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The surprisingly challenging search for a sake cocktail in Japan. Photographs by Ko Sasaki.  If you want to stump a booze expert, have him blind-taste a vintage sake. That’s what Nick Coldicott, an expat Brit who is one of Japan’s leading liquor experts, told me. “It can come off like an aged stout or a glass of port,” he explained. “Sake has the greatest flavor range of any alcoholic drink out...Read more >

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I WROTE THE TO-DO list on the plane from New York: Show husband the river we played in during summer holidays. Walk in the rubber orchards with our 2-year-old daughter. Eat sadya. But the river had dried up, the rubber orchards had been sold, and Kerala’s first McDonald’s had just opened in the city of Kochi. The tranquil, storybook south Indian state where I grew up was changing even as I...Read more >

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Growing up in New Mexico, I was weaned on green chile. We ate it not only in enchiladas and burritos, but also in eggs, on cheeseburgers, on pizza, and in pasta Alfredo. When I visited the state last summer, I tasted a dark chocolate–green chile truffle, dined with a local restaurateur whose roast beef sandwich bulged with more chile than meat, and met a pastry chef who was developing...Read more >

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The name maultaschen is distinctive enough. It can translate as “mouth bags” or “feedbags.” But there’s an even more striking nickname for these ravioli-like pouches stuffed with minced and smoked meats, mushrooms, onions, parsley, and breadcrumbs. In the Swabian region of southern Germany, they’re called herrgottbescheisserle, which means, roughly, “things you want to hide from Mister...Read more >

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As I stare down at the plate of shredded meat in front of me, I am skeptical. After several days of eating canned green beans and overboiled yucca, I have surmised that 51 years of rationing has reduced much of Cuba’s cuisine to a shadow of its former glory. What if ropa vieja, a vaunted and popular dish, has suffered the same fate? I am sitting in the cozy dining room at Doña Eutimia, one of...Read more >

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A woman walks into a bar in Spain. She’s expecting tapas: small, shareable plates of meat and cheese, salty deep-fried snacks, and garlicky bites drowned in good, grassy olive oil. Instead, she’s served a heaping mound of a single vegetable. This is not the setup for a joke. It’s what happens when I visit Galicia, in Spain’s northwest corner. What passes for a bar snack in the region—at least...Read more >

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Pass the Gravy

  When I was 18, I had a job mapping power lines, on foot, across Texas. During that walking tour from Texarkana to Amarillo, Paris to Corsicana, I had lunch in hundreds of cafés, some in towns so small the restaurant was just somebody’s porch. Everyone had a chicken-fried steak special on the menu, and invariably I ordered it. I can’t recall a single proprietor who didn’t swear it was “the...Read more >

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“Listen to me very closely,” said Giovanni Serrazanetti, the owner of Cantina Bentivoglio in Bologna, Italy. “Never—and I mean ever—eat spaghetti Bolognese. It’s always with tagliatelle.” This, I was learning, was the first rule of Bolognese ragù. How anyone started eating the tomato-laced meat sauce with spaghetti instead of the long, more rectangular tagliatelle is anyone’s guess. The first...Read more >

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In 2007, when residents reported noxious fumes in London’s Soho neighborhood, police and firefighters feared the possibility of a terrorist chemical attack. They smashed down the door of a small commercial storefront to discover the culprit: a pot of burning chilies. The chef of the Thai Cottage restaurant was making nam prik pao, the chili paste that just might be the secret weapon of Thai...Read more >

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