8 Steps You Too Can Take To Screw Up Cinco de Mayo

I am becoming enamored with the glitz, the glamour, and the glory of food blogs. You know those blogs that make you want to pull out a knife and a fork and begin eating the computer screen! So after having read all these motivational, follow your dream blogs that I have recently subscribed to, I thought I should bite the jalapeno and begin one. So here goes…

1.First of all, you should be unique and celebrate all food holidays before everyone else. That way your blog gets out there first.

Cinco de Mayo on Cuatro de Mayo - be unique and make a Mexican stand!

Cinco de Mayo on Cuatro de Mayo – be unique and make a Mexican stand!

2. Invest in attractive and expensive kitchen tools such as I have.

Note the flower shaped cutting board. You can't get that just anywhere. Dollar stores have to order these in advance for you!

Note the flower shaped cutting board. You can’t get that just anywhere. Dollar stores have to order these in advance for you!

3. Be sure to use top quality homemade spices such as I have.

The cream of the Mexican crop for tacos!

The cream of the Mexican crop for tacos!

4. When in doubt, just buy a can of stuff… it is usually the same as all that difficult to make homemade stuff. And really… who will ever know or be able to taste the difference?

I was almost out of my canned beans (don't they look appetizing?) so picked up another. Good Old El Paso!

I was almost out of my canned refried beans (don’t they look appetizing?) so I picked up another can of good Old El Paso! You can never have enough cans on hand.

5. Be sure to cut the ingredients so they look attractive and are the same size as I have done.

Note the expert cutting culinary skills please.

Note the expert cutting culinary skills please.

6. Wnen in doubt, you can use leftovers (who will ever know right?) or you can even take leftovers such as I have done (Indian basmati rice – almost Mexican, si?) and mix them with Mexican rice from the package. The result is delish!

I am sure Indian flavoured rice mixed with Mexican will be a great combo!

I am sure Indian flavoured rice mixed with Mexican will be a great combo!

7. Be sure to keep a clean attractive counter by using a gorgeous bowl to keep peelings in as I do.

What can I say? This bowl really has it going on. Perfect for a food blog.

What can I say? This bowl really has it going on. Perfect for a food blog.

8. And then with all great glamorous top-notch food blogs, you need to show off the final result to entice others to follow you or at a minimum, like you.

(Oops… already ate it… well, no not really… the dog did… she was the only one really in the mood for Cuatro de Mayo or to be honest, brave enough to stomach the results.)

I will try again tomorrow. I promise. Or maybe not. The dog isn’t looking that good. Maybe I should stick to a travel blog instead.

Have a great Cinco de Mayo tomorrow from Jade, Jazmin (our dog) and me. Hope yours is tastier than ours. 🙂

What Are You Most Worried About When You Travel?

Jade was born to backpack. She is a natural at it.

I knew this early on when we took a bus from Prince Edward Island to Ontario. She had just finished grade 1 but boy, could she scope out a free seat and get to it before anyone else; even with luggage in tow.

Nothing could make me prouder.

With these gifts in hand, Jade took to travelling like a mouse to my house.

But… and isn’t there always a but?…

Travelling is Jade’s friend. Food is not. She could do without.

Enter: Europe school trip and pre-determined dinner menus with some flexibility for breakfast and lunch (Jade thanks the food gods for that)

It was a rough start.

Apparently not a Jade fav and this appeared twice;  which was not so nice.

Apparently not a Jade fav and this appeared twice; which was not so nice.

But the Sprite helped 🙂

Sprite was a make up for the less than nice dinner that accidentally arrived twice.  This company, EF Tours, understands teens well!

Sprite was a make up for the less than nice dinner that accidentally arrived twice. This company, EF Tours, understands teens well!

Then she was hopeful. But…

So she looks to a Canadian (?) restaurant for some food aid, but apparently it was false advertising.

And then she hit the food jackpot… carbs, hot chocolate and ice cream, of course!

