A Travellerspoint blog


Cookbook Part 3

sunny 70 °F

It has been an entire year since Ben and I embarked on the trip around the world. The work on the book continues, albeit slightly slower due to full time employment as a Travel Consultant. Now it is an issue of paying people to help finish it or continue to learn desktop publishing and other programs to finish the book on my own. The recipe testing has been completed but I do need help proofing the recipes so if anyone is interested please contact me and I will send you a few to try out. Taking time to reflect on the trip there are a few changes I would make but nostalgia always helps to blur the past and make you forget the nights spent in some Italian railway station where the only bathroom is a metal box out of the Hellraiser movies. Or getting sick in Korea and being bed ridden for a week. Or being groped by a drunk Korean guy while sleeping on a ferry. Or falling into a ravine while trying to herd goats back to the field. Wait . . . that all happened to Ben. I just seemed to always have good food and good company. I am already getting antsy for the next round of traveling; in November I get to go to jolly ole England and sometime next year Korea and Japan.















Posted by CulinarySojourn 20:37 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Cookbook Part 2

rain 39 °F

I've been pretty busy with this project and meant to publish an update before Thanksgiving. However, the holidays are always a bustling time of year and getting my taste testers and photographer together to eat the food can be a challenge. I have finished selecting and writing the recipes for the book, although one or two may still change as I keep fiddling with them. My wife is equally content with all of the food she gets when she returns home after working and aggravated that all I did was make a mess of the kitchen and sat at the computer with the cats.

The next step is to finish writing the entries; talking about the places, stories or people associated with each bite of food presented. Also a glossary is required due to wide range of ingredients used throughout the book. More importantly the alternatives to some of the more difficult to acquire ingredients. Depending on that some recipes may need to be replaced such as Ottoman ice cream which requires a special flour that cannot be easily/legally imported from Turkey. Once I can try some alternatives, such as konnyaku or guar gum, we will find out.

I'm on track with the timeline but Christmas is fast approaching. Once it hits my photographer won't be in the country and I will have to find another who wants some food in exchange for their artistic talents.


Probably my favorite of the reconstructions has been the Turkish raviolis, filled with spiced beef and covered in tangy yogurt, sour sumac, sweet mint and fiery chiles, it hits all of right notes in the mouth.


Peking style duck, followed by duck soup is the most time intensive project yet. Three days in the garage to dry and marinade, one day to roast and eat and another to make the soup. I gathered some friends that had lived in China and had them sample the mahogany fowl, complete with plum sauce and pancakes. Hoping that the last four days had not been in vain, I was almost reluctant to actually cut into the duck. Thankfully everyone enjoyed it. To much, it appeared, as I didn't have any leftover meat for the soup but the intensity of the broth was more than enough. Having done it once I will try the duck again, as I think the roasting part can be improved on. As I write this, there is another duck sitting in my freezer and we will have round two.

Posted by CulinarySojourn 14:59 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Cookbook Part 1

Its taken awhile to settle back into normal life and deal with all of the issues of not being home after 4 1/2 months. The cats are getting along again, most friends caught up with and now I have time to start work in earnest on the book that inspired me to do this in the first place. However, life still gets in the way. I sliced the thumb on my right hand open and having issues with handling a knife. Or a fork. Especially chopsticks. Still, I have created a outline and have worked on several recipes already. Here is a selection of the food I am working on as of now.

This dish here saved Moroccan food for me. All across the land, I found tasteless dishes. Well cooked, but lacking the flavors I expected from eating at restaurants here in the states and from cookbooks. Under salted and under spiced. We did use Trip Adviser and other online tools to try and find good places to eat but they were the safe places. On the edge of the gritty city. This dish here was served by a small eatery near the Blue Gate in Fes. Just another small restaurant amidst the dozens of others sprawling out from the plaza. The server no less aggressive than the other eight currently vying for our business. Luckily we chose this spot and had several great meals. This particular dish was a hearty stew of lamb and prunes. The lamb flavored refined by the sweetness of the dried prunes and the sharp, earthy, taste of cinnamon. The sauce was not overly sweet, the meat moist and tender. The large chunks of meat could be cut by your fork. Maybe not the best dish during the midday heat of late spring but for my disillusioned taste-buds nothing could have been more refreshing.


