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Movies featuring each region of Italy

Italy is home to a vibrant film making industry that has been widely recognized over the years for its quality and innovation. And, many filmmakers have used Italy as the setting for their films. Abruzzo Abruzzo is a mountainous region of Italy that also boasts miles of stunning coastline. Several movies have used Abruzzo’s magnificent…

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New Zealand’s dessert named for a ballerina

I love a good culinary controversy, and the question of who can claim to have invented the Pavlova is a good one. Pavlova origin story Anna Pavlova was a world-famous Russian ballerina who performed in Wellington, New Zealand in 1926. While staying at a Wellington hotel the chef there created a dish for her and…

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10 movies that will make you love Sicily

Sicily is an extraordinary place filled with gorgeous scenery, a fascinating history, and interesting people. While many famous films are set in Rome (La Dolce Vita, Roman Holiday, Bicycle Thieves) or Tuscany (Under the Tuscan Sun, A Room with a View), Sicily provides a spectacular backdrop for many famous and lesser known motion pictures. The…

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The most popular fast food in Berlin

Doner Kebab (aka Doner Kebap) has only been available in Germany for 50 years. But, in that time it has become the most popular street food in the country with over 16,000 places offering the meal of meat and veggies wrapped in a pita. And, Berlin is the epicenter of the Doner Kebab. Doner Kebab…

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The best sweet treat in Madrid

Nope, it’s not churros y chocolate. It’s a pastry that came from Venice, gets its name from Italy, and was made famous in France Churros y Chocolate The best known sweet treat in Spain is churros y chocolate. All over the country, people start their morning by dipping sticks of fried dough into cups of…

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Shopping for candy in New Zealand

The Kiwis love their sweets and one of the best souvenirs you can bring home is several bags of “lollies.” What is a Lolly? What we Americans call “candy” and the Brits call “sweets” is referred to as a “lolly” in New Zealand (and Australia). You’ll recognize favorite confections like chocolate bars and licorice, but…

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Canelé – Bordeaux’s Column-shaped pastry

Visit a bakery in the French city of Bordeaux and you’re sure to enjoy cute cakes shaped like little Doric-style columns. Canelé origin story The art of wine making goes back over 8.000 years. These early wines were simply fermented grapes and likely had a harsh taste. But, somewhere along the line, an ingenious person…

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Corn Smut, Mexico’s fine dining delicacy

All over Mexico, Huitlacoche is savored for its subtle elegance. But, somehow, this culinary gem is ignored in the U.S. where the fungus is given the derogatory name of “corn smut.” What is corn smut? Huitlacoche (Image: npr.org Monica Ortiz) Huitlacoche, also known as corn smut and Mexican truffle, is a corn fungus. Normally, Huitlacoche…

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Hawaii’s love affair with Spam

Spam, that processed canned pork product with the distinctive blue and yellow packaging, is incredibly popular in Hawaii. In fact, Hawaiians eat, on average, five cans of Spam every year. Five cans! Spam’s Hawaiian Origin Story Spam, short for SPiced hAM, was invented as a way to market the relatively unpopular pork shoulder cut. Due…

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Naples’ custom of sharing espresso with strangers

Customers visit caffès in Naples each morning and order two espressos. But, they don’t drink both. The second one is called a “Caffè Sospeso” or suspended coffee.   Caffè Sospeso Origin Story Naples was once a powerful city, rich both economically and culturally. But, after Italian unification in 1861, Naples fell on hard times. Cholera…

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Why We Eat Zeppole on Saint Joseph’s Day

Italian bakeries crank out millions of zeppole every Saint Joseph’s Day. Enjoying this delicious pastry is a tradition not only in Italy, but all over the world. Saint Joseph’s Day March 19th is Saint Joseph’s Day, aka the Feast of Saint Joseph. It’s also recognized as Father’s Day in many countries, including Italy. All the…

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Beatles Songs About Real Places

The Beatles remain the most popular group in rock and roll history. Their songs delight and inspire fans even today. While some of their songs are of the simple “boy loves girl” variety, others are more complicated with deeper meaning and shrouded references. Let’s take a look at some Beatles’ songs and the real-life places…

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Where to get the best Guinness in Dublin

They say Guinness doesn’t travel well. The implication is that by putting a keg on a boat or a plane, the delicious stout loses some of its flavor. That might be true. At least partially. But, I have another theory as to why Guinness tastes so much better in Dublin. It’s because you’re drinking it…

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Why Malaysian Food is So Popular is Wellington, New Zealand

One of the first things you notice in Wellington is all the Malaysian restaurants in the city. Most are run by Malay ex-pats and their story is fascinating. Photo: Brent Petersen Chinese Malaysians Most of the immigrants from Malaysia to New Zealand are ethnic Chinese, not Malay. Chinese people have been emigrating to Malaysia for…

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4 Dishes (and Some Wine) You Must Try in Slovenia

Tiny Slovenia is sandwiched between Croatia, Italy, Austria, Hungary and the Adriatic Sea. Her delicious cuisine takes cues from all these cultures, yet remains true to itself. Soups Since Slovenia is at the foothills of the Alps, one-pot meals and soups are especially popular here. These dishes are warming and hearty, especially during the cold…

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4 Ways to Have an Authentic Foodie Experience in Lyon, France

You might be surprised to learn that Paris isn’t the gastronomy capital of France. Lyon is. And, the city’s love for food is on display daily. Here’s how you can enjoy it, too. Dine at a Bouchon Bouchons are the most interesting places to eat in Lyon. Here, Lyon’s version of comfort food is served….

