Your Palate, Your Passport.

Let your tastebuds tour you around the world. 
Open up your palate. Open your mind. And taste... everything.
My former co-worker once said, "I eat to live". He explained that he eats to function, so he has energy to go running, so his tummy is full, and so that he basically continues moving. I said, "I definitely live to eat. Hands down." I didn't need to explain myself. He just gave me a reassuring nod. More like an invisible fist bump.

I'm sure, that in this time that everyone finds themselves at home, scouring through shows one after the other - you've come across a food show or series. And I'm sure you've salivated your way through each episode, tummy grumbling, eyes a bit watery, just wishing we can nab one of the servings, and imagining when we can taste everything again (freely... with no face masks or distancing required). I see so many people wishing they were in different places, travelling the world again. And because we will always want to be somewhere else (humans are naturally nomads), we neglect to see what's around us.
Our world has now become so culturally diverse, we will most probably find another nationality in a totally unexpected place. And because of this, we build relationships. With these people, comes culture. With these cultural backgrounds, comes traditions. And with all of these, comes food. And what a great introduction to a culture food is.

You can literally taste a country in a plate. Yes, of course we want to visit those places personally. But we can always tour the world a plate at a time. It's your passport to the culinary world which will eventually open up your perspective and interest in cultures. Every time I miss going to San Francisco, I crave for a bowl of clam chowder. When I taste some rich and buttery scones, I feel as if I'm in the streets of London gossiping with my girlfriends over tea. When I taste the saltiness of olives and feta, I instantly wish I were wearing a white breezy dress while walking the streets of Greece. When I feel I need a break, I order a prosciutto pizza to bring me back to Italy. And when I'm especially cold and need a spicy Gamtajang (pork bone soup), I imagine I'm lost within the food markets of Korea (even if I haven't been to Korea at all). Sometimes I miss the waves calling in Hawaii, so I order a Mai-Tai to start then finish a whole poke bowl. And of course, when I crave for my childhood Filipino dishes prepared by our yaya (our nanny but really her title should be household governess), I cook some steamed rice, grill some liempo (pork belly) and make a large pot of sinigang or chicken adobo and I'm instantly in Manila again. 

It's funny because every time we return home from a trip overseas and we need something really Canadian, we just gravitate towards Swiss Chalet (ribs and roasted chicken with their signature Chalet sauce), a good helping of Montreal poutine, and a cup of Tims. 

There are so many ways to experience a culture, a people. Every plate tells a story - from why a place relies heavily on pickling, on why some cultures prefer condensed milk with their coffee, or on why food is served on platters instead of individual plates. Make an effort to try something new and let your tastebuds do that walking tour. The spices, the ingredients, the textures, the seasonal produce, that custard you wouldn't think you'd ever try, that super dry biscuit you think was burned but actually enjoyed in the other part of the world. If there isn't a restaurant nearby that offers the cuisine you're interested in, no one's stopping your from picking up that knife, chopping board, and pot. Start cooking. Even if you hate the end product, it doesn't matter. It will either peak your interest or shut it down completely. But hey, at least you tried it. It will eventually open up your perspective of that place, that country. You really are just one taste away.

Just a side story:
When I was around 11 or 12 years old, I started watching "Cooking Live" with Sara Moulton. She made cooking seem so easy and calm. And I think I particularly liked the way she explained and prepared each step. In one of her shows, she mentioned a "food journal". And she said this in passing too. I have no idea why it stuck but it did. I convinced my mom that she "needed" to go to National Bookstore (basically the Staples, paper & stationary, and bookstore chain in Manila) so I could get myself a notebook or to find myself a food journal. Surprisingly, they had one. In the diet section (food and nutrition - more like a food log). So I converted it to a taste journal so I could remember food, their cuisine, and what they tasted like. I think I stopped writing when I was 18... or I think I just lost the notebook completely. Darn. What a piece of nostalgia that would've been.

Here are some of the dishes we've enjoyed around the world. 

Manila, Philippines

Venice, Italy

Florence, Italy

Boston, USA

New York, USA

Chicago, Illinois, USA

Maui, Hawaii, USA

Positano, Italy

And here are some plates just around Canada but obviously took us somewhere else.

#donyaluzee #food #palate #tryfood #travel #tourtheworldwithfood #journal #tastetheworld #foodlover #oneplateatatime #taste


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