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Have you ever lived overseas?

Many of you, I assume are US born and raised, like me. But I got a chance to live in the UK for about 5 years and travel a lot in Europe. It gave me (and my young children) an appreciation for lots of different foods and recipes. I have also travelled the world a lot for business and sampled things, But living in a place opens all sorts of new experiences.

My son now lives in Barbados and when we visited, he took us to some off the beaten track places to sample some Caribbean/Bajan food that is not easliy found. And of course, in our own family, British Bacon is now a must, and various French and Swiss and German dishes regularly appear on the supper table.

So.the question is..have you ever had a chance to live overseas and what new dishes did you come away with? Travelling there for business or a short tourist-type stay doesn't count (unless the food thingy was spectacular!!!!!!!!!!...LOL)

Oh, and I already know, Sam will outshine us all in his collection!

Since I have to stick to the "live-there" rule, I must confine my goody to the UK - it was bacon butty. Not very fancy, but the bacon there is so much leaner and tastier. It's served on a roll with some Brown Sauce. Yummy! Sort of like a BLT without the garden stuff (nor mayo)!

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  1. And for those of you who were born and brought up elsewhere..........have you ever lived in the US or elsewhere and found some tasty morsels to bring back?

    1. Hi there. I am originally from Argentina and have been living in the UK for the past 7 years (with a few interruptions). When I was 20, I decided to move to Mexico on my own and it was such an eye-opener on so many levels. I discovered a whole new world of colours, textures, sounds and flavours that truly blew me away and took me out of the boring, samey stuff I was used to. At first, I couldn't stomach half of the food, having to request for everything 'without chilli' (how pathetic is that!) and opting for bland quesadillas or tacos.
      Thankfully, I met some wonderful friends who introduced me to proper Mexican home cooking and, although I wouldn't dare claim I can rustle up anything remotely as good as them, I have certainly incorporated Mexican rice, tacos, sopes, pollo con mole and frijoles refritos to my usual staples.

      My true passion for food developed whilst in the UK, fascinated by the contrast between the wonderful foreign influences and food you find here and the lack of local food culture. Most Brits I know eat roast dinners, pies, chips and spag bol and very few cook from scratch. Things are changing but very slowly...What I'll always be grateful to the UK for is fr introducing me to Indian food...I don't know how I lived without it before! I cook simple curries at home, make my own naan bread and mango chutney and I am still incorporating new things, slowly but surely. Ah! And Yorkshire puddings! They rock...

      1 Reply
      1. re: Paula76

        Interesting! I had forgotten about Indian Food in the UK, since I had had it here in the US so often, but you're right......it is very good and very different there!

        Same is true of your Mexican experience. Having a few business associates in Mexico and having been able to dine at their houses, it opens a whole new world of tastes and textures!

        Thanks for the insights!

      2. I live in Bhutan right now. I've acquired a taste for dried beef that is surprising, as I don't normally care for beef. Also, food without a little chili now seems bland, and I've really come to enjoy szechuan pepper and fiddlehead ferns. Don't know how much of that will carry over when I move back home. But I am ruined for chai. I had it twice when I was home last summer and it was way too sweet and not spicy enough. Sometimes they put an awful lot of sugar in the tea here, but still not as much as American coffeeshops with their packaged chai mixes.

        3 Replies
        1. re: babette feasts

          Babette: I totally envy you where you live. I've only visited Bhutan aeons ago when I was a pre-teen. If you don't mind sharing, what's the nature of your work there? Thanks ...

          1. re: Rasam

            Rasam, I'm the pastry chef for a luxury resort. Sounds cushy, and sometimes it is. Other times....not so much.

            I've also become a big fan of roti and puri, and wish the chefs would put spicy aloo paratha on the breakfast menu so I could have it every morning with yogurt. I had that when I visited the south and thought it was a perfect breakfast.

          2. re: babette feasts

            what a great place to be, Babette! I envy you. I suspect you will kick up the spices a bit on your return since they have all those lovely spicey dishes there.

          3. I was born in Norway but grew up in Trinidad and l came away from the Caribbean with an love for highly spiced foods, thus my moniker.Like Barbados, Trinidad has a mingling of many ethnic groups and the cuisine reflects it. From the Rotis, Shark and bake,Crab and Callaoo, to the more recognizable Black Pudding, Ox tail Stew and Fruit cake.Now after having spent half of my life in America, my wife and I think nothing of driving 2 hours to dine at a Thai Restaurant just to experience the burn. Life is good.

            1 Reply
            1. re: currymouth

              Across the street from where my son lives in Barbados is a combination Indian and Thai restaurant. Very upscale and a bit pricey, but oh, so, delicious! You can order from either menu or both.

              And a roti from the little street vendor on the South Coast road is superb!

            2. I lived one year in Bequia in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and 2 years in northern India, and each really expanded my tastes. I will hunt down roti and anything with conch, and almost always find fault with it anyway. In India, a local specialty was a dish that cooked kidney-type beans in a fruited yogurt sauce until the yogurt separated...very interesting (does anyone know what this is called? i can't for the life of me remember right now). Anyhow, it was frequently served in homes (I was in a remote location without many restaurants), and it took a while to grow on me, but now I find myself having cravings for it, even though I haven't the slightest idea how to make it.

