aboutWe are Akila and Patrick. Ourminds (and waistlines) expand as we travel, cook, and eat our way around the world with our two dogs.
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Tag: Asia
airavatesvara temple

Gopuram in Kumbakonam

Temple in India
Upiliappan Temple Upiliappan Temple

Kumbakonam Adi Kumbeswara and Upiliappan temple interior

"What should we see in Kumbakonam?"  I asked my cousin, as we planned our family excursion through South India.  There would be 13 of us traveling, ranging in age from my 94-year-old grandfather to Amara, our not yet 1 year old, packed in a mini-bus to see the best of Puducherry, Kumbakonam, and Tanjore in one week.   

"Temples, of course," he responded.  Kumbakonam is a town of temples so his answer was no surprise.  Almost 200 temples are packed into this 25 square mile town at the intersection of the Kaveri and Arasalar Rivers, deep in Tamil Nadu, the most southern portion of India. 

Adi Kumbeswara Temple

Detailing on the gopuram of the Adi Kumbeswara Temple

My cousin reeled off the names of temples, each with both historical and religious significance.  But, there was one I found in my Internet research that he never mentioned.  "What about Airavatesvara Temple?" I said, stumbling over the long word. 

"I don't know it," he responded.  He paused for a second and said, "It must not be very important.  It is named for Indra's white elephant --- the steed that carried the Lord of the Devas."  My grandmother whose earliest childhood memories are swimming in the Kaveri River and going to school in Kumbakonam, didn't know the Airavatesvara Temple.  No one in my extended family --- most of whom visit South Indian temples on their holidays --- had heard of Airavatesvara, either.

But, I insisted that we go and visit.  It was listed as an UNESCO World Heritage Site and the Wikipedia page made it sound interesting and, after all, it was only a few miles away from our hotel.

Adi Kumbeswara Temple

Elephant blessing at Adi Kumbeswara Elephant blessing me and Amara

Elephant blessing at the Adi Kumbeswara Temple

We reached Airavatesvara after a long day visiting temples, temples, and more temples, each blending into the other.  Amara was tired and annoyed and both Patrick and I were pretty unimpressed by that point. 

There's a difference, you see, between visiting temples for their religious value and visiting, as we did, for purely the aesthetic and archaeological interest. 

Airavateswara Temple sunset

Airavateswara Temple sunset

My extended family is religious in a way that I will never be.  It's something that I think comes with growing up in India whereas growing up in the United States.  Religion in India is not optional.  There is no delineation between church (or temple) and state.  Religion is integral and integrated into every part of every day life in India.

Tanjore Temple
Tanjore Big Temple Tanjore Big Temple
Tanjore Big Temple Tanjore Big Temple

Tanjore Brihadisvara Temple

In Chennai, we woke in the morning to the sound of bells clanging at the temple.  Our auto rickshaw drivers had small pictures of Vishnu, Lakshmi, or Shiva on their dashboards.  Every store has a small shrine in it, as does every home have a puja or prayer room set aside.  My extended family avoids garlic and onions on certain days of the week and avoids meat altogether.  Muslims are equally devout at their mosques as are the Christians at their churches.  It is a country where religion pervades every moment of every day.

And, Indians are passionate about their temples.  At the busier and more important temples, such as the Tanjore Brihadisvara Temple, the packed crowds suffocate me.  One of my earliest memories of India is a frantic devotee pushing my seven year old self to the ground inside the Mysore Chamundi Temple so that she could get a closer glimpse of the Goddess.  Even now, as an adult, though I use my elbows to mark my own space, the press of unwashed, undeodoranted people in the stifling interiors nauseates me.  And for what?  The crowds come together for a momentary glimpse of a tiny statue or figure in semi-darkness.

Amara at the Tanjore Big temple Amara at the Tanjore Temple
Patrick and Amara at the Tanjore temple Patrick and Amara at the Tanjore temple

Patrick and Amara at the Tanjore Temple

Devoutness to the point of fanaticism does not appeal to me, which is perhaps why I have never truly appreciated the large South Indian temples.  I can admire the gopuram, the intricately carved exterior pillar at the top of the temple, and the exterior painting.  But, in most temples, the interior has been built on the original structure, over and over again, so that the ancient beauty of the temple is lost in expansions of cement and ceramic tile.  Others are rarely cleaned, leaving grease marks at the bottom of my feet as I walk through their interiors.

Airavatesvara Temple Airavatesvara Temple
Airavatesvara Temple Airavatesvara Temple

Airavatesvara Temple

But, then, we arrived at the Airavatesvara Temple.  It flew in the face of everything I've ever known --- or thought I've known --- about South Indian temples.  It was built in the 12th century by the powerful Chola empire, who ruled much of present day India and many of the surrounding islands from their headquarters in present day Tamil Nadu.  The Chola empire might hold the record for the longest dynasty in history: this family ruled southern India for almost 1,500 years, beginning in the 3rd century BCE until the late 13th century AD.

The Cholas believed in building, trading, and the proliferation of art and music.  Much of the Hindu art and belief in Southeast Asia, including the adoption of the Ramayana by the Thai, was due to the efforts of traders, artisans, and teachers during the Chola empire.  But, empires crumble and temples disappear.

