When you picture the kind of quaint Medieval German village worthy of a postcard, you’re picturing Quedlinburg and it’s roughly 1,200 half-timbered homes. This pristine level of preservation landed the town on UNESCO’s list of world heritage cities, which is essentially bureaucratic recognition that this place is gorgeous.
I know what you’re thinking. How did Quedlinburg stay so well preserved? Two factors come to mind…
Few places are as brutally overwhelming for the uninitiated as Bangkok. The heat is otherworldly if you’re not from around here––a humid 95 (or 35 degrees here) with air as thick as gravy. Oppressive and demoralizing don’t even begin to cut it.
I thought diving into Hanoi was a cold shock to the system. But this… This is a whole ‘nother ball game. And I’ve actually been here before.
Vang Vieng. Despite its reputation as a backpacker party hub, it’s a sleepy, dusty town during our short stay. The kind of place where the heat turns up a notch and time slows to a savory standstill. So it’s only sensible that you order another Beer Lao.
Khamming Douangsamone with Khiri Travel takes us out to the countryside for a lazy paddle along the Nam Song River. We roll up to the shore and unceremoniously launch into the water. No safety talks or waivers signing your life away to ward off the litigious among us, warning that “we will not be held responsible if a water buffalo decides to tenderize your skull.” No, no. Just get out there and drift away on the water as the powers that be intended.
So, I maybe almost died in Luang Prabang. No big deal. But, more on that later.
Have you ever traveled someplace and it just immediately felt right? As in, yes, I could live here. I can do my shopping at the morning market, spend afternoons noshing on some laab, and hop around the different food stalls at night. And for a little fresh air, jump on the motorbike and hit the road or set sail on the mighty Mekong.
Yes, that sounds good. Let’s do that. Let’s dive into Luang Prabang.
The quiet. That’s the first thing you notice in Ninh Binh. Hanoi is wonderfully chaotic and the train south sways like a waltzing drunk on old rails. But in Ninh Binh, a heavenly silence settles in the thick air like a sloth nestling into a makeshift hammock. It embraces you and holds you like a lover. Everything will be okay.
Hanoi on the weekend. The road around Hoàn Kiếm Lake is closed. It’s the rare respite from the city’s rumbling hordes of motorbikes. By definition, a respite is brief. So take a turn just around the corner––and it’s go time.
Bavette pasta alla trapanese, bucatini with broccoli and muddica atturrata, stigghiola or sheep intestines, spleen and panelle chickpea fritter sandwiches, and busiate corkscrew pasta al pistacchio. The cuisine of Sicily is varied, simple, and above all, deliciously satisfying and comforting.
But few dishes are as ubiquitous on Sicilian menus as caponata––an eggplant salad of sorts often with tomatoes, olives, onions, and capers cooked in sugar and vinegar.
In this video, I dig into the Jewish roots of Sicilian cuisine.