              1. I grew up in Fiji and can remember that it was fairly often we would have a pig tied up out back waiting for the fire pit. Fresh exotic fruits, breadfruit also quite a bit of cantonese and southern Indian cuisine.... i grew up with a palate used to a broad spectrum of flavors and spices. It helped make me adventurous when it comes to food, but still, no offal.

                1. An academic year in the old USSR in '69, except for food at peoples houses, good borscht, schi and pilmieni, the best was a cheeseburger at the US Embassy. Five years Norway, fresh fish crabs, shrimp skate and whale meat. Lots of boiled cod, fried cod tongues and cheeks. Excellent lamb and reindeer meat. Miss the pastries and dairy products too. Five years, Helsinki, fish, game and lots of wild mushroom hunting. Duck hunted and fished a lot; even w/ scuba & spear gun. The lijha pirraka, a Finish fried meat pie w/ a couple of hot dog chucked into it was addictive. Bolivia, 4 years, the saltenas as a snack and charascos were a feast; gimme chcharones! Brazil 1 year the African Latin fusion, Vietnam 8 mo, 2 days, pho et al when I got of that fuc*kin' hill top.
                  The navajo reservation was pretty strange for food too; lots of mutton.

                  1. (Initially somewhat reluctant) trailing spouse on DH's Fulbright in Taipei in the early 80's - lived in an "American-style" apartment which had a two-burner gas stove, which was either off or on stir-frying hot, and a smallish fridge which was still somewhat of a status symbol at the time and was therefore in the living/dining area. I was a decent cook and passionate baker when we went over, and learned an enormous amount under the restricted circumstances with equipment on hand plus an electric frying pan and small oven (which gave uo the ghost rather quickly). Taught myself to cook Chinese food with the Wei-Chuan cookbooks and through contact with friends and my English students. The local ingredients were of course terrific as were the restaurants (which benefited still from the top-level chefs who came out to Taiwan with the mainland political émigrés). I loved it there and didn't want to come back to the States when the grant money ran out. The experience changed me forever. Anyone interested in food and other cultures should seize any opportunity to live abroad that comes his or her way.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: buttertart

                      Nice! On several business trips to Tapei and Taichung(sp?) I had some wonderful meals

                    2. Thanks, FCF. Yes, I have been fortunate.

                      Went to live in Tarjia, Bolivia in the mid-70s for 2 1/2 years. Ate a lot of meat, and good country breads and cheeses. Cooked a lot, but was busy with field research. Learned to make saise, baked saltenas, whole goats.

                      Went to live in the Philippines in 1980 (to 1994) and learned to cook all things filipino and took advantage of the availability of fresh ocean fish more than the filipinos I worked with. Work involved long research periods in: India (where I learned much more about preparing curries, naans, rotis), Pakistan (flat breads and mutton), Bhutan (emadashi), Nepal (momos), Burma where I learned to appreciate deep fried sparrow and rice field rats), Vietnam (where I was always stealing time to be in the kitchens of farmers and remote restaurants), Laos (same, but laab, beef salads, papaya salad...), Thailand (wok prepared street food), Cambodia, Indonesia (new sauces and cassava leaves), Madagascar (white beans and some new French dishes), Kenya and Uganda (sukuma wiki, m'chuzi chicken), Mozambique (chicken piri piri), Ethiopia (wats and injeera), southern China (learned lots there, but the fantastic cooking still has me feeling ignorant) and East Timor (where stores for the UN forces and fish sold on the beach meant I cooked a lot of Japanese food).

                      I came back to Latin America to live in Colombia. Work has also involved long research periods in Brazil (manisoba, farofa, beans, beef cuts like picanha), Peru (smoked capybara, ceviches, antecuchos, salteadas, guinea pig), Mexico and Guatemala (where again I steal time to be in peoples' and restaurants' kitchens), Honduras (lots of meat), and Nicaragua.

                      Now I work quite a bit in Washington, DC where I (try to) stay in suite hotels. I get to shop at SafeWay and Giant Foods and Harris Teeter. I get to cook from scratch (and take advantage of so many things that are so cheap in the US); but also get a dose of Chef-Boy-R-Dee ravioli (as many of you know), Jimmy Dean's pork sausage, canned sauerkraut, pickle relish (!), good hot dogs, and more.

                      Every time I leave home base, I take little. Every time I return, I come back loaded with foods.

                      It has been fun.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka


                        You are the most amazing man! One of the most extensive lives I have heard. And such unique cuisines! There are few that could come close to what you have experienced. I envy you.

                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                          what do you do?!? getting paid to live in all those places sounds great!
                          damn thats my dream when i get older

                          1. re: kirinraj

                            Agricultural and environmental researcher. Get advanced degrees in ecological anthropology and an agronomy and you're good to go. And if you work on rice as I did, you end up needing to go to a lot of places.

                            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                              On my way . . . It's great to hear about other researchers with an appreciation of agriculture and food. I'm finishing up 2 1/2 years of fieldwork in Paraguay on sugarcane and agroecology. Lots of great food here, a lot of beef, corn, and yuca. Hoping I can find sometime to learn traditional cooking techniques before I leave. Sounds like you've made a great career in international agricultural development work.

