I’ve been to cities that never close down….
So I’ve lived away from my home in Australia for 10 years now. Time flies, and when I left Perth, I was thrilled to explore the world, to get away from the known and comfortable and see what else lie beyond the familiar. Everything was new and different and exciting. Big cities with honking horns and lights and sirens and restaurants open at any time of the day were a huge contrast to the quiet, sometimes sleepy and definitely smaller city I come from. But after spending ten years living in three different countries on three different continents, I’m starting to realize that there’s no place like home.
This past week has been a week of challenges. Physically – reaching the end of the first trimester of my second pregnancy, and trying to get over the physical challenges of feeling ill and start to get back into exercise, and also trying to push through that tired feeling. On top of that I was asked to give a short opening presentation on a safety topic at the start of a large company meeting last Thursday. This wasn’t just any company meeting, it was a meeting for all expatriate employees to hear about upcoming restructuring and layoffs. It was not a happy meeting. And I was going to be the opener. Great……
I’ve enjoyed many many wonderful meals, at amazing locations around the world, so narrowing down to the best meal I’ve ever eaten is tough. My husband will tell you that I can probably recount everything that we ate at many of these meals – dish by dish in great detail. But there is one meal that really sticks in my mind as the best meal I’ve ever eaten, and while the food was excellent, it doesn’t necessarily stand out because of the food. While most people wouldn’t typically associate the Dutch with gourmet cuisine, that is where this story begins.
New Orleans is probably one of the most memorable cities to me for experiencing a culture different to my own. I find the Cajun and Creole cuisines fascinating – an evolution of French, Caribbean, African and other cuisines, featuring local ingredients such as corn, rice, crawfish, okra, file and sassafras. I love the melting pot of flavors such as gamey sausages, seafood, spices and creaminess. The local dishes such as jambalaya, shrimp ‘po boys, muffaleta, beignets and of course Hurricanes were things I’d previously only faintly heard about. As I wandered down Bourbon Street and enjoyed local foods so foreign to my home town of Perth, it truly felt exotic and exhilarating (or was that just one too many Mint Julep’s at Pat O’Brien’s?). The bustling crowds spilling out onto the street, noisy jazz music wafting out of the bars and multitude of food outlets brimming with people all led to an atmosphere buzzing with energy that was fascinating to me. As my husband and I perused through a menu at a small little restaurant in the French Quarter, we found the items slightly puzzling – especially the chicken fried steak, was it chicken, was it steak??? We had to order it just to find out! Experiencing the city through the lens of local dishes was a wonderful way to learn more about the local culture. Continue reading