Airavatesvara Temple

Airavatesvara gopuram

There are three --- only three --- of the great Chola temples still standing and without remodel, reconstruction, or alteration since the days of the Chola kings.  The three temples have been listed together as the "Great Living Chola Temples" as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and include the Tanjore Brihadisvara Temple, the Airavatesvara Temple, and the temple at Gangaikondacholapuram (yes, that's a mouthful) near the Ganges River.  (This has a great list of the Chola temples found in Bangalore though all of these temples have been renovated, refurbished, or repainted, so it is difficult to differentiate what was original versus modern.) 

Airavatesvara Temple

Airavatesvara Temple

Airavatesvara Temple

The steps at the Airavatesvara Temple

The Airavatesvara Temple is the smallest and least important of the three.  Legend has it that a sage cursed Airavata, the white elephant who was steed to the king of the gods, turning Airavata black and mottled.  Airavata bathed in the sacred waters here and prayed to Lord Shiva, who turned the elephant's skin white again.  Unlike the Brihadiswara Temple which was built to celebrate the Chola Empire's communion with Lord Shiva, the Airawatesvata Temple was meant to relate to the populace.

Airavatesvara Temple pillar Airavatesvara Temple

Pillars at the Airavateswara Temple

Pillars Pillars at Airavadesvara Temple

Airavatesvara Temple Pillars

We climbed up the staircase written in ancient Tamil script, flanked by carved elephants and horse-drawn chariots on each side, with the elephant's trunk acting as the bannister.  We stood in a hall of pillars, each pillar carved with scenes of daily life at the time of the Chola Empire.  One pillar showed crowds of people arriving, throwing flowers, and dancing near the king sitting on a bull.  Many of the figures on the stone are no bigger than my thumbnail and the priest inside acts also as our guide, pointing out the intricate details in the temple.  He was clearly proud of this strange, small temple.

Bull and horse in Airavatesvara Temple

Bull and elephant in one figure at Airavatesvara Temple

And, rightly so.  We walked outside and soon fell into conversation with one of Tamil Nadu's archaeological experts, who has been spending a significant amount of time excavating and analyzing the grounds near the temple.  He showed us this beautiful spot where, from one angle, the figure looks like a bull, reaching his head above another animal, and from the other angle, looks like an elephant laying her head on her baby's back, with her trunk spread out before her.

 Airavatesvara Temple

Airavatesvara Temple back

We exclaimed in delight and he showed us more of the temple's features, eager to share his discoveries with others.  Once, he complained slightly under his breath that nobody sees these things.

I got that.  In the hour we spent there, we had the place to ourselves.  Once, we saw a tour group of Westerners who dashed in and out of this place, checking it off their list of India's World Heritage Sites.  There were no devotees pushing, shoving, or clamoring to see the God.  This place was quiet and empty, a rarity (impossibility?) in bustling India, and waiting since the days of the Chola kings for people to appreciate it. 

Details

The Great Living Chola Temples are located around the cities of Kumbakonam and Tanjore (also known as Tanjavur), about 275 kilometers south of Chennai.  Most go directly to see the Brihadisvara Temple in Tanjore which is, admittedly, gorgeous and immense.  But, I think that the Airavatesvara Temple should not be missed, especially for the lover of arts, architecture, and antiquities.

We stayed at Paradise Resort in Kumbakonam which is a cute hotel geared toward tourists and tour groups.  Guests can take a traditional bullock cart (or the much faster golf cart) to get to and from their rooms and there are onsite artisans who produce certain goods, as well as a menagerie of farm animals.  While the rooms were nice, the reason I would recommend this hotel is for the food.  If you want to try authentic home cooked Tamil fare, this is a great place to get your fill.  Their lunchtime thalis were especially good.  Every single person in my group --- most of whom are very critical when it comes to South Indian food --- liked the food here.

08/09/2014 01:52
Stunning temples!
08/09/2014 15:07
Gorgeous! I'm with you on doing anything to avoid the crowds. We recently went to Cambodia and Burma. In Cambodia, since I'd seen the Ankor Wat temples several times now, I did not revisit. Instead, we went 2 hours North and saw several small ruins around Koh ker temple where we were the only people at each.
In Burma, because it was low season, we were the only visitors to many of the temples we saw.
08/12/2014 20:41
That lace looks awesome! I would love to go there and take hundreds of photos.
08/28/2014 15:33
Gorgeous photos! I loved the photo of the little one in front of the temple! :) This post makes me want to venture to South India. Breathtaking.
09/04/2014 10:43
Thank you! South India is an amazing place.
12/13/2014 23:31
Lovely pictures. I was in Kumbakonam and Tanjore a couple of years back, but missed Airavateshwara, although I did get a chance to visit Brihadeeshwara and Gangaikondacholapuram (with my then toddler). Have you visited the temples in Karnataka - Somanathapura, in particular is not so crowded and is stunning and I'm sure many of your readers will love it. [No I'm not getting paid by the tourism authorities, although I wish I were].
12/22/2014 15:33
We haven't visited the temples in Karnataka --- that's the next trip! Lots of places to see in India and so many temples. I'll put these on the list.
05/22/2015 07:06
India Temple Very good Adventure and Lovely Temple Destination.

Day Picnic
05/22/2015 07:06
India Temple Very good Adventure and Lovely Temple Destination.