                              1. re: dinnerbell

                                Let me know if you come to Colombia to visit Cenicana. It is still a great career!

                          2. I suppose a month in France doesn't really count, since I was traveling, although I did gain 20 pounds in the process.

                            I did the reverse, having grown up in Singapore. Prior to moving to London, I lived in a few parts of the US for ~15 years. It was a palate opener in many ways, coming away with exotic (to me) foods like burgers and bbq, but also gaining exposure to (equally exotic) foods from Latin America and Europe.

                            I learnt to drink wine in the US, although I admit that my exposure to wines is extremely narrow, having mostly drunk textbook French wines in the last few years (the bias & strength of a wine bar that I drank at).

                            I still crave a good chicken fried steak.

                            London is extremely diverse, but admittedly, I'm sufficiently homesick that my hunt has been for Singapore/Malaysian food lately. If there is one thing I could take from here (London) it's got to be the many delicious encounters with all things dairy, from clotted creams to cheeses.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: limster

                              ah yes, limster.......and the scones! Try as I might, i still can't seem to duplicate them here in the US

                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                BTW, when I was in Boston last year, I though the Four Seasons there had a credible version. Not like London good, but credible.

                            2. Lived in Alaska (pre-statehood), where my mom learned to cook great Mexican food. (She made friends with the proprietor of a Mexican restaurant.)

                              Three years in Japan, where I acquired a love for the delicate flavors so popular there, and where mom learned to cook many Japanese dishes by watching our cook.

                              Two years in England back in the mid-60's. Fell in love with Hovis unsliced bread (RIP), fish and chips (they were great back then), English pork, Plowman's Lunch, many English cheeses, and (above all) plaice.

                              A total of about two years in Germany: My Freshman year of college in Munich, where I acquired a lasting taste for great sausages and great beer. Eight months in Freiburg-im-Breisgau, where we spent our Saturdays popping across the Rhine to eat in France. A summer in Kiel, where we had a front row seat (literally for the chaos of Kiel Week (good street food).

                              Three years in Saudi Arabia back in the mid-70's, when there weren't many foreigners in the country -- certainly not women. Fascinating place. Fresh fish trucked in from both the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf. Great goat, feta, and olives. Good base for traveling throught the Middle East and Northern Africa.

                              A year in Australia -- more great fish and shellfish, lamb, and wonderful tropical fruit.

                              It's been an extraordinary voyage, and my advice to all young people reading this: Git up and go. Anywhere, just go.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: pikawicca

                                I agree with the get up and go! Can't stress it enough!

                                And by the way, I think Frieburg is a way underrated city that few know of, but is absolutely delightful (spent 4 days there once). Strasbourg would be another on my list.

                                1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                  The whole Alsace region (Strasbourg, Colmar, etc.) is so undiscovered by Americans, and that's a shame; it's one of the loveliest and most unspoiled regions of France. And, it contains my Most Favorite Ever in the Entire World Restaurant: L'Auberge de L'Ille. If there is a more transcendent restaurant anywhere in the world, I'd love to hear about it. (No foam, please.)

                                2. re: pikawicca

                                  Pika (that small alpine animal), you and I are the same age and have had somewhat similar life experiences - and are part of the largest CH cohort (56 - 62 year olds). We should all get together to catch up in real life. And, C1, you're part of this group, of course!

                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    I would love to do this, Sam. If you're in DC a lot, we could arrange something there.

                                3. whats the time limit? how long does one have to stay for it not to be a "short tourist-type sty"?

                                  9 Replies
                                  1. re: thew

                                    Based on my experience, I'll offer up 6 months. By the end of that period, you've experienced and dealt with culture shock. You are no longer living in a romantic haze, but have come to grips with your environment. To me, that's what it means to live in a different culture.

                                    1. re: thew

                                      Three months, 22 days and 16 hours (jes' so I can keep a couple of my low-time mentioned countries qualified).

                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Now that I know the rules - I just may post (spent a small amount in some and a bit more in others but haven't considered it living in a different culture - except for Boston!)

                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                          Sam, you have the creds to claim shorter residencies. Someone else who's spent a summer in the south of France, I'd sniff at.

                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                            Knowing Sam, an hour and a half after landing in a new country he has the history, the economics, and most importantly..the food, down pat! The man is amazing!

                                            1. re: pikawicca

                                              I promise (cross my heart & hope to die) not to include all the 'stamps' (from the old days) as having a residence in a place. But I've rarely ever stayed in a hotel (except on business) when I have traveled (pikawicca - I wish I had had the means at one time to do the summer at the south of France - but I missed that moment!)

                                              PS - I still think that Boston is the strangest place I've traveled (and now I live here) - sorry other Bostonians . . .

                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                              well.. once spent 6 months in india(as well as several 1 or 2 month jaunts), i spent 3 months in thailand once (2 months another time), 3 months in amsterdam, 2 months in nepal, several complete summers in woodstock (does that count?)

                                              so those are the most long term.

                                              and i would say that thailand probably had the greatest impact on how i ate.

