Tag Archives: Food

Dream Dinner Destination: Hydra, Greece

As a young girl, on an international adventure to the far side of the world, I encountered a choice. I was on an idyllic Greek Island in the Mediterranean, wandering the light cobbled back streets, and was approached by a lovely local and after briefly chatting and getting to know one another was asked to stay for dinner. Being 18 and having a boat and head count to catch up to, I was obliged to decline and forever wonder what might have happened if I stayed that night for a once in a lifetime dinner.

Well, today we’re going to investigate the possibilities, and extrapolate in a fun and exciting way, what might have happened that evening if I had decided to stay. First I’m going to lay down some parameters. For the sake of this thought experiment, we’ll say I am 22 years old. Mostly because I wasn’t really into fancy new exciting food at 18. Secondly, it would arguably seem sorta dodgy, staying with strangers in a foreign country, so one may assume I would make better decisions at 22 than 18 (those who know me are laughing right now). Next, we’ll assume I wasn’t on a High School trip and didn’t have a boat to catch or a schedule to keep.

So let’s get crack-a-lacking shall we!

So I’ve been asked to join a local Greek family (very wholesome of course) for a delightful dinner and not having anywhere to be I agree to the generous invitation.

The first thing that crosses my mind is the realization and horror of a complete unfamiliarity of both language and culture; Particularly in a group social setting. Having only just fumbled though conversational Greek as a wandering tourist in town I have no grasp of how to sustain constant communication with another human being for longer than the thirty seconds it takes to buy some olives or a bottle of Ouzo. What in the lowest level of Hades have I got myself into?

I could solely rely on my handy dandy phrase book that has lots of useful phrases such as “efkharisto yia ti filoksenia sas” which essentially means thanks for putting up with me. But upon further investigation, I fear this book isn’t going to be as useful as previously anticipated…

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…So now that the phrasebook option is completely out the window, I’ll just have to get by with my wits about me!  The family decides it’s their weekly night to go to the local cafe for a meal, let’s say their strange uncle runs the place right on the water just to make it a family affair.

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There is a daughter roughly my age and her English is terrible, but way better than my Greek, so I do most of my communicating through her using my well known over dramatic hand gestures and repetition. Being in the same age bracket and living in the same century makes her surprisingly relateable, considering she lives on an Island that still transports goods by way of donkey. It’s a surreal experience, filled with sounds and smells I never would have dreamed of experiencing all at once. The sea waters are salty and I can smell it on the light breeze. There is spice in the air and a constant bustle as both tourists and locals flit by along the water getting to where they are going. Everyone can feel it, and it helps me take in what it must be like to live here.

At our table, the wind flutters the cream tablecloth and a massive Greek salad is brought to share among everyone. It has large chunks of Feta the size of a deck of cards just waiting to be crumbled into and I may or may not have started to salivate noticeably. A long day of climbing the hills around the town centre will do that to a girl. The tomatoes are ripe and flavourful, and the cucumbers are firm and fresh. As plates are shared, laughter ensues as I try to explain a bit more about myself; why I’ve come to this beautiful place, and where I am off to next. Laughter primarily caused by my misuse of phrases if course. Even in England I found that locals get a serious kick out of one using the wrong words according to the social standard. And that’s even in the same language. I feel like I would do my best in this situation to share in my love of Greek food, family and adventure.

After a lovely dinner I sensed my welcome had expired and with kind regards I thanked them all for their company and was on my merry way, with a few new email addresses to add to my book.

I have always felt a common ground with a certain type of person who is free spirited and open minded, and these people who have on a whim invited a total stranger to dinner are a shining example of the kindness there is out in the world. Where language is not a solid barrier; there are windows through it. All you need to do is draw back the shutters, wipe off the dust and you can see very clearly into a whole other world.

-Hailey Jane

NOTE: If you have a website that you want to easily make accessible to travellers like me I would recommend the use of translation software. It’s bloody amazing how far it’s come in the last few years, and literally translates whole foreign language webpages for them before your very eyes!

Also, the phrasebook that was handy on occasion is called The Lonely Planet Phrasebooks: Greek. 3rd Edition. It was gifted to me by my boyfriend and I will always appreciate it, even if it’s advice may lead me to do terrible terrible things.

xx


Travelling With Your Stomach

I was sitting and thinking earlier today, which I have been told is a dangerous thing, and my mind wandered into the realm of food.  From a cultural perspective though, not in a “oh heavenly oyster buds I will die without that piece of chocolate cheesecake” sort of way.  I blame Stephan Fry.