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Lisbon’s Best Beverages

Coffee, Wine, and sweet, local liqueurs. Lisbon is one of Europe’s best cities for liquid refreshment. Ginjinha A Ginjinha, Lisbon (Photo: Brent Petersen) Enjoying a Ginjinha is one of the highlights of a trip to Lisbon. Served in little plastic shot glasses and usually costing about 1.5€, getting a Ginjinha is cheap way to have…

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How the Most Famous Street Food in Berlin Arrived From England (and the U.S. and India)

Currywurst is available on practically every block in Berlin. But, this seemingly quintessential German food only dates to Allied occupation of the city. Vegan Currywurst from Curry at the Wall, Berlin (photo: Brent Petersen) With a name like Currywurst, you’d think this was a traditional German dish. But, it’s not. Unlike other Wursts, (Bratwurst, Knackwurst,…

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Is It Chocolatine or Pain au Chocolat?

Depending on where you are in France, the singular treat is called by many different names. Chocolatine: (Photo: Mink Mingle on Unsplash) I love culinary debates. Deep dish or thin crust? Is a hot dog a sandwich? Should chili have beans? Pick a topic and let’s discuss, debate, analyze, and nitpick. But I really love linguistic culinary debates….

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How to Enjoy Two Different Bellinis in Italy

You’ve probably enjoyed a luscious Bellini or two during brunch but there’s a second Bellini-inspired dish that you have to try in Italy. Pasta alla Norma (photo: Brent Petersen) Bellini Cocktail The Bellini, a delicious combination of peach nectar and Prosecco, is a staple of brunch menus all over the United States. Day drinking never…

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Italy’s Greatest Coffee Drink

I know. “Italy’s Greatest Coffee Drink” is a bold statement. But, the first time I sipped a Bicerin, I knew I’d just experienced Coffee, Chocolate, and Cream nirvana.  Bicerin at Caffe al Bicerin, Turin, Italy (photo: Brent Petersen) In the 17th century there was a similar bev, even if it was infinitely inferior. Uncouth barbatians…

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2 Sweets and 2 Drinks You Must Try in Madrid

The Spanish love their sweets. And, they are delicious. In fact, later in this article I will commit the unforgivable sin of putting a Spanish treat ahead of a similar French one (at least unforgivable to the French). But, remember, you’ll order these sweet treats for breakfast, not after a meal for dessert. So, here’s…

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6 Tapas Dishes You Must Try In Madrid

About Tapas There are plenty of high-end and Michelin starred restaurants in Madrid. But the best way to get inside the city is to sample the countless traditional tapas bars. Look for restaurants with a plaque in front of them. These are awarded by the City of Madrid to restaurants that have been in operation…

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Killing time in Ortigia, Sicily

Accordion player in the piazza (Photo: Brent Petersen) Excerpt from a larger piece I’m working on: Ortigia is a maze of winding, narrow streets.  Three story limestone buildings fill the island, blotting the sun from most of the interior streets, barely wide enough for a Fiat 500 to pass.  Pedestrians step into doorways to avoid…

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Ravenel Bridge, Charleston, SC

Completed in just 2005, the Ravenel Bridge (technically, the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge) has become one of the iconic sites in Charleston. That’s because of the striking diamond-shaped towers with cables stretching hundreds of feet make for a beautiful vista above the Cooper River.

Whale Watching in Honolulu

First thing we saw when setting out was a rainbow. Must be good luck! Winter is whale watching season in Hawaii. Humpback whales travel from the waters around Alaska, where they feed in the summer, to Hawaii, where they give birth and feed their calves, in winter. Humpback whales were hunted to near extinction, but…

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Chinese New Year, Honolulu

Lion at the Chinese New Year celebration, Honolulu (Photo: Brent Petersen) Chinese New Year is Tuesday, February 5th, 2019. In Hawaii, there is a sizable Chinese population, so there is a big celebration. Chinatown in Honolulu, of course, is the center of the festivities, but there are Chinese New Year celebrations…

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St. Martin’s Day

Ljubljana, Slovenia Photo: Brent Petersen November 11th is St. Martin’s Day, a feast day celebrated throughout Europe to commemorate Saint Martin of Tours, a Roman soldier who became a monk.  Saint Martin is known for giving away all his possessions except his cloak.  One day he saw a beggar in snowstorm…

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