Behind the scenes in a Georgian bakery

You don’t need to understand Georgian to experience the atmosphere in this short film called ‘The Baker’. I love the way it starts behind the scenes, finally moving outside to the street to see the bakery from the customer’s perspective.


September 7, 2012 Comments disabled

Picture Postcards: Refrigerators around the world- Japan

Our fridge
Happy Monday to you all! What will you be eating from your fridge this week? This month we are sneaking a peek into people’s fridges in different countries. This one is actually my fridge when I lived in Japan. Because I was a New Zealand expat there, my fridge was full of both Eastern and Western ingredients. What’s in your fridge?

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Kendo in Japan
Mike in Okinawa
Marie in New Zealand

July 1, 2012 Comments disabled

Are some cultures more kid-friendly than others?

Out for Lao food in Sydney. Pic: Liz Ledden.

Out for Lao food in Sydney. Pic: Liz Ledden.

As someone who likes to eat and drink out – a lot – it was inevitable that when kids came along they’d be joining in the fun.  Baby number one soon got to know Bangkok’s assorted eating spots, albeit while mostly asleep, and as a toddler ran amok in Saigon’s restaurants. Well-meaning staff would pull her back from the edge of enticing turtle ponds and others knew her by name and even her regular order. Staff were super friendly to the kids and we felt welcome everywhere, from cheap and cheerful local restaurants to higher end places, and even cool cocktail bars (at family o’clock I mean!).

Now living in Australia, cafes and restaurants are still on the agenda for both our girls, but time and experience has shaped where we take them, and when. The anything goes mentality of much of Southeast Asia does not always apply in Australia – while some places are decidedly kid-friendly with toys, chalkboards and babyccinos on tap, others seem not so enamoured of small people. Reluctant service, withering looks and ‘too cool for school’ attitudes are the hallmarks of the un-family friendly places we’ve encountered, though thankfully, rarely. While I realise certain places at certain times are off limits (and I sometimes enjoy these too, kid-free), I’m talking cafes (in the day, in suburbs full of kids) that should know better.

We most often head to Asian eateries, as we know the kids will always be welcome. Noisy, crowded yum cha restaurants are always a winner, but it’s small, friendly, family-run Vietnamese and Thai places that always seem to accept the kids with open arms. Italian, Lebanese and other Middle Eastern places have also been really accommodating, which makes me wonder, why are these places so kid-friendly and others, not so much? Is it that in some cultures, there is more importance placed on extended family, and a tendency to include kids in social events? Has something been lost along the way in some Western cultures when it comes to tolerating kids in public places?

I don’t know the answer to this, but I do know I’ll continue to take my kids out and about to experience different tastes, cuisines and cultures, and gravitate to the places I know they’ll be happily accepted.


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5 interesting facts about Australia

A taste of the Middle East in Sydney’s Lakemba

Games for children around the world

June 22, 2012 6 comments

The good, the bad and the ugali

Sitting at Malawi’s Kamuzu international airport in this year’s already singeing summer has me bored, constipated and wishing I was somewhere else. I’ve been dropped off an hour and half early and am finding it difficult to breathe. This has nothing to do with my premature arrival, but with a rather wild weekend in Nairobi a few days prior that will remain a story for another day. I’m on my way back home though, which is good.

The reason I’ve whipped my laptop out is really a mixture of envy, nostalgia and arrogance.

I’ve just been watching someone whom I think to be a Malawian on his way out of his country for the very first time.

Photo credit


May 7, 2012 1 comment

Tortas fritas

Tortas fritas are a traditional Argentinean treat and are usually served with mate. It doesn’t get any more Argentinean than that.

Tortas fritas from Argentina

The next time you feel under the weather or you need some comfort food on a gray, chilly day, grab this recipe and bring in some sunshine in the form of crispy, golden disks.


1 kilo flour

4 tablespoons lard

1 teaspoon salt

½ cup cold water


Sift the flour and place on a working surface, making a well in the centre. Add the lard, water and salt. Knead well until smooth. Roll the dough into a ball, cover with a tea towel and let sit for half an hour. Divide the dough into small, egg-sized balls, flatten with your hands, prick with a fork and make a hole in the centre. Deep fry in piping hot shortening until golden. Remove from the pan, place on paper kitchen towels to remove excess fat and sprinkle liberally with sugar. Serve warm.


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Argentinean custom: facturas

Some desserts of Argentina

Cafe culture in Buenos Aires

April 27, 2012 1 comment

Argentinean customs: facturas

We have a sweet tooth and try to indulge every chance we get, especially at weekends. A widespread Sunday morning ritual entails going out to get the paper (if it’s not delivered to your house) and then going to the panaderia to get some facturas for your mateor coffee.

Lots of masas secas in this panaderia

Most panaderias, or bakeries, make different kinds of bread, cakes, masa secas (butter cookies) and facturas. Those delicious pastries are distant cousins to the Danish pastries. There are many different types; some are baked and some are deep-fried, like the donas and bolas de fraile, and are sold by the dozen.

Facturas are filled with dulce de leche, crema pastelera (custard), dulce de membrillo (quince paste) and sometimes apple. Each type has its own name. So we have cañoncitos, which look like the barrel of a canon and are usually filled with dulce de leche. Or libritos, made with puff pastry and whose layers look like the pages of a book. The tortitas negras are little cakes covered in brown sugar. I adore churros with crema pastelera.

A tray of facturas

The origins of some types of facturas can be traced to the foods introduced by immigrants and which evolved into our facturas. For example, the Spaniards introduced churros and the French, the mil le-feuille, which we call milhojas and fill mainly with dulce de leche. Our bolas de fraile derive from the German Berliner Pfannkuchen (I think that’s why some people call them berlinesas).

When I was a child, I would only eat facturas with dulce de leche. But as I grew up, I began to enjoy the other types of pastries. Now, every time I go back to Argentina, I pay a visit to my parents’ local bakery to indulge in this sweet treat.


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Argentinean customs: have your soda water delivered to your door

Argentinean customs: car for sale

Cafe culture in Buenos Aires


April 11, 2012 7 comments