Day Picnic

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pregnancy is like backpacking through southeast asia

Children in CambodiaA baby in Cambodia

I've spent about as much time backpacking through Asia and Africa as I have been pregnant and, to be honest, there isn't all that much difference between the two.  Pregnancy is like backpacking through Southeast Asia because:

  • in the beginning, you're disoriented, exhausted, and disbelieving (Did I really just cross over two continents in 17 hours?  Is there really a tiny human being growing inside me?)
  • you could wake up on any given morning and vomit
  • after a little while, things even out and you start to feel great and love this place
  • it's January and the ceiling fan is running on high
  • fantasies tend to involve wine, really good soft cheeses, and Kosher dill pickles
  • personal boundaries disappear as strangers ask about every element of your life (What is your job?  How much do you make?  Did you plan this pregnancy?  What are your labor and delivery plans?)
  • soon, you're carrying an extra 25 to 30 pounds of luggage, making you wobble like an ungainly penguin

  • forget the books; Google and message boards become the most up-to-date and important means of information
  • size XL becomes the minimal acceptable t-shirt size for any average-sized American (Thai size XL = American size S; pregnancy size Akila = taking over all of Patrick's t-shirts)
  • you become a minor celebrity: strangers will stare at you, open doors for you, and ask after your health and welfare (In the extreme cases, you might have folks pose for pictures with you or rub your belly.)
  • sneakers and boots are forgotten and discarded; flip flops and slip-on shoes become the footware of choice
  • toward the end, family and friends crawl out of the woodwork to find out your status (When are you heading home?  That baby out yet?)
  • as you look back at your journey, you realize how far you've come and that this experience has changed you . . . for the better, you think

Baby M is due on Sunday on St. Patrick's Day but we'll see when she actually decides to make her appearance!

Kid in China

03/13/2013 16:10
Exciting...and hilarious post! I remember just meeting you at TBU and announcing your big news to loads of people over our canapés. I felt like one of the cool crowd! All my best in the whole process - can't wait to see where you take your little traveler first!
03/15/2013 14:07
Cat, you're totally one of the cool crowd! And, thanks! We're already planning baby girl's first international trip and we're excited about getting on the road with her.
03/13/2013 19:59
I never thought it'd be so similar, haha. Can't believe it's been nearly nine months already, I still remember reading your announcement post! Good luck with everything :)
03/15/2013 14:02
Thanks Edna! I know - the time has flown by. I can't believe it's been 9 months, either.
03/14/2013 02:01
Loved the comparisons! I've been traveling through Asia but since I'm a guy, won't ever know the pains of carrying a baby. Suffice to say, I'm rather glad! My very best wishes for healthy baby and mother!
03/15/2013 14:02
:) James, thanks!
03/14/2013 03:22
Veronica Daniels
I'm a mom of three and an avid traveller but I would never have thought that one could travel while pregnant! I always admire people who travel with children, that takes guts. But during a pregnancy? Lol! Best wishes to you!
03/15/2013 14:02
Actually, it wasn't too bad, at all. Month 3 --- when I had serious morning sickness --- wasn't much fun, but otherwise, pregnancy didn't really impair my ordinary travels. I actually think it can be a great time to travel, as long as you make sure to take it slow and listen to your body. We definitely took more rest breaks than normal but I feel like part of the reason that I've had a very good pregnancy is because I've been so active!
03/14/2013 13:00
Great to hear from you and to know that you're doing well! :)
03/15/2013 14:00
Thanks Pauline!
03/15/2013 00:43
So soon she is due! This post cracked me up -- who knew it was so similar! The nursery photos were so adorable and I can't wait to virtually (and one day in person) meet your wee one when she arrives! Enjoy these last few days with her before she greets the world :)
03/15/2013 14:00
Thanks Shannon! I can't wait for you to meet her, too.
03/18/2013 08:00
This post is funny. I did get a pretty powerful sensory memory when you mentioned vomiting. That only happened to me once in SEA but wasn't awesome and I've never thrown up so much. Good luck for the birth.
03/18/2013 08:47
Congrats, Akila! I'm 38 weeks myself (March 31 due date) so this resonated with me. All the best! We'll have to put our brains together and figure out traveling family ideas. :)
03/19/2013 06:15
LMAO!!! great post! hilarious! I can't say I have expereinced either pregnancy or Asia but I can imagine this post is pretty spot on!
03/19/2013 07:59
Spot on! :)
03/19/2013 19:11
Funny post! Congrats on Baby M and hopefully she has made her entrance by now!
03/24/2013 10:34
Never been pregnant, but definitely get the backpacking in Asia reference. Hope all is cool with you guys!
05/03/2013 22:13
LOL nice and super hilarious post.:) i learned a lot from you travelling blog and backpacking tips .. No matter what country, when you are pregnant people will treat you will :)

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the taste of two years

The savor of the last two years lingers on our lips.  We have eaten countless meals at street stalls, restaurants, cafes, cooking classes, and homes in 19 countries but no meal has been the same as any other.  This post collects the most memorable tastes of our travels and we hope that you enjoy this (mostly) salivating journey through the world, as seen by our cameras and remembered by our stomachs.

