hands down, exploring the street markets of Yangon still to this day sparks joy inside of me. I remember being overwhelmed by the pungency, colours and the variety in vegetables I've never even seen before! Shamelessly fascinated by the new found ingredients, locals gleamed with pride and welcomed my curiosity.
Was that a fruit? Surely its a root vegetable? Man.. this smells funky, and this one is quite sour! damn, that lady is fully going at it with the knife. I like her.
'sister! mingalaba! try it! good!' There's a certain joy everyone feels when we receive food, yes. but... when it's from people teeming with excitement and vibrance just from the five initial seconds of interest you've handed over to them? It's like you heard me, saw me and felt me, and I felt so visible to the unknown.
Rio De Janeiro
I spent a whole summer in Brazil , in a boho neighbourhood by the name of Santa Teresa (Rio) as my home base.. which was a solid 1-2 hour bus ride to the school I was teaching at. (yes.. an hour leeway, because the word 'schedule' isn't really a thing thats dealt with by locals in Rio)
so many memories and experiences explode in my mind as I think of all the things I learnt while living here. The easygoing and warm way of life that many brazillians hold, how easy it is to get drunk from cachaça when its hot and all you've eaten that day was mangoes, how sweating your bodyweight will usually lead to really clear and glowing skin, how to walk in Centro with a 'woman on a mission, do not even try' mentality, but most of all - how to celebrate life even if things aren't going in the direction you want it to. Because after all, nothing is forever, so you might as well stop worrying and dance your heart out to the pounding samba drums with a drink in one hand, and with a questionable street food in the other.
Oh, Morocco. you stole my heart but also gave it anxiety getting me lost in medinas and having to deal with harassment and the fools who tried to hustle me (a pity, because they didn't know I was a student traveller, as frugal as they come!). you stole it with your natural beauty, with the inspirational progressive movements made by women I personally saw in Chefchaoeun, Fes and Marrakech. BUT your way of selfless hospitality and your way with spices? those are the things that left me falling hard. alleys drenched in smells of cumin & ras el hanout. dishes laced in a mystical earthiness I cannot describe but can still feel.
Annapurna Base Camp
i want to apologize to all the women i have called pretty before i've called them intelligent or brave. i am sorry i made it sound as though something as simple as what you're born with is the most you have to be proud of when your spirit has crushed mountains from now on i will say things like, you are resilient or, you are extraordinary not because i don't think you're pretty. but because you are so much more than that
- rupi kaur
I spent a whole month in Turkey. From charming Istanbul, then to the mystical black sea villages, couch surfing in Goreme, meeting the most free spirited beings in coastal Antalya, visiting ancient cites sites like Ephesus (will gladly be that nerdy traveller who reads all the boards and talks to you about it over drinks later that night) to the casual flirtation with the streets of Izmir.
Sites, scenery, people aside, Turkey will always be the place where I overdosed on tomatoes, cucumbers, fresh bread and yoghurt. 'oh, these aren't great tomatoes, you'll know a real tomato as soon as you eat it Crish.' - a friend in Melbourne once told me (and I automatically stamped him 'you are so typical Melbourne, it's a little annoying at times) But with 40 odd Turkish breakfasts under the Mediterranean sun, I have come to the conclusion that yes, there are 'tomatoes...' and 'tomatoes!'
True beauty happens when realising Turkish cuisine takes dedicated value in seasonality and local produce. Many locals will have a favourite bakery, butcher, vegetable/fruit grandpa (I sure did!), and deli. It was their way of life, and it was quite beautiful watching butchers and mothers talk with such fondness, genuine connection and warmth.
I learnt so much about food and hospitality in Turkey. So much so, that I think theres a little piece of my memory in every lunch I make. It's usually the final dusting of zesty sumac, the addition of tomatoes and cucumbers in everything, or wanting to be that Turkish aunt that just wants you to come to her house and feed you endlessly.
oh! I've completely forgotten to add... dear every kebab man in every dodgy looking alleyway, your kofte was always so amazing, I drive myself mad trying to recreate it at home.
I'm not sure why I gave Barcelona a whole gallery without highlighting my other travels in Spain (with Southern Spain being my upmost favourite). But I suppose I've never been to a city quite like Barcelona. A place with grid like housing, where unions squares are appropriately placed to encourage socialising in the community. Street art flourishing like daises; some political, some humorous, some confusing - something for everyone! And the local markets, my personal favourite being in the Bo-Ho neighbourhood of Gracia, where every morning I went to this quite passionate man who sold olives and loved to make different tapas dishes every. single. day. without losing an inch of enthusiasm. I guess it's easy to envy Barcelona - beautiful architecture, sunlight till 9.30pm in the summers, vibrant food with proud producers, unforgettable works of art.... 'it's like she has the whole package'!
I remember when I came back from Brazil, not only did my obsession for Portuguese come up to surface... but quite possibly, all things Portuguese, including Portugal. Nights were spent looking up Brazillian and Portuguese recipes. Spotify searches where all to do with samba, fado, latin jazz. I. was. hooked. So much so, that the next travels I planned had Portugal written all over it, and glady, it became my favourite european country. Portugal is everything and more you could expect and I had my favourite experiences of travel, food, culture and warm hospitality throughout travelling through this quite humble country! It's moorish influences are still intact, as you can seen in some of the tile work around Lisbon and Porto, but also through some aspects of their food. And if I could ever even forget 'pasteis de nata'... warm eggy custard in the most flakiest pastry I have ever ate (I 10/10 understand why the monks kept the recipe a secret!), that Portuguese treat alone will keep my love affair for all things Portuguese for years to come.
Palmara palms, technicolour temples, endless coastlines, abandoned houses left roofless from the 25 year war, a bloodline in agriculture and traditions that have lived lifetimes. Sri Lanka, you are more than just, 'an island'. So diverse in culture (that's still a rough topic that is in need of spotlighting on the issues minorities face), terrain (never have I been to a place where you can skip to tropical beaches to chilly high altitudes within hours) and food! All my life I have taken for granted where my own history comes from, but I'm glad i've come to a point where it brings me fascination and lust to learn more about this one special island that I now hold close to many things I do.
Patagonia, Argentina: bringing my outside, inside. If life is but a rumour, watch me speculate all that matters. (I can't help it even if I wanted too, noo)