This next food took awhile to track down in the streets of Istanbul. Our original plans were to head to central turkey where the dish is supposedly quite popular but the end of Ramadan prevented us from acquiring any transportation to Istanbul in time for our flight to China. I asked several restaurants throughout the city and only found them in a posh one near the Hagia Sophia. Only wanting this one item that was an appetizer, we ordered and despite much reluctance by the waitstaff to serve two guys one small dish we eventually got what we came for. Manti are dumplings from Muslim China and have spread through most of Central Asia. Having had it before it an Afghan restaurant in Baltimore, I was expecting either pot-sticker or ravioli shaped but instead the restaurant had made tiny dumplings the size of a penny. Inside was onion and lamb, and it was all topped in a tangy yogurt and tomato sauce. Creamy and acidic, it dripped from each tiny dumpling. Then they garnished with a generous sprinkling of dried chile flakes and mint, before mixing it all together.


A debate has gone on a long time between a friend of mine and myself. There is a dish in Japan called okinomiyaki and there are two distinct styles: Hiroshima and Osaka. While the name translates as, "as you like it", the preparation differs. In the Hiroshima style, each layer is crafted and cooked separately before being layered together. First is the crepe, then the cabbage, then the chosen fillings and sauce. It is all finished with another crepe on top. Osaka style has everything mixed together into a thick, savory, pancake. While both good, I finally relented and must agree that Osaka makes the better okinomiyaki. The flavors have more time to come together and the generous topping of sweet sauce and mayonnaise (about 1/3 cup) really makes it a tasty dish. Not a everyday dish once you count the calories that would include the mayonnaise, bacon, fried egg and cheese.


The last two dishes for today are both from Bulgaria, although you can find variations throughout the Balkans. Sofia was a difficult city for us. Unlike the majority of the places we visited, there is no similarity in the alphabet and the people were not as openly friendly. Most of the places we found to eat was simply fast food. Luckily for us the city of Sofia has a non-profit group that does culinary walking tours of the city. Completely free and they will take you around and show you the restaurants serving the best of the local food and using the freshest ingredients. The first is a national dish of Bulgaria, tarator. This is a great summer soup. Dill, garlic, walnuts and cucumber are whisked together in yogurt before being thinned by water. The chilled yogurt and cooling cucumber provides respite from the heat while the fresh garlic and dill is healthy for you. The crushed walnuts and cucumber provide texture to the soup.


Another great meal was cabbage rolls. These are fairly ubiquitous throughout Europe but despite being a common dish, it can still excite the taste buds. We got ours at a small eatery and decided to head to one of the numerous parks in the city to enjoy the nice weather and watch the people of Sofia. These had a filling of a mixture of pork, veal and rice. A hint of mint was also present to cut through the heavy meat flavor. The meat was wrapped in cabbage leaves covered in a tomato sauce. Paired with a bowl, or this case glass, of tarator and you have a great Bulgarian meal.


Posted by CulinarySojourn 14:24 Archived in USA Comments (0)

The Checklist

Or how to not die while on the trip.

sunny 51 °F

Some might be wondering what we will be bringing on a six month journey. As we will be carrying everything on our backs, weight and space will be an issue. I use gallon zip-lock bags to put smaller articles of clothes in to squeeze out the air to save space. These can also be used later to separate dirty clothes out.

Another space saving item is our smart phones. These can double as cameras and personal computers. In countries that we will be spending more time in we can also activate them to use as actual phones. There are two important programs that w.e have downloaded: a translation program and Skype. Every translation program I found doesn't hold up to the rigors of everyday speech, but to ask for directions or read a menu they work great. Skype is a free video chat program that is cheaper and easier than a having a phone number.

One of the biggest challenges to modern travel is the Transportation Security Administration. In an effort to prevent global terrorism, the TSA has restricted the amount of liquids and gels a passenger can carry on a airplane, These rules have changed over the years, but the basic part of it is no liquids or gels in containers over 3oz and it all has to fit into a single quart bag. Fortunately there are several products that are alternatives to liquids. The hardest one to find was the shampoo bar. I went to eight stores before I was able to find it. These bars are considered to be the equal of 28oz of fluid shampoo yet are only 4.6 oz. Other useful alternatives are the laundry soap sheets and Pepto-bismal tablets.

Let me know if you can think of anything else we should bring on our travels in the comments below.



