Let me preface this by stating that I am neither a food connoisseur food nor a wine master, but I simply love enjoying both! As you travel the globe you are exposed to the culture and lifestyle of the countries you visit, many of which also influence the local food and beverage.
When someone mentions France, you may picture yourself dining in a Michelin starred restaurant with a bottle of French champagne, or you may simply choose to visit the local “boulangerie” for a baguette, to enjoy with cheese, some sliced ham, perhaps a punnet of berries, and a bottle of local wine whilst having a picnic in the countryside. Or perhaps Italy is more your spot, so how about a delicious bowl of pasta and a bottle of chianti?
Thinking about somewhere in Asia, you may be inclined to lean towards Japan, where the food focus is on freshness and presentation. Sushi springs to mind, or a delicious plate of sashimi and a glass or two of sake. Enjoy a unique and traditional tea ceremony, representing harmony, tranquillity, purity, and respect. Perhaps you prefer something a little more casual, some street food in a hawker centre in Singapore: a laksa with an icy cold Tiger beer to cool you down.
Everywhere you go you are exposed to such a variety cultural experiences, cuisine and local beverages. I recall a trip to Fiji, one of my first international trips from Australia, where we were introduced to a Fijian feast, a lovo. The beautifully fresh food is wrapped in banana leaves (or foil) and cooked in an underground firepit. Whilst the food was cooking, we were entertained by an exhibition of local dancing, then the deliciously moist seafood, meat, vegetables and desserts were served on large banana leaves for our consumption. We also enjoyed participating in a kava ceremony, drinking the local beverage which you traditionally down in one gulp, with relaxing Fijian music in the background. Many of the Pacific islands have similar experiences, although there may be some small differences.
Travel to the Americas and experience some of the tried and tested favourites. Who can picture a trip to Mexico and go past some tacos, enchiladas or a burrito, bowls of salsa and guacamole all whilst sitting in the shade of a Mexican hat, sipping a cold Corona beer, or gulping a shot of tequila with salt and lime? Perhaps a Cajun crawfish étouffée or a bowl of jambalaya followed by pecan pie or beignets enjoyed with a bourbon or two, listening to some cool jazz music in Louisiana is more your style. Moving down south to Argentina, enjoy an asado. Now, this is a BBQ with a difference and is always done over wood, with the meat cooked slowly over the hot coals. The meat may be served with a simple chimichurri sauce, fresh salads and potatoes accompanied by a glass or two of Argentinian Malbec, followed be a selection of desserts. If you are lucky enough to be invited to an asado, set aside several hours as this is not an experience to be rushed. Enjoy!
Of course, how could we forget out own ubiquitous Australian barbies? Any occasion is good enough; get out the prawns, steak, chicken, chops or snags, some or all of them, add some bread rolls and a selection of salads and vegetables. Don’t forget the chilled beers and wine and you are on your way. Whether we are at the beach, out for a picnic or simply enjoying time at home with friends, this is the epitome of Australian casual dining. Why else would Hoges have that suggested we “throw a shrimp on the barbie” . Add a few lamingtons, a plate of pavlova and some freshly sliced fruit and we are done.
Well, all this talk of food and drink is making me peckish, so I am off to check what is my kitchen. I might have to cook up an international feast at home until I can get out exploring again. Ummm, not sure if I feel like some pasta, a BBQ steak or perhaps a tummy warming Irish stew. Or maybe something sweet like a delicious beignet, with a hot cup of coffee? I think I’ll just pour a glass of chilled sauvignon blanc to sip, while I decide about that…
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