                                          2. i keep mentioning this latley i must sound so annoying! but short version we travelled everywhere for my dads work i have lived in, autralia, saudi arabia, france, indonesia, japan, thailand, mexico, spain and we did a stint in kenya to loved all the different foods and feel very very very lucky to have been able to travel so much at such a young age ;-)
                                            anyway my favourite recipe is from my mothers friend in france, artichoke and leek squares-
                                            saute leeks and artichokes in butter and olive oil with flat leaf parsley and salt and pepper
                                            layer in a casserole dish and cover with a mixture of whisked eggs, a touch of flour and milk plus some grated mild to sharp cheese, bake on medium till set.
                                            serve with a chunky tomato sauce of fresh cut tomatos simmered for a couple of hours with olive oil basil and salt pepper yummy!

                                            1. Lived in Paraguay for a year as an AFS foreign exchange student many years ago. Paraguay is not known for exciting, exotic food but the experience expanded my horizons in general.

                                              1. When you tire of sissy sauce, decide to shed your manties and step up to real hot sauce... Try this.

                                                8 oz Jalapeńos, chopped
                                                8 oz Serranos, chopped
                                                1 habanero, chopped
                                                1 quart water

                                                Cut chilies into quarter inch pieces, sweep, seeds and all into a sauce pan, cover with water and simmer for 30 minutes.

                                                Run chilies through a food mill, thats it. If this doesn't set off the fire alarms going in, it will coming out.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: Demented

                                                  Chilli sauce made from ground raw red chilis is a standard condiment back home in Singapore. My late grandmother used to make them with the chillis in from plants grown in the backyard. Garlic and ginger were occasional additions.

                                                2. I lived in Bologna for nine months during my first year of grad school. This was also my first kitchen - four burners, an oven, a few warped, beat-up pots and two knives. Fortunately the skills my parents had taught me worked just as well there as in their granite-and-Calphalon kitchen. Here I learned what fresh pasta was like, and what to do with such exotic items as zucchini blossoms and pomegranates. I discovered limoncello and sangiovese wines. I ate fresh porcinis! I fell in love with risotto and polenta, because you can't eat pasta all the time. I learned to shop at a market. I learned to drink coffee, though I still need some sugar and some foam on top to cut the bitterness. Chocolate cake also helps.

                                                  8 Replies
                                                    1. re: mordacity

                                                      Ah......the perfect start! I'll bet it was wonderful and those days formed a foundation for many wonderful meals in the future

                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                        If I could do it over again I'd eat out more, frugality be damned. My concoctions were generally pretty good, but I should've milked every trattoria in the city for inspiration from Bologna's world-famous cuisine.

                                                      2. re: mordacity

                                                        Lucky you -- they taught you how to cook, and how to use the English language -- the two are a beautiful combination, and I look forward to reading more of your posts.

                                                        1. re: mordacity

                                                          I'm guess a SAIS grad. Too bad DC doesn't have many good Italian restaurants.

                                                          1. re: Jacey

                                                            Correct! And you're right, DC is hardly an Italian food haven. Fortunately there are plenty of other options, things I'd never had before moving here (Ethiopian) and things I desperately craved when I couldn't get them in Italy (Asian food of all kinds, fried chicken, etc).

                                                        2. I have lived about 4 years in Latin America, which may not count as "overseas" from a US perspective, but my 340 salt water dives qualifies for living about 11 days "underseas". They have yielded a lot of great dinners with a spear gun, hook, and net, but many more experiences marveling at aqueous critters. A feast for the eyes.

                                                          2 Replies
                                                          1. re: Veggo

                                                            What a great idea! I have always wanted to sail off into the sunset and have friends who have been live-aboard cruisers for years. They always come up with some great meals..............and great tales!..........about eating things in ports they visit or what they get from the ocean.

                                                            And yes, Latin America counts............even Canada does since I've had some awesome meals there which you would never find south of the line.

                                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                              Well, Mexico and Canada are certainly NOT overseas from the US. The problem is, I believe that expression is originally from England, hence even nearby France would be overseas.

                                                              (and, if you want to be a pedant, we are a Latin-speaking corner of the Americas here in Québec)...

                                                          2. Costa Rica for a year, back in the early 1990s. I lived with a pretty poor family, so it was essentially rice and beans for three meals a day. Occasionally there'd be a soup or a bit of chicken, but it was pretty rare. They were delicious however, and Lizano salsa was a delightful addition. What I remember vividly was how good their coffee was - first thing in the morning, ground coffee put in a sock shaped cloth and hung over a wire, and hot water poured through it. Starbucks has got nothing on this coffee. And the fresh milk - lumpy, warm and rich - I would never have predicted that it would be as richly satisfying and delicious as it is.

                                                            Probably close to 3 years now in Mexico - one 1.5 year stint in the late 1990s, and then regular return trips for anywhere from one week to 2 months. What don't I love about the food? Mexico City is a huge, paved kitchen. Warm tamales and atole in the morning was common, and so satisfying. Comida - well, it was varied as there are days in the year. Fresh tortillas stand out, fresh fruit drinks, pollo en achiote, pollo en pipian, a thousand different moles and salsas. Puebla really stands out for its food - it's a city that has an abundance of small, unimpressive-looking kitcheny type restaurants that always seem to bring a culinary surprise. Monterrey was my only disappointment, though it's largely b/c I can't eat beef or goat. And the dive, our dive! A little fonda down the street from my apartment where we would go late every night to drink beer and eat sopes with our neighbors. I miss those darn sopes and the chipotle salsa (that evolved out of the huge piles of chiles that I would see them grilling up as I left for the archives in the morning).

