Category Archives: Traditional food

Beans meet Rice in Costa Rica


Volunteer Costa Rica with Inga Hajdarowicz

No one who has ever visited Costa Rica is likely to forget gallo pinto, and those who have not visited rarely understand how people can be so enamored of rice and beans. Needless to say, the picture of this traditional dish comes first to AIDE Abroad’s desk from Inga Hajdarowicz who is happy to share her culinary experience while doing her Volunteer Costa Rica program with AIDE Abroad.

Gallo-pinto Costa Rica

Traditional Costa Rican meal, Gallo Pinto. Though many variations exist, the dish at its most basic is composed of pre-cooked rice and beans fried together.

When the beans and rice are combined, the rice gets colored by the beans, and the mix results in a multi-colored, or speckled appearance. Gallo pinto means “spotted rooster”, thus the name fits with the colored rice. The host serves it hoping that those eating it will be fooled into believing it contains chicken, the lack of which is disguised by the texture and speckled appearance of the bean and rice mixture.

Casem team Costa Rica

Inga and her team in Costa Rica!

Interested in going to Costa Rica during your Winter Break – read more.


Australian Delicacies


Grub hunting with Cassie Byard

Aboriginal Australians, who live in remote areas inland, eat food that is easily available in the bush. They do not raise cattle and do not cultivate the land, but they have a strong knowledge of the environment and how to benefit from it.

Grub hunting

In the past, the wichetty grubs formed an important insect food in the diet of Aboriginal Australians living in the desert.

Grub hunting

Shovel in hands, ready for grub hunting.

the roots of the witchetty bush

The witchetty grub is a term used in Australia for the large, white, wood-eating larvae of the cossid moth, which feeds on the roots of the witchetty bush (named after the grubs) that is found in central Australia.

Cooking Grub

Edible either raw or lightly cooked in hot ashes, they are sought out as a high-protein food by indigenous Australians.

witchetty grub

The grub looks like a white large worm.

witchetty grub

The raw witchetty grub tastes like almonds and when cooked, the skin becomes crisp like roasted chicken, while the inside becomes light yellow, like a fried egg.



Drinks in Chile with Nery, Executive Assistant

Nery with Pisco Sours

Nery ready to taste Pisco Sours

Chilean wine is one of the most exquisite in the world. During my visit in La Serena, we had a late dinner business meeting at one of the local restaurants where their specialty is steak and wine. The Coquimbo region is well known for the production of Pisco and table grapes.  So tasting wine seemed like a must-do that night. The local restaurant offered varieties of Chardonnay, Carbernet Franc, Carbernet Sauvignon and Merlot. That night, I tasted different Merlots and accompanied them with fresh Marraquetas (fresh bread), butter and mouthwatering short ribs.

Wine tasting in Chile

Wine tasting in Chile

Pisco Sour was another drink that we tasted the night before we left La Serena. This sweet-tart, cold, and refreshing national cocktail of Peru, is consumed in Chile as well. Made of pisco, lemon juice and sweetener, this sour formula makes every occasion more enjoyable.

Pisco Sours, Chile

Pisco sours, a popular Chile beverage

The meal we had that night at Mario’s Restaurant, a small, local place located a few steps from the beach, consisted of choritos (mussels) in green sauce, oysters, gambas (shrimp), machas (razor clams), scoop of flaked crab, locos (abalone), and rice. Wow! As I type this, my stomach is growling for this appetizing sea-food and my mind reminiscing a memorable night at La Serena.

Food and Wine, Chile

Fresh seafood paired with Chilean wine

Chilean Cafe

Chilean Coffee

We hiked up to the Cerro de la Virgen, just north of Santiago. The view offers vast panoramas of the entire Elqui Valley and the city of Santiago. However, it’s hot up there and a refreshing drink is always needed. So we tasted this traditional drink named Mote con Huesillo (husked wheat with peaches). Though its appearance may not be the best, it is sweet and refreshing. Just perfect for a Sunday afternoon at the mountain enjoying the nice view of the Chilean capital.

Mote en Chile

Refreshing traditional drink, Mote con Huesillo

Hong Kong


Eating Our Way Through Hong Kong with Kim Hulse, AAG Senior Account Manager

Street-side eateries at the Temple Street Night Market

After wandering around for hours at this must-see market, allow yourself to get shown to a table at one of these tiny, outdoor restaurants. We grubbed on some delicious flat noodles and bok choy (Chinese cabbage) in oyster sauce.  We washed it down with Tsing Tsao beers all for under $7 US.  The group of guys next to us had the chili crabs and they looked phenomenal as well.  I knew we should have went for the crab!

scarfing noodles at night market

Scarfing noodles at night market.

Freshest Seafood at Tung Po

This place was the REAL Hong Kong.  A huge, super loud, packed room filled with plastic tables and chairs, water tanks galore with endless amounts of live creatures, and bowls of beer on every table.  That’s right, bowls, not glasses.  It was so great to see tons of locals gathered around gigantic tables playing dice or drinking games and laughing up a storm. Since this was one of June and Alex’s favorite places in the world for seafood, we let them order.  Soon our table was filled with black bean and chili clams, garlic shrimp and crab, eggplant casserole, and the best chicken that we have ever had, complete with crispy skin.  And we never eat the skin….but oh lord, was it good!

garlic crab, eggplant Casserole, and Bean chilli clams

Garlic crab, eggplant casserole, and bean chilli clams

crispy chicken with garlic

Crispy chicken with garlic...the skin was the best!

curry crab

Curry crab.

Shanghainese in Central

Again, thanks to our lovely host Doug, we were taken to another dining gem,  a great place in the Soho district of Central on Hong Kong Island.  We went to meet up with another one of Doug’s friends from high school, Kathy and nestled into our quaint little booth and started off with glass noodles and sliced pork.  We then had some steamy spring rolls and pork dumplings with liquified pork fat.  You have to bite off the top of the dumpling, let it cool, and then suck out the fat and then toss the dumpling in your mouth.  It sounds gross, but it was heaven.  I promise.  We then cried our eyes out as we inhaled a fantastic tofu dish in red sauce.  So painful, but so worth it.

pork fat dumplings

Pork fat dumplings.

So as you can see, Hong Kong totally lived up to our expectations.  We are so glad we stopped of here and were taken such good care of.  Thanks again June, Doug and Joseph!!

Traditional Japanese Food


Traditional Japanese Food with Dorothy, Senior Project and AR Accountant at AAG

I’m a big fan of Japanese food. You can enjoy it at any time.

My favorite famous Japanese foods are sushi and sashimi. You can eat it with wasabi (green mustard), soy sauce, and sweet pickled ginger. It’s typical and traditional Japanese food. I eat these delicacy for lunch and dinner.


Fresh raw fish and shrimp sashimi

Sashimi consists of very fresh raw meat, most commonly fish, sliced into thin pieces. Sashimi often is the first course in a formal Japanese meal, but it can also be the main course, presented with rice and miso soups in separate bowls.


Sushi is made of rice and fish/vegetables

Sushi consists of cooked, vinegared, white, short grained Japanese rice (shari) combined with other ingredients (neta). Neta and forms of sushi presentation are vary, but the ingredient which all sushi have in common is shari. The most common neta is seafood.

Most important for safe eating, the fish must be frozen at very low temperature that can help to kill most of bacteria. Generally you have to find special store for Sashimi since they have the ability to keep fish safe enough to eat.



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”