Sunday, March 11, 2012

Dal-Baati-Churma, Camembert & Gelato

As I am about to embark on a journey that will take me to a new place – Jaipur – and familiar destinations – Paris, Rome, Florence and London – I’ve started considering the meals ahead. 

A new city, in a new country translates to new food adventures.  Jaipur, the Pink City, capital of the state of Rajasthan, is known for its spicy, rich, vegetarian cuisine. (
One important example of the local cuisine is Dal-Baati-Churma, with origins as a picnic food, now a favorite for special occasions.  Will I like it as much as Rotis?  As much as the Koeksisters of South Africa?   How will it fit in my memories of this city I’ve yet to discover? 

As the day of departure approaches it’s fun to focus not just on new taste experiences but also think of revisiting familiar favorites.  In Paris it's camembert from Marie-Anne Cantin’s shop (www.cantin/fr) that counts as a  special treat.  A Florence  highlight is searching for  (and sampling) lemon gelato.  Will there be one that is outstanding?

Travelers talk about the photos taken on their I-phones, I-pads and traditional cameras as favorite souvenirs of their travels.  For me its not the photos taken with my bright red camera.  Mine are  the names, tastes, fragrances of foods discovered.  Today I wonder - what will be the surprise of this trip?

Sunday, March 4, 2012

The Global Local Menu

When I read an article in last week  in the Wall St. Journal about McDonald’s expansion plans in China. (“McDonald’s to Tout Quality in China.”)
I thought about the variations of the McDonald’s menu around the world.  As they try to increase their business in China by promoting the quality of their food it occurred to me that their current success comes in part from being local – at least in some items on their menus.  In a McDonald’s in Beijing you can find chicken nuggets served with chili garlic sauces and taro pies as well as Big Macs and French fries.  A traveler from the US finds a touch of home.  A resident of Beijing discovers something familiar.  Global and local.

It isn’t just in China that McDonald’s menus provide some “home town” choices.  There are green tea flavored milkshakes in Japan, Big Macs made with chicken in India, beans and rice in Costa Rica or Poutine  - French fries covered with cheese curds and brown gravy - in Canada to name a just a few specialties.  

It’s not just McDonald’s with its 1,400 restaurants through China that shapes its menu to reflect the location.  The biggest of the fast food chains in China, KFC with 3,700 locations also has local specialties.  In Beijing you can stop in for some fried chicken and pick up some congee, rice porridge, too.

How much of their success stems from the menus that are local and global?  Maybe the book I’m about to read “All Business is Local: Why Place Matters More than Ever in A Global, Virtual World (Quelch & Jocz) will help answer that question.

In the meantime, shall we plan a trip across all the continents, stopping at McDonald’s and sample their interpretation of the local fare?