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. I lived in Coastal Ecuador as a Peace Corps Volunteer for 2 years and 4 months from '88 to '90. I learned to cook on a 2-burner propane camp stove.

                                                              I experienced many dishes that I'd never seen before in the States: Guinea Pig, ceviche, fish soup with the entire fried fish sitting in it, various menestras including blood. Since we were surrounded by rice fields, every meal, including breakfast had to have rice in it.

                                                              I can't say that I brought much back with me, since I was pretty young, but I did learn to be resourceful!

                                                              4 Replies
                                                              1. re: tracylee

                                                                Probably pika, too, but I forgive you.

                                                                1. re: pikawicca

                                                                  Nope, never saw pika where I lived! Oh, maybe in a zoo once.

                                                                2. re: tracylee

                                                                  Any things you brought back to make regularly?

                                                                  1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                    I've done ceviche a few times, bought imported naranjillas (lulos) and made juice out of them. Oh, did salchipapas a couple of times.

                                                                    I'm still looking for a good recipe for the tortillas de maiz. They had ground fresh yellow corn, shaped into a hockey puck, and stuffed with the salty local white cheese, then fried along side the highway. The vendors would get on the bus at one end of town, sell to passengers, then get off on the other end of town, cross the road and do it again!

                                                                3. This is off-topic, but I'm wondering about your login name. I spend an entire week every fall in Cape Ann MA, eating fried clams twice or three times per day. Haven't found a place yet that serves them for breakfast.
                                                                  Is your named tied into Cape Ann also, or somewhere else? I can't imagine better fried clams anywhere else.

                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Hugh DeMann

                                                                    Cape Cod........born and raised and 3rd generation, although I'm now in PA. Loved them as a kid, now find them hard to get, at least around here. I'm talking the ones with bellies, like you would have had on the North Shore.

                                                                    Funnily enough, many of the places in New England that serve clams these days get them from Maryland - partly due to red tide in NE and partly over-harvesting. But you can't fiind the fried version down here!

                                                                    And man........savor that week! What could be better than clam rolls and clam plates augmented by the occaisional lobster roll?

                                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                      I was very glad to sample some of these regional US items, back when I lived in Boston.

                                                                      And "What could be better than clam rolls and clam plates augmented by the occasional lobster roll?"

                                                                      Well, all of that plus a beer. :)

                                                                  2. from the Az border of Mexico, lived in Japan all told about 7 years. Spent about 20 years on the NY border of Quebec. Like Pikawicca the usual AF brat routine.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                        Sonoran Mexican will always be a comfort food to me. My mother's family were pretty much Southern transplants from Alabama and Ga via Texas after the war. My family cooking does have a strong Southern bent to it. Living near Montreal so long I love Tourtiere and Poutine and the very special chili dog indigenous to Clinton County NY, oddly called a Michigan. We vacation in London with some frequency and have really broadened our knowledge of Middle Eastern and Indian food. I love Vietnamese food and spent the bulk of last summer testing recipes for a new book due out in the fall. All sorts of Asian dumplings. Living in Bloomington, IN I've become a fan of the fried pork tenderloin sandwich. We plan our travel around food and plot routes based on where and what we want to eat. I guess we are kind of food mongrels.

                                                                        1. re: Candy

                                                                          A fried tenderloin of pork sandwich is a thing of beauty!

                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                            Oh yeah and not difficult to produce at home either. I think it developed with the German migration into southern Indiana. Pork Schnitzel on a bun!

                                                                            1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                              FCF, you can get some wicked good fried pork sandwiches in Philly; Reading Terminal for one.

                                                                      2. Spent a total of seven years in Korea while in the Air Force. Three seperate one year tours at Kunsan Air Base, just outside of Kunsan city, three consecutive years at Suwon Air Base in Suwon city, just south and east of Seoul, and one year at Osan Air Base in Songtang-Si, near Pyongtaek. My job with the military allowed me to drive from Seoul to Pusan with stops in Taegu, Kwang-ju, and Waegwon, sampling the different variations of road food, street food, market stall food, and home cooked meals in each place.
                                                                        Brought home a wife, mother and father in law, and a love of Korean food.
                                                                        While in Korea I had the opportunity to visit the Phillipines twice a year for three to six weeks on each visit, and several shorter visits to Japan.
                                                                        When I retired from the Air Force my wife and I opened a Korean restaurant which we operated for thirteen years.

                                                                        2 Replies
                                                                        1. re: hannaone

                                                                          Man, I wish we had Korean food in this area! Have son married w/ Korean wife and son living In Seongnam. Will visit in June for a month, can't wait; going local!

                                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                            Fresh Kimchi and some recent meals :-)

                                                                        2. I think the thing that defines my culinary diversity was completely beyond my control. Yes, my parents.

                                                                          When I was 7 months old they moved to Japan (my dad worked in the beef industry). The tastes and smells that are hardwired as an infant are amazing and whilst I haven't afforded to go back to Japan as an adult, I judge Japanese food on whether it can arouse memories that I don't have in my day to day conscience. For example, I will stop for sushi if I can smell a certain type of seaweed but not eat it if I can't.

