Sunday, November 30, 2014


Dal, it's what's for breakfast, lunch, and dinner (if you're lucky)

Ayubowan! ("Greetings!" in Sinhalese.) I'm freshly jet lagged from a long vacation in Sri Lanka, and having trouble deciding how to organize blog posts about our epic adventure. It was a food-centered tour, meaning that I ate and cooked my way through the country. Although I usually eat my way through new places I visit, I've never had a chance to cook in a foreign country, let alone in peoples' homes. "Epic adventure" doesn't even begin to cover this experience.

Why Sri Lanka? Why not? Because I didn't know much about the country, and because it was so far away, were huge reasons why I wanted to go. My main motivation for traveling is to be put out of my comfort zone and to experience things I'd never have a chance to do at home, like submerging myself into the Indian Ocean or eating/cooking with a Tamil family.

Typical example of a fancy Sinhalese meal. There were over 8 dishes!

Every day, I had some thing more delicious or exotic than the day before. I gained a new appreciation for dal, a humble dish that is sure to become a fast, after-work meal, and now I get the hype over fresh curry leaves. Before, I thought curry leaves were like bay leaves: they add a certain something although it's hard to pinpoint it's flavor. But now, my dal is distinctly lacking curry leaves! I've been reading up on growing a curry plant in our climate, and the results are promising.

I'm also missing all the fresh pineapple and papaya for breakfast. Usually, I'm all about the dark, leafy greens. I rarely eat fruit, but tropical fruit that at its peak is an exception. Papayas can be especially disgusting if not consumed when ripe, so I never eat them at home. Since I've been so good about eating fruit, I tried to continue the trend with an apple once home, but although it was a good apple, it still did nothing for me. Meh. Who wants to eat apples when the memories of tropical fruit still linger?

How to arrange your plate - rice in the middle, other dishes radiating out from the rice, and space in the 6 o'clock position for mixing and scooping the food up with your hands.

Eating with my hands is still something I struggle with, but this is from a gal who will eat chips with chopsticks if no one else is watching. I still hate touching my food in order to eat it, although, curiously, I enjoy touching food when I'm preparing it.

The boy and my father-in-law accompanied me on the journey, as well as 5 Aussies who make a trip to Australia very tempting indeed. So far, we've made dal, kokis (cookies that I'll post about later), and a very sad attempt at dosas, or thosai in Sinhalese. Seeing the foods prepared, and helping with the preparation, has made it pretty easy to jump into our kitchen and start recreating our favorite dishes. Why haven't I taken cooking classes abroad before? It's so much better than visiting a place, bookmarking my favorite foods, and then trying to recreate them purely from text and videos.

I miss swimming in the Indian Ocean.

If you'd like to see more pictures from the trip, I posted many of them on Instagram. I don't suggest following me on Instagram unless you want photos of my cat, my dogs, and food. You've been warned.


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