Drinks outside of Sydney Opera House

The effervescence coating our tongues and minds from our first champagne and beer toast to our round-the-world trip.  Sydney Opera House, Sydney, Australia.

Mamak roti canai

Impossibly light, flaky, and sweet roti canai with vanilla ice cream that we tracked down on three different nights, claiming that we had "photography issues" and needed to take better pictures.  Mamak, Sydney, Australia.

Mangoes and papayas

The weeks spent in small towns in Australia where we ate EVERY SINGLE meal with french fries (even my lasagna came with fries), and our relief at finally finding fresh fruit.  Port Douglas farmers' market, Port Douglas, Australia.

Charles Melton vineyard

The explosion of strawberry and flowers in the dry 2009 Rose of Virginia wine, which continues to be the best rose we have ever tasted.  Charles Melton vineyards, Barossa Valley, Australia.

Mujadara

The creamy, oniony, and healthy mujadara we made with our own hands while camping through New Zealand, a much needed respite after a month eating restaurant food.  Our kitchen.

Milford Sound

The fact that we were too exhausted from flipping over our kayak in the frigid Milford Sound to photograph the best meal we had in New Zealand, including a beetroot cream cheese, a basil pesto, and a white bean hummus served with wheat bread on a rustic plank, roasted and stuffed red peppers, and venison with roasted portobello mushrooms.  Redcliff Inn, Te Anau, New Zealand.

Blue cheese souffle Wairau River

The sinful smoothness from eating a blue cheese souffle under a deep blue New Zealand sky with fields of vineyards at our feet.  Wairau River vineyard, Marlborough region, New Zealand.

St. Joseph's Belgian Tripel

The rich nuttiness of a MOA Barrel Reserve beer, each aged in a wine barrel from the Marlborough region.  MOA, Marlborough region, New Zealand.

Whitebait

The wormy appearance and texture of the delicate whitebait, which tasted somewhere between crab and a white fish, and is much sought after in New Zealand.  Cafe de Paris, Hokitika, New Zealand.

Hangi sweetpotatoes

Hangi
Our amazement that noxious sulfur makes vegetables and chicken taste delicious when cooked hangi-style.  Cosy Cottage International Holiday Park, Rotorua, New Zealand.

Kozhakattai

Learning how to make sweet kozhakattai (coconut dumplings) from my grandmother, the woman in whose kitchen I first learned to appreciate food.  Patti's house, Chennai, India.

Noodles at Wat Chedi Luang

The generous welcome from the Thai people as we arrived for the feast at the head monk's funeral at Wat Chedi Luang, and ate plate after plate of noodles and rice with masses of Thai people dressed in black and white.  Wat Chedi Luang, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Red chili paste

The eye-blistering smell of red chilies being mashed for what would become the best Thai curry we have ever eaten.  Asia Scenic Cooking Class, Chiang Mai, Thailand.

 Mushrooms on a stick Lampang

Pulling semi-dried mushrooms off bamboo skewers with our teeth while wandering around the colorful throngs as night fell on Lampang.  Weekend night market, Lampang, Thailand.

Bamboo in elephant's mouth

Sharing a meal of vegetarian fare, bananas, and bamboo with our elephant friends --- and, yes, they ate way more than we did.  Patara Elephant Farm, Chiang Mai, Thailand.  

Spring rolls Rice fields
Spring roll dough Rice paper wrappers

Realizing that the rice paper wrappers we use to make simple spring rolls take months of toil in rice fields and hours of back-breaking labor over a fast-spinning stove in Southeast Asia.  Rice fields, Sukhothai, Thailand; rice paper wrapper visit, Battambang, Thailand; spring rolls made in our kitchen.

Amok

The joy of purposeful charity as we watched Cambodian street children make and serve us amok, a stew of coconut, fish, and curry, as training for future jobs in the hospitality industry.  Romdeng and Friends, restaurants run by Mith Samlanh, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Introducing our traveling friends to the best vegetarian restaurant we have ever tried; their mushroom and eggplant dips were akin to the nectar of gods.  Chamkar, Siem Reap, Cambodia. (sorry, no picture here)

Tofu

Yuba
Tofu fried Tofu flecked with vegetables

Awakening to the power and beauty of tofu, boiled and served with soy sauce, served as cold yuba (tofu skin), grilled with miso paste, flecked with vegetables, or any of the other innumerable ways it may be served.  All over Kyoto, Japan.

Okonomiyaki

Discovering that though okonomiyaki --- a light pancake filled with cabbage, cheese, meat, barbeque sauce, and mayonnaise --- may sound disgusting, it is actually one of the most delicious food finds in this world.  Okonomiyaki joints, Hiroshima, Japan.

 Sashimi bowl

Eating the best sushi ever in a bar with laminated countertops and stools that could fit no more than 20 people at any given time, right outside the Tokyo Fish Market.  Tokyo Fish Market, Tokyo, Japan.

Kaiseki dinner

Indulging in a kaiseki dinner, the ultimate Japanese meal, at a traditional ryokan after spending the day relaxing in mineral baths.  Kamesei Ryokan, Chikuma City, Japan.

Warabimochi

 Adjusting to the sweet and squishy world of Japanese desserts All over Japan.

South Korean food

Ordering four items that appeared to be vegetarian in order to find one Korean vegetarian dish because vegetarianism simply does not exist in South Korea.  Busan and Seoul, South Korean.

