Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Lincoln, Nebraska, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one underfoot in downtown Lincoln: 2005. All over America's towns and cities, especially since the new century began, drains have been customized to teach one simple lesson in environmental geography:  No Dumping, Drains to Stream. [2008]

Monday, September 29, 2014

San Francisco, California, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one on Kearny Street in San Francisco: 1961. A palate-pleasing history of 53 years isn't bad for a restaurant, but the name goes back much farther than that. 'Pharos' was the moniker affixed to the lighthouse at Alexandria by the Greeks more than two millennia ago. [2010]

Sunday, September 28, 2014

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one in downtown New Orleans: 1889. Not only is Zatarain's a New Orleans tradition, it is also the taste of Louisiana history. But, what is Zatarain's? Here, the answer is provided by equating it with another New Orleans tradition: Jazz. [2011]

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Shrewsbury, New Jersey, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one at Christ Episcopal Church in Shrewsbury: 1702. Of course, when founded, it was an Anglican Church, with the King of England as its head. That wouldn't do for a neonate United States, so the Protestant Episcopal Church came into being: Anglican in theology, but American in governance. [2008]

Friday, September 26, 2014

Warwick, Rhode Island, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one in Conimicut Village in Warwick: 1643. The religious strictures of the Puritans sent free-thinkers scattering. Rhode Island was the beneficiary. Along with Pennsylvania, it pioneered a principle that is now ingrained in American culture: freedom of religion. Yes, Virginia, it preceded Thomas Jefferson. [2009]

Thursday, September 25, 2014

St. Augustine, Florida, USA

Looking for a date? You can find one in St. Augustine, Florida: 1565. Yes, Jamestown, it's true. The oldest continuously occupied European settlement in the United States is not in Virginia. And, St. Augustine really has been continuously occupied since it was founded. [2007]

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Phang Nga, Thailand

Every season is coconut season in the coastal tropics. That's one of the reasons the coco became the staff of life. You can eat it, drink it, ferment it; you can build your house from coconut palms and make your fishing nets from coconut fibers. And, that's just the beginning. [2011]

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

It's cantaloupe season. Into Istanbul come the trucks laden with fresh melons. Out of the trucks fly the kavun. By evening, everyone will have met their daily minimum requirements for Vitamins A and C. [2014]

Monday, September 22, 2014

Angangueo, Michoacán, Mexico

Fruit is part of the affordable tastescape everywhere in the world except the United States. Ten pesos is less than a dollar. [2008]

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Brașov, Romania

How do you make a watermelon more appealing to the eye? Turn it red by cutting it in half. Whatever is red is the center of attention. Always. [2014]

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Paris, France

Journalist Tom Wolfe summarized this landmark's history perfectly: "Napoleon wanted to turn Paris into Rome under the Caesars, only with louder music and more marble. And it was done. His architects gave him the Arc de Triomphe and the Madeleine." Which one is shown here? [2005]

Friday, September 19, 2014

Havana, Cuba

You might expect fish to be a big part of the Cuban diet: it's an island with abundant small harbors. Yet, fish is in short supply: rarely available by ration card and expensive if you eat out. Why? [2014]

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Tartous, Syria

Wooden boat building still takes place on the shores of the Mediterranean. Notice how the bent frame is being constructed. Could his name be Beckham? [1996]

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Piraeus, Greece

The setting is Greek; the chain is American; the seats are empty; and the waiter is bored. Is the price too high? Is the food too salty? Is the table too small? Is the name too English? [2006]

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Cape Eleuthera, Eleuthera, The Bahamas

These kayaks don't look at all incongruous in the subtropical waters of Eleuthera. If you know anything about their history, though, they are completely out of place.  They originated thousands of years ago in the subarctic.  Little did the Inuits and Aleuts know they were inventing something that would become so popular in the 21st century. [2014]

Monday, September 15, 2014

Marrakech, Morocco

With hats like these, water vendors function like neon signs in Marrakech's medina. You can't miss them, so you can't miss the fact that you're thirsty. Those same brightly colored hats, some augmented by tiny clanging cymbals, are used to attract tourists, too. In the background: the minaret of the Koutoubia mosque. [2010]

