Archive For The “Entertaining” Category

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate In Thailand

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate In Thailand

Pairs Well With…Pad Thai + Pad Thai + More Pad Thai

We’re here.  We made it.  Thailand is the last month of the Asia food challenges.  You’ll be disappointed to know that I just couldn’t bring myself to eat the grand finale of surprises, live shrimp. Instead, I stood on the sidelines drinking a nicely chilled glass of rose, per usual. But to make up for what I didn’t eat, I at least made an attempt at eating scorpions.  #thathappened.  Here is what this month’s food challenge looked like:

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I also took up a new hobby this month: consuming frequent amounts of pad thai to the point where my body was rejecting noodles and carbs by the end of the month.  (Okay, that’s actually not even really true at all and probably never will be.  But…I’m pretty sure I haven’t had noodles since I left Thailand.)

Thailand has some of THE BEST food I’ve ever tasted, a likely reason why it is one of the most popular cuisines in the world.  One thing I love about the Thai food is that it almost always consists of the five major flavors (sweet, sour, spicy, salty and bitter) and leaves a lasting impression on your palate. This is also why you can expect a good number of ingredients in any given Thai dish.  You can also bet it will have a strong sent and some level of spice, like it or not.

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A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate In Cambodia

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate In Cambodia

Pairs Well With…Cambodia + Crunchy Critters + Cooking + Khmer Dishes (which made a memorable impression)

If you recall last month’s food challenge, I ate a lot of weird sea creatures, from snails to tiny shrimps, none of which tickled my fancy.  Month two’s food challenge was quite sea-based, different than the curveball thrown my way in month three: bugs.  As far as I can recall, I never ate a bug, not even as a kid.  I knew the bug eating was bound to happen either in Cambodia or Thailand, so I should have been ready.

Each monthly challenge consists of a minimum of five food oddities that are eaten routinely in the country. I’ve often found myself thinking, “Who the heck would actually eat this?”  Answer: people in third world or underdeveloped countries, where bugs are common “treat” – if you can even call them that. (For the record, crickets are sold at movie theaters as a show snack. I still hold firm that they taste like bacon.) During the month 3 challenge, I tapped out halfway through.  There was NO way in hell I was eating big ass cicada bugs, which were this month’s “Never Try, Never Know” food challenge finale.

Take a look at what month three’s food challenge looked like:

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Bugs aside, the “normal meals” each month continue to get better and better.  While I liked the food in Vietnam, especially the Pho, I loved the fresh flavors of traditional Khmer recipes.  In fact, I found myself cooking a lot in Cambodia, both at home and with local chefs, which allowed me to learn traditional Khmer cooking techniques and recipes.  All this Khmer cooking inspiration has made its way into this month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Cambodia.

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A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Vietnam

Pairs Well With…Vietnam + Sippin’ + Slurpin’ + Pickin’ + Chop Stickin’

Month 2: Vietnam.  I’ll start by saying there was no bull penis soup this month, thank you very much. On the soup front, I stuck to one of my favorites, pho.  You can’t go wrong.  Sure, there were some left of center items on menus and street carts, but then again, when isn’t there?  You’ll be happy to know that it only took me three days in Cambodia to eat grasshoppers, so there’s that.  (In case you are curious, they taste like bacon of all things.)

But let me tell you what didn’t taste like bacon: last month’s critters.  Every month when we arrive in a new country, we do a thing called “Never Try, Never Know,” a food challenge where we try odd “delicacies” of the country – until we decide to tap out.  It’s like a gross adrenaline rush.  Whatever.

What did the Vietnam food challenge consist of you ask?  Well, here.  Let me show you what we ate – and how I reacted to all these weird creatures:

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Phase 2 is what I considered (after the fact) to be the best of the worst…

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…and the third time isn’t always a charm…

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But, wait!  Someone said fried snail are better.  Yeah, everything is usually better fried.  Or is it?!

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Now, I did try rounds four (dove: tasted like chicken) and five (frog: also tasted like chicken..ish.)  I also highly considered becoming a vegetarian upon leaving the event that evening.