Pizza Hut South Korea

Our ninth anniversary meal: an amazingly delicious Pizza Hut pizza, with a crust ringed by cheese and sweet potato puree, found in a South Korean subway station after five exhausting hours spent on a bus.  Seoul, South Korea.

Lays potato chips

The bag of potato chips and Coke that burst all over my lap on our worst travel day ever in China.  On the way to Hohhot, China.

Fake Peking duck

Peking duck
Discovering the beauty of mock meats and Chinese ingenuity, as we tried flavorful "Peking duck" and crackling Peking duck, both two of the best meals we had in China.  Beihai restaurant, Peking Duck restaurant, Beijing, China.

Jiaozi

Savoring jiaozi (dumplings) whether made by tiny wrinkled men with swift moving hands or by our own much slower fingers.  Hutong Cuisine, Beijing, China.

Nausea sauce park

Laughing every time we opened a Chinese menu with English translations (nausea sauce pork, anyone?).  All over China.

Bunny chow

Believing that discrimination, division, and dissimilarities can be overcome by experiencing the unity of food --- especially bunny chow --- in South Africa.  Oriental Restaurant, Durban, South Africa.

Beetroot tart La Colombe Risotto La Colombe
Beef La Colombe Chocolates La Colombe
Reveling in our first experience in a top 100 restaurant in the world by eating far more than any one person should eat at a single sitting.  La Colombe, Constantia Uitsig, Constantia, South Africa.

Village Bistro

Discovering one of the most beautiful (and tasty) desserts we have ever seen --- a thick chocolate mousse in a peanut brittle pot held up by chocolate stands with spun sugar curls and baskets --- in a local restaurant with little fanfare and a humble name.  Village Bistro, Bergvliet, Constantia, South Africa.

 Cake Africa-in-Focus

Delighting in the puddings made over a campfire by our Africa-in-Focus cook and then grumbling over having to wash those pudding dishes afterwards.  Africa-in-Focus overland expedition.

 Chopping vegetables like a Zambian

Chopping vegetables like a Zambian, without a cutting board and a single knife, and eating greens and vegetables with circles of creamy soft nsima.  Zambian cooking class, Victoria Falls, Zambia.

Chocolate chip cookie dough cupcake

Biting into a soft chocolate cupcake and finding a thick fudgy layer of chocolate chip cookie dough at the bottom.  Mabel Francis Potter's Cupcake Emporium, Savannah, Georgia.

Mrs. Wilke's

Sitting with eight strangers at a table groaning under true Southern fare, with at least twenty different platters of vegetables, three types of meats, biscuits and cornbread, and as much sweet tea as a man could consume.  Mrs. Wilke's Dining Room, Savannah, Georgia, United States.

Fig vegetable plate

Discovering the beauty of the Jerusalem artichokes, a vegetable we had never tried, fried with butter and salt, in one of the best vegetable plates I have ever tried.  FIG, Charleston, South Carolina, United States.

Kulfi chocolate Sipping chocolate
Indulging nearly every other day in the best sipping chocolate we have ever tasted, flavored like kulfi with rose water, pistachio, and cardamom.  French Broad Chocolate Lounge, Asheville, North Carolina, USA.

Sunny Point cafe Sunny Point cafe
Papa's Papa's
Putting away our credit cards and relishing cheap and phenomenal cuisine: huevos rancheros that I would go and stand in line for every weekend, and Tex-Mex so good that we would have sworn we were in the Southwest.  Sunny Point Cafe, and Papa's, Asheville, North Carolina.

Being surprised when a waiter brought me a gold anklet wrapped around an orchid-strewn napkin with a bottle of champagne at a nice restaurant for our tenth anniversary.  Couples San Souci, Jamaica.

Fruitcake on QM2

The best fruitcake we have ever tasted --- which would surely convert any fruitcake naysayer --- at high tea served by white-gloved waiter.  Queen Mary 2 cruise ship.

 Cream tea

The joy of clotted cream, which I would put on just about anything if I had my way in this world.  As far as I can tell, it's the only good reason to brew a cup of tea.  Cornwall and Devon, England, United Kingdom. 

Cheese festival

Stumbling upon a cheese festival where we tried sheep's milk, cow's milk, and goat's milk cheese aged traditionally and produced by farmers.  Tavistock, Devon, England.

Chocolate con churros

Reminiscing about being in Spain fourteen years ago on my first night in Bilbao as I indulged in my favorite Spanish dessert, chocolate con churros, and introduced Patrick to the same.  Cafe del Arenal, Bilbao, Spain.

 Patatas bravas

Rediscovering the joy of tapas, pintxos, and two hour dinners spent lingering over slow-cooked food and good conversation in the pleasant evening air.  All over Madrid and Barcelona, Spain.

Jamon iberico

Stumbling upon jamon iberico, cured meat from acorn-fed black-hoofed pigs, which left Patrick saying for weeks on end, 'Man, that jamon literally melted in my mouth.'  Mercat de San Miguel, Madrid, Spain.

----

And there you have it: forty-five tastes of the last two years.  Thank you for joining our journey to find great and memorable food all across the world.

