Five Best Meals In The World

Blogging Your Trip, Central and South America, Europe, Expats Abroad, Food & Wine, Lost Girl of the Week, Studying Abroad — By on November 11, 2009 at 1:17 pm

danielleDanielle E. Alvarez is a globetrotter, at least that’s what the world of blogging foodies knows her as. In June of 2008, the multiethnic Lost Girl departed for a year abroad, (one semester in Santiago de Chile, another in Strasbourg, France) in hopes of becoming trilingual and finding her true self. While traveling/eating her way through South America and Europe, she sought out traditional flavors, whole ingredients, and a balanced lifestyle… and has the many pictures to prove it. Now, back in the United States, she is readjusting to the thrills of everyday life as a magazine journalism and modern foreign languages senior at Syracuse University. With a deeper appreciation of culture and diversity, she hopes to travel again soon but until then, occupies her free time with the friends she’d missed, channeling her inner-yogi, reading and, enjoying one of life’s greatest pleasures, food. Check out what she’s currently up to on her personal food, health and travel blog: Around the World in 340 Days.
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Studying abroad for an entire year is daunting, and yet fulfilling in more ways than I ever thought possible. An exposure of diversity (be it in culture, language, or… food) is an unavoidable and wonderful part of the daily challenges of life in a foreign country. It’s beautiful, really, those differences that bring about such exciting flavors and creative presentations of ethnic dishes and this past year I have been lucky enough to have a thorough taste of many of them.

When asked by the Lost Girls to share my five favorite meals of a nearly a year of traveling… I was flabbergasted, to say the least. I’ve eaten some of the best breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, than I probably ever will be able to again, and have the documented memories of nearly every single one. How could I possibly choose?

Ecuador Pictures As it turns out, it wasn’t nearly as difficult as I had expected. Living as a temporary expat, I was able to sample every local specialty and as such, these exotic meals became a part of my familiar routine. I’ve decided to reserve the “home-cooking” for future posts and instead highlight the most wonderful, once in-a-lifetime eating experiences from my weekend trips and daily excursions. (And, just so you know, I’ve organized them by date of consumption.)

The country of Ecuador blew my away by their array of fruits and vegetables, many of which I had never seen before, and as a result, have no direct translation into the English language. It was exciting to work my way through their bountiful produce but my most memorable plate turned out to be rather simple in the plant food respect.

Being that I was only there for a month and my weekends were all booked with class trips… except for one. Noticing that I was feeling a bit homesick at that point, my family took me on a trip outside the charming city of Cuenca to the El Chorro waterfall.

It was absolutely breathtaking, to say the least, and my 15-year-old host sister and I took the strenuous hike to the top. Needless to say, by the time we got back down to the bottom we were exhausted, and famished. We all went to a small family-run restaurant nearby for the biggest meal of the day, lunch, and that is where I had my first fresh river trout. It was not quite as photogenic as most fish are served in the US but as mild and flavorful as the best of them, marinated in a lemon butter sauce and grilled. On the side, a simpler variety of llapingachos, or potato cheese patties, and eggs mixed with hominy (corn without the germ).
llapingachosThe second meal comes from Santiago, Chile, where I spent the majority of my South American study abroad experience. Despite the modernity of the evolving Chilean culture and food industries I found that my favorites were far more traditional, some plates tracing as far back as to that of the Mapuches, one of the largest native populations in Chile.

With my abroad program I was able to visit a Mapuche community that’s kept their cultural roots. In addition to an explanation of their religion, music, and customs we were served a fantastic lunch.

sopapillaThe Sopa de Porotos, was perhaps the best lentil soup I have ever and will ever try again, satisfying, and beyond tasty. To scoop it up we each had a sopapilla, a particular fried pastry that’s similar to bread. The final part of the meal, the piñones, really won me over. They’re delectable roasted nuts of the pinon pine tree and are comparable to chestnuts.

strasbourg

My home base for the next four months was Strasbourg, France, a city directly east of Paris on the border of Germany. During that time I traveled often, and as a result one of most memorable trips was not outside of France but just a few hours away in the Champagne region.

What I loved most about living in France were the multi-plate dinners, especially at restaurants where the le Menu, a dining option of an appetizer, main course, and dessert, was oftentimes affordable. While in Rheims, my friends and I dined at the Bristol Café. Saying that we ate well, is an understatement.

I claim to be a healthy eater and for the majority of the time, I am, but certain times call for certain indulgences. My split-pea vegetable soup, and salmon and spinach dish were balanced enough, so for dessert my foodie friends and I chose the profiterole au chocolat. Otherwise known as a puff pastry filled with ice cream and garnished with chocolate syrup and whipped cream it was, beyond, divine.

As I’m talking about sweets, I’d also like to highlight those of Hungary. Over my spring break I stayed with family friends in Budapest and was showered with utmost hospitality. I enjoyed plate after plate of Hungarian classics, usually focused on meat, but as a former complete vegetarian, I found myself fonder of what came after and in between.peach kremes

Although a self-proclaimed chocolate lover, I am usually not that keen on sugary things, so this was big. I found that Hungarian sweets and fine pastries were hardly that sweet at all and instead played up on natural flavors such as fruit. My traveling companion and I were enamored with these peach krémes, homemade by our hosts, and ate them as an afternoon snack during one of our city excursions.

Finally, last but certainly not least, a meal to highlight my new cuisine infatuation. Strasbourg, among other European cities, boasts many Lebanese restaurants, one of which was situated a block from my French host family’s apartment. I had been eyeing it all semester and then, on my final weekend abroad, I had the opportunity to dine there and have my first, though hopefully not last, glass of Lebanese wine.Mezzés Végetariens

For my meal, my friend and I split the Mezzés Végetariens. Between the hummus, eggplant caviar, labná, falafel, spinach turnover, mashed peppers and walnuts with olive oil, my mouth and I were beyond ecstatic. Although casseroles and one-dish meals have their place in the world, eating many small plates brings an extra dimension of fun to a meal, especially if they all taste good, and they did. I’ve officially added Lebanon to the Places to Visit list.

There aren’t words to describe how eating my way around the world, in 340 days, was, but I look forward to reflecting on it with you in the future. In the mean time I invite to try something new, taste something unique, explore my own blog if you’d like, and discover the incredible kitchen that we live in, in addition to the special groups of people within it.

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