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Hungry Magazine - All Things Tasty
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Feature Archive 'Travel'

04.28.10

Yes, There Really is a Food Mecca There

Travel


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This article was written for a national publication three years ago, but was never published for space reasons. Life got in the way and I never got around to publishing it. The New York Times and Food and Wine have recently show some interest in the region, so I figured it was time to ressurect the piece. Sadly, Tapawingo, the great restaurant referenced in the article has since closed. The winemakers are are still putting out incredible product, including Left Foot Charley wines which wasn’t open yet during my initial visit. The cheesemakers at Black Star Farms are also still first in class.

As far as I could remember, Michigan had always been dubbed a rust belt state by embattled politicians, but growing up in metro-Detroit, I never believed it. Sure, shopworn laborers left their jobs drenched in sweat, with the boom, thud, plodding of pistons and a gnash of gears ringing in their ears, but they did so in shiny Cadillacs or trailed by the guttural purr of Corvette exhaust pipes.

Local prosperity lingered far past damning rhetorical pronouncements, and nowhere was our good fortune more evident than “up north”, what native Michiganders call all land above the city of Flint. If Detroit was the rust belt, than the Northwestern quadrant of the state that includes Leelanau County and greater Traverse City was the natty suspenders that always lifted the spirit of the working class. Childhood summers spent at my father’s friend Walt Schrodt’s rusty red pine cottage near Traverse city provided me plenty of opportunity to witness the spoils of good union jobs: the thunder of power boats on the Grand Traverse Bay, the buzz of snowmobiles ratcheting nimbly through the snow capped pines, and the chattery schuss of skis on local slopes.

But, by the time I graduated from college and applied for local work, I finally realized how tight the rust belt noose was drawn. Jobs, including the perennial well of skilled trade positions, finally dried up. So for me it was on to Chicago, where urban and coastal cultural superiority crept into my consciousness. As I began to see it, New York City had a gleaming LCD soaked Broadway, while Detroit only the gritty racial dividing line of Eight Mile, California a never ending growing season, and Michigan, an interminable killing frost. Something was askew. I needed to get back to my roots, and Traverse City seemed the perfect place to visit for perspective. More »

11.09.08

Jazzed to be Back in New Orleans

Recipes, Travel


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antoines

Katrina was only a category 1 hurricane as it swept over us in Key West, Florida, and yet it was already mighty impressive. We watched for hours as trees flailed in the wind, rain poured down in torrents, and water rose in the streets, all the while listening to the relentless wind howl and pound at the doors and windows.

We lost power early in the storm, but fortunately we had a battery-operated radio, so we could track the storm’s progress. Even after the storm passed, we continued to listen to the news—both to find out what our status was in the keys, but also to find out where the monster was headed. There wasn’t any good place for a storm like this to hit, but we hoped for the best. However, as we listened in horror, we learned that it was heading for populated areas and it was also gaining strength. More »

08.24.08

Crossing Jordan

Travel


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falafel

Jordan was a real surprise. I’d just spent two weeks in Egypt, and, to be honest, I was kind of expecting a poorer version of Egypt—for indeed Jordan does have less income than its North African neighbor. But history has drawn sharp distinctions between the two countries—particularly in their capitals. Cairo has been continuously inhabited for about 5,000 years. Other than a few nomadic Bedouins, Amman was uninhabited for nearly 2,000 years, from after the last Roman legions pulled out until the Circassians (Muslim refugees from the Caucasus) arrived in the 1870s. More »

10.22.07

Weekend in New England

Travel


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For a variety of reasons, I keep finding myself in Boston. I have been there to visit historic sites, to catch a plane to another destination (Icelandair doesn’t fly directly from Chicago to Reykjavík), for business, and more recently, because I now have friends there. More »

07.09.07

Waltzing Australia

Recipes, Travel


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If Americans think about the food of Australia at all, it probably doesn’t go much beyond Paul Hogan’s famous, “We’ll throw another shrimp on the barbie.” Well, they certainly have plenty of shrimp (or prawns as they are more likely to say down there) and even more barbies, but the country and its cuisine go far beyond that. Of course, there are the fabulous people, the fascinating scenery, the weird and wonderful wildlife, the glorious beaches and sophisticated cities—and those are all great reasons to go to Australia. However, I hope to convince that Australia is also a great dining destination. More »

05.04.07

World Markets: A photographic tour

Travel


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One thing all humans have in common is the need to eat. While there are people who are able to meet all their needs on their own land, in most places around the world, particularly when people group together in towns or villages, they rely on markets. Fish, meat, vegetables, fruit, grains, sugar, salt, spices, and more are piled in stalls, spread on blankets, carried in boats or baskets, displayed in rows or crates or bags in markets worldwide, offering both a culinary and a visual feast. Enjoy this photographic tour from Hungry food historian and photographer Cynthia Clampitt.