09/30/2011 11:29
I honestly want to dive into this post and eat every single meal here. Or follow you two around and live your lives with you, because you two rock and take the best photos AND find the best food!
Technosyncratic's recent blog post: Mdina, Malta’s Ancient “Silent City”
10/04/2011 11:35
Aw thank you guys! I really do hope that we get to meet up somewhere in the world and eat a big, delicious meal together. :)
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
08/06/2012 06:16
I second that. Yum!
09/30/2011 12:07
oh this is just cruel :)
10/04/2011 11:37
I'm going to take that as a compliment! :)
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
09/30/2011 12:59
I have one word: YUM.
Amy's recent blog post: Our Trip by the Numbers
10/04/2011 11:38
:)
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 00:06
Ooh, tasty. What a great round up. We loved yuba in Japan and are looking forward to doing a cooking course in Chiang Mai.
10/04/2011 11:41
I think you'll love the Chiang Mai cooking courses! It's so nice to be able to have completely vegetarian fare --- and it helped me a lot when I was in Thailand because I was able to figure out which dishes traditionally have fish sauce in them and which don't. And, I'm so envious that you got to Thailand in time for the vegetarian festival - we heard such good things about it!
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 06:25
Lakshmi Sankar
Akila and Patrick,
Fantastic! The taste of the chocolate kulfi still lingers in my mouth. Can't wait to visit you in London to taste clotted cream and crumpet. Love, Mom
10/04/2011 11:45
Thanks Mom! And, I know that you're going to love clotted cream --- but we're yet to find a single crumpet in England.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 06:45
Dad
Believing that discrimination, division, and dissimilarities can be overcome by experiencing the unity of food.
What a great thought!!! I am reminded of the beautiful meals your patti used to offer me when I went to their home years back even when she did not know me well. Your mom and cousins talk about food for the first 20 minutes in their skype talk & I always make fun of it. May be, there is a profound truth behind it that you have discovered.
Love
Dad
10/04/2011 11:32
Thanks Dad! Food is the great uniter - at least that's what we have learned in our last two years roaming the globe. It's only another reason why Indians always love to sit down over a big meal!
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 06:47
What a delicious two years you've spent around the world! Loved seeing Spanish food on the list :)I don't know how I survived so many years without jamon iberico in my life!
10/04/2011 11:30
Christine - We LOVED our time in Spain and wish we had spent more time. We're trying to figure out if we should head back to Spain because it's such an incredible and fascinating country with so much great food. Patrick and I were at the Cannes market the other day and he saw jamon iberico and it was almost twice the price of what we saw in Madrid and didn't look nearly as good, either.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 14:35
I want some of that crackling Peking duck right about now! Lovely photos.
10/04/2011 11:26
Patrick, too! He said it was the best duck he's ever had.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/01/2011 18:32
Food porn is how I'd describe your mouthwatering photos. And now I'm starving.
10/04/2011 11:20
Thanks Leigh!
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 06:18
This may be the best food porn I've ever seen. I WANT IT ALL!!! Thanks for sharing. :-)
10/04/2011 11:11
Thanks Kate!
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 06:28
Amazing pictures! Your Okonomiyaki pictures are really making me miss Japanese food. yumm....
Heather's recent blog post: Big things?
10/04/2011 11:07
Thanks! We miss okonomiyaki too - I wish we could find a great place to eat it in the U.S. or elsewhere in the world.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 17:13
Some delicious foodie moments! Like you, food is such a big part of our travels too, we like to reflect on our mouthwatering memories every now and again. Food is such a wonderful way into a culture and connecting with people, isn't it?
10/03/2011 12:28
Lara, Absolutely! I think it's the best way to connect with the locals because when they see you eating what they eat, they can't help but talk and share with you.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 17:51
Beautiful food photos! Looks like you've been eating well for the past 2 years :)
10/03/2011 12:27
Leslie, We have (as our stomachs will definitely attest)! It's been especially bad here in France because everything is so rich and buttery, too.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 18:13
A wonderful tour of tastes! Love the variety and the photos. Food is such an amazing way to soak in culture and what a gift to be able to enjoy and share everything from the freshest sushi to local spices, 5 star cuisine to Southern American specialties and a simple bag of chips and coke (if messy:-).
SAM's recent blog post: A Surreal Adventure Nearby
10/03/2011 12:25
Thank you so much SAM! Food is the great uniter and the best way we know to immerse ourselves into a culture.
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/02/2011 19:26
I just ate and now I'm hungry AGAIN
Gerard ~ GQ trippin's recent blog post: traveling couples’ {digital} dinner party
10/03/2011 12:22
Ahhh . . . then my work is done here!
Akila's recent blog post: the taste of two years
10/04/2011 18:07
You should have put a warning on top of this post not to read it if you're hungry ;-) I am starving now and can't decide what to have - tex-mex? Pizza? Sushi? And why did we not go to the French Broad Chocolate Lounge when we were in Asheville??
Globetrottergirls's recent blog post: 33 Things We Love About Lisbon
10/13/2011 09:18
After sipping chocolate in Spain, France, and Italy for the last month, we still think the French Broad Chocolate Lounge is the best in the world. It is definitely worth the trip.
Patrick's recent blog post: dining on the queen mary 2
10/13/2011 09:01
some nice food i like the sushi rolls
10/25/2011 13:55
Not FAIR!! I should not have read this post on an empty stomach... you have me flinging open cupboard doors peering longingly at condiments...
Joshywashington's recent blog post: Wander through Mauis bamboo forests
01/17/2012 17:03
I am so jealous of you two. I would love the opportunity to travel the world and take in it's sights, sounds, smells and tastes. It would be a dream come true and one I will not give up on. All I can say is someday.
01/20/2012 10:49
Woody - Yes, someday! It took us a lot of time to achieve the dream but we are cherishing every second of it. Don't give up on your dream either.
01/21/2012 23:01
All of the very tasty photos, the whitebait made my mouth water the most!
01/22/2012 10:13
The whitebait was one of the most interesting things we ate in the last two years! It definitely had a very different texture.
02/01/2012 10:20
Wow. Your photos are beautiful! My stomach is grumbling. I love the blurred chocolate con churros in the background.
02/06/2012 04:44
Thanks Catherine!
02/22/2012 07:08
Oh my god! By seeing these pic I can't control.........Thanks for sharing.
03/23/2012 14:05
If you could eat any of the above right now what would you nosh on?
Joshywashington's recent blog post: Walking across the Brooklyn Bridge
03/27/2012 06:37
Well, this very second, only because I'm hungry for lunch, I could seriously go for some Japanese okonomiyaki! How about you?
Akila's recent blog post: the undefeated dolac market
04/17/2012 07:34
This really isn't the post to look at just before lunch! Those sweet kozhakattai look delicious.

