Food 4 2hought…

Tragedy, plague and disasters around the world somehow always lose the timeless battle against hope. For as long as time has ticked, human beings have found natural mechanisms to deal with such drawbacks and hardships. All instruments are designed to keep us “truckin'” down that day-to-day path. Where we goin’? we don’t know! and quite frankly, we don’t REALLY give a damn as long as the road isn’t too bumpy…

Human nature has always fascinated me… Refugees fleeing their land in fear of their lives, posting news of the injustice on facebook, or the 20 orphans that huddle around an HD television set at night to watch family dramas and comic relief. Even I am a guilty contributor to this crazy ass-backward society that seems to cope with the creeps and ghouls by simply escaping their own thoughts…

It’s a big ass world out there people!… read, question, forget, hear it again, make your own opinion, write it down, lose it, ask about it, tell someone about it, search for it, strive for the truth, embrace the lie… whatever you do, don’t stop learning, cuz that’s the day that you die.

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The Divine Inkas

After holding the largest empire in pre-Columbian America what can be found today of this unique indigenous people? Artifacts and ruins are scattered across the fertile lands of modern-day Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, Argentina, Bolivia and Chile. Tribal feuds, civil war and the Spanish conquest would one day bring a downfall to the Incas. Yet, because the “purest” and most prominent of the tribal empire resided in the lands of modern-day Peru, many of their customs, traditions and culture can still be found vividly amongst the faces of the people who originate there.

 

Strangely enough I would come to learn that Rome is actually one of the largest populations of Peruvians outside the beautiful capital city of Lima. Exposure to this unique race of people affected me in a truly positive way. A new taste for their soon-to-be trendy cuisine, and a longing to one day visit the land was established.

*Popped, but not popped… A staple in Peruvian diet; corn or “mais” can be found in an array of dishes as garnish or even main components.**Aji “ah-hee” is a salsa-type sauce served on your table at most traditional Peruvian restaurants. The recipe will differ by family, restaurant or tradition and each is a delightful enhancement to your meal. Complex flavors and spices make decomposition of ingredients nearly impossible… some things are just that much more special when left unknown.*I have eaten my share of ceviche in my life, but no culture thus far has topped the Peruvians… Thickly chopped fresh cubes of snapper, marinated in lime juice, cilantro, ginger and tradition… nothing like a simple classic. Garnished with a half-cobb and boiled potato.* #myfavorite*Anticuchos is actually marinated, skewered beef heart. I’m not sure if this is the only way they serve the chewy greatness, but I only saw it like so. Served blanketed in a mustard sauce next to corn and potato, this starter screams Incan decadence.**Machu Picchu.*

 

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Mediterranean Paradise

The Maltese Islands, while publicized by various movies and stories, is actually a very sought-after vacation get away for Europeans. Beautiful crystal blue water, a great night life and unique mediterranean cuisines; what was there to shun when my friends proposed the trip? When the four of us packed our bags and set out on a last “hoora” for one of our dearest girl friends, I had no idea it would be a vacation for the history books. Tricia was moving back to the states for university and the planning was a bit last-minute. While I’m not one to normally travel in a group, this particular bunch of nutty, unique individuals was definitely going to hit the small island by storm. Good company is like good wine; as long as there’s music in the air you can’t go wrong.

Malta is actually an archipelago similar to Hawaii consisting of 3 main islands; Malta (the largest), Comino and Gozo. Located in the Mediterranean sea off the coast of Sicily and North Africa; the trip was a mere one and half hour plane trip from Rome. We set up home base on the main island and planned to visit some friends on the other island of Gozo by the end of the week.

Malta has many cultural influences from all whom have occupied the small islands over the years. The strongest to date are probably that of the British, Italians and Arabs. While their language (Maltese) sounds in some right like an arabic language, they mix in words that I could comprehend from either Italian or English. A lot of their consumerist products such as cars, groceries and technology appear to be straight out of the U.K. Tourists from all across western and eastern Europe can be found inhabiting the beaches by day, and of course the parties by night…

*Oyyy Absinthe!**More shots?!*

Whew! these people definitely know how to party… I think the next day a little relaxation at the beach and a nice dinner in the capital city is in order…

*Their national beer Cisk is a crisp, full-bodied lager… while I saw most Maltese enjoying Heinekens or other spirits, it’s always nice to get a taste of the culture.**The historical capital of Malta is a place called Valletta; a beautiful area festively decorated and perfect for a nice dinner with friends or family. It is said that during the summer season there is a special religious festivity nearly every week… and I thought we just had good timing!**This looks like a nice place to eat.**This amazing seafood soup was probably my favorite dish of the night… mixture of sea-fruits, peppercorns and other spices in a simple broth.**One of the guys got this prawns appetizer… very flavorful, but lacking something.**Fresh Bass in a traditional Maltese sauce… really light and delicious.*

That’s what I call a nice evening… a little live jazz on the river and then it was back to the apartment to rest for tomorrow’s traveling to Gozo.

While only about half the size of the big island, I was very excited for our trip over to Gozo. Not as sought after for tourists, I knew I would get a good taste of culture here. Tak had a few friends he met in Rome a while back who were planning a few days for us in their home-town. The girls turned out to be really sweet and so nice; setting time aside for us and really showing us a side of the island I’m sure no normal tourists would ever experience.

*Arriving around lunch time, the girls took us out to a traditional Gozitan restaurant high on the cliffs of an old military compound… The end result, an amazing meal and breath-taking view.**A colorful platter of cheeses, olives, capers, and tomatoes is a textbook mediterranean plate… I was getting used to this!**Rabbit is a popular dish here, due to its abundance on the islands and longevity as a Maltese staple. The preparation made for such an aromatic and delicious looking plate that it barely made it to the table.*

…Beach Time!

