The travel season is upon us and we would love to hear from our readers about any travel plans. You can also tell us about your favourite holiday destination or an anecdote from your travels. Please click on the comment button below and share the highlights with us in 4-5 sentences. We will feature it in our blog posts during the month of June.

The Aroma of Travel

“If music be the food of love play on”

This line from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night is often quoted and has a lot of meaning for those quoting it.  However, I get fixated on the word ‘food’ and the rest of the quote is lost to me.  This is probably because I do feel a connection to food.  Undoubtedly, food is an integral part of our lives.  We certainly couldn’t survive without it but, for me, it is a little more than just a means of survival. I enjoy seeing how some foods are so well presented on a table. The aroma of some foods just draw you in like a magnet – freshly baked bread or cookies come to mind.

When I do get the opportunity to travel, one of the biggest delights is tasting the cuisines of different countries.  It takes its place just behind architectural marvels, bountiful and beauteous nature, and the customs and traditions of the host nation.  However, dining in foreign countries can be both mystifying and a challenge but fun nonetheless.  In Hong Kong, we were once in a dim sum restaurant.  Push carts rolled out of the kitchen with dumplings in bamboo steamers and fried foods in plates.  The waiters called out the names, in Cantonese, of what they had on their carts as they moved between tables.  The idea was to call to them if you wanted what they had on their cart.  We didn’t understand Cantonese so we just beckoned the waiters, peered into their carts, selected what looked good and hoped for the best. This experience brought to mind one of our students at the HLCShe had come to us so she could improve her reading and writing.  She walked in one day beaming with delightShe explained that she often went to McDonalds but being unable to read ordered something by just looking at the picture.  Now that she could read, she read the menu at least twice, just because she could. 

Confusion over food can occur right in your own hometown.  I recently went to an Italian restaurant and ordered pizza.  It was delicious but I kept thinking that it wasn’t really pizza because it did not taste like the pizza I had regularly from Pizza Hut or Dominos!!!  The pizza in the restaurant was authentic and the real deal but years of eating chain store pizzas had confused me completely.  I had the same experience again in Hong Kong.  It was on one of the floating restaurants and nothing on the menu looked familiar.  When the food arrived, it did not taste anything like the food I had eaten in the Chinese restaurants in my hometown of Mumbai, India.  This was because Chinese food in Mumbai was heavily spiced to meet the tastes of the local population.

Different countries and even different regions within a country have their own unique specialities.  I lived on lobster rolls for the few days I was in the Maritimes and only stopped because I didn’t want to be accused of single-handedly making a dent in the lobster hauls.  I have had the most divine profiterole in a small coastal town in France.  Good manners stopped me, for just a nanosecond, from reaching out for seconds or thirds.  However, that was all the time it took for the rest of the tour group to make short work of the remaining profiteroles.  An honorary mention must be made of the street food in Mumbai.  It is eaten standing though a rickety bench was always available.  I have fond memories of my youth eating Batata puri* under a flimsy tarp while the monsoon rains roared overhead.

The pandemic certainly derailed the travel plans of many but, hopefully, with the easing of restrictions and many countries opening their borders to tourists, it might be time to hit the road once more.

*A savoury dish made with mashed boiled potatoes, yoghurt, a spicy sauce, lentils and cilantro served in mini shells made of flour