I never normally photograph food on my travels. Something I should do more often!

Love the blog, kind regards, Si
Si @thedepartureboard.com's recent blog post: Travel Icon No.16 Sunrise Over Mount Bromo, Java
04/25/2012 14:00
Si, thank you! I obviously love photographing food --- I think it's the best part of photography while traveling (though Patrick will definitely disagree with me.) And thank you for the kind words!
Akila's recent blog post: airing that dirty laundry abroad
05/02/2012 14:50
Your site is gorgeous, I love this post, and though you'll be hearing soon from our outreach coordinator, I'd like to personally invite you to share some of your beautiful local-food pics on our site, Eat Your World (http://eatyourworld.com). Check us out when you can! P.S. How great is Mrs. Wilkes' in Savannah?
05/23/2012 14:29
Thanks so much Laura! And, yes, Mrs. Wilke's: the bomb.
Akila's recent blog post: why take guided tours
05/03/2012 01:01
Ooohh, those photos really made me hungry. I enjoyed reading your food journey because I like anything that is food-related.
05/23/2012 14:11
Thanks Lisa!
Akila's recent blog post: why take guided tours
05/10/2012 06:21
I never thought that will come across such a blog, where all my fav activities are combined altogether and presented in the best possible way, far exceeding even my own perceptions!Akila and Patrick, a big thanks to you for the amazing pictures, which I am going to again take my time and check one by one, because all of the different meals are such an indulgence for my senses!I wish you all the best and am loving your blog!
05/23/2012 08:38
Thanks!
Akila's recent blog post: why take guided tours
06/04/2012 04:39
What a yummy foods pics makes me to have it, Awesome pictures, great places
07/07/2012 12:43
Thanks!
09/01/2012 05:25
really great blog here and my mouth going to be watering for see this delecious food and dishes
12/22/2012 04:30
Fantastic blog design, wonderful photos! I like the way you portray the whole travel through pictures, though i feel a bit writings are more needed. never mind, it is superb blog and will visit you often
01/08/2013 15:08
Thanks! More posts are on the way. :)
01/31/2013 19:45
Oh my god. I'm a total idiot for reading this just before going to bed, because now all I can think about is eating everything that I can get my hands on.

The whitebait looked particularly amazing - I've never seen it served like that. In England it usually comes in batter.

The Korean pizza got me nostalgic for Korea. I used to love how the pizzas there would come with so many sauces on the top, and usually a large amount of sweet potatoes running through the crust.

Anyway, fantastic article guys! Lovely photos, as usual, and you made me insanely hungry - also as usual!
02/08/2013 14:47
Thank you Natalie! I loved the pizzas in Korea, too. I wish they had unusual flavors like that in the U.S. :)
02/04/2013 06:13
Very nice clicks about various type of foods. Jiaozi is my favorite among all these. Mouth watering collection of all varieties from different countries in just one post, Great work.
03/19/2013 01:30
wow this blog is great.. foods from different countries.. i was like slurping from these great and yummy foods. That Okonomiyaki looks good and i would like to try one. Anyway sushi and Kimchi from Korea were great. :P

