Monday, October 7, 2019

Around the Kitchen Table: Food on our Travels + #Bookgiveaway

Around the Kitchen Table: Food on our Travels

VICKI DELANY: I travel a lot and one of the things I enjoy the most about visiting new places is the local food. In Vietnam I took a cooking class and went on a street food tour. In Malaysia we ate our way though one of the worlds’ primary food destinations, George Town on the island of Penang.  The variety of the marvellous curries in India! In Mozambique I couldn’t get enough of the prawns. This month I’m off to Russia and excited about what that cuisine has to offer. Do I ever bring any recipes home with me? Not even once. Maybe I worry that trying those things at home will spoil the memory.  

After the feast 

Street Restaurants in Malaysia

Food stall tour in Malaysia

Mozambique market


Buying spices in Vietnam

Making curry in India

What about the rest of you? What favourite foods do you remember from your travels and do you ever try to recreate them at home?

DENISEMy husband and I used to travel a lot, but as we aged (and more importantly our parents got older) we now are limited to one cruise a year and a couple of weeks in Florida. One of the great joys of traveling has always been exploring the local food. We even tasted kangaroo in Australia--sort of reminded me of venison. 

On our last cruise we were able to take  a cooking class taught by a wonderful chef in Mexico. Truthfully, I've never been a huge fan of Mexican food, but now that I've tasted the authentic flavors, I've been won over.


LESLIE:  Ten years ago, Mr. Right and I spent a month in France. While we haven't been brave enough to try recreating the duck confit he loved so much, the Beouf Bourgignon and Chocolate Mousse we adored in Paris -- so much that we went back to each restaurant a second time -- have become regulars in our kitchen. Although I haven't shared either recipe here, the recipes for the mousse and my huckleberry version are in Death al Dente, my first Food Lovers' Village Mystery.

Recreating discoveries of travel is part of the joy, both of the trip and of home cooking. On a trip to the Malice Domestic Mystery Convention, a friend and I met at Teaism, a D.C. cafe. The Salty Oat Cookies were absolutely fabulous. Alas, while often asked, Teaism didn't share the recipe, but a Washington Post food reporter proved that the WaPo's tradition of investigative journalism is not limited to politics! I put my version in Guilty as Cinnamon, my 2d Spice Shop Mystery, and the fabulous Kim Davis of Cinnamon and Sugar and a Little Bit of Murder recreated them with a terrific photo recreation. And last winter, when I went to NYC for my first Mystery Writers of America board meeting, I discovered the very best Cold Sesame Noodles, and you guessed it, set about searching for the recipe, which -- finally! -- I shared here on Mystery Lovers' Kitchen. I suspect they'll be part of the next Spice Shop mystery, currently spread out on my desk. It's just too much fun not to share! 


DARYL:   I used to travel to Hawaii a lot and I often recreated foods from the islands. Cooking fish the Pacific Rim way, simply adorned, is a favorite of mine. I bought a couple of cookbooks and use them frequently for inspiration.  


KRISTA:  Years ago, when visiting Hong Kong, I had a guidebook that revealed the location of a store with rock bottom prices on clothes with Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstorm labels. You bet I was going there! We found the store and it was every bit as wonderful as the book said. However, it was way off the beaten path where tourists usually go. After shopping, my mom wanted lunch. Right then! So we wandered the streets looking for a restaurant. We found one on the second floor of a building. It was huge. Every few minutes someone would say something over a loudspeaker, which I assumed meant something like "order for table 20 is ready." None of the staff spoke English. We ordered by pointing at what other people were eating. (How impolite is that?) They stationed a waitress at our table, which made us feel very guilty because the place was packed. They brought food, and more food, and yet more food. Certainly enough to feed four people. It was delicious. Absolutely the best! I am ashamed to say that my mom and I ate every last bite. We stopped short of licking the dishes, though. And after all that, those wonderful people refused to accept a tip. But they gave us a lovely memory that neither one of us will ever forget.


LUCY BURDETTE: We've been lucky enough to do quite a bit of traveling lately, and the food is one of the best parts! Right now I'm deep into a run of scones, borrowed from the Scottish trip we took earlier in the summer. 

You'll see some of those recipes in the next few months. 

Meanwhile, here were posts on sushi in Japan and fish in France!


SHEILA: I am seriously addicted to farmers' markets anywhere. I've already shared the Skibereen market weekly market with you, and no doubt you'll see it again, but the one that sticks in my memory was in Merida, in the Yucatan, on my first and only trip to Mexico. It was a covered market with a wonderful variety of unfamiliar items, including clusters of octopus hanging from the beams, and tables with piles of brightly colored spices (the piles were at least two feet high!). Wish I could share pictures, but this was so long ago that I was still using film (for slides because they were cheaper than prints). Most of the food I ate in that part of Mexico was wonderful, although I drew the line at eating turtle because I'd had pet turtles as a child.


