12 July 2012

Time Machine Blogging

Alison takes a trip down memory lane after finding a stack of old photos and discovers the street food obsession goes long and deep.

When Shawn and I first started blogging, there was always a little niggling feeling that we should have started this caper way earlier. One of the outcomes of starting the blog has been an obsession with cameras and photography, and a cranking up of the number of photos we take on holidays (from 5 to 2000!). If only that obsession had been there earlier. I recently came across a pile of food related photos from holidays past and realised we had really been obsessed for years.

There's always been a food focus when we have travelled either together or apart. The first time I ever went overseas (way back in 1993) I went to the USA and pretty much covered about a third of the place over three different trips. I got hooked on Southern style cuisine, especially Memphis style BBQ and New Orleans Po' Boys, and the best I found was at Mumfrey's off Canal St. I don't know if post Katrina it's still there, but I ate a crispy roll with fried oysters, lettuce, mayo and hot sauce everyday I was in town. I also tried the prawn po' boy and the grits and loved every mouthful.

Way ahead of the 'dude food craze', Elvis' favourite place to eat in Memphis was BBQ from Leonard's Pit Barbecue. Here it's all about pulled pork in a smokey BBQ sauce, with lashings of coleslaw served on a soft bun, tall pitchers of sweet iced tea, corn on the cob and biscuits and gravy. It's a Memphis institution, and the food was tasty and generous.

At the airport home I bought a chilli and a BBQ cookbook by Jane Butel to keep the food favourites flowing. In between trips I raced out and bought  the New York Cookbook by Molly O'Neill. (There's no affiliate links here, click and be free!). From this I really got an idea of the diversity of American Cooking, and often dipped into it for Asian, African and European style food ideas.

The food in the American south will always be a favourite, and I can't wait to get back and see what's still cooking.

Shawn at the same time was out getting his street food legs in Africa and South east Asia. (He can blog about that another time.)

Our first trip together was to Thailand and Cambodia in 2001, my first experience of South East Asia and a firm bite from the travel bug that was. Highlights from that trip were warm toasted baguettes with pate from a Siam Reap street seller, and a whole bird roasted and served crispy head and all.

I had the good fortune to go to Madagascar in 2003, travelling around the country form North to South and spying lemurs and chameleons all the way. The food was as exciting as seeing all those amazing critters. Zebu was the meat du jour, and I munched my fair share of zebu kebabs and zebu in green leaves stew. Rice is the big staple filler, a throw back to the Malay origins of many of the local people.

In this little cafe zebu kebabs are grilled over a tiny brazier and eaten hot and juicy off the stick. I also nearly got sold off to the locals to stay behind as a bride. Lucky for Shawn I said no.

In markets all over the island were chillies and green peppercorns but I didn't get to taste much of it in the versions of food we were mostly served. I rejoiced the day I discovered the pots of pickled chilli veg on the tables, much like Asian style chilli in vinegar.

More roadside markets with piles of small dried fish. 

Most of the wet markets were undercover. Most of the meat was zebu, pork or chicken, not much variety and expensive.

Zebu are a type of long horned cattle, possibly related to buffalo and they grazed wherever they could.

Piggies were very common. This fellow is getting paraded down the street before... an eternal life in paradise.

Most common of all was rice. This was eaten at almost every meal, with or without something else. Most people ate a sauce made from veg and a little meat for flavour, rarely a big hunk of meat.

The capital city, Antananarivo. We went out to dinner one night and encountered men with machine guns casually lounging along a stairway. I loved all the old Renaults from the days of French occupation. 

In contrast, most of the villages were sparce. Deforestation has caused big problems and there was much hand to mouth living.

Further south it was warm and sunny with beaches and surfies, and of course great beer.

 One of the best meals I had was fresh crayfish caught off the beach and grilled right there for a measly sum. 

Madagascar is a place of extremes, with a great cultural mix and amazing wildlife (I spared you the endless lemur photos). Like this little girl hiding in the shadows, there's a mystery and a fascinating story to be found, much like our adventures in food.

So where to next? We are off to Nouméa for a week to discover the French and Pacific fare and even a Chinatown we believe. Next is Sri Lanka and Taiwan. There's always something new out there.
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1 comment:

  1. You're a foodie from way back! I wonder if I used to take photos of food BMY (before my blog)...


Thanks for your comment joy - please keep your musings happy - if you want to complain about a restaurant please do it on a restaurant review site (or your own blog) - we're all about celebrating cultural diversity and the great eats that come along with it :-)

Our ethics: We pay for all our own meals and travel (though sometimes Mum shouts us).