In all seriousness, Vietnam offered me some of the best dishes I’d ever had, most of which I couldn’t pronounce off a menu even with three attempts.  (This is when the smile and point method proves highly effective.)  Thanks to the endless amount of noodles I ate, none of which I regret in the least, I am highly turned off by carbs.  Sort of.  Okay, not really.  This month, it’s back on track.

Here were some of the best meals I ate in Vietnam:

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As the month went on, you should have seen me with my chopsticks.  Nailed it!  Also, by the good graces of fate, I served as the bride-to-be at a mock tea engagement ceremony where we learned about the behind the scenes workings (ahem, negotiations) of marriage and exchanges of gifts from one family to another.  The best part?  The green bean tea engagement cakes.

Vietnamese Engagement Party

What I’m most excited to share with you is this month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Vietnam. Within this guide, you’ll find my favorite flight snacks, goods from my supermarket sweeps and recipes to unique meals to make at home or with friends.  Don’t be shy.  Missed last month’s A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia?  No worries!  Here you go.  I’ve got you covered.

For more cricket eating and country jumping, catch me on Instagram, where big moves are being made daily.  More to come from Cambodia!

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

A Girl’s Gotta Eat: All The Things I Ate in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Pairs Well With…Malaysia + Sipping + Sampling + Pushing Food Boundaries

Riddle me this: how do you go to another country and not eat everything?  If anyone has the answer, please let me know.  Eating, like life, is a balancing act.  The way I figured, all the walking and workouts would balance out the u-turns in my highly regimented eating.  Previously regimented eating, that is.  What can I say?  A girl’s gotta eat.

I went through a phase of two bites of this and a handful of that as I worked Jalan Alor like RuPaul worked the runway in the 90’s. And I worked it.  Now, you may be thinking to yourself based on my Instagram, “Holy shit, this girl ate a million things in Asia!!!”  Yeah, well, roughly 35 days of being in Malaysia, and we’ll call it two meals and some snacks a day, equals don’t you dare judge me! Because if you are, a couple things are probably happening here:

  1. You’re having “Food FOMO” and are jealous that what I’m eating is better than what you’ve got in your pantry.
  2. You’re hangry right now and are about to drool over the best part of this article – the pictures.  I’ll get there…hold your horses.
  3. You’re just jealous that you’re not here. (And completely understandable.)

 

Malaysia is a bit of a food bonanza if you ask me.  The flavors and meals of the country are heavily influenced by Chinese, Indian and Malay cultures.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and braved the runny eggs, mystery meats, meat floss (yes, I did try it) – and even some seafood.  I truly enjoyed everything I sampled…almost.  Minus the bull penis soup that is.  #yesyouheardmeright  #neveragain

You should have seen the video…

 

Okay, so why am I, Ms. Carin Across the Globe, telling you what I’m eating?  Simple.  Because I want you guys to partake in this journey with me, even if we’re on different ends of the globe. I was perusing aisles in stores aimlessly and taking notice of all the foreign items on the shelves, picking a few up to try along the way.  I’d find myself saying, “Ooooh, my sister would like this” or “If I were at home, I’d totally make and bring this to my next Culture Club get together.

Well, one thing led to another and I put together the A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia as an idea starter for your next at-home dinner party, out of your comfort zone cooking attempt, or girl’s night in. It includes a few of the best must-try local recipes featured below and the most curious, fun or just plain tasty local products. (To be completely honest, half the time, I couldn’t read the package, so I superficially picked the products based on looks alone, but only recommended the yummy ones that had an interesting twist.)

Invite some friends over, have everyone pick and order an item of interest from the list and sample the night away!  (Add alcohol for an extra adventurous time.) The list, which I hope you find to be helpful, includes both adventurous products as well as select ingredients for the recommended recipes.

So, without further ado, all my month one favorites…

HOCK CHEW MEE SUAH: considered a traditional Chinese comfort and birthday food.  These salted wheat noodles are either boiled or pan-fried and dressed in sauce, sometimes with other ingredients. (The balls have yet to be identified, but I am pretty sure they are some sort of imposter sausage.)