                                                                          Many other travel/eating experiences (not to mention the experiences at home as a result of my mum taking cooking lessons in Japan), but the hardwiring is the most remarkable result for me...

                                                                          1. This is my second year living in Bangladesh. Although my cook makes Western food at least 1/2 the time, she has also taught me how to make shrimp curry, naan, dal, samosa, and a host of other Bengali treats. I've taught her how to make brownies and mac and cheese, classic American cuisine,

                                                                            I've also had the opportunity to take cooking classes in Bangkok, and can reproduce a lot of my restaurant favorites.

                                                                            8 Replies
                                                                            1. re: lulubelle

                                                                              You sound a lot happier than when you posted a year and a hlf ago. Good. I loved teaching overseas and now 2 of my sons are teaching (one is single and very cute blond) in Thailand and Korea.

                                                                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                Oh gosh, I can't even remember what I sounded like then, but yes, I am very happy living overseas! Much happier than I was in the States.

                                                                                (are you fixing me up with your son? Because I'm probably closer in age to you ;-) )

                                                                                1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                  No, Michael is a heart breaker. You are older? Great. I really want to go back oversea, but who wants a high energy handsome man in his sixties? Ageism sucks big time. We are considering teaching summer courses in Korea. I just got off Skype w/ my son, DIL and grandson. I've got to go cook huevos rancheros for our 19 year old who come home from college to help me lug into the house and install a new gas range. Our old one id 50 years old and on it's last legs. He's a hound too. Will make a scallop, asparagus scampi for Sunday dinner. Where were you from in the US? The comment I was referring to was from the what do you do for work thread in the summer of '07.
                                                                                  Take care and learn 'em good,

                                                                                  1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                    "but who wants a high energy handsome man in his sixties? Ageism sucks big time."

                                                                                    Yeah, it's unfortunate that the kind of men we women appreciate are under-appreciated in the workforce. My SO, the 60-y-o Mainer is eking by on gigs. Thank goodness I'm still employed.

                                                                                    Have fun installing the range!

                                                                                    1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                      (I'm a bit of a heartbreaker myself ;-) ) Define "older" I am in my mid-40s.
                                                                                      We have several teachers in their 60s here. I don't think it is as big of dealbreaker as it is in the States because you are only on a 2 year contract anyway; it's not like they are stuck with you forever. From what I understand, it's a teachers market right now, so if you want to go abroad again, go for it.

                                                                                      I'm from Chicago--which is great, because I can go home in the summer and get my fill of Italian beef and hot dogs. Two foods I miss desperately since moving to South Asia. I also miss scallops. The seafood here is pretty much limited to shrimp.

                                                                                      1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                        I made a scallop and asparagus scampi w/ parsley and scallions over jasmine rice for supper last night. What do you teach and what type of school? DOD, company (oil, mining), parent run international, local prep. etc.? Whats the local living conditions? Email me if you will.

                                                                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                          tried to email you twice at email in your profile, but was bounced back both times.

                                                                                          1. re: lulubelle

                                                                                            I corrected the spelling, try again.

                                                                              2. We currently live in Dubai, although I have lived in the UK and Jakarta at other points in my life.

                                                                                I have to say the greatest benefit in living in Dubai and in Indonesia was not having to cook...at least daily. I still cook once or twice a week, but most nights it's the maid who does the chores.

                                                                                Indonesia exposed me to a wonderful array of fresh fruits. When we moved to Dubai and went to one of the ubiquitious cafeterias next to mosques, and I saw the extensive menu of fresh fruit drinks and blended fruit drinks, I had an amazing flashback to my Indonesia years that made me immediately understand Proust and his madeline experience.

                                                                                I also had my first curries in Indonesia, although I have never attempted to duplicate them.

                                                                                My UK experience was probably more successful than most people on this thread. It was just after college, and I shared a flat with several young people who introduced me to proper French wines and cooking seasonally with fresh produce and meats. Before this I had generally never cooked, and had a mother who often forgot that the kitchen existed.

                                                                                2 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Roland Parker

                                                                                  Having a maid/cook (we call them "bearers") is pretty fabulous, isn't it? It means that when I do cook, I don't have to do any prep, or any clean-up. i am SO spoiled!

                                                                                2. I've lived in 3 countries on 3 continents as a retiree, Mexico for 10 years, Germany for 5 years and Turkey for a year. i'm presently in Germany and will return to Mexico in a few months. I love the tamales in Mexico and also the other hot and spicy foods. In Turkey the lamb was the best I ever had, very fresh and high quality and the pide was super too (I can find it in the Middle Eastern delis in the grocery stores in Berlin now). Here in Germany (and Poland since I live on the border, I shop and eat out mostly in Poland unless I go to Berlin or somewhere else on a trip) the pork is excellent, but my favorite dish is the traditional East Prussian/Polish very thick Gulasch soup served in a round loaf of bread with the top cut off, the insides partially removed, filled with the Gulasch, the the top is put back on before it's served. I have to make my own tamales over here, having learned how from our maid in Mexico, and my cousin in TX sent me some corn shucks since the Latin stores in Berlin didn't have any. I brought some ground chiles with me when I left Mexico 3 years ago and can get some in Berlin. I prefer German mustard over any other kind. German and Polish food for the most part is a little bland for my tastes, but I enjoy Schnitzel and the aforementioned Gulasch soup.

