Recap: The A’s and Two Detours (Mali and Russia)

With thirteen countries under our belt (or, should we say thirteen stamps in our passports), we thought it might be a good time to do some reflecting on the experiences we’ve had thus far.

Favorite home-cooked meal:

Jess: The Catalan coca (flatbread) with spinach, caramelized onions and raisins we ate as part of our Andorran weekend. I don’t know how authentic the recipe was, but it was so delicious that I don’t care! I was also pleasantly surprised by Vegemite, when we used it in very tiny amounts during our Australian weekend.

Derek: The Albanian vegetable pie marked our first encounter with phyllo dough, but it was worth the frustration. Besides giving me an entire week of microwaved dinners (perhaps that has something to do with its memorability?) the pie also produced what I believe has been the most artistic globetrotting photograph taken thus far.

Favorite restaurant meal:

Jess: Sitting right by the bread oven at the Helmand (during our Afghanistan weekend) was the perfect spot to be on a February night.

Derek: Our first restaurant outing, to the Helmand, showed me that globetrotting was really possible. Having already learned so much about Afghan culture and cuisine, we were now surrounded by it.

Most memorable “live” experience:

Jess: I’ve never seen the audience and the performers interact as much as they did at Trio Da Kali concert (part of our weekend in Mali).

Derek:  Sitting in the restaurant Tango amidst dozens of cheering Argentines as their national football team fought the final match in the 2014 World Cup. I couldn’t understand a word!

Film I’d recommend:

Jess: For a cutesy movie, Valentin, even if it’s not the best film ever, and I’m sure others are more representative of Argentinean cinema. The majority of the movies that we’ve watched have been pretty somber, though. Of those, The Counterfeiters stands out the most in my mind.

Derek: The film 14 Kilómetros made a big impression on me not only for its realistic depiction of life in several West African countries but also because it featured a pair of desperate refugees—globetrotters of a very different sort. I’ve enjoyed the travel documentaries such as those hosted by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Michael Palin because they have also offered me a realistic view into the countries we’ve toured.

An activity I wish we had been able to find/try:

Jess: Given how much I like cookies, is it really surprising for me to say the Tim Tam Slam? I’ll still keep an eye out for Tim Tams–it’s never too late!

Derek: We learned that the Armenians play a tables game called narde, which would have been fun to learn.

Most challenging country:

Jess: The cultures of African nations aren’t too well represented in Boston, so Mali and Angola were especially tricky.

Derek: I had thought that Mali and Andorra were tough, but after trying to explore the island country of Antigua and Barbuda I’ve come to realize just how little of the culture had made its way to Boston.

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