And sadly the one that got away due to lack of time. She will eat her dessert first next time. 😦

Jade will never know how this one tasted, sadly, she confesses.

Jade will never know how this one tasted, sadly, she confesses.

Mexico, Markets and Me

The first few times I went to Mexico, I did the “usual” resort thing in Cancun and surroundings and ventured out for a few excursions to ruins and to snorkel. It was fun; it served its purpose – to relax in the sun at the beach, see a few sights close by and return home rejuvenated. Nothing wrong with that.

When I began to backpack Mexico and focus on anything that wasn’t a resort, I saw a completely different side of Mexico and frankly, one that I preferred. In fact, one that I have returned to again (and I haven’t done that a lot) and most likely, will again.

It is not the beaches, the restaurants, or the hotels that draw me in. It is the markets and the people who go.

I am a market junkie and this trait guides me everywhere I go.

No market is the same. Some sell only produce, some sell meat, some sell clothing, some sell anything in the world you can think of and some are more like restaurants for the local people. Honestly, I am not biased;  I love them all and have been known to drag my family to market after market (at least in Jade’s opinion).

It is the cheapest form of entertainment I can think of and also the best. I get a glimpse into local life and what it feels like and looks like. I imagine what it would be like to live there and go to the market as if it was my very own. Maybe..some day.. in the future..that will happen. In the meantime, I live vicariously through my photos.

Pete and Repeat – The Amsterdam Version

It is no secret that I love Holland. Always did.

I lived in Zwolle for a year on a Rotary Exchange. I went to school  where I was placed in Grade 1 for Dutch class and Grade 12 for English class. That is until the English teacher heard me talk with my Canadian accent and then I was told to no longer speak in class. Apparently I was corrupting the class. Regardless, I learned to be a little Dutch and became a more outspoken, liberal and scarf wearing version of my previous self.

When I returned to Canada, I was officially hooked on Dutch cheese, poffertjes,stroopwafels, dropjes (black kind of licorice) and pannekoeken. So it was no surprise that these foods were introduced to Jade early on. In fact, Santa regularly brought some each Christmas. Having a bit of a sweet tooth like her mother, Jade began to dream of the day she would go to Holland.

And when her dream came true, Holland did not disappoint.

Jade roamed Amsterdam like a Dutch girl (well at least after she went the market and bought herself some European clothes to fit more in). She is tall, blonde, liberal and yes, a tad outspoken like her mother. She draws the line however at scarves.

It was like watching myself a million years ago. Amsterdam was again, love at first sight. And really… who can blame us? It really is a great place to be.

From Flea Bag Dives to This… Flashpacking Rules (Sometimes)

When I backpacked for 9 months from Mexico by bus to Costa Rica and then from Colombia to Bolivia, I travelled on broken down buses, chicken buses, flat-bed trucks, anything that didn’t cost very much. Every now and then, I would spend more than 5 dollars on a room and upgrade to a luxurious 20 dollar room. Food was off the street, local places, bakeries and grocery stores. Sometimes a splurge on a pizza place but overall the food was the easiest to handle. The flea bag dives and crappy buses got old but then 9 months of travel was the reward.

Fast forward to a family with 2 teens and a senior who is more than 70 travelling in Morocco in extreme heat for about 3 weeks. This is where flashpacking comes in. A new-ish term for me but yes, it defines us. We do travel for a shorter period of time and therefore certain luxuries are a bit more affordable. Every now and then we upgrade to a room that might cost more than 50 dollars (and yes this is an ouch!) but the perks are there. You might actually want to put your feet on the floor now and even take a shower without flip-flops!

I loved the places we stayed and where we ate in Morocco but… given the choice of this vs. the sorta flea bag but getting to travel longer… well…tough call. Backpacking rules too sometimes.

The Elegance of an Indian Woman

I was in awe of the women in India. Simply, stunning in all they do.

