fella who told me what seemed to be an amazing and improbable story.

It was about a woman from County Mayo who was a pirate and a scourge of Ireland’s west coast, in the way that Black Beard had been the scourge of the Spanish Main. The time was 16th-century Ireland, when education was rare and women spent most of their life rearing children and looking after household affairs. But that was not the life of Grace O’Malley, sailor, captain, plunderer, mercenary, rebel, pirate – as well as wife and mother.

tower of grace by Peter lynch

The tales came thick and fast. Not everyone agreed on the facts, but a picture gradually emerged of her charismatic personality, her wild life and disregard for social mores. I was told that she was the leader of 200 fighting men on a small fleet of ships and would fight alongside them. Others said she would waylay passing merchant ships and demand a tax for safe passage – if they did not pay she plundered them. I was eager to know more, and someone gave me the number of a sailor named Aaron O’Grady who was also born on Clare Island and is something of a local expert on O’Malley. “He’s your man,” was the general consensus.

By Peter Lynch

20 June 2016

 

You can find the rest of the story here at BBC

the first photo courtesy : Clew Bay is scattered with hundreds of drowned drumlins (Credit: George Karbus Photography/Cultura RM/Alamy)

the second photo courtesy : Peter Lynch.

Adventures and Glory, happy traveling, in your journey through your own chronicles of Human experience

Gardens of London

Olivia Howitt bbc gardens

Gardens are classic to London, as aromatic spices are to Hyderabad, India. From what I heard from first hand accounts on backyard gardens from Pamela in DC, who had worked around people like C S Lewis, and from Anders whose was born where Shakespeare grew up – Stratford-upon-Avon.   His mom has a beautiful garden. They take pride and are passionate about cultivating, and nourishing flowers, herbs, and tomatoes but not chilies. Ha, we Indian origin Americans love our chilies!

The beautiful snap is from Olivia Howitt that I came across here at the BBC website.

to quote “The garden shown here was planted in memory of the blitzed church. Clematis and climbing roses weave up 10 wooden towers which represent the pillars that held the former roof. Box-edged beds of roses indicate where the pews once stood, while an avenue of trees marks the former nave. “And the plants are the parishioners,” Blair said. (Credit: Olivia Howitt)”

Medieval roots

Medieval roots

“Some of London’s secret gardens have more historic roots. The courtyard shown here is on the site of the Franciscan Church of Greyfriars, which dates back to 1225. The structure burned down in the Great Fire of London of 1666. The new church, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and built between 1687 and 1704, was also gutted by fire – this time in 1940 during a WWII raid. Only the west tower remains. (Credit: Olivia Howitt)”

Happy traveling, and share with us your chronicles!

 

Magic in Morocco

Berber woman

Morocco evokes the adventure of Arabian night’s for me. The Islamic Golden era which is traditionally dated from the 8th century to the 13th century produced much magic when it comes to tales of adventure, danger, and glory. Sinbad the sailor immediately comes to mind. I simply adore the beginning of the story. I will print it verbatim here.

IN the times of the Caliph Haroun-al-Raschid there lived in Bagdad a poor porter named Hindbad, who on a very hot day was sent to carry a heavy load from one end of the city to the other. Before he had accomplished half the distance he was so tired that, finding himself in a quiet street where the pavement was sprinkled with rose water, and a cool breeze was blowing, he set his burden upon the ground, and sat down to rest in the shade of a grand house. Very soon he decided that he could not have chosen a pleasanter place; a delicious perfume of aloes wood and pastilles came from the open windows and mingled with the scent of the rose water which steamed up from the hot pavement. Within the palace he heard some music, as of many instruments cunningly played, and the melodious warble of nightingales and other birds, and by this, and the appetizing smell of many dainty dishes of which he presently became aware, he judged that feasting and merry making were going on. He wondered who lived in this magnificent house which he had never seen before, the street in which it stood being one which he seldom had occasion to pass. To satisfy his curiosity he went up to some splendidly dressed servants who stood at the door, and asked one of them the name of the master of the mansion.

“What,” replied he, “do you live in Bagdad, and not know that here lives the noble Sindbad the Sailor, that famous traveler who sailed over every sea upon which the sun shines?”

sindbad

The porter, who had often heard people speak of the immense wealth of Sindbad, could not help feeling envious of one whose lot seemed to be as happy as his own was miserable. Casting his eyes up to the sky he exclaimed aloud,

“Consider, Mighty Creator of all things, the differences between Sindbad’s life and mine. Every day I suffer a thousand hardships and misfortunes, and have hard work

to get even enough bad barley bread to keep myself and my family alive, while the lucky Sindbad spends money right and left and lives upon the fat of the land! What has he done that you should give him this pleasant life– what have I done to deserve so hard a fate?”

So saying he stamped upon the ground like one beside himself with misery and despair. Just at this moment a servant came out of the palace, and taking him by the arm said, “Come with me, the noble Sindbad, my master, wishes to speak to you.”

Hindbad was not a little surprised at this summons, and feared that his unguarded words might have drawn upon him the displeasure of Sindbad, so he tried to excuse himself upon the pretext that he could not leave the burden which had been entrusted to him in the street. However the lackey promised him that it should be taken care of, and urged him to obey the call so pressingly that at last the porter was obliged to yield.

He followed the servant into a vast room, where a great company was seated round a table covered with all sorts of delicacies. In the place of honor sat a tall, grave man whose long white beard gave him a venerable air. Behind his chair stood a crowd of attendants eager to minister to his wants. This was the famous Sindbad himself. The porter, more than ever alarmed at the sight of so much magnificence, tremblingly saluted the noble company. Sindbad, making a sign to him to approach, caused him to be seated at his right hand, and himself heaped choice morsels upon his plate, and poured out for him a draught of excellent wine, and presently, when the banquet drew to a close, spoke to him familiarly, asking his name and occupation.

