The Musings of a World-Traveling Epicurean

September 29, 2009
I was born into a family well-versed in the joys of gourmet dining. Oh sure, I enjoy a bag of Doritos or a stack of Club crackers as much as the next person, and I never say no to Kit-Kats (who can resist?), but my travels around the globe have taught me – to my everlasting happiness – the simple joys of international food. A self-described “foodie” from birth, my travels have taught me to never forget to bring a paperback into airports, to not be brash and too overtly “American” in public, and – some might argue most notably -- to bring a healthy appetite along when traveling anywhere.

As a growing child, my mom not only encouraged me to drink absurd quantities of milk and eat an inordinate amount of green items like broccoli, but introduced me to the tastiness of Korean food when I was living there at the impressionable age of five. Wandering down the winding maze of streets clutching my mother’s hands, rowdy street vendors beguiled me with their ceaseless variety of foods. Freshly prepared gimbap- a veritable rainbow of bright vegetables and rice encased in seaweed – set my mouth salivating as never before. The sizzling aroma of frying mandu wafted languidly towards my nostrils in a way that American chicken tenders never seemed to do.

In Germany, I consumed massive bratwursts with an intenseness that belied my young age and small stature. In Paris, my love affair with croissants was kindled (as was my adamant resolution never to sample frog legs again.) In Poland, I became the bane of bakeries everywhere as I discovered the creaminess of kisiel and chustry. In Japan, much to my chagrin, I learned that leaving chopsticks sticking out of my rice was never acceptable, but soon got over my mortification with the discovery of the delectable tempura. Savory goulash was a dish from which I ate heartily like a Hungarian native, and my attempt to dine daintily on scones and clotted cream in England was met with great enthusiasm on my part. My experiences were not solely limited to other countries, either. I dined at the Der Fondue Chessel in Colorado, became an avid devotee California-style sushi, and sipped steaming green tea made from the very own hands of my grandmother. Trying these astounding varieties of food helped satiate my hunger, not only for food, but for my vague desire to make something grand out of life, as each new food item brought with it a reverberating lesson learned or a fresh memory to be tucked into the pockets of my mind.

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