Plate, not plane. Yes, you read right. The title of this post isn’t a typo – as much as I miss everything to do with planes and am dreaming of the day that I can set foot on a plane again, this title is the theme of this month’s #travellinkup!
Food. Everyone has to eat, and food is a common language amongst a diverse planet. Food is comforting and speaks to the soul, and in my world, becomes even more pertinent when I travel.
Think back to the last place you wanderlusted in. You will remember the sights, sounds and smells. The museums and sites visited. The hotel you stayed at. Perhaps even the journey there. But the most poignant memory of all will be of the food you ate. Right?
If you are anything like me, what you ate in a place will be one of the first things you think about when you reminisce about travels past. That penne arrabiatta cooked by nonna in a rustic kitchen in the heart of Tuscany, the tomatoes packing a tasty punch takes me back to Italy. Or those meatballs at the restaurant found in the blue alleyways of Chefchaouen make me reminisce about Morocco. The delicious Tibs Afari hanker a yearning for Ethiopia. And when I can be bothered, brewing up masala tea at home takes me right back to sipping thick and delicious creamy chai from that stall in Jodhpur.
The memories that I have of each of these places where I have set footsteps may not be crystal clear: but the food? Well, that is another story because I can still remember the taste of the food in certain places in my memory, if that makes sense at all!
Being in quarantine means that there is more time to reminisce about travels past, appreciating all the experiences had in a bid to stave off the inevitable hankering to travel. I have been recreating dishes at home, based on how much I yearn for a place to go to.
Cooking is one way of bringing the world to my kitchen, but I must confess I am really rubbish at taking pictures of anything that I cook, other than a quick iphone shot here and there.
In keeping with the theme this month, I thought I would give you a glimpse of the smells that waft through my kitchen and the food I cook by taking you back to the places that inspired me in the first place.
“People that love to eat…are always the best people!”…Julia Child.
1. But first, Coffee in Ethiopia
As the world hops on to the Dalgona Coffee craze, I am indulging the memories of how I became a bit of a coffee fiend. I have always loved tea. I still love tea, but I have grown to love coffee more and my love affair with this beverage started when we set footsteps in Ethiopia.
The Ethiopians take their bunna very seriously and there is nothing more immersive into the Ethiopian culture than watching a Coffee Ceremony.
Green coffee beans are roasted to perfection: it isn’t quite a dark roast or a medium but something in between. The freshly roasted beans are then ground by hand and brewed with fresh water in a clay coffeepot until it starts to resemble liquid gold. Timing is everything and patience is key: just munch on popcorn until it is brewed to perfection and ready to savour.
While the world makes Dalgona Coffee, most of my mornings start with brewing up some Ethiopian coffee and slowly waking up by indulging sip by sip, not gulp by gulp. And, of course, reminiscing about the wonderful adventures had in this offbeat destination.
2. Dining in Castles in Slovenia
Being at home and being in my kitchen has me reminiscing about some of the beautiful restaurants that we have dined in while wanderlusting. There’s been many a stunning place that we have had some delectable meals in, but Castles come up as the most vivid memories of dining in unique places.
Castles are synonymous with Europe and most have been turned into luxurious hotels and restaurants. There is something so magical about visiting a Castle for something other than a museum visit, and I jump at any chance to dine in one.
In Slovenia, we had a fine dining experience in the Castle in Ljubljana, where we tried seasonal produce like stuffed zuchinni squash blossoms and fish tartare in a Castle dining room: interesting food eaten on a thundery, rainy evening.
A Taste of Slovenia at the Castle in fairytale like Lake Bled however, inspires me to create cheese boards and platters of cold cuts to be devoured with a glass of crisp wine while at home in quarantine. Home may not quite be a medieval Castle, but the memories of dining in these Castles keep me smiling and content.
3. Feeding my Soul in Italy
I think I have said this before, but I will say it again: I must have been an Italian in a past life because I can eat pasta for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Italy has been on my mind a lot lately because of what is currently happening across the world. As I’m sure it has been on the minds of many.
When I want comforting soul food, I turn to pasta and thinking of Italy takes me right back to some of the most wonderful culinary experiences had in the heart of Tuscany.
Italy always has me smitten when I think of travels past. The memories of simple but delicious home cooking from a nonna’s kitchen made with ingredients from her garden, to gourmet dining and indulging in truffles while watching the sun set over the Tuscan landscape or simply sipping a glass of wine amidst the olive groves of our hotel are enough to send me scrummaging through my pantry in a quest to bring Italy into my kitchen.
Italian cooking has featured heavily during quarantine as I have deemed it essential to help me feed my soul. And my waistline, but that’s a story for another day. I am also on the quest to replicate that arrabiatta eaten in Tuscany and the pesto sauce that I cannot get out of my mind from the restaurant in the alleyway in Portovenere! All great excuses to get cooking pasta, aren’t they?
4. Indulging in the Fruit of the Sea in Lamu
When it comes to beaches, very little is able to beat the beauty of the Kenyan coastline. Quarantine has me feeling rather grumpy because I took for granted that we could once upon a time, hop onto a plane, and in 40 minutes be sat on a stunning beach.
The only way to scratch that itch at the moment is through memories. And food. The weather is beautiful in Nairobi at the moment, and the sunshine reminds me of being at the beach. But because I cannot be at the beach right now, I bring the beach to me by cooking Fruit of the Sea.
The freshest, juiciest prawns cooked in a simple lemon butter sauce and the flakiest of fish made into a tartare with creamy avocado: these dishes take me right back to Lamu, especially because I can replicate them right at home!
5. And of course, Dessert from Belgium
What’s life without Dessert? Pretty boring, I would say! Dessert falls into the same category of essential food for me. I have been inspired by Belgium to make Waffles and pancakes and to eat copius amounts of chocolate: guilty pleasures that I am enjoying tremendously during these peculiar times.
The strawberries in Nairobi these days are plump and juicy, and are perfect for slathering melted chocolate over before being devoured. They come a pretty close second to the delicious strawberries made by Godiva…and since I cannot go to Belgium, I bring a taste of Belgium to me!
All this talk of food has made me hungry…and I think it may be time to bid you adieu and head over to rummage through the pantry to see what part of the world food will transport me to today!
Until next time, stay safe at home, which has become the temporary form of wanderlust…
The theme for the month – travelling by plate. It could be something you’ve made at home inspired by travels, something you’ve tried & miss from abroad, or maybe even something that you’d like to try one day? We would love to see your spin on this…
How to link up your post
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th May 2020), and add it to the linkup widget found on SilverSpoon London, Adventures of a London Kiwi, Binnys Food and Travel Diaries, or our co-hosts Sima at The Curious Pixie or Scott at Scott Can Eat.