Cooking

One meal inspires three months of memories in Thailand

One meal inspires three months of memories in Thailand

I keep mentioning to our students that this phenomenon occurs constantly, with no warning, regarding foods, flavors, experiences, and beyond. All of a sudden, we're okay with what we formerly weren't (and of course, the opposite is always possible). I'm inclined to believe these mini-epiphanies are more perceptible on the road where they can be constantly questioned.

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Andrew Zimmern and the Transformative Power of Travel

Andrew Zimmern and the Transformative Power of Travel

I've been a big time fan of Big Tony B. since the No Reservations series began in 2005. His approach to travel television and subjective, experiential authenticity abroad felt so relevant amidst a sea of market-y documentation. His conceptual thread continues to be pretty darn obvious, which makes it easy to instantly jump on the Bourdain train. But for his fellow Travel Channel host (and our Creative Council member), Andrew Zimmern, I had a harder time identifying what truly made him tick and drove him to produce what he does. Thankfully, I had a recent opportunity to hear Zimmern clarify his concept in an illuminating way. Poised and ready with my notepad, I asked my mom sitting next to me at the IUPUI convention center what she knew of Zimmern.

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Video of the Week: Summer Seclusion Project (Webcam)

Haven't seen one of these in a while, huh? A video of the week or a webcam special. I finally got my act together! Enjoy.

Notes from this week's video:

  • ProjectExplorer.org is in post-production stateside after a fantastic filming session in Mexico.

  • I'm moving out of my parent's house for a month for some seclusion in my hometown.

  • I have four goals for the month of July.

  • Crank out stellar videos, images, and work for ProjectExplorer.org

  • Write personal travel narratives in hopes of publishing or at least having them for myself.

  • Learn how to cook basic vegetarian meals well. I don't know how veggies are supposed to taste. Sad.

  • Enjoy my hometown for the first summer in a decade and reap the benefits of relative seclusion from distraction.

  • It's time to reformat/redesign Nomadderwhere, just like I did last September. A lot has changed in my life and path, and my website needs to reflect that.

The Irony of my Lifestyle, Part 3

Sometimes it's a mind clarifier to point out the inaccuracies in your own life - that blend of irony and confusion that makes up your unique mindset. Bottom line: I'm all confused. You probably are too. Let's talk amongst ourselves...

Martha Wouldn't Be Proud

No longer housebroken

No longer housebroken

November 24th, 2008: My first day back from the Big Journey. Refusing to enjoy the comforts of home and longing for the road immediately, I decided to cook some boiled eggs - my recovery sustenance after the evil gastro disease of October. Somehow it seemed more comforting than a bucket of ice cream or fried food to sit at home and munch on the simplicity of a jiggly egg.

I put a pot on the stove with water just covering the four rolling eggs. My father told me to put them on high heat. Forty-five minutes later, the fire trucks were parked in front of my home, while I ran outside waving them down with a white dish towel.

Upon placing the pot down on the licking flames, Dad called me downstairs to teach the art of stapling canvases onto frames, since I purchased many abroad for presents and such. After a few minutes, he took off for the gym, and I saw my comfy armchair/office and sat down to continue the work I thought I was doing prior to the art lesson.

I started smelling burnt popcorn and figured Dad had done it again, completely forgetting he took off. Even after the alarm started buzzing from smoke, I figured he was taking care of his microwaving mistake. Eventually, the beeping, the lack of footsteps upstairs, the sudden flash of sulfur up my nostrils, everything came together, and I jumped up so fast I hurdled the couch in my way.

Exploding Eggs

Exploding Eggs

The remains of four eggs were fused onto the bottom of a bone dry saucepan. Bits of yolk and white splattered every surface like shrapnel from the stovetop bomb. Opening up windows and turning on fans, ventilation couldn't happen fast enough. The phone rang. My parents decided to choose a security code we hadn't used since our days in elementary school, but after exhausting all other password choices and calling Dad's unresponsive cell phone for help, the security representative on the other end realized I was telling the truth, that I was legitimately family...and just plain dumb.

The mess was cleaned up by the time I heard the distant fire trucks. A weight pressed on my heart as the sounds grew closer, and I made a plea to the Swiffer in my hands to stop all the madness and embarrassment as I cower in the corner of the pantry.

I'm not often embarrassed. I've tripped, been pantsed, made inappropriate comments and not been as embarrassed as I was when the fire trucks pulled in front of my home. My neighborhood being a clone of Pleasantville, half my neighbors came outside holding their dogs and looking worried.

In a chicken coop

In a chicken coop

Being on the road for so long apparently stripped me of domesticity. I forgot how to be a suburban American. It doesn't make much sense when you calculate the 22.7 years I spent learning such skills compared to the 7 months it took to forget nearly everything.

And you may ask, "What does one have to learn in middle-class American suburbia?" Well, a lot.

  • The correct way to answer the phone: "Hello, Lindsay speaking..." instead of "Hello? I don't know where anyone is...what's the date?"

