Monthly Archives: July 2011

Argentina

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Argentina with Francesca, AIDE Abroad’s Executive Director

Facturas can be found on every street corner with tempting window sight of panaderia, a bakery

Facturas can be found on almost every street corner with tempting panaderia (bakery) windows displaying a vast selection

Before I studied abroad in Argentina, I anticipated consuming lots of steak and wine, two items for which the country is world renowned. I even knew about alfajores, a traditional dulce de leche sandwich cookie confection, but thought they were a bit sweet. I never imagined I would be torn between French and Argentine pastries!

It wasn’t long after I arrived, when my group made the 24-hour bus trip from Buenos Aires to San Martin de los Andes in Patagonia, that I came to discover the medialuna. After being cramped in a bus for most of the previous day and overnight, we stopped for an early breakfast in the foothills of the Andes. Breakfast was simple: strong, steaming coffee served in metal pots, and heavenly half-moon shaped pastries known as “medialunas”. They were fresh, still warm, and light. I wondered, out loud, how many people eat.  One? It didn’t seem enough. Two? Was that too many? My Resident Director knew!  “Most people eat one,” he told me, “but “los gordos” eat two.”  Despite the warning, I soon ate two, and spent the rest of my time in Argentina sampling a wide range of medialunas and other facturas. Who knew a country so famous for its beef and wine could also compete with their divine pastries?

I have managed to find spots in the US that specialize in facturas argentinas. When lived in Miami, I frequented the Buenos Aires Bakery and Café, and here in Austin the Buenos Aires Café also offers a selection of facturas that can cure any cravings.

Factura Selection

Factura selection

Factura is the generic name given to a delicious collection of Argentinean sweet pastries. Some of these facturas are of European origin. Facturas come in different shapes and with a wide variety of fillings.

Facturas are generally eaten for breakfast, or as an afternoon snack between 17:00 and 20:00, but are not considered a dessert.

The most common factura is the medialuna, which literally translates as “half-moon”

The most common factura is the medialuna, which literally translates as “half-moon”

Indonesia

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Indonesian grilled fish with Butet, AIDE Abroad Summer Intern

My home country is a huge archipelago where ocean is the dominant space.  The length of Indonesia from East to West is almost the same length with United States. Indonesia is one of the countries listed by marine biologists, as part of the Golden Triangle of marine biology.  This triangle is the richest area in the world in marine biodiversity and is located from the Philippines down to Indonesia and across to Papua New Guinea. Needless to say, fresh tropical seafood is one of delicacies you can find in Indonesia among the broad range of traditional foods rich with spices.

Grilled fresh red snapper and grouper is my favorite meal, they are even tasty without any seasoning, when fresh. After finishing my morning jog on the beach, I would stop by to purchase some fresh seafood from the fishermen who just returned early in the morning. They offered a broad array of choices such as fish, squid, lobster, clams, prawn, and even sting rays. In the afternoon, after my diving trip, I would also find them just returning from the ocean with more fresh fish just in time for dinner in front of the sunset.

Indonesian little fisherman

Indonesian little fisherman

Get tan after snorkeling while waiting for your fresh fish to be grilled

This fresh coconut drink is a perfect match with grilled fish while you enjoy the warm white sand beach.

Just point at which one you like, head back to your seat, grab a beer, and the grilled seafood will be ready before your beer gets warm

Just point at which one you like, grab a beer, head back to your seat to enjoy the sunset, and the grilled seafood will be ready before your beer gets warm.

Chili paste and fresh vegetable is always served on the table with grilled fish

Chili paste and fresh vegetables are always served on the table with grilled fish.

Morroco

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Morocco with Natalie, AIDE Abroad Program Manager

Tajines, Marrakesh, Morocco

Tajines in Marrakesh, Morocco

Morocco is full of culture and colors that will peak your senses for days, if not weeks! After arriving, the adventure began. We wound our way through the medinas, we bathed in the warm hammams and we discovered the colorful tanneries! I was pleasantly surprised by the country’s green tea and couldn’t get enough. All too quickly, I learned women aren’t allowed to drink tea in the cafes out on the street! But that didn’t stop us. The most enticing part of Morocco is its rich curries, freshly ground spices and tajines full of stewed meats and veggies.

These photos are just a glimpse of what Morocco has to offer!

Natalie

Homemade Moroccan Meal

Homemade Moroccan Meal

Tajines in Moroccan cuisine are slow-cooked stews braised at low temperatures which result in tender meat with aromatic vegetables and sauce

Spices, Marrakesh, Morocco

Spices in Marrakesh, Morocco

Seasonings can be traditional Moroccan spices, French, Italian or suited to the dish. Traditional spices that are used to flavor tajines include ground cinnamon, saffron, ginger, turmeric, cumin, paprika, pepper, as well as the famous Arabian spice blend Ras el hanout.

Veggies on the Street in Fez, Morocco

Veggies on the Street in Fez, Morocco


Budapest

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Budapest with Buffy, AIDE Abroad Program Manager

Buffy and meat stew at Hungarian Palinka festival Buda Castle, Budapest

Buffy and meat stew at the Hungarian Palinka Festival - Buda Castle, Budapest

In my first months in Budapest, I had to attend the Palinka and Sausage Festival located around the famous Buda Castle.   Palinka is an exceptionally strong fruit brandy that comes in many flavors.   However, no matter what the flavor, you are sure to make a face like you just took a shot of straight tequila!  Beware not to have more than two!  Sausage and cured meats are a staple in Hungarian cuisine and by the taste of them, you can tell they’ve been curing and stuffing for decades!  The meat melts in your mouth and has just the right amount of salt and Hungarian kick!  I have to admit that I did not brave the stew as I was certain there were parts of an animal in there that I was not ready to taste  Next time!

Sausage and Palinkas (fruit brandy) of Hungarian exceptional recipes

Hungarian sausage, meats and veggies

more information about festival is here

sausages and their centuries’ old traditions and exceptional recipes

Cured meats are dried on the premises

The Palinka & Sausage Festival at Buda Castle  takes place in October and featured Hungarian Palinkas (fruit brandy) and traditional sausages

the centuries’ old gastronomic Hungarian traditions

Century old gastronomic Hungarian traditions