                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                    1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                      Born and raised outside of Philadelphia, currently going on 3 years in Tokyo. I've learned a great deal about Japanese cooking, ingredients and food but more importantly I've learned tons about :
                                                                                      - real Italian (not upstate NY italian american cooking)
                                                                                      - Nepalese
                                                                                      - South and North Indian cooking
                                                                                      - Thai
                                                                                      - Vietnamese
                                                                                      - Korean
                                                                                      - French

                                                                                      It's wonderful living in a place with so many authentic (and wonderful/wonderfully expensive) places to eat

                                                                                  1. I lived in France for seven months. I miss all of the cheeses I could buy at reasonable prices and good french bread.

                                                                                    I love blanquette de veau, saucisson sec, boudin noir et blanc, gateau sale and salsifis.

                                                                                    1. I had the pleasure of growing up and living for 10 years in Jakarta, Indonesia (1984-1994). My family really took to local cuisine since the early part of our stay was before Duty-Free came along and American products became available. You can still find Sambal and Ketcap Manis in my fridge any day of the year. And canned (unfortunately) rambutans in my cupboards, those little jelly snacks that are bite-sized, and those shrimp crackers that would explode and grow when they are fried. I still make satay, nasi goreng, and bakmi goreng on a regular basis.

                                                                                      I also had the pleasure of being stationed in Taegu, South Korea for a couple of years. And let me tell you…I came home with a love of Korean food. I can eat bim bim bap or Korean BBQ anyday of the week everyday. Just thinking about yakimandu dipped in cheesy ramen is making my mouth water. But I can tell you one thing I came back with no love for…Soju…and that is only because I had way too much while I was over there. LOL.

                                                                                      4 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: abduction51

                                                                                        really nice...Do you make many of the dishes yourself?

                                                                                        1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                          I make them all myself. I was lucky to have a friend give me his family's recipe for bim bim bap.

                                                                                        2. re: abduction51

                                                                                          I don't remember many soju nights. And there were Many over seven years.

                                                                                          1. re: hannaone

                                                                                            Yes my memory is a bit hazy thank you to that devilish soju bowl....oh boy my head just hurts thinking about it.

                                                                                        3. A word of warning. Our eldest 3 children were raised overseas. One now lives in South Korea and another in Thailand (The third is in school in Austin.). They are so far away, we rarely see them, or being 13 hours ahead, it is even difficult to phone. Thank
                                                                                          God for Skype. I must wait until the end of June to see my grandson born January 2nd. I miss them so and am so envious of their life style.

                                                                                          1. I lived in Guadalajara with a very famous Tequila family..what a riot that was..the summer house in Tequila had its own private lake with island and with its own marachi band on call..24/7.
                                                                                            We had such good times!

                                                                                            Also, lived in Sydney and Melbourne for about 6 months.

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: Beach Chick

                                                                                              Very nice!
                                                                                              A Private lake? WOW.....cookouts on the island?

                                                                                              1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                I was born and raised in Florida but have lived in Bermuda for the past 15 years. My husband is 4 generation Bermudian.

                                                                                                It was not that difficult getting use to it, the climate is close to Florida's, husband is a fisherman, I come from a family of fishermen (and woman) However the island is just 21 square miles.

                                                                                                But the fish is fresh ( just the way I like it) and the people are great and when you make friends with the farmers, you can get freshest veggies, eggs and local meat all year round!

                                                                                                There is such a deverse of culinary mix here...English, Portuguese, American, European, Indian and Bermudian - the Bermudian is more of all the above mixed! Like one big melting pot!

                                                                                            2. Lived in the Philippines for 14 months with my first husband stationed there. Boy! What a cultural shock for this southerner. Took right to it, tho', rode the jitneys, tried all the food I could (did NOT try a balut) and travelled the area from Manila to Baguio. This was in the early 70s. Learned a little tagalog but quickly forgot it. It was an experience. And it fueled me to want to see the world, which I've seen a pretty good bit of, thankfully.

                                                                                              1. Wow this could be my favorite thread ever. Great responses!

                                                                                                I'm originally from New York but have lived in England for five years now. I'm in a small town, so the food choice is pretty limited. Plus, it seems that most of the restaurants on English high streets these days are chains.

                                                                                                Purely due to missing the convenience of having any kind of food I wanted on my doorstep, my cooking skills have improved and the scope of what I cook now has broadened immensely. Thanks to some cookbooks and a fabulous Thai market nearby, I can now cook lots of my favorite Thai, Vietnamese, and Chinese dishes. And I can find Korean staples in a neighborhood that's two trains away.

                                                                                                I've also learned to make chutneys and preserves and pickles, which are huge over here, to eat with cheese or meats. In the shops and markets here, there's also a much bigger focus on local and seasonal fruit and veg than I noticed where I shopped in New York, and I appreciate that partially because I've been working on climate change issues for the past few years. Plus, it's great to look forward to tomatoes, brussels sprouts, cherries, and squash when they're in season and eat them at their best.