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Lisbon, Portugal

No wasted space here. Whether land or water, the lure of geography has assured intensive use of this site for centuries. Every yacht that leaves the Doca de Bélem turns back the clock to the 1400s, when da Gama and Diaz used the mouth of the Tagus River to open up the world ocean. [2009]

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Olgas, Northern Territory, Australia

Three decades ago, the only name for this inselberg in the 'red heart' of Australia was The Olgas: after a perfectly irrelevant Russian Grand Duchess. Now, we use a perfectly relevant indigenous name: Kata Tjuta. It means 'many heads.' [1988]

Friday, September 12, 2014

Genoa, Italy

Put the lamp on the helmet. Then, put the helmet on the head. What have you got? A miner, not a biker. Either way, you can stick with safety orange and be seen in any emergency. [2008]

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Damariscotta, Maine, USA

The steeple was taken down in 2007 for repairs. It was not until 2010 that it was repositioned atop its longtime perch. Was the restoration worth half a million dollars? New England's answer is always yes. Steeples aren't just church appurtenances; they're aesthetic resources and community builders. [2008]

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Sevierville, Tennessee, USA

Who is that steel magnolia making a joyful noise outside the Sevier County Courthouse? Her shift lasts from 9 to 5 every day, but she is so devoted she sticks around all night: probably in an effort to be named Miss Congeniality. From that perch, this unlikely angel will celebrate a Smokey Mountain Christmas in just a few months. Join her for a little straight talk. [2009]

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Sacramento, California, USA

Good morning California! Enjoy the holiday. It was exactly 164 years ago that you became a state of the United States. Less than two years before that, you were part of Mexico. [2006]

Monday, September 8, 2014

Antalya, Turkey

Try this in the United States: fill a cart with cucumbers, ice 'em down, and sell as snack food. It's the perfect pick-me-up for a hot summer day. Think you could convince an American of that? [2014]

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Istanbul, Turkey

Thirty years ago, the majority of Americans would not have been able to identify one of the fruits on this cart, despite its antiquity and role in Judeo-Christian history. Deuteronomy names the seven spices that provided for the good life: "wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates . . . olive oil and honey." Which one is seen here? [2014]

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Gaziantep, Turkey

When you look at the relative location of Gaziantep on a map, you might never suspect such a cosmopolitan city. It's so wise to world trends, in fact, you can find natural food stores all over its upscale neighborhoods. Some of those natural foods, like the dried peppers, eggplant, and squash, shown here, have deep roots in Turkish culture. [2014]

Friday, September 5, 2014

Havana, Cuba

The Chocolate Museum in Havana Viejo is the best place in all of Cuba to buy chocolate. It's made in front of your eyes and available for purchase, some in the shape of small animals and toys. If only supply could keep up with demand! But, remember: here in Cuba supply and demand curves don't exist. [2014]

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Brașov, Romania

You're in Romania, but food sold from this lunch wagon is not Romanian. It's Szekely fare. The Szekely are the Hungarian minority of Transylvania, and their trademark dessert is Kürtőskalács, once a special treat and now available on the street. [2014]

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ruse, Bulgaria

Ruse is a border town. On this side of the border, people speak Bulgarian (and use the Cyrillic script). Across the river, people speak Romanian.  Why, then, is the English language used to brand this proprietor's grilled meat? [2014]

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tampa, Florida, USA

Is this a food truck or a drug trailer? Can you legitimately argue that coffee and donuts count as food? Or, is it easier to argue that the dealer here dispenses two of society's most potent drugs: caffeine and sugar? [2014]

Monday, September 1, 2014

Stratford, Virginia, USA

It's September. Let the oyster roasts begin! Folk tradition gives us a template for making food choices: 'Never eat oysters in months without an R.' September has an R; May, June, July, and August don't. For oyster eaters, this is New Year's Day! Recommendation: Partake in Stratford Hall's Wine and Oyster Festival later this month. [2013]