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Recent Blog Posts

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: 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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What did I eat?

Guest Blogger – Vesna Plakanis Vesna Plakanis and her husband Erik are certified naturalists and owners of the outdoor backpacking and tour company A Walk In The Woods. Her guest blogger post about some mystery meat in Costa Rica will make you laugh. Or gag. Photo courtesy of Vesna Plakanis Guest…

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Festa Italiana, Honolulu, Hawaii

Photo: Brent Petersen Italians first visited Hawaii almost 200 years ago. And while their numbers are small on the islands, wherever Italians go, their pride in their culture follows. Apertol Spritz Photo: Brent Petersen The Friends of Italy Society of Hawaii (FOISOH) is a group promoting the…

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A trip to Italy leads tourists to traipse for truffles

Rick Kaempfer, guest blogger Rick Kaempfer is an author and publisher based in Chicagoland. He’s also lived in Germany and has traveled extensively with his family. Check out Rick’s blog for more of his writing including the many books he has authored, all of which are highly recommended. His labor or love, Just One Bad…

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South Africa by Train

Rick Kaempfer, guest blogger Rick Kaempfer is an author and publisher based in Chicagoland. He’s also lived in Germany and has traveled extensively with his family. Check out Rick’s blog for more of his writing including the many books he has authored, all of which are highly recommended. His labor or love, Just One Bad…

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Undiscovered Chianti

Vertine, Italy Photo: Brent Petersen Tuscany is perhaps the best known region of Italy and is quite crowded with tourists. But, there are still some hill towns whose cobbled streets aren’t jammed with daytrippers from Florence or Siena. That’s usually because they don’t have blockbuster artistic and architectural attractions or the…

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Graffiti in Palermo, Sicily

Graffiti in Palermo, Sicily Palermo has some great street art. Here are some of my favorite pictures. (Photo: Brent Petersen) (Photo: Brent Petersen) (Photo: Brent Petersen) (Photo: Brent Petersen) (Photo: Brent Petersen) (Photo: Brent Petersen)

Records for sale

Records for sale Photo: Brent Petersen Photo: Brent Petersen Photo: Brent Petersen Whenever I see a street market or flea market I always stop and browse. You’ll always find the coolest gadgets and junk.  A couple folks are usually selling old albums and…

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