  • Proper laundry etiquette: wear clothes once, then wash. After months home, I still preferred the sniff test...to my detriment.

  • Bathroom manners: use the toilet. My crazy eyes darted outside often, wondering if the neighbors would see me if I pulled an African overland squat in my back yard.

  • Balancing technology time and rest time: instead of taking breaks and interacting with people on a regular basis throughout the day, I worked online 16 hours a day and forgot how to form sentences verbally.

  • Proper public attire: I apparently embarrassed my mom when I went to the mall to visit her, wearing nothing but cloud print footed pajamas and a Santa hat. I thought it'd be funny.

Travel the world. Learn about yourself. Try new things. Stretch your limits. Come back home with new eyes...apparently to find out you've forgotten everything you once knew and must learn again.

Does any of this happen to you all, or am I the only one that comes home domestically awkward?

Video of the Week: Ireland on a Budget

Stay in hostels with free internet. Buy food to cook in the kitchen. Save your money for the pints of Guinness and ice cream you know you want. Occasionally have a pub meal, but remember all the things you can buy with a 20 Euro restaurant bill. And always be on the look-out for fun, free cultural activities that will make you feel like you're seizing the moment. To read my Ireland blogs, click here.

Cookin’ Old School Fijian Style

Cookin' with Bamboo

It was my great pleasure to witness the incredible hospitality of the people in the Namosi Highlands of Fiji. Not only did they make sure we were properly fed and watered at all time of day, but they made every aspect of their village culture into a lesson learned by us sponge-like backpackers on a mission to absorb the true Fiji. Only a couple hundred years ago, Fijians were picking their teeth with the bones of men, that is until cannibalism was wiped from their list of approved behavior. And with that outside influence also came luxurious items like pots and pans, which made cooking much easier than the techniques they used before.

My friend, Ambele (or Abel in English), was the first to jump at the opportunity to show us how it all used to be done here in the Highlands with two techniques: cooking in bamboo shoots and using an underground oven called a lovo.

Taking a young and fresh bamboo segment, Abel placed some cassava down nature’s pipe, filled it with water, and covered it with taro leaves. Putting this on the fire for about a half hour or more created an end product that tasted as smooth and luscious as a sweet potato.

The lovo consisted of a rolling fire that heated up stones sitting on top, after which the fire is put out and stones are covered with taro chunks and coconut shells filled with taro leaves and other jungle goodness. A little banana leave coverage makes this baby cook up a mean feast within an hour, one which we graciously enjoyed on our last night in the depths of the Fijian interior.

What made these cooking lessons that much sweeter were the kids who popped in and out of my video production, posing for the camera and teaching me phrases like “Au nakwati na tavioka” (Gee golly, do I like cassava!).

WTI Basic Training: Day Two

Day One's lack of roughness was rectified last night, Day/Night Two, with a wee hour rain storm that had me waking every hour to see if I was lying in a pile of water. Without stakes to pull my fly away from the tent walls, it was somewhat of a waiting game, but all was successful by morning, and I awoke once more with that fresh feeling one can only get after sleeping outdoors.

After one successful night of "bush" camping, I decided to turn it up a smidgeon and incorporate some more factors to toughen up my travelin' image. And since food is essential to life, travel, and survival in the wilderness, I took on a segment called "Bush" Camp Cuisine. Here are important things to remember when eating outdoors:

  • Never put food in your tent. I once had a monkey approach my tent with crazy eyes as he watched me eat a banana. I threw it at him and zipped up fast.

  • Avoid high maintenance foods that require lots of preparation. Remember those hobo meals of hamburger meat and veggies in aluminum foil from summer camp? That's just a little slice, dice, and season. Delish.

  • Meals that require lots of condiments to be good are a pain. No one wants to be the guy who carries the Costco sized ketchup and dijon mustard up the mountain...and risk their tents to ant armies.

  • It's easiest to avoid foods that need refrigeration. Sadly, Italian gelato just doesn't pack well for an afternoon hike.

  • Help yourself by using light-weight camping flatware and utensils; a clean pocket knife works wonders instead of bringing your best steak knives.

  • Try not to drink lots of liquids or libations as midnight bathroom breaks could be lethal. I once pitched a tent fifteen feet off the ground in an open camp. At night hippos and elephants would walk under the tent's platform and graze, and I decided against imbibing at the bar that night in order to avoid the awful situation of a bathroom break amongst territorial African mammoths.

Day Three may be exponentially more challenging with the constant rainfall and thunderstorms in Indianapolis today. Chances are my move to open the solid flaps in my tent to get fresh air in there has brought in the floods. The babbling brook (a.k.a. the storm drain in the backyard) will be a torrent tonight and may carry me away from my spot near the tulips.

Wouldn't that be sad...if these rains kept you all from learning how I pack for a bush camp experience or even an unspeakable lesson in "bush" squatting? Let's keep our tough and callused fingers crossed. Day Three...TBD.