  • Passport
  • Plane tickets
  • Cruise documents
  • Photocopies of the above
  • Credit cards
  • Money
  • Clothes
  • Backpack

Travel 3lbs 10.8oz

  • Inflatable neck pillow 4.1oz
  • Microfiber hand towel .5oz
  • Antibacterial personal towel 6.2oz
  • Travel sleeping bag 1lb 12oz
  • Poncho 7.8oz
  • CamelBak 6.7oz
  • Head mounted flashlight 2.2oz
  • Spare glasses in container 3.8oz
  • Hat 6.4oz
  • Power plug converters 2.1oz
  • Phone and charger 7oz

First Aid: 1lb 4.4oz

  • Band-aids
  • Chlorine Dioxide tablets (for purifying large quantities of water)
  • Imodium (anti-diarrhea pills)
  • Re-hydration tablets (for said diarrhea)
  • Pepto-bismal tablets
  • Latex-free gloves
  • Gauze pads
  • Self adherent wrap
  • Personal bath tissue
  • Dayquil and Nyquil
  • Anti-bacterial towelettes
  • SteriPEN with extra batteries (Ultraviolet (UV) light for water disinfection)
  • Moleskin (adhesive pads stuck to the skin to prevent blisters)
  • Pain relievers
  • Neosporin
  • Bag to carry it all

Toiletries 1lb 3.8oz

  • Deodorant
  • Toothpaste
  • Listerine sheets
  • Toothbrush with cap
  • Floss
  • Comb
  • Travel Laundry soap sheets
  • Soap
  • Shampoo bar
  • Quart size bags

Posted by CulinarySojourn 19:28 Archived in USA Comments (2)

The Itinerary

Part 1: Portugal, Spain & Morocco

rain 53 °F

Having decided to quit my job and leave my wife for the next six months, I now needed to determine where I was going to go. On previous trips I have found an unexpected cost associated with traveling; visas. Several years ago I went to China, which cost about $200 for the visa and to cover the costs of the courier to deliver it to the Chinese embassy in California. This process needs to be completed ahead of time and can take several weeks. Having only decided to do this a few months ago I wanted to avoid similar situations. The first place I looked is http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english.html. Here you can find information on visa restrictions, costs, safety and vaccinations.

The easiest path is through Europe. Twenty six countries in Europe have signed the Schengen Treaty which abolishes border control between their countries. Most of the western part of the continent is a member with a few small exceptions. While it easy to gain access the main issue is the cost of traveling in the euro zone (currently $1 is equal to .72 Euro). However, a lot of the sights and cuisine I wanted to eat is in this area with one notable exception; Morocco. No visa requirements, about 8 dirham to the dollar, tantalizing dishes and sights. My only major concern is the language barrier as I cannot speak or read Arabic, although due to its colonial past French is used.

Now that we have a plan, we needed to figure out how to get there. Being on the west coast of the U.S. drastically increases the cost of any travel east. The initial plan was to not use any air travel but global issues later in the trip made me reevaluate this decision. Having already traveled across the U.S. mainland and having a limited time (six months is not really enough), I looked at different methods of sea travel. Freighter ships usually have a few cabins on board that you can use although the costs are high. On average the costs can be as high as $124 a day. As one hour of flight time is equal to one day of sea travel this gets expensive quickly. There are a few options to find work on smaller boats through sites like https://www.findacrew.net/ or https://www.crewseekers.net/‎ to name a few. The main issue preventing us from using this option was the timing on sailings. We would have to find one, then be ready to go at a moments notice. But working two jobs, the wife and wanting to be in certain areas at specific times meant that we needed to go when we wanted so we took the third option: cruise ships. A few times a year these ships rotate their itineraries, shifting from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean. This option was cheaper than a plane ticket, coincided with our timetable and has the benefit of allowing us to eat a lot before we have to start spending our own money on food. The limitation is the nine days it takes for the crossing but the romanticism of entering the same port used by the likes of Vasco da Gama was to tempting to ignore.

Having the cruise determined the first part of the trip, leaving us in Barcelona on the 14th of May. Here we will use the Spanish rail system to make our way to Madrid and Granada before heading to Gibraltar to visit Great Britain. After this a short ferry ride to Africa and into the cultural centers of Fez and Marrakesh. That is the plan at least, and we will see how it goes. Any suggestions from our readers will be greatly appreciated.

Posted by CulinarySojourn 16:47 Archived in USA Tagged usa Comments (0)

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