“My lord,” replied the porter, “I am called Hindbad.”

“I am glad to see you here,” continued Sindbad. “And I will answer for the rest of the company that they are equally pleased, but I wish you to tell me what it was that you said just now in the street.” For Sindbad,

passing by the open window before the feast began, had heard his complaint and therefore had sent for him.

At this question Hindbad was covered with confusion, and hanging down his head, replied, “My lord, I confess that, overcome by weariness and ill-humour, I uttered indiscreet words, which I pray you to pardon me.”

“Oh!” replied Sindbad, “do not imagine that I am so unjust as to blame you. On the contrary, I understand your situation and can pity you. Only you appear to be mistaken about me, and I wish to set you right. You doubtless imagine that I have acquired all the wealth and luxury that you see me enjoy without difficulty or danger, but this is far indeed from being the case. I have only reached this happy state after having for years suffered every possible kind of toil and danger.

“Yes, my noble friends,” he continued, addressing the company, “l assure you that my adventures have been strange enough to deter even the most avaricious men from seeking wealth by traversing the seas. Since you have, perhaps, heard but confused accounts of my seven voyages, and the dangers and wonders that I have met with by sea and land, I will now give you a full and true account of them, which I think you will be well pleased to hear.”

As Sindbad was relating his adventures chiefly on account of the porter, he ordered, before beginning his tale, that the burden which had been left in the street should be carried by some of his own servants to the place for which Hindbad had set out at first, while he remained to listen to the story………………..

Isn’t that an awesome start to a story…So many times we see that which is external and forget that there was a lot of blood, sweat, and tears in the lives of people..

here is a story, a funny one, from 21st century, a personal experience by Bill Fink (at BBC travel)

Two men on the train invited me to their sister’s wedding, but they didn’t look at all like brothers.

Tall, fair-skinned Achmed and short, swarthy, moustachioed Mustafa entered my cabin midway between Marrakech and Fez. “A thousand welcomes to Morocco,” they said, putting their hands over their hearts.

I gave them a noncommittal nod, wary of yet another scam, having spent most of my time in Marrakech fleeing from touts, tour guides and con artists. Lacking contacts, a guidebook or much cash, I was essentially a refugee in this land, dependent on the good will of people I didn’t know.

The duo asked why I was visiting Morocco. I was too embarrassed to say it was actually just a cheap side trip from my stay in Spain. I didn’t want to admit I chose Marrakech because of a Crosby, Stills & Nash song and that I was travelling to Fez because of the funny hats.

So I made up a story with the old clichés, telling them I had always wanted to visit the land of the Arabian Nights, snake charmers and exotic desert adventures.

They laughed.

“Well, perhaps those tales have some truths. But if you want to see the real Morocco, you must come to our sister’s wedding tonight,” Achmed said….

Happy traveling and sharing your own human experiences!

source of English translation : here1

source of Berber women and the funny story – here2

mangoes in india – sweet and succulent; raw and sour

mangoes festival.jpg

sweet and succulent with history

I have eaten mangoes from the time I remember as a young kid in Hyderabad, India. Three were the interests of the summer holidays – mangoes, detective stories, and cricket. I’ll talk about mangoes.

for pickling

The season is in full swing in India. Right from the middle of April to June. My mom pickles the fresh raw green ones. As big as a pear. They have a awesome tangy flavor. It is a ritual in every household in south India that you gather with your relatives and pickle them. My mom’s eldest sister – my mom is the youngest child born to my granddad. The age difference is around 15 years, would come over and it is a day long process. At last at the end of the day the dishes with the reminder of masalas and ohhh heavenly, would be wiped clean with white rice. God bless them.

Now, I have always dreamt of a food vacation – and the Hindu business line has one such village. In Rataul village in Uttar Pradesh’s Baghpat district.

Uttar_Pradesh_district_location_map_Bagpat_svg

Pic : source

“What is known, however, is that when Sheikh Mohd Afaq Faridi returned to the village after completing his inter college in 1905, he noticed this mango tree in its infancy near one of the farms. He asked a gardener to graft the plant, and in a year’s time, four mango trees sprouted. Thus began the young boy’s love affair with mangoes.”

“Years later, Afaq Faridi resigned from his job and devoted his life to this ‘sweet mission’.

After his marriage, he set up a mango nursery christened Shohra-e-afaq in 1928 and got it registered in 1935. He named this mango variety Anwar Rataul, now popularly known simply as the Rataul mango.”

And here is Mr.. Steve Parle’s article in the telegraph.

Early in the season (which starts in mid-March), alphonso mangoes are prohibitively expensive. I stretch them out by serving only half a mango, with a glass of chilled, spiced, sweetened milk: a beautiful combination

Source for the top picture is here

 

 

Kerala, houseboats and crabs

Kerala is the Venice of the east.

It has a fantastic coastline. It is over 525 miles long. (845 km).

During Ming China’s treasure voyages in the early-15th century, Admiral Zheng He’s fleet often landed at the Malabar Coast. Soon after Vasco da Gama (Portuguese explorer : He was the first European to reach India by sea, linking Europe and Asia for the first time by an ocean route, as well as connecting the Atlantic and the Indian oceans, and in this way, the West and the Orient.) landed near Calicut in 1498, proving a sea route between India and Europe, Portugal became the first of several European maritime empires to grow rich from the spice trade with this area.

Source

wiki link 1, wiki link 2, Photos, Budget traveler mag