Saturday, July 19, 2014

     I've been trying all week to try and figure out what to blog about. I had nothing. Then a friend, Gladys Morreno, posted something on FB that really made me pause. 

     It was a music video that blew my socks off. What really intrigued me was that it made me flash back to my recent travels. The video was nothing like anything I saw while in England or France, but it did make me focus on what it was that I really liked. 

     Yes, seeing the Eiffel Tower was cool. Doing the bus tour of London was great, but that wasn't what really pushed my buttons. Yes, yes, the urinals were fun and so were the strippers, but that isn't what I’m talking about. Damn it, you pervs. Do you think that is all I think of? 
Okay, maybe sometimes that's all I think of.

     What I’m talking about here are the little things that make a trip so good for me. Walking through the side streets where there are no tourists. Finding those little jewels of cafés, restaurants and taking in the local colours. That is what makes it special for me. 

     So, Glayds’s video was a Latin video, which took me back to my mother talking about when she and my father used to take a cruise over to Cuba and spend long weekends there. Of course, this was before Castro fucked it all up. She would tell me stories of the great night life and fantastic music they experienced. She also liked to sample the local fare, instead of doing the touristy things.
Trinidad Street, Havana

     Years ago, when I was doing a bit more traveling, I would go to a grocery store, or local shop and just look around. Yeah, I’m such the total foodie. One time I got ballsy enough to approach this woman and asked her to take me home with her and let me help her cook dinner for her family. 

     Her name was Pamela. Her father was Hispanic and her mother Italian, so she often did a fusion of old family favorites. The food was amazing. Her family was very cool and they welcomed me into their home, and even asked if I wanted to stay with them while there, instead of the hotel. I didn't do that because I didn't want to impose and I also like my independence. 

     Now I know this is really off the wall and strange to some people, but hey, I usually like people and I love food. So hey, why not? I did the same thing once in New Orleans. 

     This time I found Gloria in a specialty shop, buying sausage. She told me she wasn't cooking that night, but was going to her sisters, and that the sausage was for the following night’s dinner. However, she let me know that if I was interested, I should be there around noon the next day, and gave me her address. 
Royal Street, French Quarter. LOVE this street.
     I didn't know at the time that it was her eldest daughter’s birthday and that her entire family would be there. Once there, I could see why she didn't mind the extra helping hand. Damn, they had as much food cooking as the restaurant I was currently working in. We had a blast and the payoff was some of the best, most original creole cooking I’d ever had. It was then I really knew what it was supposed to look and taste like. 

     Yes, I worked like a dog but it was worth it. Of course, as her family started arriving, they all looked at this white man in their mother’s kitchen and asked what the hell was going on. It was quite different, but they eventually warmed up to me. I ended up passed out on her sofa that night. Let me tell you, those people can party! 

     Another place I did this was in New York City. That is where I learned how to do real Jamaican Meat Patties. I made such a pig out of myself. I got to experience the open market in Brooklyn, which was so amazing. Salt fish, all the open herbs and the different ways they used them blew me away. I am soooo going back there one day. Of course, New York is a foodie’s wet dream! 
Oh, and yeah, there are hot guys there too! :D
     So, let me ask you folks this: How strange would it be for a stranger to walk up to you while shopping and ask to come help you cook. Would you do it? Let me know. Who knows, there could be a book in there somewhere. What’cha think? 

     Where next? I really, really want go to Italy. Pompeii is at the top of my list. Then I want to do Rome, Florence, Naples and then Venice. Yeah, that would be a dream trip for sure. I’ll have to go on a very strict diet before I went. Hell, I gained at least ten pounds just in France. Of course, all those pastries didn't help, I’m sure. 
And they don't put stupid figs leaves over the goodies!
     I've always wanted to go to St. Petersburg, Russia, but that is out now. Make me sad. There is the largest collection of art there from all over the world that I’ll never be able to see. Of course, I’ll miss out on fantastic cuisine as well. Damn, I would love to have smoked sturgeon and vodka there. Oh well. Maybe before I die, but I’m not holding my breath.
This houses some of the best art in the world.
     Another place I would love to visit is Cuba, but our stupid government keeps us away. I don’t agree with the politics there, but there is so much to see and experience. Just makes me mad sometimes. If you've never seen or heard of the Buena Vista Social Club, check them out. They are amazing and another reason why I would love to go to Cuba. I've had Cuban cuisine from low to high end and let me tell you, those people can really cook! Don’t forget, that is also where Desi Arnaz was from, as well as some other great artists. 
Okay, yeah, Cuban men.... just yeah.
     Yes, now I have to say I do want to go down under. (Minds, people, outta the gutter, if you please.) Yes, Australia and New Zealand. The vineyards of Australia have got to be amazing. One of my favorite vineyards is there, and I would love to visit. Don’t know that much about the food, but I am sure that I would find some amazing talents there as well. 

     New Zealand just looks beautiful. Not so sure I want to go during their winter, however. Of course, those accents make me week in the knees, so there is always that! That’s just a bonus I’m sure. LOL Oh, and they also play rugby...naked! Now who wouldn't want to see that?
Naked Haka anyone?

     So, for those of you who might be in a city where I may be visiting, don’t be afraid. Take a chance on the guy carrying big knives.

     As always, let me remind you that doing something for others makes you feel better and makes you a better person. Doesn't have to cost anything, or very little. Just do it!

    Till next week...

     Max ;-)
Because I can! :D


  1. Venice is beautiful .... But it stinks to high Heaven and is VERY expensive. When I went there (in 1988!) we got a voucher to have a discounted coffee and cake at the cafe/restaurant in the middle of the square ... it was £5 and we got a sip of coffee and a crumb of cake ... No idea how much it would be now!!

    The food away from the square was much cheaper and was amazing!! we found a little place tucked away in a corner and I can still remember the bliss of eating that food.

  2. Great post! One of my good friends from high school lives in Brooklyn, and I visit her often. She's introduced me to some of the most delicious East Indian food. Her hubby is from NYC, so I always rely on him to pick the most out-of-the-way places to eat--and the most delicious. And heck yeah, I'd let someone come home with me and help cook. lol

  3. I'm going to Australia and NZ with you. Just to let you know. lol

  4. So, let me ask you folks this: How strange would it be for a stranger to walk up to you while shopping and ask to come help you cook. Would you do it? Let me know. Who knows, there could be a book in there somewhere. What’cha think?

    There actually was a Food Network show of the type you're talking about. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name or who hosted -- I think it's been off the air a few years -- but the host would come up to a theoretically random person in a supermarket, grill them about the stuff in their cart, ask if they were willing to make some special stuff for dinner, help them shop for the other things, and then off they'd go. The host would demonstrate techniques along the way, but the willing victim would actually do the cooking. And at the end, there would be a fabulous dinner for the family.