Friday, July 24, 2015

Life Experiences: Top 5 Travel Eats

Hi everyone!

Today, I'm finally getting around to a series on Life Experiences, to which I've been really looking forward to. It's actually the stuff that motivates me more than even business, marketing strategy, and consulting... which says something!!

I've been blessed in life to have experienced quite an interesting mix of things in life so far. From surfing, travels to Asia, Africa... snowboarding in Canada -- to helping out at a distant orphanage Mexico. I've had a round about journey in finding my martial arts identity. Also, I was once an avid surf angler (fishing) and obviously still a devoted foodie and theme park junkie.

To all this, I'm sharing because I want to be a positive reminder; that life isn't about things. Life is about experiences. At the end of it all, rarely do you hear about people who regret having accumulated things. You hear them regret having failed to experience more life.

So, today! I'm opening up this Life Experience series with..........!!!!

Top 5 Travel Eats

1. Chai. Now, "chai" is very closely related linguistically to the Asian languages in its pronounciation of "tea" as "cha." Most places don't call chai, "chai tea." That's a bit like saying "tea tea." It's just chai. When I was traveling in Africa, one morning I was tired out of my mind. The traveling conditions we were under weren't exactly amenable. We got a bit dehydrated and had a little bit of caloric deficit to the point where you forgot you were hungry and forgot you were thirsty. You actually had to be reminded to eat and drink. Well, this morning, I was introduced to the way tea was made in Africa. Suffice to say: MIND-BLOWN. Chai is interesting here in the US. However, over there, it had more flavor, more character, and strangely more class despite the ghettoness of it all. I have a suspicion it was made with whole milk, fresh milk, or even cream. Served out of thermos like container into busted up porcelain cups, after several days of hard travel it was like nectar from heaven. I'd love to experience that again.... minus the travel that came with it.

2. Ugali. Yet another experience from my trip to Africa. In Tanzania, ugali is a common food stuff of the land. On our last night in the land, we found one of the few places that was open. That was a task in and of itself. Getting there safely was another concern. Nevertheless, this place was open to weary travelers where we were served stewed meat, canned veggies, ugali, and something else I can't quite remember... all on a metal mess tray. Actually, the meal kind of looked like this:
In any case, it was absolutely delicious. Being how tired I was and that I still wasn't used to having that much food in me, I had to eat this slowly to avoid over stuffing and feeling ill. Traditionally, ugali is eaten by hand and I stuffed my face in as controlled a way as I could.

3. Vegas pizza. I don't even remember where this pizza joint is. All I remember is that we were starved. My wife and I eventually decided to take a Vegas trip. Sure enough, all things went to crazy and we got in super late, starved, and with no food options. It wasn't until we got into our hotel room that we saw a local joint delivered. We ordered the biggest pizza they could muster. And, as was customary practice for a young couple counting every penny, we made that pizza last something like 2 or 3 days worth of breakfast. Gross... haha, but ultimately truly memorable. I'm pretty sure I remember barely having enough cash to tip the poor guy who delivered it out at like 330am. Sorry... I *do* remember tipping you more the next day we ordered pizza for dinner. Thanks for your patience.

4. Stinky Tofu. I've traveled to Taiwan a good handful of times throughout my life. One of the consistent cuisines which I always try to get to is Stinky Tofu. Stinky Tofu... well, it stinks. It is fermented (hence the smell), then typically deep fried into lovely goodness which has a texture someplace between potato chips and ... something else. Typically served with a side of pickled veggies and some house sauce, it remains one of my favorite travel comfort foods when going to night markets in Taiwan.

5. Triple Play Reuben. I first learned of this on TV with Man vs Food. Available only at the Maize & Blue Deli.... Go Blue! This is the killer of all Reuben sandwiches. In my most recent trip back to Michigan, I was able to experience several things (finally!). First, a Michigan game where, several years back, we creamed SDSU. Good game. It was a little weird being from San Diego though... awkward being that I'm from Michigan, got my MBA from Michigan... people thought I was there to sell my soul to SDSU. Well, in any case, I had to be sure to try this place out. Being that I've only heard amazing things of the deli and saw it on TV... there was a certain assurance that the experience would be as good as it looked. AND, it certainly was. One half of that Triple Play would've been enough to feed a starving teenager. Both, basically would put anyone into a 2 day food coma. Suffice to say, I enjoyed it thoroughly... that along with football sized deli pickles which are hard to come back in Southern California. Yum!


So, that's it for now! Keep your eyes peeled for more Top 5 Life Experiences as I hope to post at least another 4 or 5 episodes in the near future.

Take care!
-Ben

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