I would be (as the teens today say) ONE BIG HOT MESS day in, day out. I couldn’t even begin to try. I thought I was doing well if my hair hadn’t frizzled into one massive bowling ball and that was a good day.

Indian women were cooking, they were carrying water on their heads, they were carrying anything and everything on their backs, they were looking after the kids, they were always doing and still… they have that “je ne sais quoi” , that simple elegance that makes you want to run for your camera and ask if you can take their photo.

Personally I know that NO ONE would EVER want to take my picture as I try to cook in my kitchen. It is anything but elegant.

A Road Side Lunch in India

I am not sure about the math but if I have eaten close to 53 655 meals in my lifetime, this one road side lunch in Rajasthan, India stands out as one of my most interesting ones. Sitting on a ” ? ” , I ate alongside other local people as they sat on a ” ? ” for a delicious Indian meal right along the main road. The equivalent to pulling into a McDonald’s on a highway road trip but only a BILLION times better and more memorable. India wins hands down in the “experiences you will never forget” category!

How One Food Mistake Led To Another and Another

So it all began in the city of Maputo, Mozambique and ended in Jaisalmer, India. 

1.I am living in Maputo and looking for a “something I can eat somewhere safe” kind of restaurant. And so I find an “Italian”  restaurant that looks appealing, attractive and best of all, full of other people eating there (usually a good sign when travelling). I order the now infamous steak on a platter. Yup, in those good ole days (prior to this said steak) I was a meat eater. I am so hungry that I cut, fork, chew and chow down that steak in no time. (Oh, Did I forget to mention that it was dark outside where I was eating so I never really had a good look at that sucker?!)

So This Minor Steak Incident Led to Many Problems (otherwise now known as yersinia) Which Led to the Next Mistake.

2. So now I am living in Tete, Mozambique with some unpleasant side effects. As a result, I am no longer chowing down any meat and begin to look for some vegetarian options. It appears that the only choice that I can muster up is canned beans which I begin to eat straight from the can. As you can figure out, this gets old really quickly so I am on the serious hunt for anything else. So again… another “Italian” restaurant is discovered (you would think I would have learned my lesson from the first Italian restaurant). AND BONUS!!! They have pizza. Again it is dark outside (yes a recurring theme) and I begin to eat my pizza. OMG! As this is really nowheresville in Mozambique, this pizza has gone all wrong. It has ketchup instead of tomato sauce! Truly revolting but desperate, I actually eat most of it. I can barely think of it now.

So I Am Now a Full Blown Vegetarian (thanks to Mozambique) Looking for Options in the Desert in India in the Middle of a Camel Race

3. I am hungry as my dad and I have been watching these camel races all day and now into the night in the middle of the desert in Rajasthan, India. Again I go on the hunt for something I can eat and yes, again it is dark but this time it wouldn’t have mattered anyways. I luck out and find vegetarian samosas. In fact they are so delicious that I eat many of them. (Oh Did I forget to mention that they had most likely been sitting out in the sun all day?!) So yup… I spent extra quality time at that location waiting for my stomach to change from Delhi Belly to  a stomach that can handle “I have to get into a car and drive 10 hours back to the city on a “road” – loosely used term – with bathrooms ranging from super lousy to non-existent.”

Hopefully, this is one time that I have learned from my mistakes.

Some Things Never Change – and yes… It’s The Real Thing

Despite all the differences in the world, there a few things that always remain the same… you can always (well let’s say almost always) find bread and you can always (well let’s say almost always as some countries are deemed Pepsi countries) find Coca Cola. And why would that be important you are wondering? Well, if you are travelling with teens or children who may be special eaters to be politically correct, this might be considered important. Of course, bottled water is better but sometimes you just need that caffeinated sweet beverage to get you through one of those super hot, super humid days… as well as I swear by pop to get you through that queasy stomach, those awful tasty malaria meds and yes, I have even had to use it to brush my teeth (not one of those stellar moments I must admit).