Travel and learn about food
Insights of an Australian blogger
The first friend made as a blogger should have a special place in my blog. It was quite surprising leave a comment to an Australian blog and received back an email. I left the comment given the openness used by her in describing her life even apart from the cooking side.
Hi, direct to the core topic. Back from holidays is quite common to invite friends to share with them our vacation experiences and feelings. Which has been your most inspiring journey from the point of view of food? And why?
I love to travel. Living in New Zealand for 30 years I felt like I was at the end of the world. Any chance I had ,I would be on a plane to somewhere far away. My travels always involved a lot of research, and local foods and restaurants were always the first things I googled. Then I would decide on where we would stay based on which restaurants I wanted to try. Since moving home to Australia at the end of 2007 I have less desire to travel. Perhaps because I feel as if I’m on holiday. I now live on the Gold Coast of Queensland in Australia. We’ve been coming here for holidays for the past ten years. I have to pinch myself some days to believe I now don’t have to go home. I am home.
There are so many parts of the world I’d like to visit. I have seen very little of Europe. I fell in love with Paris on my first visit in 1996 and I kept going back there whenever I had an overseas holiday. Our trip to Spain in 2004 introduced me to Spanish food.
We spent 6 weeks in Spain walking the Camino de Santiago. The Spain we experienced was far removed from the tourist spots of Southern Spain. My first tapas experience was in Pamplona. I loved wandering from bar to bar trying the different tapas and wines. After our second bar we discovered you could order your beer or wine in a small glass. Visiting so many little bars you could soon get drunk with a regular sized glass of wine.
Our walk (the Camino de Santiago is a walking route, note of the interviewer) took us through the towns and tiny villages of Northern Spain. We dined in everything from fancy restaurants to little family cafes. In one tiny village a little old lady came out of her house as we passed and offered us home made pancakes. That trip was my first real introduction to Spanish food. Tortilla de Patatas and Paella are the two Spanish dishes I make the most often. They bring back memories of the wonderful people we met and adventures we experienced on the Camino.
I’ve read your special love for Morocco. Suggestions for a Moroccan dinner with friends?
Someone once asked me why I would like to visit Morocco and all I could think to say was “the colours”. When I think of Morocco I think of the bright blues of the architecture or the wonderful pinks and yellows of the fabrics, and the wonderful reds and saffron colours of the spices for sale in the souks. If I were serving a Moroccan meal to friends it would be a lamb or chicken tagine with buttered couscous, followed by fresh fruit for dessert – maybe watermelon, and finishing with mint tea served with a tiny pastry such as Gazelle’s Horns.
I’m curious, what are the Gazelle’s Horns?
Gazelles Horns are a sickle-moon shaped pastry with an almond filling. The shape is said to resemble a gazelle’s horn. The Moroccan name is Kaab el Ghzai.
I have a tagine but it doesn’t fit in my oven. I cook my tagine in a le crueset cast iron pot and then transfer it to the tagine to serve at the table.
For me, being in Italy, Australia is one of the destinations for the “journey of my life”. A banal question: how is a typical Australia dinner with friends? Any peculiar dish?
Among our social circle we share meals with friends often. Sunday Brunch is very popular where you will meet either at someone home or a restaurant around 10 or 11 in the morning. When I invite people for brunch at home I serve fresh fruit and yogurt with homemade muesli, followed by a baked egg dish with bacon and finishing with coffee and some sort of tiny cakes.
Quite unusual for me serving fruit and yogurt. But I must recognize it gave a strong feeling to be at home. Which are the special occasion where people eat together?
There was a time when Australians had quite formal dinner parties on a Saturday night. They seem to be less common now and people opt for a more casual dining experience. Most Australians have a barbecue in the back yard or on the patio. Barbecues are often communal affairs with everyone contributing something toward the table.
Where I live we are able to buy prawns off the fishermen when the boats come in after a night out fishing. If I have friends visiting we will go down to the wharf around 7.30 AM to purchase prawns for a picnic lunch in the park later in the day. Many parks in Australia have free barbecues for everyone to use. I often take along a tiny gas camping stove and make a stir fry prawn dish with butter, garlic, wine and herbs.
With this interview, we have been in Spain, Morocco and Australian. I need to come back to Italy. What mean Italian food and cuisine for you? Be frank.
I love Italian food and cook it often. Two of my favourite cook books are The Food of Italy by Claudia Roden and Marcella Cucina by Marcella Hazan. I often serve an antipasto platter with salamis, olives and grilled peppers for lunch. We eat pasta at least once a week – usually with a simple sauce of garlic, olive oil and Parmigiano-Reggiano.
Risotto is a family favourite, especially in our spring/summer when I make an asparagus risotto. With risotto I don’t follow a recipe but I do add lots of butter and Parmigiano-Reggiano .
Most Fridays I make a pizza dough and keep it in the fridge for a quick snack for unexpected guests. At my local market we are lucky to be able to buy excellent pastas and sauces made by an Italian couple who moved here from Milan. Their veal and porcini ravioli in a cream sauce is wonderful.
Italian staples in my pantry are good quality pasta, anchovies, extra virgin olive oil, and a good sized piece of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
I also like Italian wines, especially Prosecco which I always serve with breakfast on Christmas Day.
You are more Italian than me! Thanks a lot for this travel around the world of food.
Winosandfoodies introduces herself: