Countries Visited

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Map Legend: 28%, 75 of 263 Territories

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Eating like Europeans

The foods of Europe may not be as foreign as some of the places that we go, but we think they are still worth a mention. Even if the foods themselves are known to us Americans, they are often served differently than we are used to. Here is our food week in Europe.

Our culinary adventures began on the plane to Belgium. We took Jet Airways, a rather nice Indian airline. As an added bonus of riding an Indian airline, we got Indian food. Here is dinner--some rice with dal and sag paneer (I had to pick out the cheese and give it to Tara), yogurt (also went to Tara), salad (I got Tara's), chappati bread, and very tasty rice pudding.

What trip to Belgium would be complete without Belgian fries? We had quite a few of them in our single sitting. We choose to eat them with the classic mayonaise, plus a spicy mayo that they call "samurai" sauce.
When we arrived in Madrid, our guests were kind enough to prepare dinner. Serge made this, which looks like a restaurant dish. The bottom is a blended fish and cream, with eggplant in a sauce, topped with scallops. I, unfortunately, don't eat seafood, but Tara still mentions about once a day how much she loved it.
More my style is donuts. This was a donut we found in Madrid, which was a cake donut topped with sugar, and which had some almond extract in it. I am normally not a fan of almond extract, but this one was mellow enough that it was good.
While in Belgium, we bought a couple of fun chocolate bars in the grocery store that we later ate in Madrid. This one is an Indian masala chocolate with some curry, coriander, and spice. The other was a Moroccan green tea and jasmine one. Both were really interesting and good. I love jasmine, so that one wins by a nose.
Regular readers are aware that Tara loves churros. Madrid also has churros, though they do not normally have sugar on them, and they are always served with a glass of hot chocolate. The chocolate seems to be like super thick, super strong Hershey's chocolate syrup. Way too strong for my taste, but Tara loved it.One nice discovery is that almost all drinks in Spain come with free tapas. This is the chorizo that came with Tara's wine at one tapas bar. I generally find tapas too small, but they were reasonably large in a couple of places that we went.
While walking through one of the markets, we discovered this enormous asparagus. Nothing special about asparagus, but I have never seen anything like this at my local supermarket. We barely got away before it attacked us.
While running from the asparagus, we ran straight into this guy, who came straight out of that Animal Planet fishing show where the guy tries to capture killer fish. You can see part of a fisherman still sticking out of his mouth.
At our second tapas restaurant of the evening, we ordered pork loin in a curry apple sauce. It was very good, though a bit small. It may not yet be clear, but they really like pork in Spain. In 1492, they threw out all the Jews and Muslims. Apparently, as a way to really stick it to those groups, they have only eaten pork ever since. Or so I'm guessing.
The small glass of beer is call a cana, and is very popular in Spain. It is also accompanied by a small tapas, which seems to be random. Sometimes you like the tapas, sometimes not.
When we went to Toledo, Tara was able to get marzipan. The one below is in the shape of a ham. Like I said, they really like pork. The middle is apricot jam, which does improve the taste of the less tasty marzipan. Tara ate a lot of it for breakfast.
In an effort to keep lunch cheap in touristy Toledo, we went to a little market. Tara bought some yogurt while I was happy to find peach nectar after its long absence from my life. Sadly, they prefer healthier drinks in Spain than in South America, so the peach nectar did not contain extra sugar. Therefore, it was not worth buying. I am happy that we are now in Morocco, where they seem to have a finer appreciation for sugar.
To warm up for Morocco (and just to warm up in general) our wonderful host in Granada took us to a Moroccan tea house with some friends. Here you can see the tea assortment. I got jasmine and Tara got 1001 Nights. I knew what to expect and Tara did not, but both were so strong that even Tara added copious amounts of sugar. I added whatever twice copious is.
Here we are together with our tea. I know, you aren't reading a food post to see us together, but you can see the cute glasses in which they serve tea in Morocco. This is convenient since I regularly say that I would like a glass of tea and Tara tells me that no one serves tea in glasses. As it turns out, she is wrong.
In many cities in Spain, the streets are lined with orange trees. The oranges are beautiful, but they seem to call your name to eat them. This is a cruel trick. If in Spain, resist the urge to jump up and grab one, climb a wall to reach one, or make your wife squat down so that you can stand on her to get one (no, I didn't do that, but thought about it). As it turns out, these oranges are gross. Incredibly bitter. It would take at least one pound of sugar per orange to border on edible. Afterwards, I had to eat an entire liter of ice cream to get the taste out of my mouth. Spain likes what are called bocadillos, or little sandwiches. Pictured here are a calamari one (probably the best known bocadillo) and a ham one (or course) from a famous place called Brilliante in Madrid. Tara thought the calamari was excellent. I thought the ham one tasted like ham.
Also at the Moroccan tea house, we had these nice pastries filled with hazelnut something. Now that we are in Morocco, similar pastries cost about one-sixth the price.

That's all we have for Europe. We hope to bring you more exotic foods soon. In the meantime, have some ham for Spain!


  1. I'm sorry. Did I read this right? Andy, you ate chocolate bars? And you liked them? Don't think you can just slip this in without addressing. Thank you.

  2. Yes, my chocolate tastes are so complicated that even I don't understand them. In general, if you take something that is really chocolatey and then dilute it with milk and sugar until you can no longer taste much chocolate, I like it.

  3. Thanks for the updates! Food is my favorite part of travelling! (I even like looking around the local grocery stores to see what's on offer). I'm sure you'll find some even more interesting cuisine in Morocco, especially if you get to a market, from what I've heard. If you need more sugar, the sweets there are sugary to the max.