Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Everywhere I go there are snacks.  which is a wonderful motif that I highly appreciate.  I’ve been traipsing around villages and the city of Patna, getting to meet all kinds of people, sitting in lots of meetings, been to a couple workshops and info sessions, etc. etc. and everywhere i go there are copius snacking options.  little crackers, biscuits, samosas, these dry cakey tasty things (see below), this little mix that sorta tastes like rice krispies….always brought with tea.  or rather milk and sugar with a teabag added so we can call it ‘tea.’

we definitely need to bring this back to america, because the availability of little treats back home during meetings and such is definitely snlacking (yep, just did that).

this is most likely because i’m a visitor and clearly from very far away lands, so people are trying to be as hospitable as possible.  but the point is, they are already extremely hospitable and this is just habit for any sort of meeting/gathering.  and i dig it.  call me count snackula but this should be a requirement world wide in my humble and correct opinion.

Here are a few snacks i’ve encountered…

the aforementioned cakey thing, with some flat rice (i think?) below

A piece of foreign fruit, but still a snack

The aforementioned sugarmilk tea

a fun new sugary snack from just today

Ok not a snack i've found in india, but this looks really really good right now and would be an acceptable snack to receive at meetings back home


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today at lunch i reached perfect culinary equilibrium.  i think i found the supreme balance between sauce and rice.  dont be fooled, this is no easy task.  Everyday for lunch, we eat rice and dahl with some other assorted vegetables in the office.  Its served family style, so you serve your own portions.  This means its all on you to get the ratios right, which comes with a bit of a learning curve.  Eating is done also solely with the hands, so you can go with the pre-mix option, or mix each bite of rice with a small sampling of dahl.  I personally go with the pre-mix, so I have a whole plate of rice-dahl all mixed and ready to be eaten.

this is dahl and string hoppers, or breakfast noodles, not rice. but i'm a firm believer of including photos whenever possible. see below for irellevant photos


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and the puns continue.  i promise you, faithful reader, that any chance i get to remotely incorporate a “sri lanka” pun into a blog title, colloquialism, facebook update, or any spoken sentence, I will try my hardest to make sure I’ve come up with the worst pun possible. this is my promise to you and i intend to keep it.

so my 3 and a half readers seem to enjoy anytime i write about the food that i’ve been eating during the kiva fellowships.  armenia was a bit limited in the types of food, especially when it came to lunching options, but my 3 or 4 months there were happily dominated by lahmujen and schwarma.  so i’ve had some people ask me “what is the lahmujen of sri lanka?” (more…)

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As much as I didn’t want to, I knew I had to give it a shot before I left Armenia.  I’ve been told its as Armenian as you can get, and the ultimate Sunday morning meal to battle a hangover.  Its name is Khash, it lives in a bowl, and I tried it last Sunday [this is proof how behind I am; in reality this was about a month ago]. (more…)

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[Disclaimer: I am probably making it sound like all I do here is drink vodka with the copious references to the friendly clear fermented-potato substance.  but it really is a big part of the culture here.  and after all i’m going for that whole immersion thang.  but i promise i’m helping to spread some microfinance too, even if it does involve tasting a borrower’s varietals of moonshine mulberry vodka. seriously.]

So 11 days after commencing, Armenian New Year’s is officially over.  I feel so discombobulated and and confused that I dont know what day it is or if I will ever be able to weigh less than 263 lbs again.

The new year here is a big celebration.  Its family oriented, involves lots of visits to friends/neighbors/relatives and lasts for a week.  New Years Eve is usually spent with family, and, like most Armenian celebrations involves a table packed from edge to edge with all kinds of tasty foods and booze.  In the center is the horovatz (grilled pork) with all kinds of cheeses, dried cured meats, veggies, and often cakes.  I dont know how these families do it because they basically have to be on call for visitors for 11 straight days while anyone can show up at anytime and the table gets loaded up and feasting and drinking recommences.  Everything in the city shuts down (president’s orders – where were you on that one OBAMA?!?) and you can get arrested by the cops if you dont have proof that you’ve gained at least 15 lbs.

12:01 new years at the square....

I was lucky enough to get to experience several different families’ new years.  NYE itself involved hanging out with a fellow group of international orphans at a friend’s apartment, then going down to the central square to see the fireworks, followed by an indeterminate amount of hours at the bar.  And that was day 1 of 11.  The following days were a tour de table of different friends and families, each of which constantly had a table full of meat/cheese/greens/booze on standby for any potentially arriving visitors.  At each stop copious amounts of Horovats (bbq’d pork and always the centerpiece of the table) was consumed with lavash (national bread, like a tortilla with bounce), all kinds of cured meats (I find pastrami to be the most sensual of all the salted cured meats), greens (parsley again, dominates every bite), with lots of wine & vodka with thoughtful toasts to family and friends.  At one point I tried a jug of tasty homemade Georgian wine.  At another I had a delicious banana cake.  Also some delicious dolma, accompanied with yogurt sauce.  On Armenian Christmas itself (Jan 5th into 6th) I was invited to a good friend and co-workers to eat with her family.

