Mid-Summer travels

 View from the train towards NYC from Boston

View from the train towards NYC from Boston

Being a real human being with a real job means I can't be as spur of the moment when it comes to traveling as I was in 2013. And well, that kind of sucks but hey, real life has its benefits. I'm going to continue my if-I-could-go-anywhere and what-inspires-me posts. This one deals with films, immigration, food, wine and something interesting to read. 

A couple of films about life in and then out of the Philippines. A theme I like to stick to is that travel isn't all glossy magazines and lovely hotels. We go to these countries and skim the top. Its good to be reminded that survival in the countries with beautiful beaches is often very tough. The first film is the documentary made by Jose Antonio Vargas who wrote a wrenching piece in the New York Times magazine a few years ago coming out as an 'accidental' illegal immigrant.

The second film, Norte, portrays the brutal life of choice, poverty and violence in northern Philippines. I haven't seen it yet, waiting for it to come out in NYC.

Love Grain pancakes - and I'm pushing these because I honestly like them.

The next recommendation is a food, specifically pancakes. Love Grain pancake mix is gluten-free and made from tef, an Ethiopian grain. As you probably suspect its one of those grains that is super good for us and makes eating white bread made from bleached and process wheat flour feel like an act of self-harm. I love me some bleached flour, my baguette needs to be white and fluffy on the inside and I can eat gluten till the end of days, but that doesn't mean these pancakes aren't delicious. Try it out. On top of that its a B-Corp with a specific social mission to work with and help conditions for tef producers in Ethiopia. 

 My attempt at Baklava. Courtesy of Talinn D. 

My attempt at Baklava. Courtesy of Talinn D. 

And now for a little detour to Turkey. The New York Times has a terrific article about the town most famous in Turkey for baklava. I grew up thinking only the Greek had baklava, a hold over of the first 3 years of my life living in a suburb of Athens, and it blew my mind when I learned that it was a food common throughout the levant and Middle East. The more the merrier was my thought. I feel the same way about the variations on Tabouleh and Pita (or any puffed up flat bread). A few months ago I attempted, and succeeded to a certain degree, in making my own. Big deal for me as baklava had always seemed daunting with all its layers of philo. My take came from a recipe given to me by an Armenian friend.

Ah nostalgia, and its kissing cousin homesickness. Both are curses and inspirations, and both are the strongest plumb lines of my life. I'm reading a terrific novel called In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman about the lasting impact of exile on the soul. Its a bit of a doorstop so it covers a lot more than just the fate of the exile. It ranges in geography and in subject matter -mathematics, finance, love to name a few. At its core, it is about a man and the lessons drawn from a complicated, self-examined life that starts in poverty in Bangladesh, weaves in and out of Oxford, finance, the law, England, New York and Afghanistan. I'm only a third of the way through so I can't tell you more than that. The writing is a touch victorian, with long complicated sentences, but the structure and style allows the erudition of the writer to come through, somehow, without pomposity. 

Thats it for this month. Next one will be about Seattle and all the fun things one can do up in that north west outpost.