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Monthly Archives: June 2012

Over the last few months, I’ve become a little obsessed with becoming a recognized regular at Padaria Brasil. Even though I’m pretty sure I’m one of very few non-Brazilians who frequent this nondescript Allston eatery, nothing seems to work — I go in at least once a week, I ask for recommendations, I order a variety of items, I tip, and I’ve even converted several friends to the wonders of the pão de queijo, pictured below in all its glory. That’s some glutinous goodness right there.

I’d give up, except every so often the one guy who does recognize me suggests new things for me to try and sneaks extra goodies in for me. He’s the one who introduced me to coxinha, which are basically giant croquettes filled with chicken, and my favorite thing to eat from there. He also introduced me to tamales made with fresh corn rather than masa. It’s just enough to keep me coming back, even knowing that he hardly ever works the counter.

Yeah, I’ve got it bad.

I’ve talked a little bit about eating while traveling in Puerto Rico and in Turkey, so I thought I’d share a different experience, about eating while living abroad.

In the summer of 2010, I was volunteering in a small rural town in northern India, near the foot of the Himalayas, and living with a host family with other volunteers. We had a cook who prepared us rice, daal, and vegetables every day, and I would buy mangos and cantaloupe for dessert. He’d make us chapatis, too, which some of the other girls would secretly smear peanut butter on when he wasn’t looking. For breakfast, we’d have cream of wheat with steamed milk or stuffed parathas.

We also drank five or six cups of tea a day, which was a huge treat because my girl Sonika makes the best tea on the planet, brewed from leaves from a nearby tea plantation. The work we were doing was with the children of the plantation workers, and we spent most days over there teaching and playing with the kids. It was a really incredible experience to participate in both the tea’s production and its consumption so intimately and to see how much a part of daily life it is. Needless to say, a lot of people were given tea as a souvenir when I got home.

We definitely lived and ate like locals. Plus, I got to hang out with these hooligans all day.

A friend in Istanbul wrote me today, and it made me homesick for Turkey. I visited him during spring of last year, and it was definitely the best I’ve ever eaten while traveling — Turkish tea, menemen, honey and kaymak, baked halva, and the best lentil soup I’ve ever had.

Even Sofra doesn’t have Turkish breakfast like this:

Meals aside, it was one of the most memorable trips I’ve ever taken. I got to hike in Cappadocia, an incredibly beautiful and strange region with fairy chimneys and underground cities, and in the span of a week I experienced outrageous hospitality that ranged from being invited for tea to ATVing with a stranger to staying in a new friend’s hotel for free… I really can’t say enough kind things about the people I met.

I hope I see them again soon.