Favorite home-cooked meal:
Jess: My choice happens to be two of the most time-intensive dishes I made, the Georgian khachapuri and the Guatemalan tamales. Would I make either of them again? I really don’t know. Maybe the khachapuri, since they weren’t nearly as time-consuming.
Derek: I was excited to try the tropical breadfruit for the first time in the oil down that Jess cooked on our visit to Grenada. Sure enough, the soft chunks of breadfruit tasted like chewy potato rolls that had been soaking in the thick gravy. I also loved the decadent, sumptuous, and obscenely rich breakfast of buttered bread soaked in milk that was supposedly a a favorite of Pope John Paul II during his years at the Holy See.
Favorite restaurant meal:
Jess: We went a long stretch just cooking at home and not going to restaurants. It wasn’t until the most recent handful of countries that we were able to find Buffalo-area restaurants that served their cuisines. It’s not quite fair to compare our Italian meal at the fancy Ristorante Lombardo to the much more casual eateries we went to for Iraq and India, but I have to pick Lombardo, if not for the food, then for the service and hospitality.
Derek: After a long, hot summer, it was a minor thrill for me to rise early and (with a temperature still hovering in the 50s) to walk with Jess to Caffe Aroma for some cappuccinos and biscotti. So began our September visit to Italy.
Most memorable “live” experience:
Jess: Until we went to the Buffalo Jewbilee as part of our Israeli globetrot, I’d never been inside a synagogue. Sitting in the beautiful sanctuary of Temple Beth Zion, just a few blocks away from our apartment, sticks out the most in my mind.
Derek: I enjoyed exploring the historically Irish-American neighborhood of South Buffalo, complete with its Gaelic street signs, mainly because we didn’t find out about it until our globetrot was already underway.
Film I’d recommend:
Jess: The film that sticks out most in my memory is the Guatemalan film, Ixcanul. As a woman, I could empathize with some of the main character’s struggles (though as someone from the middle class with a college education living in a first world country, I am extremely privileged in comparison). For a much more lighthearted film, it’s hard not to like 3 Idiots from India.
Derek: 3 Idiots left a strong impression on me as well. A goofy yet surprisingly deep critique of the differences between gaining a degree and gaining an education, the film inspired me (in the middle of the night, scribbling madly in my notebook) to overhaul the pedagogical approach to my largest lecture course, “Understanding Music.” As of this fall, I am quite pleased with the results!
An activity I wish we had been able to find/try:
Jess: While I liked the sanctuary at Temple Beth Zion, I was disappointed by the food at the Buffalo Jewbilee. There was supposed to be an Israeli food stall at the festival, as Sabra Grill, an Israeli grill from Rochester, New York, had been listed as an event vendor, but they never showed, at least in the hours we were there. Luckily, we had made pretty good Israeli food for ourselves at home, but I like to see how our home cooking compares to outside eateries.
Also, I’m not much of a drinker, but beer is a large part of Irish culture, and wine is a big part of Italian cuisine, so I’m sorry I had to miss out on those experiences. But, I’m expecting (future globetrotter due in about two and a half months!), so abstaining was non-negotiable.
Derek: Beginning with our globetrot to Iraq in July, we’ve enjoyed starting our weekends with high-definition recordings of musicians from the country itself. While I remain somewhat disappointed by the number of countries whose cultures don’t seem to be represented here in the Buffalo area, I now wish that we had begun the tradition of listening to these quality studio recordings even sooner!
Most challenging country:
Jess: Generally, small countries are tough to find information about, but we had quite a bit of material to work with for the smallest country in this round, The Holy See. I’d say the country we learned the least about was actually Gabon.
Derek: The country of Guyana became an unexpected challenge because the spice level of the cuisine was—at least to these Americans—so outrageously hot!