A riot of strange smells, sights, and sounds. For many travelers, walking into a colorful market is the best way to get to know a new country.
Three authors managed to capture that excitement in their new cookbooks – and explain how home cooking can drive away wanderlust as we all lean on during the pandemic.
Photographer Maria Schiffer keeps things real on her trip to Africa. It’s not for him to schedule a rush to the desert in an off-road vehicle, snapping supposedly authentic photos of Africa and then dining in a luxurious hotel.
Instead, he traveled by bus, slept in humble guesthouses and often knocked on strangers ’doors and asked if they would like to cook with him.
Schiffer is convinced that nothing connects people like food does. In her new cookbook Eating With Africa she collects not only recipients, but more importantly, stories about the people she encounters and their daily lives.
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The German-American photographer spent a year collecting these stories, repeatedly returning to Africa with the aim of “having a feel for this continent”-all 54 countries and the their 1.3 billion inhabitants.
She has cooked with people in 10 countries, from Morocco to Malawi to South Africa.
“I still know a lot about Africa,” Schiffer said. “But in personal stories, prejudices can break down – and everyone understands the food.”
Whether on the train, in a shared taxi or at a guesthouse, Schiffer talks to people and often goes to meet the next family who might show him a new dish.
“The idea of the cookbook was well received. I was always warmly welcomed and often cooking became a real event,” the photographer said.
And there’s a lot to learn along the way, like the Ugandan way of wrapping boiled banana leaves and cooking them over an open fire. Most of the ingredients in Schiffer’s book are available in a normal supermarket, he said, or in an African or Asian store.
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Food also has a special importance elsewhere in the world. In Thailand, says chef Pratina Kross, people spend more time cooking than in Europe.
Also known as Meo, Kross runs Dao, a Thai restaurant and culinary school in Berlin. At his restaurant, Kross enjoyed the wandering of his guests.
“I often get feedback that visiting my restaurant can easily bring back the feeling of being on vacation in Thailand,” he says.
Food is an important cultural experience, the chef believes: every culture introduces itself through culinary specialties.
“Same with the food culture in Thailand. Of course, we have to adapt to the customs of Germans and Europeans here in Berlin. “
Back in his birthplace in southeastern Thailand, Kross serves food on the beach while costumed dancers perform original Thai cultural dances.
While going out is a way to take home a touch of Thai flavor, cooking the dish for yourself is one step better. In his German-language cooking book Kochen Wie In Thailand (Cooking Like In Thailand), the author explains how to recreate traditional dishes like pad thai and prawn curry at home. And, with recipes set alongside vivid photos of Thailand, the feeling of that holiday is not far off.
Not just pizza
Like Thailand, Italy is a dream holiday destination for food travelers from around the world, with fresh ingredients and so many regional culinary variations that offer insights beyond pizza. and pasta.
Originally from New Jersey, United States, food blogger Katie Parla has dedicated decades to studying Italian gastronomy, living in Rome for nearly 20 years.
Parla’s cookbooks showcase the traditional Italian recipes that readers need to bring the tastes and smells of an Italian holiday into their own kitchens.
Of course, nothing can replace eating a Pizza Napoletana in Naples.
“But you can get very close if you practice and perfect recipes,” Parla said.
One thing is clear for the author. Food is culture and food connects people, even all the time. When cooking a traditional dish, it is possible to feel connected to those who ate it decades or even centuries ago.
For the perfect Italian dinner, Parla recommends a traditional Roman menu: Carbonara, then picchiapo (beef stew) or coda alla Vaccinara (oxtail stew) with steamed dandelion leaves.
Accompanied by a great Italian wine, served in glasses of water, and all this spin is suddenly easier to carry. – dpa