Lost In Translation

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

What makes a holiday a great one? Is it about lying prostrate on a sun-lounger beside a swimming pool that shimmers beneath the sun while liveried butlers bring you vibrant cocktails with garnishes as big as your hat? Or about an urban oasis full of laneways, people and fabulous shoes. Perhaps it’s as simple as quietly retreating to a snug cottage in the middle of nowhere terribly much, with picturesque countryside, a little town to pootle in that looks like a bigger version of a model village and a towering heap of books.

New York city view
Holidaying in the middle of it all... New York, from Kevin and Amanda

Wherever you are, and how much (or often, how little) you get up to, it’s hard to have a wonderful holiday without there being good food. Even people not ruled by their stomachs let themselves luxuriate in the occasional visit to the dark gourmet side. For those who are already there, traversing the culinary peculiarities of a new location can be a highlight of their trip – or the whole purpose of it!

Iceland retreat - a tiny house on a less tiny island
Or holidaying as far away from it all as possible... Iceland retreat, from Heartthrobs & Villains

I love that the unexpectedness that description on a menu, while (usually) accurate, will often be so vague (whether, sometimes, from their translation to English or, more often, my questionable and very limited translation from another language). This was first discovered in Hong Kong, when the unassuming description of “Chicken with vegetables” turned out to have a complexity, and a sauce, that were all the more of a delicious surprise after their humble introduction. And was then expanded on around Italy, and occasionally in France, on last year’s tour of gastronomic enlightenment honeymoon. Sometimes it was the simplest-dishes that had the deepest flavours. And some of the most homely breads and pastries were more than a match for their sophisticated cousins.

Emploring Antarctica - now with extra penguins
Antarctica - the cuisine's not much to write home about, I suspect. But think of the penguins! Photo via The Daily Green

The latest completely accurate but entirely suprising description is an upside down cake. It’s nothing like the familiar and delicious caramelised fruit offering...

Inverted cake from Intricate Icings
Cake from Intricate Icings

This one seems more hell-bent on trying to defy the laws of physics. Intriguing at a just-because-you-can level, but I’m just not quite sure about it other than as a baking experiment. A very pretty baking experiment, nonetheless...

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