What I was actually thinking about, in a more specific light, was how food changes from place to place, and why that is half the experience of travelling new places. And I don’t mean going to your crazy aunt’s house where they don’t have sugar or only eat food that has died in a peaceful and natural way. What I mean is, yes…what is on my plate looks very much like a lasagna, and I am fully expecting it to taste like lasagna. When in actual fact it tastes absolutely nothing like lasagna, and is more like lasagna’s slightly handicapped, cold Greek cousin who’s got it all wrong in the ‘trying to be like lasagna’ department. Then continue to choke it down with a smile.

It was then, at 17, that I understood how travelling is very much an all encompassing sensory experience, and not just for the eyes.

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Myself at 17 in Athens. Accompanied by Schwence, Erin, Phil, Steve and Erin.

It isn’t all about the bad though…and there is always the option to avoid putting it in your mouth if it looks questionable, but who would want to do that. Like I said, it’s all about the full sensory experience, good and bad tastes alike.

“This is where the hungry come to feed. For mine is a generation that circles the globe and searches for something we haven’t tried before. So never refuse an invitation, never resist the unfamiliar, never fail to be polite and never outstay the welcome. Just keep your mind open and suck in the experience. And if it hurts, you know what? It’s probably worth it.”  -Richard, the Beach, 2000.

There are so many more pleasant examples I have come across throughout my travels. The tomato and basil salad I had in Arachova for example, the first coffee off the plane in London or chicken soup with ducks in Hove, but it’s generally the bad, jarring experiences that root themselves in the mind for future review.

I now know why so many travel writers and documenters leap head first into the gastronomic realm in different countries. It’s such a way to put a distinct and unique mark on an experience. It’s a way to classify and categorize the adventures we all have, and is a strangely personal experience. You can show your family back home a photo of something that has really moved you, but you will almost certainly, completely and utterly fail in describing exactly how that greasy overcooked sausage in Shrewsbury tasted, and they will never understand why that small detail is so important to the rest of the experience.

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Coffee and dessert in London at 22.

This reality also helps you appreciate what you’ve got at home, how that cliche’ maple syrup phenomenon may seem silly to us here in Canada now, but just wait till you’re in Cuba and you’ve got a hot stack of pancakes ready for munching, and there’s no real syrup to be found. Only to see a strange version viscous of corn syrup on the table for you to dribble on top.

(I would also like to do a quick shout out to the wonderful Canadian family we met in Cuba who left us a bottle of our maple-y goodness once they left. It greatly improved our morning pancakes.)

So this is the world, and to travel it is to enjoy and endure all of it. It is at times painfully beautiful and at others pleasantly unsightly, and I just can’t wait to get back at it again.

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A Cuban shrimp head. I ate the rest of him. I am a murderer and eat things with eyes.

xx

Miss Hailey Jane


PG Tips: A Tea Review

My local grocer recently began stocking PG Tips tea. When I discovered this small fact I was far more excited than I should have been. it may or may not have made that particular day. The recent ‘London’ phenomenon around here since the whole Olympics thing has been kind of silly in my regard, and I think that may be one of the reasons for this new addition to their shelves. Nevertheless, I jumped at the chance to try it.

I hadn’t tried it while I was actually in England, oddly enough. I might have without knowing, come to think of it, but I’m not going to count that. While I was there I was far too busy trying other exciting things like Yorkshire Gold, RAF (Royal Air Force) Tea and more coffee than I’m normally used to.

So here I am, trying good old PG Tips for the first time!

A bit of history, PG Tips was first sold in the 1930’s out of Manchester UK, as Pre-Gest Tea, hinting that it aided digestion if consumed before a meal. Turns out that labeling restrictions after the war ruled that they were no longer able to say that, and the name was shortened to PG Tips, tips referring to the use of the tips of the tea leaves.

I also heard somewhere that I can’t quite recall (maybe it was an add on TV while I was over there, or I could have been dreaming it) that this was the kind of tea the Queen drinks. It’s rather economical in the tea department, so I don’t see why she would, but either way I had to try some.

What I have here is a box of 72, two cup bags. They’re not the famous pyramid bags, they’re square, but I’ll take what I can. The box is also telling me that the refreshment is to be savoured, so I’ll try my best to savour it properly. It also says that

“Like a deep breath of fresh air, a cup of PG Tips refreshes the body and lightens the spirit. No wonder tea is second only to water as the world’s most popular beverage.”