PEG: I had satay for the first time in Kuantan, Malaysia and loved it so much that I ordered it for the next four days of our stay there! I frequently make it at home. On our trip to the Far East I sampled mangosteens and durian (which you aren't allowed to bring back to your hotel because the exterior of the fruit smells so bad.) And while I've seen durian in our local Asian market, I haven't been tempted to buy it.  I also ate jelawat--a type of fish--that I'm certainly not going to find at our local supermarket, which doesn't go much beyond salmon, catfish and tilapia.  I loved the Portuguese soup caldo verde when we were in Lisbon and have made that at home as well.  Thanks to Julia Child, I've made numerous French dishes at home and also sampled them when in Paris.  On my bucket list is to take a cooking class in a foreign country--Italy perhaps?


MAYA: When my daughter spent a semester abroad in Valencia, Spain, the place where paella originated, we visited her and ate different varieties of this rice dish every day. The classic paella valenciana combines rice with meat (chicken, rabbit, and sometimes snails) and vegetables (butterbeans, flat green beans, and artichokes when in season). Paella de mariscos combines different shellfish and sometimes other fish and usually omits the vegetables. A mixed paella includes meat from land animals, seafood, and vegetables. Saffron, an ingredient in most paellas, turns the rice a lovely yellow color and adds a unique flavor. The rice simmers in a broth with the other ingredients, which might include garlic, onions, paprika, and tomatoes. In Valencia paella is cooked in a huge pan, several feet in diameter, over an open fire. I start mine on top of the stove and finish it in the oven. Paella makes a beautiful dish, with a variety of colors and textures, and it feeds a lot of people. My family’s cleaner-upper likes it because there’s only one pan to scrub, though it’s a big one.


ESSIE LANG:  I've always enjoyed pasta but since a trip to Sicily, I love pasta! It was wonderful to devour so many different types of dishes and not worry about the wheat aspect of the pasta. I had heard that their wheat is a different, more easily digestible one (too much info?) and was delighted it was true. I daringly sampled pasta with octopus, pasta with clams, and squid ink pasta. Just so you know, be sure not to smile for a couple of hours after eating that one. I even, more daringly, tried fresh sea urchin that had just been pried from a cave wall.What can I say -- it was memorable!

CLEO COYLE: When it comes to food and travel, Marc and I are most inspired not by jumping on a plane but following our feet. Yes, New York City can be loud, crowded, and expensive, but the World’s Fair of Food here makes this tough town more than worth tolerating. Even better, we live in Queens, a small area that holds one of the most diverse populations on the planet. Within a few blocks of our home, there are family restaurants run by immigrants from Thailand, Korea, Pakistan, Latin America, and the Philippines. A ten minute stroll in one direction and we’re in Little India (Jackson Heights). In another direction, we’re inside an Irish Pub (Woodside). One of our favorite stops these days is located in an unassuming strip mall. It's a local French bakery (Cannelle Patiserrie), opened by a Brittany-born genius who retired to Queens after working for decades as the Executive Pastry Chef of the Waldorf Astoria. On the other hand, we're always up for traveling, especially across the USA. From New England to New Orleans and the Midwest to the Southwest, America has its own unique foodie cultures and culinary favorites. To wit...

Cleo's Queso Fundido
Click for the recipe.

When we were last in San Diego (for ComicCon), Marc and I ate a fantastic Queso Fundido and decided to try one at home, with a little advice from our Hispanic neighbors here in Queens. The result is a recipe we shared in one of our Coffeehouse Mysteries, and we’re happy to share it again. For the recipe, click here or on the photo above, with joy!


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Stirring the Plot by Daryl Wood Gerber
Crypt Suzette by Maya Corrigan
The Diva Sweetens the Pie by Krista Davis
 Shot in the Dark by Cleo Coyle


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What favourite foods do you remember from your travels and do you ever try to recreate them at home? 



  1. I haven't done much traveling outside the U.S., but my favorite culinary place I've visited is Louisiana! I've made a few dishes at home: jambalaya, gumbo, and dirty rice. Two of my other favorites (beignets and boudin balls), I'll leave to the professionals.

    1. I've never been to New Orleans, but I'd love to go some day, not least for the food!

    2. Oh, gosh, yes! When Bouchercon, the international mystery convention, was held in NOLA in 2016, I made it a mission to eat local: ate a muffaletta, drank a Sazerac, adored afe au lait and fresh beignets, and so much seafood. Loved it!

  2. We don't really travel, but we enjoy a variety of cuusines, Indian and Mediterranean in particular. We have tried making some of the dishes, but most of them are better in the restaurants.

