By: Ian Stalker
Interested in honing your cooking skills?
And also interested in encountering different cuisines during your upcoming travels?
Travel Courier has found some options for you to learn about some of the world’s great dishes.
Are Maria Haddad Hanania and her youthful son Daoud a mellow version of the notoriously cantankerous Gordon Ramsey?
The Jordanian woman runs the Beit Sitti cooking school, which teaches what it labels authentic Arab cuisine, and was featured in a recent Jordan Tourism Board North America webinar, which had Haddad Hanania preparing a Jordanian dish using the likes of eggplant, beets, garlic, yogurt and a host of other ingredients while Daoud offered his mother helpful pointers throughout.
The two sported matching Beit Sitti aprons throughout the performance, which frequently saw youngster Daoud undertake such tasks as stirring, and also offering suggestions on food preparation.
Their performance quickly won over viewers, with one telling the hosts that, “You two need to start a cooking show.”
Haddad Hanania’s Beit Sitti – which translates as My Grandmother’s House – normally provides tourists with instruction in regional cuisine – which includes the likes of falafel and hummus, snack foods that have gained a worldwide following.
“The (Jordanian) food is amazing,” said the engaging Haddad Hanania, whose cheerful demeanor contrasts with celebrity chef Gordon Ramsey, known for raging at people on his TV show.
Samer Abu Taleb of the tourist board said Epicureans will be in their element in Jordan. “I feel that every visitor who comes to Jordan gains a little bit of weight.”
Jordan’s tourism trade has suffered because of the coronavirus pandemic, leading Haddad Hanania to tell webinar viewers she hopes they’ll be able to chow down soon in her homeland.
“We miss having people (tourists) in Jordan and we miss feeding people in Jordan,” she said.
More information on the school can be found at beitsitti.com.
Photo courtesy: Tourism Authority of Thailand
Arnold Myint knows a thing or two about Thai cuisine even though he grew up far from the kitchens of Bangkok.
Nashville, Tennessee’s Myint last week appeared in a Tourist Authority of Thailand webinar celebrating the Thai New Year, demonstrating his skills at preparing a Thai salad made with papaya and other items.
So why would the tourist board turn to someone who isn’t from Thailand to tout the joys of Thai food?
Well, Myint clearly knows his stuff, with his family having a Thai restaurant that he became involved in and he now prepares authentic Thai recipes.
The salad he made for webinar viewers contained a host of items, including papaya, tomatoes, green beans and some of the chilies that Thais love but which Myint acknowledged can be “intense” heat-wise.
Fish sauce is frequently used in Thai dishes, with Myint reporting vegan fish sauce is available.
Myint gives online Thai cooking classes, which Tida Jeab of the tourist authority said he’s ideally suited for.
“You make it look so easy. I’m now getting hungry,” she said after watching him make the salad.
Myint in turn countered that he’s more than happy to prepare Thai dishes.
“I love Thai food,” he stated.
It’s hardly surprising that Renata Snidr has had great dining experiences in far-flung locales.
After all, the NARAT employee’s travels have taken her to far-flung parts of the world, enabling her to sample different dishes and restaurants while doing so.
“I am a bit of a foodie, counting both restaurant dining and street food amongst the most memorable,” she says. “One of the most memorable indoor dining experiences I have had was at the Clos-Maggiore in London, England. Surrounded by the vibrant theatre and art scene of Covent Garden, this hidden jewel of a restaurant tucked away in a street corner has an enviable menu that is rated amongst the best in London. What is most memorable is the magnificent atmosphere when you step into its Conservatory. Your meal here takes place under a canopy of cherry blossoms over which is a glass roof, from which the stars twinkle through.”
Cuisines she gives the thumbs-up to include one from Central Africa.
“If you appreciate ethnic food, some of the most delectable food can be considered Ethiopian cuisine,” she says. “Restaurants in Toronto such, as Ethiopian House, are frequently rated as the best dining spots in the city. The culinary tradition is an extension of what you can find in Ethiopia. You are not going to find world-class fine dining restaurants in the country; however the delectability of food you encounter; from popup cafes, to street vendors to restaurants will make your taste buds jump for joy. Be prepared to eat with your hands!
“A few other favourites that come to mind is stumbling across a German bakery in the middle of the desert enroute to Sossusvlei in Namibia. Other than the bakery, there is a general store, a small lodge and the only gas station for miles. The pastries and pies you find here are literally amongst the most delicious I have had. The generous helpings go a long way too.
“Japan is a food lover’s paradise – even if you do not like sushi. Osaka, known locally as ‘Tenka no daidokoro’ – the country’s kitchen –is the place to be in if your visit is guided by gastronomic factors. Osaka’s Dotonbori Street is a culinary wonderland to explore at night. Neon lights, 3-D signs and flashing billboards are now iconic visuals of Japan. The succulent smells of food stalls that greet travellers are alluring and serve as a taste of what’s to come (pun intended).
“A particular restaurant I dine in frequently when in Vietnam is the Cargo Club in Hoi An, which is a wonderful UNESCO heritage town that is adorned with colourful oriental lanterns. It is one of the magical towns of Vietnam. A river-facing table on the rooftop affords some of the best views the city has to offer and aptly, complements its exquisite cuisine.
“Still in Indochina, in Siem Reap, Cambodia, the Georges Rhumerie French Restaurant treats you to French-Khmer fusion cuisine in a setting that draws influence from the jungles of Cambodia and the streets of Paris for an unforgettable dining experience.”
Meanwhile, Snidr says food and travel are intertwined.
“Gastronomy in my opinion is part of a country’s identity,” she says. “Without knowing or experiencing its food, you only encounter one side of the culture. Even sharing a meal in the home of a local can ultimately elevate your appreciation of that destination visit.”
London clearly deserves consideration from vegetarians looking for a city in which to break bread.
On-demand housing platform Nestpick.com has released a study on which of the world’s global cities are the most vegetarian-friendly, considering 200 cities on all continents but Antarctica and London clearly outdid itself.
Factors such as the price of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein products, as well as the number and quality of restaurants catering for vegetarian choices were considered.
London was the highest ranking city in the index, scoring strongly for the affordability of fruits and vegetables and its number of vegetarian-friendly restaurants. Berlin and Munich rank second and third.
Edinburgh in turn has the most vegetarian-friendly restaurants per population, followed by Munich and Ubud.
Taipei topped the list for the average rating of its top 10 vegetarian restaurants, beating Detroit and Tokyo.
London ranked No. 1 for vegetarian festivals and events, ahead of New York and Chicago.
The first factor assessed was the affordability of maintaining a balanced vegetarian diet in each city. To do this, they looked into the price of fruits, vegetables and plant-based protein products, factoring in purchase parity and relative affordability for local residents. Nestpick.com then considered the cost of eating out, calculating the number of affordable vegetarian-friendly restaurants in every city as a share of all restaurants.
Next, the study turned to the robustness of the vegetarian ecosystem in each city. For this, Nestpick.com looked at the availability and quality of vegetarian-friendly restaurants, including the total number per population and average rank of the top 10 vegetarian-friendly restaurants in every city. Restaurants were hit particularly hard during the pandemic, but the study was still able to assess the number and quality of each city’s offering as key indicators. It also calculated the percentage of all restaurants which are vegetarian-friendly and vegan-friendly. Finally, it studied the number of vegetarian events and festivals in each location as markers of how active and established the vegetarian community is.