There’s also the same blurb is french, so I can imagine it was packaged in Canada. Aaaand according to the box it was. Aren’t I a clever girl.

So here goes. I’ve made myself a cup of this ‘refreshing beverage’ and we’re all about to learn what it’s like. The instructions said to warm my favourite mug with hot water first. I was going to use my second favourite mug, but I guess I better wash out the other one just to make sure I follow the instructions so the tea tastes right. It is also quite clear about pouring that hot water out first before pouring more in. What do they think I am? American?

I let the tea bag steep for less than the suggested four minutes because I didn’t want a spoon to be able to stand up in it. And as you can see it is pretty black already. Step 5 in the instructions also demand you ‘Enjoy’ and ‘be refreshed’, so I guess it’s part of the rules.

I tried it black like I enjoy most tea, but I feel it would/could be complimented by milk. It has a bit more ‘tang’ than my regular orange pekoe which is Tetley, which also happens to be PG Tips leading competitor in the UK. It also is a bit more ‘crisp’, as crisp as a liquid could be describe as anyway. I guess their advertising and demanding instructions have it right. It is indeed refreshing. Compared to other standard orange pekoe teas, I would rank it relatively high. Way above Red Rose that’s for sure (Who drinks that stuff? and why do restaurants insist on only having it to chose from…bleh), Lipton and Salada. Yorkshire gold still might win though.

PG Tips is a very nice morning tea, and this type appears to steep rather quickly, allowing for a very dark tea if desired.

So in all, I would highly recommend PG Tips if you’re after something different and are not a fan of fancy herbal concoctions like myself.  Also, 72 bags was less than 4 dollars. So you can’t lose. Also, if any of my English friends are reading this, and find me horribly incorrect…. I’m deeply sorry. I blame cultural contexts.

Excellent job England, making us all think you’re the tea capital of the world. I’m sure India and China are very pleased about that. 😛

Thanks for reading everyone, it’s always sincerely appreciated. If you want to receive regular-ish emails of posts you can enter your address and follow me easily using the widget to the right. It’s up there somewhere.

xx

Miss Hailey Jane


Masochistic Deipnosophist Experiment: Wrap Up

Well, it’s been a long 40 some-odd days, but I survived.  My days of abstaining from foods that begin with the letter ‘C’ have ended, and will never, ever start up again.

Ideally, the goal was a better sense of self, increased level of health and just feeling better overall. So, did I achieve this far-flung goal?

On the SFU Wellness Quiz that I started my quest with and re-took again today, I seem to have slightly improved in the emotional department, resulting in a passing grade! Woohoo! (I hate failure…).  Though I fear the spiritual section of my life isn’t getting any better anytime soon, the minor improvements in the career area, including two job interviews and some time spent working for the family boosted my overall score a little.

My Final Wellness Score: 38/70 (Units of wellness??)

Everything else remained the same. The test itself isn’t detailed enough to measure the effects of a diet including a drastic reduction of caffeine, but I am spending significantly less money at Starbucks which can’t be a bad thing!  (Needless to say that first French vanilla coffee with whipped cream after however many days was etheral bliss).

I did miss out on a lot of chances to win a car, or television, or camping supplies, or assorted confectioneries from Timmies…but when I think about it…I don’t really need any of those things…Tim Hortons just makes me think I need them so I buy more of their burnt bitter, water soaked in coffee grounds (Yes I’m a coffee snob…get over it).

As for the food factor…Things I found I missed most of all were: Chilli, Crackers, Cookies and all those other snack foods that start with C.  Snacking on nuts really doesn’t cut it some days.  I also missed out on doing a lot of my own baking. Making my homemade cookies, cakes, crisps and so on… turns out to be a bigger part of what I do for fun than I thought. A certian someone and a slew of his coworkers also missed this significantly.

I gave up on avoiding cheese early on, because I am not a god.  And chocolate was deemed a necessity by my gentleman, because with out it “I’m intolerable”… Which worked for me.

So overall, I survived. I feel pretty much the same, weigh the same, and do pretty much the same things. But I may try to keep some of the good habits I established, and not just throw them out with the bathwater.

My next quest for self-betterment will hopefully begin again soon, and will definitely involve world travel, because it’s been almost a year since I’ve been anywhere and I’m in need of a new adventure! Suggestions on a destination will always be greatly appreciated and taken sincerely into consideration. 🙂

Thanks for coming along!

-Miss Hailey Jane