Experimenting in the kitchen with new and exotic recipes is a favourite weekend pastime, so it should come as no surprise that “taste” is one of the many reasons I love to travel. If you can identify with this passion, then you are probably an adventurous traveller too.
Doubles, Trinidad: Anyone who travels frequently to Trinidad will know that the first stop leaving the airport is at a roadside stand for “doubles” – a snack that can be eaten any time of day. The food of Trinidad has to be some of the best in the world, given its influence from so many different cultures, including Indian, African, Portuguese, Amerindian, Spanish, Chinese and others. This delicious snack is made with 2 flatbreads called bara and is filled with curried channa (chickpeas). You can’t call yourself Trini if you haven’t tried one.
Haggis, Scotland: Without going into details on how this controversial dish is made, the real fun for me was in the way it was presented. I was in Scotland (circa early 90’s) speaking at the International Institute for Peace in Tourism summit and was hosted to a Ceremony of the Haggis. The setting was the historic University of Glasgow, established in 1451 which in itself is jaw dropping gorgeous. Now picture a dark wood and gold gilt room illuminated by candlelight – it was like going back in time and then the kilted parade began. A piper led the way, followed by the culinary team, one holding a bottle of scotch followed by the master chef with the plate of haggis held up high, then the master of ceremonies who read Robert Burns’ poem, “Address to a Haggis” (1787), and lastly the swordsman with his dirk for the cutting of the haggis. The pudding was served with neeps (mashed turnip) and tatties (mashed potato) and washed down with a dram (or two) of Scotch whisky. . . and best of all – I discovered I liked haggis. Now Robbie Burns Day (January 25) has become a much anticipated tradition with my friends.
Digby Scallops, Yarmouth, Nova Scotia: Sometimes it’s not about the décor, pomp and circumstance, but just about the food and the memories. My Maritime roots lead me to one such local diner near Yarmouth, NS located down the road from my Grandpa’s home. That diner is the Quick-N-Tasty. This highway roadside diner was opened by the Harris family in the 1960’s and although it’s changed hands, and is now called Joanne’s Quick-N-Tasty, much of the diner remains as it was in the 60’s. Famous for their hot lobster sandwiches, my personal favourite are their fried Digby scallops. My parents first took me there when I was a little girl and to this day, whenever I visit Nova Scotia I try and fit in a trip to relive my early childhood.
Bison Burgers, The Adventurers Club, Chicago, IL: It was back in the late 90’s when my cultural immersion tours had gained recognition and became popular for those looking to get “off the beaten track”, that I was invited to speak at Chicago’s famous Adventurers Club. For 90 years, members of this club continue to live life on the edge. There are a number of impressive members of this club, such as Teddy Roosevelt (former President), Sir Edmund Hillary (ascent of Mt Everest), Steve Fossett (attempt to balloon around the world), Thor Heyerdahl’s (ocean adventures on the “Kon Tiki”) and Admiral Byrd (exploration of the South Pole) whose travels far exceed anything I’ve ever done. It was an honour to address the members and afterwards share some very memorable conversations over a Bison Burger. It was my first time eating this game burger and albeit a bit creepy with trophy game heads mounted on the wall all around me, was still the best one I’ve ever tasted to date. Perhaps the conversation and esteemed setting set the bar really high.
Think about your “taste memories” from past travels. Maybe some “great”, and maybe some “not so good”. Once again, travel touches all the senses.