Monday, December 18, 2023

Un Tracteur Grillé Au Four Avec Une Pomme De Terre Au Four, S’il Vous Plaît

One of the best things about traveling is getting to try different local foods everywhere you go. I’ve never been one to play the Accidental Tourist sticking to only chain restaurants. Instead, I ask the locals I’m there to see or the staff at the hotel what tastes good in the local area. On a recent trip to San Antonio, my son found a couple of fantastic places to eat at. Mina & Dimi’s Greek House  offered a fantastic selection of various Greek specialties. They also featured a dessert I’d never heard of before: baklava cheesecake. Ginza Ramen, Poke, and Boba (5539 W Loop 1604 N #104) allows you to name the ingredients for your bowl of ramen then make it for you. Delicious! Both places have a casual environment and are reasonably priced.

When on vacation in Rome, we strolled into a gelato shop near the Pantheon for a quick treat. Rather than ordering in English, I did so in Italian, but instead of getting what I thought I ordered, I got a cone with a scoop of chocolate and one of lemon. The place was crowded, and we were in a bit of a hurry, so I decided to just deal with it rather than trying to get it corrected. By doing so, I discovered a combination of flavors I probably would’ve not tried otherwise. It was actually delicious. The chocolate was sweet and the lemon sour, but somehow they worked together and I enjoyed it. From that point on, if I can get that combination of flavors. In ice cream or gelato. I order it, then deal with the stares

The hotel where I stayed at in Angeles City, Philippines had a dynamite staff that took great care of me. Every time I walked in to the lobby to head to my room, they would have a fresh glass of iced tea delivered to my room before I got there. The tea was a blend of local tea leaves, and the tray included a bowl of sugar. What made it different was the small round lime (think Key lime) that adorned the edge of the glass. Being one who always tried local flavors, I squeezed the small fruit into my tea before I took the first sip and was pleasantly surprised at the flavor the little lime added. I was lucky  the hotel did this every time I came back after being out shopping and taking care of other business. Now, if I order iced tea and I’m in a restaurant that has a bar (which means they have limes) I always order my tea with lime instead of lemon. Occasionally, I'll get a funny look from the waiter or waitress, and I explain by simply telling them to try it. It’s something I discovered by being willing to try it when the opportunity presented itself.

Most people who have lived in Germany have found that Germans are quite hospitable, and like to socialize. In Wiesbaden, the family that lived next door invited us over for dinner shortly after our arrival. At the end of the meal, they served fresh strawberries with whipped cream and coffee. After pouring a cup of coffee, my host, Eberhardt, spooned a dollop of whipped cream into it along with  sugar. 

I’ve had coffee with whipped cream before but it was usually when I was drinking something like cappuccino or a mocha/java blend. not for just a simple cup of coffee. I tried it and from that day, if it is available, when enjoying a cup of coffee I always have whipped cream instead of any other dairy. Of course, some people like Kalanta put a little whipped cream on top after getting extremely complicated with their coffee. But then, she always declares it “Perfect!”

I am sure if I sat and thought about it there are more than these three examples of great tasting things I discovered on my travels that I still enjoy today. But I guess that’s just part of the trip. It expands who you are, what you know, and what you enjoy. Then, of course, are the memories… anytime I have tea with lime I remember my visit to the Philippines, and the minute the blend of chocolate and lemon ice cream hits my tongue I am taken back to Rome. Of course, when I sip my coffee I also enjoy the occasional memory of my neighbor Eberhardt.

I invite you to try any of these three, and the two restaurants I mentioned at the beginning of this missive. Why was I in San Antonio? To watch my grandson, Max, graduated from Air Force basic training. He was one of 318 of America’s best graduated on that day, and I’m very proud of him.