by the way, this blog is super great.. FOod..food..food
03/29/2013 07:31
interesting blog & Delicious food here i found all the different foods of the world.
04/03/2013 03:29
Wow. Awesome post or should I say yummy post. Hehehe, I really like it. It makes me wanting to come in your next adventure. Btw, nice pictures, its really clear. Keep up the great work!
04/15/2013 17:54
What a fun post. My husband and I have been traveling full-time for 6 years on a sailboat and in an RV, and we've discovered that most of the time when we ask someone how they liked a particular town/village/community, their first response is "There's this little restaurant..." I think one of the top reasons people travel is to sample food from other places!!!
04/18/2013 19:18
Emily, absolutely! It's always the first question that we ask when we're traveling.
06/11/2013 15:44
Love it. These photos are wonderful. I think one of the best parts of traveling is eating!
06/13/2013 16:19
Absolutely - it's our favorite part of traveling.
06/18/2013 08:45
Oh my gosh! I love you blog! Can I eat them all?
06/20/2013 17:18
Thanks!
06/21/2013 03:47
It is my pleasure :). Hope you still have more of these that I can munch! I cannot get enough of this blog especially all foods featured in this post!
06/28/2013 09:39
It is my pleasure darling!
07/13/2013 09:08
Your photos are really delicious to look at. Now I am very much interested to eat all the foods. can you send more photos?
07/16/2013 17:34
Ahhh! Your pictures are driving us crazy! We are headed to Barcelona on Friday and have a reservation at Tickets. Which I'm sure it going to be KILLER, but your pictures of the food in SEA are just beautiful. We can't wait for Thailand and Vietnam.
07/22/2013 14:32
Barcelona is oh so yummy! You'll love it. :) And, thanks for introducing me to your blog - looks like you guys have a great adventure ahead of you.
08/24/2013 09:41
I am really intrigued by these shots. I am now motivated to try something similar. Thanks!
11/09/2013 09:19
These photo's make my mouth water! They look so delicious!
12/04/2013 08:16
Thanks!
12/08/2013 07:36
Drool! Looks delish. Brilliant post and amazing photos. I'm feeling hungry right now!
12/18/2013 11:47
Thanks Carmen!
11/23/2014 05:33
Your photos are ALWAYS stunning! For me traveling is all about the people, the culture and the food. One can understand so much of the history and habits of a country, by tasting and exploring different foods of the world. Great post guys!

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December 2010


china: the low-down
a wrap up
December 8, 2010

November 2010


chinese cuisine
diversity in deliciousness
November 19, 2010

unbelievably beautiful
huang shan mountains
November 15, 2010

crazy politicians
the terracotta army
November 10, 2010

edamame and pea dumplings
November 2, 2010

October 2010


when travel sucks
datong to hohhot
October 29, 2010

jiaozi (chinese dumplings)
October 25, 2010

the great firewall of china
circumventing censorship
October 19, 2010

lost in translation
a bit of chinglish
October 12, 2010

progress hungers
yungang grottoes and datong
October 7, 2010

the aliens have landed
shanghai
October 5, 2010

September 2010


favorite world expo pavilions
surprising beauty
September 07, 2010

August 2010


arts and crafts
in beijing
August 31, 2010

1.3 billion people
and beijing
August 27, 2010

rainbow beijing
colors in a city
August 24, 2010

the locals' route
at the great wall
August 20, 2010

the absurdity of the dmz
in north korea
August 17, 2010

transnational fast food theorem
in south korea
August 13, 2010

south korea in a whirlwind
1 week around
August 10, 2010

japan: the low-down
a wrap up
August 6, 2010

turning japanese
at the end
August 2, 2010

July 2010


japanese desserts
sweet and squishy
July 30, 2010

is a japan rail pass worth it?
transportation on a budget
July 28, 2010

paper cranes and peace
hiroshima
July 23, 2010

splurge japanese cuisine
so worth it
July 20, 2010

buddha deer
nara
July 18, 2010

hot tub monkey machine
nagano
July 15, 2010

budget japanese cuisine
many ways to eat
July 8, 2010

12 hours in nikko
day trippin'
July 1, 2010

June 2010


kyoto for free
japan on a budget
June 22, 2010

kyoto in photos
streets and gardens
June 15, 2010

powered by tofu
in kyoto
June 11, 2010

rainy days
in tokyo
June 8, 2010

that alternate universe
tokyo
June 5, 2010

May 2010


cambodia: the low-down
a wrap up
May 24, 2010

4 countries, 40 hours
the journey back
May 18, 2010

vegetable summer rolls
May 6, 2010

April 2010


on the bamboo train
in battambang
April 26, 2010

unexceptional wonder
kompong chhnang
April 20, 2010

silky stylings
artisans d'angkor
April 16, 2010

how to avoid temple fatigue
in 5 easy steps
April 14, 2010

the color of resiliency
the people of Cambodia
April 9, 2010

March 2010


art of man, power of nature
at angkor
March 31, 2010

the currency of kindness
at angkor
March 26, 2010

thailand: the low-down
a wrap up
March 23, 2010

the scuba saga
koh tao
March 15, 2010

just another city
bangkok
March 9, 2010

how to not be a stupid tourist in thailand
March 4, 2010

February 2010


the importance of doing nothing
in mae sot
February 24, 2010

sukhothai in sepia
filtered ruins
February 19, 2010

lovely lampang
undiscovered charm
February 16, 2010

trained by elephants
at patara elephant farm
February 12, 2010

elephant beauty
at patara elephant farm
February 4, 2010

January 2010


thai feast
asia scenic cooking class
January 29, 2010

unexpected funeral
at wat chedi luang
January 26, 2010

pongal
at mahabalipuram
January 22, 2010

kozhakattai (sweet coconut dumplings)
January 18, 2010

the low-down
a wrap up
January 11, 2010

June 2009


florence
ready to go
June 9, 2009