04.09.07

Finding Newfoundland

Travel


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Most of Newfoundland’s towns and villages have “stages”, similar to these, used to store nets and other fishing gear.

One of the most important aspects of traveling to Newfoundland is to pick the right destination. Fortunately, we did fly into the right city—St. John’s—but met several people during our stay who had booked flights to St. John, which is in New Brunswick. Some of these people had used travel agents, too. They then had to catch a bus then a ferry to reach Newfoundland. So if you plan a trip, make sure you look for that “ ‘s ”. More »

09.17.06

Morocco Rocks

Travel


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morocco olives

In the market in Meknes, olives and preserved lemons are stacked in impressive displays

Granted, I fall in love with almost every place I visit, but Morocco really surpassed expectations. It was gorgeous, ancient, evocative, rich in culture, with friendly people and surprising scenery. I saw everything I expected and even more I didn’t expect. More »

07.10.06

A Market for All Seasons

Travel


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atwater berries

Metro Population of Montreal - 3,635,700

Metro Population of Chicago - 9,391,515

Almost three times as many people are breathing in Chicagoland as are in metropolitan Montreal, and yet Montreal has almost four times as many major public markets? I arrive at this math by considering Chicago’s Green City Market as half a market, since it only operates during the summer, and part of the Fall at the Lincoln Park Zoo, while the Atwater and Jean Talon Markets in Montreal operate year round in permanent facilities. More »

06.28.06

The Last Meal on Earth

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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au pied

Deep fried foie gras.

Deep fried foie gras.

Deep fried foie gras.

Two weeks after eating at in Montreal, this is the phrase that still flutters in the back of my consciousness. I can’t get it out of my head. Yeah, sure they deep fry everything nowadays, Snickers bars, Twinkies, pizza, and tacos, but who the hell is foolhardy enough to deep fry something like fattened duck liver? That’s like deep frying pure fat. More »

06.25.06

Hot Bagels and Polish Jokes

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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bagel

Historically, the Polish have not fared well at the hand of comedians. We rate somewhere above blondes and just below the Irish as a mocked collective. As a first generation Pole, I regularly suffered jokes and challenges to my intellect. I often responded that Copernicus, Chopin, and Marie Curie were Polish, and that any nation that spawned such cultural icons must have something going for it. More »

06.22.06

Smoke This

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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smoked meat

Smoked Meat, aka Viande Fume from Schwartz’s Deli

I’ve spent a lot of time waiting in line for food. Last year it was 3.5 hours for life changing oysters and softshell crab at Uglesich’s in New Orleans, and just last week it was a half hour at Hot Doug’s in Chicago seeking French fries poached in duck fat. More »

06.19.06

I Dream of Poutine

Restaurant Reviews, Travel


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poutine

T-Rex poutine at La Banquise.

America is the land of the obese, the home of McDonald’s, purveyor of deep fried Twinkies, inventor of Buffalo wings, mass consumer of pizza, and yet we still cede our title of supreme imperial culinary hedonism to Canada by not adopting poutine, a cholesterol bomb of French fries topped with cheese curds and gravy. More »

06.06.06

London Calling

Food History, Travel


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london window display

The glories of the English table showcased at Fortnum and Mason.

I wonder sometimes why England has such a bad reputation for food. I’ve been going to England for decades, and I’ve only had one or two mediocre meals, and most of the time I’ve eaten splendidly. Sure, nowadays everyone points to the handful of famous venues that are popping up on “best restaurant lists.” Or people will say, “It’s because of the great ethnic eateries.” Yeah, England has those—big time. When I lived in England as a student, I relied heavily on the ethnic restaurants, though mostly because they were fun and cheap. But even before my university days, I’d already learned to love English food. More »


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