Our globetrotting days are still far away so feed your wanderlust with part 3 of Maryam Bibi Rumaney’s “Thirty Travel Memories”. Europe and USA are the subject of today’s Armchair Travel post.
23. Barcelona, Spain
Barcelona was one of the cities that I struggled to find Halaal food. There was one Turkish restaurant on the Ramblas which was Halaal (serving no alcohol). There were also some near the Marina sporting a Halaal certificate, but serving alcohol, so the hunt was real. One morning I stumbled upon a vegan restaurant, and super excited at the prospect of something purely plant-based, I found goat’s cheese on the menu. In Spain, English is not widely spoken and to further complicate matters, the concept of veganism is poorly understood.
24. Up in the air somewhere between Barcelona and Amsterdam
This story takes the form of an airline experience. I was travelling on a European airline, when they served eggs as the vegetarian breakfast option. Often the West does not understand that depending on your religion or culture, vegetarianism can be defined differently. For example, often members of the Hindu faith do not eat eggs, but they do consume other dairy products like milk and cheese. Veganism on the other hand, excludes all dairy and meat products. I found that these concepts were quite poorly understood in Europe, with the exception of London. London had so many food options, that we were never left hungry.
25. London, United Kingdom
London took us to a destination wedding. It was here that we tried beetroot halwa for the first time. In fact, the entire menu was superb, with delightful flavours that were all so novel. However, the beetroot halwa stood out. It was beetroot, with a hint of ginger and a taste of molasses. Hidden amongst the purple was a swirl of creaminess. I came home trying this recipe in so many different ways, but I could not master the art of the London wedding flavour.
26. Boston, USA
A few years ago, I was offered the opportunity to do a course at Harvard. I remember, upon arrival, wanting to explore the city by foot. So, I headed to security and asked about safety. She was dumbfounded by my questions. Naturally, South Africans are highly conditioned to crime. She eventually explained that it is safe to walk about and the area is amassed with students. One of my favourite foodie experiences was having clam chowder and a lobster bake in Maine. Maine is a coastal town, making seafood the perfect choice. The clam chowder was rich in flavour and creamy, and the lobster was cooked to perfection.
27. New York, USA
Finding myself in Boston, I had a weekend free and decided to head to New York City to visit family. I managed to get the earliest bus to New York, which is a five-hour journey. After five hours, and Wi-Fi all the way, thankfully, I arrived. My father’s cousin met me and invited me to stay over. Nothing is more comforting than a home cooked Indian meal after two-weeks of travel. I remember this trip so fondly, as I was able to create and strengthen a bond. Even now, three years later, we remain in touch.
28. Ankara, Turkey
We did a family of three trip to visit one of my husband’s closest friends. He is a Turkish guy that lived in Ankara at the time. By 10pm, my son was long asleep and we headed off for a late-night eating escapade with a difference – meat on skewers. Now, this was not just any meat skewer, this was an experience. The restaurant was packed at this hour, and people were coming in and out on the half-hour. The restaurant spanned two floors and each table had these long gaps. We later discovered that this where guests deposit their used skewers. Orders were for beef or lamb, and meat or liver. Fresh salads and herbs were served along with local breads. The skewers were about a meter long, and the meat was cut up into small pieces. The meat was grilled, and so flavourful that we easily ended up eating 12 to 20 of these skewers. This was a memorable meal.
29. Konya, Turkey
Konya is known as the ‘city of love’ in Turkey. It is the city where Rumi is buried. On the foodie front, it is famous for its table long etliekmek. Etliekmek is a Turkish word that means bread with meat. Thin and crispy, it is a wholesome experience. Not to mention that the table length bread is an experience on its own. Best enjoyed with a group. Flavours vary, but the lamb option is the best.
30. Lefke, Cyprus
I have always been fascinated with travel off the beaten track. When we did a trip to Turkey, I suggested that we take a short flight, and experience Cyprus. In Cyprus, we met a wonderful Muslim community residing in Lefke. There is a small mosque, and a thriving university community where students come from all over the world to pursue their studies. It was here that we experienced dining on a wooden boat that was located on stilts in the ocean. Of course, seafood was on the menu.
Leave a comment if you’re enjoying our travel posts. Next week we have a fascinating account of spending Ramadaan in Europe.
By Maryam Bibi
Maryam is a molecular scientist by profession with a passion for writing. She currently works as a freelance consultant offering laboratory advisory, scientific editing, and English language services. She loves to
Read Part 1 of this series here: Thirty Travel Memories Part 1 – The East
Read Part 2 of this series here: Thirty Travel Memories Part 2 – Africa
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