The Art of Eating

Having enjoyed many meals alone while on the road, I like to watch people eat. Not what they are eating really, but what they are doing while they eat. This often makes me compare things to Montreal, my hometown and a real “foodie” city.

At home we are all chefs, or so we pretend to be when we dine in. Meals are planned ahead of time, researched on the Internet. We watch cooking shows on a network entirely dedicated to food. Our magazines and weekend newspapers include a section on dining. I have even participated in two food competition social events amongst friends (have not yet won though…). No matter what it tastes like, if it was prepared with love, we “ooohhh” and “aaaah” and thank the host for “such a delicious meal and a wonderful evening”. Dining out is so cherished in Montreal that we have festivals for it. This photo was taken at Aix Cuisine du Terroir, a participant in the Happening Gourmand Festival held in Montreal annually in January.

In Thailand, my new home, people seem to focus on their food intently, studying it. Equipped with a fork in the right hand and a spoon in the left, diners sort the food before eating it. The spoon stays still, waiting for the selections of the fork to make the perfect bite: a little rice, a small piece of meat, a green on top, and don’t forget the sauce! Once the perfect spoonful of food is selected, it is then placed in the mouth and the entire process is repeated. I love it.

Often I am asked what the food from my country is like. I always feel guilty that I can rarely name five “Canadian” dishes (poutine is always number one…) since some of the best food I have had at home have come from other countries. I could probably name you ten Indian, Lebanese, Japanese and Polish dishes respectively. When visiting Vancouver, I discovered their west coast fusion food incorporating flavours from Asia with everything tasty that North America has to offer. Nevertheless, I still wound up eating at an amazing little Ethiopian restaurant to catch up with a friend who moved there to study.

In tribute to my favorite pastime, and quite possibly the thing I do best, here is a photo collection of my favorite gastronomical experiences.

Meals enjoyed with old friends at Salamanca Tapas Resto in Dublin for my 24th birthday with the awesome Ganit. This is the best tapas I have ever had in my life.

Or meals enjoyed with new ones, my housemate and some teachers from the Realia Language School. Yogya is an awesome student town, with tons of open air restaurants offering live music performances from local bands.

Food that is really good for you… (Well plated, healthy meal at Cafe Via Dante in Montreal)

And food that can make your heart stop. Miss Mamie’s Shortbread Too, Authentic Southern Cuisine in Harlem, New York City. There are three meats on this plate: catfish, ribs, fried chicken, paired with three sides:  candied yams, collard greens and rice and peas.

Food that is famous…Cheeseburger and fries at Shake Shack, New York City. We got in line at 11am just to make sure we would get to eat around noon. People come from all over the city for these famous burgers, waiting in line for up to an hour before placing their order.

And food that is infamous: Quebec’s classic poutine dolled up with sweet potato fries, caramelized onions, cranberries and pulled pork at Cafe Local, Montreal.

Food that is always readily available: Street food in Seoul, South Korea always ready to serve deep fried deliciousness.

And food that you need to earn: the “ftour” in Rabat, Morocco to break a long day of fasting for Ramadan. Figs have never tasted so good.

Food almost too pretty to eat: Japanese meal on Bintan Island, Sumatra, Indonesia.

And food that you have to close your eyes just to get into your mouth: fried tarantula, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

I find our society’s relationship with food fascinating, mostly because I am personally obsessed with it. We make charts about it, monitoring everything we eat. We speak to professionals about it, trying to get the most out of it. We take photos of it, photos with it, write about it, dream about it, talk about it.  Some even love to hate it. I’m definitely not alone in my obsession.

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  1. Pingback: No. 4 – USA- Home of the brave | See Simi Travel Blog

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