*Told you they like their Heineken!**I would say that the beaches of Gozo are a bit nicer than those of Malta; less populated and sheer beauty… I hadn’t seen Comino yet.*

Our new friends were so cordial that that night they invited us to a town party where most of their family and peers would be. Opening house and home to us, I really want to say thank you again to Romina, Sandra and Nyam for being so friendly and showing us their life.

After a night of festivities, it was time to get a bit of rest for the next day. The girls had arranged a boat for us to the Blue Lagoon of Comino in the morning as if they hadn’t done enough already! Of my whole trip, I would have to say that my time in Gozo was by far the highlight… Great vibes, amazing friends and good food!

*The famous Blue Lagoon of Comino draws crazy crowds during the hot summer season… One can see why! Aqua blue water clear like a swimming pool, diving rocks, caves to swim through, party boats and beautiful young people!*

Of course, I had to compile the best pictures and sum up the longevity of my vacation into one blog entry. Mind you, the pictures go on with many more activities, festivities and wild nights. These are the photos I have gathered from a total of about 800. I feel I have given the trip, the people and the experience the justice they deserve. THANK YOUUUUU MALTA!*Don’t ever limit yourself in the possibilities this world has to offer.*

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Photo Op.

Taking advantage of the “macro-mode” on my camera, I just wanted to share a few photos I personally love.“Life is full of beauty. Notice it. Notice the bumble bee, the small child, and the smiling faces. Smell the rain, and feel the wind. Live your life to the fullest potential, and fight for your dreams.”

-Ashley Smith

 

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“Audere est Facere”… To Dare is To Do (a day in the life)

The latin phrase newly inscribed on my chest is not only a reminder of my time here in Rome, but a motto for life. I have always dove into adventure head first, greeting the challenge with a smile. Let me show you my life…*Still promoting… giving myself time out of the kitchen has been good for me. While my time here in Rome will surely not last forever, the break has given me time to re-evaluate the path I will follow upon my return back to L.A. Plus, who can say that their office is an actual wonder of the world?**At work with my beautiful co-workers… and Nemo… hahahaha.**Le ragazze Milanese.*

Flyering can leave you hungry… I think a nice lunch in the park is in order.

Oh shoot! It’s my boy’s birthday and Tottenham takes on our biggest rivals Arsenal in a few hours… Gotta make a quick dash through the city to meet friends at the bar.*This guy is amazing… album dropping end of summer :P*

I just want to take a second and give thanks to all the great people I’ve met on my travels. Positive, and even some negative influences has made adapting to another world much easier.*Well a draw is better than nothing… just wait til’ next time! In any case, happy birthday Tic-Tak, let’s do it big tonight!*

Ah, but I’m hungry again! Another dash home for some dinner and then it’s off to the party… AHEMMM!!… I mean work.*What? you thought you could keep me out the kitchen all together?? PUHHLEEEASE!**Fresh salmon fillet poached with white wine, tomatoes, onion, garlic and mushrooms. Served over spaghetti and garnished with a little basil. Along-side another Caprese
because you know how I do!**Just enough time to freshen up and get back to the Colosseum for the meeting time.**The office at night.**Allllllll aboard!!**The pre-intoxicated instructions on how to get home… no one ever remembers.*

All in all, life is good… no scratch that, life is REALLY good! I often feel some guilt for not fully pursuing my goals and aspirations in the profession I had back home. However, I am reminded by this blog that everything you do to grow as a human being is helpful in the long run. A path is beginning to form for me parallel to the lines I laid back home; a new passion for writing, travel and of course food. My tastes for different cuisines have evolved, my other languages blossomed, and overall knowledge of the world gained beyond belief. I am now able to relate with people of nearly all cultures. Do I regret leaving home on an adventure that will shape me for the rest of my life? Not in a million years.

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A Little Taste of Back Home: L.A. Comes to Rome

This past week my brother and our two friends from back home came out to visit me. This has been quite a fun-filled month, and the trio just put a cherry on top. When I heard of their plans to visit me a few months back, I thought; “Uh Ohhhh, Rome is NOT ready”. While we did manage to cause a bit of chaos, overall the trip was real nice and relaxing for them and I hope they have fond memories for the rest of their life. This post is for the homies.

We had a few crazy nights*Still no idea whose hotel that was.**When the alcohol kicks in.**What was he dreaming about?! So happy.**She’s not taller, it’s just the angle.**Good lookin’ on all the jokes, my ribs still aching… oh wait that’s because I got SICK after y’all left. HAHAHA thanks again for coming out here though my folks. Mad Love.

 

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Exotic New Tastes

Recently my friends from Norway came to visit me here in Rome. Some of the nicest people I have ever met, I didn’t think twice about inviting them into my home for as long as they wanted. Although being raised in Norway, the girls are all of Iraqi and Iranian descent; when they offered to cook dinner for me and my friends one night, who could resist?? Different food and flavors to put in the pallet-portfolio; that’s exactly why I travel! This is my bread and butter.*Full-flavored chicken-stew-type goodness served over white rice. Fresh vegetable salad with a yogurt dressing. BRRRRRP*

…And did I mention the food was AWESOME!? Definitely my lunch and dinner for the next few days. I just want to dedicate this post to Meriam, Fatima and Inas… Thanks again for coming back to visit me, bringing your amazing vibe and positive attitude. Even though we didn’t learn how to fly, we had some pretty good laughs. Much love guys.

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