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going international.

April 6, 2011

No, I’m not traveling outside the United States. I wish I was, though! Ever since I could travel on my own (i.e. without my parents), I did it with gusto. I love to travel, whether to another state or to another country. And I’m not talking about road trips – no thank you. I would much rather take an airplane ride any day. Thankfully I’ve had some amazing opportunities to travel (mainly for mission work) since high school til about several years ago (spring 2006 was the last time I traveled outside the US).

Anyways, this week is my university’s international week, a week filled with all kinds of events featuring our international student population. One of today’s events was an international food fair. Yes please! I have attended this food fair 5-6 times since I was a student and an employee of the school. It’s a one-stop shop of food from multiple countries, table after table of different dishes and desserts run by our international students. The food I’ve tasted over the years has been pretty good, but you have to be a bit adventurous if you go to the fair. As much as I’m such a weenie when it comes to eating raw onions and tomatoes, I love me some international food! For $7 I was able to procure a good helping of:

  • pad thai & crab rangoon (Thailand)
  • palabok (Philippines, what-what!)
  • samosa & crepe dessert (Bangladesh)
  • cake square with almond (India)
  • cinnamon date cake, soft sponge balls (sounds gross but it was fantastic!) and macaroni with white sauce and chicken (Saudi Arabia)
  • dumplings with lemony gravy (Nepal)

Unfortunately, I didn’t have my camera with me so I couldn’t take a picture of these goodies. But trust me – it was all good! Some things I favored more than others, but overall I was satisfied with my adventurous purchases. In this case, I figured I would write about food I’ve eaten while I’ve traveled internationally:

Matamor0s, Mexico

(four times – approx. 1999, 2004, 2005 and 2006)

Memorable food I ate: homemade tamales, made by these ladies from the church we worked with. They brought the tamales in a big pot, straight to the construction site where we were at. Once you’ve had homemade tamales in Mexico, it’s hard to like tamales at any Mexican restaurant here in the States.

County Wexford and County Galway, Ireland

(three times – in the summer of 2000, 2001 and 2002; longest trip was spent in County Galway, for 5 weeks – I even got to celebrate my birthday there AND get my one and only tattoo done!)

Memorable food I ate: blood pudding. Yeah. Didn’t know what it was made of. It looked like a good ‘ol American sausage pattie so I tried it. Not exactly the same. I wouldn’t call it tasty but it was definitely memorable. I also can’t forget that Ireland is where I had the best smoked fish chowder (on the island of Inisheer) and drank the best hot cocoa (in Galway City).

Lanping, Kunming and Hong Kong, China

(once – winter 2002)

Memorable food I ate: everything! I have to say that since I’ve eaten authentic Chinese food, every buffet I eat at pales, pales, PALES in comparison. One dinner we ate was at a school teacher’s house; the wife made over 15 different dishes! It was a feast and I remember eating and eating and eating. I also remember we ate out of small bowls instead of plates and if my bowl was ever empty at any given time, someone would fill it with more food. I remember eating at the school we volunteered at. The school didn’t have a cafeteria, but had several booths of families cooking food right there in front of you. At one point, I had a bowl of rice and this spicy beef dish – I don’t know what it was called but it was so delicious. My friends and I also sampled street food, particularly shao kao, which is like Chinese barbecue – on a stick. Oddly enough, the kind I tried – chicken – was cooked by an Arabic man, not a Chinese national.

Addis Ababa, Dodola, Goba and the Bale Mountains National Park, Ethiopia

(once – in summer 2004)

Memorable food I ate: injera and wat. Injera is Ethiopia’s national dish and is a “yeast-rise flatbread with a slight, spongy texture” according to Wikipedia. I remember the injera itself being sour – reminded me of sourdough bread. Wasn’t a fan. The wat was actually good – various sauces and stews. I also had some of the strongest coffee I’ve ever tasted. Ethiopia is known for its coffee and we would often have coffee, peanuts and popcorn whenever we would visit a family.

London, England

(once – in summer 2004, overnight layover)

Memorable food I ate: a Big Mac with fries. Yes, I’m lame like that but who could blame me for wanting American food after traveling in the Ethiopian mountains for 2 and a half weeks? Besides, we only had a limited amount of time in London so we dragged our jet-lagged selves to see some tourist spots like Westminster Abbey and Big Ben.

Mumbai, India

(twice – in fall 2004 and winter 2005)

Memorable food I ate: chicken curry and butter chicken. Ohmygoodness. So delicious. Homemade by a family friend of the missionaries I knew. Plus, I also had the best peppercorn burger EVER in Mumbai. Ironic, no? Because of India and the wonderful people I met there, I am now a huge fan of curry.

Alberta and British Columbia, Canada

(once – in summer 2006)

Memorable food I ate: granola, tuna, crackers and beef jerkey. I’m not kidding! My husband and I figured that it would be best to splurge on location so we stayed at this amazing (and very expensive) mountain resort called Emerald Lake Lodge in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. Though we were only there for a few days , we could only afford to eat out a couple of times (we spent the rest of our honeymoon at a small ski town called Canmore, right outside of Banff; we were at an extended stay hotel so we were able to shop at the local grocery store for food). So, while we were able to eat a super fancy meal at the lodge’s restaurant (my husband had buffalo somesuchorother and I had roast duck), we lived off of granola, tuna and crackers and beef jerky. Our first meal when we got to the lodge was dinner sitting out on the balcony overlooking Emerald Lake and some gorgeous mountains, as we feasted on canned tuna. You bet we didn’t touch the stuff for weeks afterward.

Now it’s your turn! Have you traveled outside of the United States? If so, where at? What kind of food have you eaten there?

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Ash permalink
    April 6, 2011 1:31 am

    I love this post! I couldn’t make it to the food festival today, but here are a few things I absolutely love-

    UAE – shwarma
    Germany – black forest cake 🙂
    Denmark – meatballs!
    France – salads, crepes, wine, everything actually
    China – Schezwan food
    Italy – tomato pizza
    Israel – falafel
    London – fish n chips
    Singapore – laksa
    Thailand – octopus fried rice

  2. April 6, 2011 4:30 am

    Ash, all those things sound yummy!! I LOVE shwarma.
    PS – would you happen to know what cake/bar dessert thing I’m talking about? It was white with a cashew on top.

  3. Ash permalink
    April 6, 2011 4:37 am

    What was it made of? If it was made of cashews it was probably kaju katli. If it was made of milk then it might have been burfi. Glad you liked it!

  4. April 7, 2011 2:50 pm

    Ash, I think it was burfi. Do you have a recipe for it? It was sooo good!

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