Her younger brother and his 3 friends were very intrigued having an American at the table.  Basically I was treated as a pet tamagachi, and the boozing got taken up a notch or five.  It was kind of like those house parties when a bunch of idiots think it’s a good idea to try and get the cat or dog drunk, that’s a little bit how it worked….”yaa lets make the American drink a shot every 3 minutes!!!” However, as a stand for all the dogs and cats out there I decided I was not to be shown up.  I kept shoveling food in my mouth between every shot and lasted lasted lasted until the 19 year-old ringleader eventually started to slow down a bit.  Somehow I survived until they got bored and moved to the couch.  Victory, America.  I was so proud of myself, I had passed the official Armenian booze test.  Next stop, Russia.

All in all the New Years break was a whirlwind of barbecued meat and celebrations with friends and their families.  It was great to experience the holidays overseas in such an authentic and traditional way.  Plus it was a ton of fun, too.  While I don’t think I’ll let myself accidentally miss Christmas/New Year’s at home next year, this one will definitely always stand out as a great memory…….The Christmas/New Year’s that lasted 11 days and when I lost my six pack.  I’m gonna have to really start pounding my core again.


kaaaa boom

one of the many new years table spreads

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[from, yes, you guessed it, the Fellows Blog]

By Brian Kelly, KF9, Armenia

The symbol of Karabakh, grandmother and grandfather

I wrote about a week ago before embarking on a trip to Nagorno-Karabakh, a mountainous region southeast of Armenia known as being a conflict zone between Armenia and Azerbaijan.  I left in hopes of better grasping the political melee between the countries in the South Caucasus and how this plays into the Armenian identity.  Hopefully this would garner some insight into the role of microfinance in Armenia as part of my 4 month crash-course to this completely new part of the world. (more…)

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gotcha! what once was lost, has now been found.  so after being potentially stolen by one of Carmen San Diego’s henchmen, Mt. Ararat appears to be back in place where it belongs.  The colder temperatures seem to have increased its visibility, which is nice because its quite pleasing to look at.  Although I’m not sure what I prefer, warm and sunny, or cold and araraty.  I’ll have to get back to you on this.  Two pictures below are from towns a bit outside of Yerevan, and the third is actually from Yerevan itself, in the eveningtime.

ararat from car Ararat with Cow

thar she is

also.  because it seems to be of interest, on the food and more specifically lunch topic:  I have discovered and adopted the religion of Lahmajun.


when i return to the world seeking employment, this will basically solidify my role as the picture maker in Gourmet or Bon Apetit

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve developed a nice rapport with a lady in a small shop that sells lahmajun, or Armenian pizza near my work.  I stumble over my simple phrases of ordering, but she’s always extremely friendly and wishes me a good day.  I come in about 2 or 3 times a week and order at least 2 lahmajun, and sometimes a little pastry.  I think its fairly rare to armenians to eat a lunch like this, it seems they normally have just some fruit or bread and cheese.  But I cant be sure. This lady must think I’m some lahmajun monster or something and me coming in regularly seems to amuse her as this foreigner who is obsessed with her Armenian pizza.

Also, when getting my doses of tempered prudence from Jack O via podcast, those advertisements for subway that talk about their new buffalo chicken ranch sandwich make me unhappy.  I  1) love buffalo chicken; 2) love even more ranch dressing; 3) lately have yearned for american type sandwiches.  while i dont particularly like subway, it still makes my mouth water and i get mad at myself for forgetting to fast forward through the advertisement.  perhaps I’ll pioneer the first buffalo chicken ranch lahmajun.  that would be DELICIOUS.

Lastly, as its started to get colder I find my hands always being uncomfortably not warm.  the temperatures arent all that bad, and i wouldnt say i’ve been cold per se.  but my hands are just always cold.  i’m really worried about turning into one of those glove people.  i think you know who i’m talking about (or who you are).  a glove people is someone who always seems to be unnecessarily wearing gloves, when there’s really no need to.  it just makes things weird for everyone else around.  not sure if they love to hide their hideous hands or they are legitimately cold, or if its just a way to be different and sport the coolest, latest, homeless man gloves, but i’ve definitely noticed this breed of people and find their obsession with gloves fascinating.  If you really catch a glove people in a moment of weakness, you might spot them wearing their gloves with a t shirt.  which is offputting.

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