  3. I love cruising and my favorite food on cruises is the desserts! No way can I recreate them!

  4. The diverse foods of New Orleans! I could never duplicate it!

  5. The Artist Colony restaurant in Nashville, Indiana has a sauce that comes with their Sunfries (sweet potato fries) that tastes like a brown sugar sauce that is so good. I tried to duplicate it several times but have been unsuccessful. We get the fries every time we visit because we live that sauce so much.

    1. Karen - I'm also a fan of sweet potato fries. The Artist Colony sounds like a wonderful place to visit. ~ Cleo

  6. I used to travel more than a I do now. I had jagerschnitzel on a trip to Germany that was so delicious! I have not tried to recreate it. I am a semi-adventurous eater but not an adventurous cook. cking78503(at)aol(dot)com

    1. That sounds like me. I rarely try to recreate anything I've eaten at a restaurant.

  7. The cuisine in Jamaica was unique & delicious. Don't think I could do it as well.

    1., in case you need it. Thanks!

  8. We haven't traveled outside the country but we had a delicious salmon dip, when we cruised to Alaska. I did try to make it at home but it didn't turn out very well. Also tasted some delicious foods on our cruise. dbahn(at)iw(dot)net

    1. Dianne - That salmon dip sounds amazing. My sister served as community health director in Bethel, Alaska. (She worked as an MD for the IHS.) When I visited her, I ate the very best salmon I'd ever encountered in my life. Never forgot it and never had it as good again! I would very much enjoy returning to AK someday (for many reasons, but certainly for the salmon). ~ Cleo

  9. We love all the fresh seafood when my Sister, my Mom and myself goes to Orange Beach, AL! Sadly we can't get fresh seafood in North Central Arkansas.

    1. OOps! Forgot my email! almaj80(at)suddenlink(dot)

  10. Since our wedding in February 1966 we've lived in several different states & we've travelled quite a lot mostly to satisfy an insatiable curiosity about other areas of our country (the U.S.) & other countries (so far only Canada, Mexico, Korea & Japan). Learning about the area's cuisine is always my priority with the area's history next in line. I have wonderful memories of the restaurants & the specialties of each place we've lived & visited. I'm a huge fan of Mexican food & have recreated at home several of the dishes we've had in restaurants in Washington state & Mexico although being born & raised in Texas, Mexican food & Tex-Mex have always been part of our normal eating routine.

  11. In Hawaii forty years ago, we went to a little place at a shopping mall across from the beach and had the best noodles. I don't know what they were but they were wonderful. ckmbeg (at) gmail (dot) com

  12. I loved Krista's story about being off the beaten path and discovering a culinary gem -- that's one of my favorite parts about traveling to new places. Vicki, I love your foodie photos from your travels, and enjoyed everyone's posts!

    1. Isn't that a great story? Holes in the wall can be the best finds! Loving all the stories here!

  13. Wonderful stories! Some of you are very brave about eating.
    Lucy, your picture of the scone has my mouth watering.

    1. libbydodd at comcast dot net

  14. I don't don't usually try cooking foods I've tried in restaurants, but I will go back to the restaurant again to enjoy a favorite dish.
    diannekc8 (at)gmail(dot)com

  15. After visiting Spain some years ago I tried to make a tortilla. That is an egg and potato dish, not anything like a Mexican tortilla! I have made cranachan (sp?) a couple of times after visiting Scotland. Afraid to try making scones. We are fans of Rioja wine now, and of course, Scotch. I discovered the Costa Rican version of smoothies way back when and loved the ones made with guanabana. I just saw frozen guanabana in some grocery store recently so maybe I'll try to replicate that drink. And mango lassi in India! Yum.

  16. Recipes which are simple and straightforward to duplicate I enjoy for the family. When we visited Italy for the first time many years ago the food was exceptional. When I returned home I wanted to change my meals and do incorporate many recipes which I enjoyed. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  17. Some exotic travel and foods here! I do like to try and replicate a recipe and have had success with most of the foods we enjoyed in Spain. It's fun trying to get it right and then adding your own tweaks. Thanks for the giveaway.

  18. I haven't traveled much. I had some wonderful food in a local tavern in Germany, some nice dishes in Montreal and delish food in Hawaii. I have tried a Cuban sandwich in Tampa and enjoyed it. Most of my travels have mostly been in the US. I try to eat local areas and not in tourist spots.

  19. Taylor R. WilliamsOctober 7, 2019 at 12:02 PM

    My favorite food from a trip was when I went to key west and ate a lot of key lime pie - my favorite was our last dinner in the keys and the restaurant said they were out - then said they had some but they were frozen - they were willing to see if it could be cut frozen and it turns out it was like ice cream so they cut us each a slice - it was the best pie of the entire trip - I've never tried to make it myself as I'm not much of a baker - thanks for the chance to win a great group of books - trwilliams69(at)msn(dot)com

  20. I haven’t traveled outside of the US but love trying new foods & recipes