APAM BALIK: a peanutty griddle stuffed pancake generally sold as a sweet street food in Asia.  If you’re feeling really frisky, up your game and get yours with a dose of coconut.

The master himself

Apam Balik Minis

 

ROTI CANAI & SPINACH PANEER MASALA: How I’ve not heard of pizza dough’s dramatic twin escapes me! This Indian flatbread, maybe more amazing than naan (if that’s even possible), is really just a vehicle for sauce, veggies and wiping your plate clean with an edible foodie napkin.  It pairs well with pretty much everything, but especially my favorite, spinach paneer masala.

 

ROTI BANJIR TELUR GOYANG: (also known in Malaysia as “Hanging Balls.” I just can’t make this stuff up): A local, hybrid mashup of two breakfast dishes: 1) Roti Canai (Indian flatbread) served “Banjir” style (meaning “flooded” with other stuff) and 2) Telur Separuh, two half boiled eggs.

Roti Banjir Telur…also known as submerged bread and hanging balls. #truth

 

BANANA LEAF MEALS: Look Ma, no hands!  Okay, just kidding.  Hands, yes.  Silverware, no.  The banana leaves serve as plates in an effort to reduce waste from disposable plates.  You begin with a base meal of banana leaf rice and vegetables, topped with sauces and proteins to your liking.  The best part of this meal?  Utensil free.  Monkey see, monkey do, follow suit and eat like the locals do.

Exhibit #1: The Meal

Exhibit #2: Confusion sets in on how to do this gracefully

Exhibit #3: The face shoveling begins. Toddlers, watch out.

Exhibit #4: Sh*t is all over the place. Note to self: must bring bib next time.

Exhibit #5: Feeding frenzy success.

 

MEAT FLOSS: Okay, bear with me for a moment while I try to describe this one to you as it’s almost one of those “you had to be there for it” type foods.  Looks like: carpet.  Taste consistency: cotton candy.  Feels: fuzzy. Flavor profile: sweet on the tongue and savory after taste.  Overall: it was odd. Not bad, just odd.

 

NAAN: A rising oven baked, flatbread which originated in Central and Southeast Asia.  Thicker than Roti, it is another dining accompaniment to curries or anything sauce based.  This meal will make em’ say, “Mmmm…..naan, naan, naan, naan.”  Yep, I went there.

You can’t get Master P out of your head now, can you?!

 

MAGGI GORENG: A popular instant noodle Malaysian dish.  Stir fried with veggies, egg, and sometimes protein, this dish is a lo mein meets fried rice dream.

Yeah, no comment on this one after Master P pun.

 

CHEE CHEONG FUN & CHAR KWAY:  First of off, we all know how unamusing Monday’s are to begin with.  Second, this was my Monday morning Malaysian breakfast the third week of our trip.  I was presented with a completely foreign, maybe not so appetizing meal at first sight.  But, I braved it and tried it anyway.  Turns out it was quite good.  Chee Cheong Fun is a rice noodle cooked to perfection and dressed with a sweet sauce.  The meal is complimented by a stick of Char Kway, a Chinese donut, or even a naked churro.

Traditional Cantonese breakfast

 

CURRY:  The new love of my life these days, my main squeeze.  Curry, an Indian dish, uses interesting combinations of flavors and spices, with some having higher levels of heat than others.

Hands down the best curry I’ve had in my life!

 

Have all the feels for all the meals?  I hope so!

Pairs Well With… is looking to showcase your best foodie night photography from the recipes in the A Girl’s Gotta Eat Guide to Malaysia.  Pass along pics of the food that made you lick your plate to pairswellwith@gmail.com and you could be featured on Carin Around the Globe Instagram. Tag @carinaroundtheglobe when you post and let me know via #pairswellwith what you think your meal’s perfect pairing is.  (Oh, and don’t forget to send along those candid shots of the friend trying something she hated.  Believe me, the best picture in the world is that first bite of a durian cookie.)

And that, my friends, has been my month one wrap for this A Girl’s Gotta Eat series.

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