Whenever I travel to a non-English-speaking country, I learn several words before arriving: hello, goodbye, thank you and delicious. To me, the last is the most important.
Food tells us a story—from the way it tastes to the people who prepare it. It’s a gateway to understanding a culture and its people. And when you tell someone you enjoy their cooking? Well, you’re not only making their day, but opening a window to a whole new world.
Fall has always been my favorite time of year. The air is crisp, the leaves are changing, boots and scarves are for sale. But now that I live in China, there’s another reason to look forward to the season: persimmons.
Starting a few weeks ago, the fruit began popping up all over the markets—showcased as the prized product by every vendor. They are being sold on street corners, in grocery stores. The woman I kindly refer to as “the fruit lady” behind my apartment complex has been shoving bags full of them into my hands, demanding that I buy them. I tell you, the Chinese have a certain charm.
For me, traveling and food go together like peanut butter and honey. It just makes sense. In one bite, we can discover a culture. We bond with its people.
My family shares the same sentiment. So when they came to visit a couple of weeks ago, I took them to my favorite place for a Saturday morning in Bogota: La Plaza de Mercado de Paloquemao. Although not present in many of the guide books, nor listed as a top thing to do online, this bustling, chaotic flower and food market was the first thing to make me fall in love with the city.
Writing this from an Internet cafe in Saigon, Vietnam, my hands are still shaking, my neck tense from fear.
Anyone who knows me is well aware of my obsession with Anthony Bourdain. I’ve memorized every episode of No Reservations, feverishly flipped through each of his books, and am anxiously waiting for the day he discovers my blog and insists for me to be his younger, equally-as-charming co-host.
Wang Mandu means “king dumpling” in Korean. A more literal translation would be “huge steamed bun filled with pork, clear noodles and green onions.” I can’t get enough. If only someone would create a carb-only diet. I’d be their most loyal follower.