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Portugese Patterns

portuguese tiles

ceramic tile

Portugal has been one of those few European countries to which for some reason both my husband and myself never had been to. We had often been very close by, in Spain, we had seen pictures, heard recounts and read articles though. According to them, every pore and place of this history laden little country sounded fantastic, and a few weeks back we finally decided to go see for ourselves and travel to Portugal.

What a great decision this was! Even though our expectations were high, we did not get disappointed in any way. The cities are charmful and pictuesque, full of art and beauty stories, the villages and landscapes ever changing, rural and genuine. There’s colors and gardens and architectural styles, orchards and green spaces and traditions. The people act calm, friendly and helpful towards strangers, and seem like a happy and serene bunch between themselves.

pulpo

vineyards in the duoro

And the food, oh the glorious food, is an entire story on its own. Portugese food is down to earth and does, what food first and foremost used to be and (at least there, how refreshing to witness) still is intended to do: It nourishes. Both the body and the soul, and abundantly so. There is little Froufrou in Portugese food, and much honesty. Animals and plants are used in their entiety. So one will get served pig ears instead of just the loin, turnip greens instead of just turnip, or tiny, whole fishes, eyes, fins and all. Continue reading “Portugese Patterns” »

(Homage to Japan, #4) Signed Up

japanese sign to protect peoples head

When I traveled in Japan for the first time, 25 years ago, I was impressed – and annoyed – by the many, many signs I didn’t understand. I kept on wondering what it would take to learn this obviously very complex language, and realized how intensely I dislike to be dependent.

instruction sign for purification before entering temple

instructions on how to work in fishing restaurant

Continue reading “(Homage to Japan, #4) Signed Up” »

(Homage to Japan, #2) When Renunciation results in Brilliance

 

buckwheat harvester

Eating out in Japan lets one realize – in the tastiest way possible – that limitation does not have to lead into dreariness, and renunciation indeed can result in pure brilliance.

There are no “something for everyone” restaurants in Japan. You won’t find a place that serves both sushi and noodles, or nabe and bbq, or curry plus pizza, for that matter. Restaurants focus on one type of food (preparation). So if you are in the mood for table side cooked food you will go to a place where each guest sits in front of an individual little wood burning oven and combines, cooks, mixes and matches his or her foods at each’s own pace. And every one around you will do the very same. If you step into a Teppan Yaki house, each single guest in there will be eating Teppan Yaki as well. The only menu handed out usually is the list of drinks.

soba broth, assembled

Continue reading “(Homage to Japan, #2) When Renunciation results in Brilliance” »

(Homage to Japan, # 1) The Ten Commandments

another world

“By the time you read this, I will be across the big pond.” This is how my very last post on this blog started, many months ago.

So by the time you are reading this, I have just arrived back home, from yet another big trip  across another big pond, and in the opposite direction than that time before. I spent the past two weeks in Japan, a place I first had visited and fallen in love with 25 years ago. This recent trip showed up on my horizon fast, furious and completely unexpected, and of course I was not just beyond excited but mighty curious about how things would be different now, or how not. (Just a hint: They are even better now than what I remembered them from back then. Seriously. Japan is stunningly clean, has beauty and art everywhere, is easily and totally safely accessible, and full of friendly folks. About the food, that glorious food, I will talk – many times on this blog – later.)

soba lunch

This post is the beginning of “Homage to Japan”, a series on Japan and its food, traditions and specialties. The articles will be served in tiny portions or multiple courses, as a one-pot-affair or an elaborate, staged story. Just like the Japanese cuisine shows up on the table, basically, depending on where and what you chose to eat that day. I will weave in other, non Nippon posts, now that I am happily back to blogging again, but please be prepared for some steady and pleasant rains of recounts from the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

As a starter, today, i am presenting you “The Ten Commandments”. This is a simple but functional list of restaurant and food related habits, tips and rules I observed and learned by eating, well… lots of foods in lots of different places (to say the least). Look at it as a pocket sized, basic but practical guide to make most of eating out in tasty Japan. Itadakimas! (Bon appétit!)

seafood bowl Continue reading “(Homage to Japan, # 1) The Ten Commandments” »

Crazy Foods

liquid, flavored salts

Maybe I should have chosen a title like “The Anatomy of Foods from A – Z” for this post. Or “What today’s Foods tell us about the Foods of the Future”. Both of these lines might have been more informative and accurate. But they both also sounded really, really boring to me. That’s why I stuck with my initial idea, “Crazy Foods”.

Crazy is not just crazy, I like to point out. There’s good crazy and bad crazy. Amazing crazy, wild crazy, surprising crazy, scary crazy and even crazy crazy. Projected onto food, crazy can mean sickening as well as healing or health supporting. Easy as well as complicated, natural as well as artificial, wholesome as well as invading. Crazy suggests progression and evolution, crazy foods are more debatable, less normal and more interesting than just foods.

beautiful packaging for cookies

Crazy is fascinating, and so was the totally overwhelming array of foods I saw during my recent days at SIAL in Paris. The “Salon International d’Alimentation” is a bi yearly food show that celebrated its 50est anniversary this year. 12’500 exhibitors from 100 different countries showed their countless products to somewhat around 300 000 visitors from 200 countries. – If you imagine a zoo, now, you perfectly got the concept (and will understand the choice of my title): A Food Show of this extent indeed is a zoo, although one of delectable nature. And, of course, highly interesting for everybody interested in food, nutrition and hedonism.

So let me share with you a bunch of ideas, products, packagings, trends, novelties and renaissances I encountered while walking the sacred halls of food in Paris. I hope you enjoy. And go crazy for food, once again! Continue reading “Crazy Foods” »