                                                                                                Another thing I'll take from the UK is my appreciation for the curry house! And if I ever move away from here I'll need to ensure a reliable supply of Marmite. A bite of butter and Marmite on a crumpet may be one of the most perfect food experiences I know.

                                                                                                I also lived for a short time in Jordan. Although Jordanian food, like the national dish of lamb and rice, is actually somewhat bland, there's the Mediterranean influence that brings lots of good felafel, hummous, mutaabal, etc. Plus the sweets! Mamoul and kunafeh. Everything was right there and inexpensive, so I didn't learn much cooking. Although I did later perfect my own versions of fuul medammas and Arabic coffee.

                                                                                                1. When I graduated from university in 2001, I was an insanely picky eater. I didn't eat raw vegetables, yogurt, unmelted cheese, red wine, anything anise-flavoured, cilantro (but I think this was "genetic" as I distinctly recall that cilantro USED to taste soapy to me), bell peppers, black pepper, and countless other things. The morning after my graduation ceremony I moved to Barcelona, and tried to make a go of things. Nothing really worked out for me there, but a home-cooked meal of particularly disturbing rabbit stew was my last stop on the train to vegetarianism. I've not eaten meat since (though I've succumbed to a handful of fish and chip dinners). Barcelona is notable in that it is the city where I learned to like salad. It's also where I discovered Licor 43 (I've got a fresh new bottle sitting on my kitchen table just waiting to be opened). After Barcelona I moved to Torino, Italy. In Torino I picked up lots of fabulous eating habits: I became addicted to fennel, buffalo mozzarella and lamb's lettuce (I'm not sure what we call this in Canada- I've never seen it for sale here). Seriously- there was not a day that passed that I didn't eat all of those things. I would make massive pots of minestrone and feed all the foreign teachers at my school. I also polished off a bottle of Moscato d'Asti most evenings; I've bought pretty expensive bottles of the stuff (in the 50-euro range) but NOTHING beats the three-euro Moscato d'Asti from Di per Di. Oh, and I also started growing my own herbs in Italy (thanks to the help of the little old lady next door who would reach over to my balcony and water the herbs when I forgot about them). By the time I left Italy in 2006 I would eat absolutely anything that wasn't meat. I spent the first half of last year in Guadalajara, Mexico on a teaching exchange. From a vegetarian standpoint things were pretty bleak. I could buy lots of fresh produce at the market and make variations of normal Canadian food, but it seemed that when I was dining out in restaurants and in Mexican homes, vegetarian dishes weren't part of the culture. I spent a couple weeks living with a Mexican couple before I found my apartment, and the mom did introduce me to TVP (texturized vegetable protein), which I had never used before. She taught me how make faux-ceviche tostadas with TVP, tomatoes, onion, avocado, jalepenos and cilantro marinated in lime juice. That's one recipe I break out as soon as the weather here in Canada warms up. I can't say I took many other elements of Mexican cooking home, although I now have an unhealthy addiction to tequila mixed with Fresca. Mmmm... palomas!

                                                                                                  1. Just found your post! Hoping that after 5 years it's not too late to contribute? Ten years in Guyana and ten years in Suriname, ok? Dhal puri roti and curry made from iguana or turtle (not known to be endangered then) or anaconda, real pepper sauce that wasn't cut with anything - so hot one could not breath the air in the kitchen for hours. Gado gado, yum! Married man pork, black pudding and sour, sorrel, mauby, cassava pone, genip and tamarind picked straight from the tree, fried channa with garlic in a paper twist at the school gate, saoto soup (with laos), coconut water straight from the nut, soft coconut jelly scooped up with a piece of the husk and enjoyed in the dark as one walked through the market on the way home from the cinema, pepperpot made from the cassareep extracted from bitter cassava, 25 year old rum, straight, with a single ice cube, garlic pork on Xmas morning. Good memories, wonderful food.

                                                                                                    4 Replies
                                                                                                      1. re: kagemusha49

                                                                                                        Oh, my! I guess I really wasn't expecting that anyone would actually still be out there attending to a 5 year old forum post. But I'm glad you were/are listening because, yes, memories, like food, really are best when shared.

                                                                                                        1. re: Pat50

                                                                                                          LOL.it's amazing what gets resurrected on here! I'm curious..what is "married man pork"? and do they make a "single man's pork"?

                                                                                                          1. re: FriedClamFanatic

                                                                                                            LOL indeed. Single man's pork! Well, I guess that is a logical question, albeit one I never imagined coming up. So, "married man pork" is a type of herb like thyme or basil. It has a very distinctive taste - I don't know how to describe it, but it turns bland versions of black pudding (and many other dishes) into sparkling magic. I wish I knew the botanical/Latin name for it; I have searched high and low for it on the internet but without the botanical/Latin name it seems impossible to find any to buy. And, of course, it was always a homegrown herb and not one dried or preserved or commercially farmed, so perhaps not likely it would be for sale anywhere. But again, thanks for the smile. That is what is so great about sharing experiences and stories. They just grow richer with time and more hands in the pot.