My heart is swelling with pride as I write this post. One of my best and brightest food writing students, Vijay Rajendran, has created a terrific new food business. “The Hungry Globetrotter” is an International Food of the Month club. You sign up and get boxes filled with glorious ingredients from a different country each month. I have tried the service and highly recommend it.
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I asked Vijay if he would take a few minutes out of his day to tell you all the juicy details behind his venture, how it works and, of course, some pics of the wonderful meals that you can create using this service. So, here you go:
The Hungry Globetrotter
By Vijay Rajendran
You know how the smell of your mother’s famous lasagna, with its secret ingredients and loving technique, instantly conjures memories of enjoying that very dish with loved ones throughout the years? Or, how one whiff of that special curry sauce takes you back to the vacation of a lifetime several years ago? This olfactory phenomenon and its relation to food have become my life’s work.
I wanted to learn how to communicate these thoughts and found myself taking Monica’s food writing class. This led me to create a blog about food and travel. You see, I’m an incurable foodie who has lived in half a dozen countries between visiting many more, and I know well the connection between a destination, its cuisine and its culture. My admitted obsession with understanding other cultures and truly experiencing the world through the local specialties is what led me to create Hungry Globetrotter, a subscription-based service that delivers gourmet, “curated” culinary experiences directly to members’ homes. Each box includes ingredients and spices, recipes and step-by-step instruction for intrepid foodies to create dishes of various countries in their own kitchens exactly the way it’s done in Morocco, or India, or…
Culinary tourism is increasingly popular for good reason: we don’t get the true ‘flavor’ of the world from simply touring cities and learning languages. Food is a way to understand culture, from history and traditions to the rituals and ways that we enjoy food around the world.
Across my journeys, punctuated by two years volunteering with the Peace Corps in what I like to think of as “the bread basket of Central Africa,” the Western part of Cameroon, I became intimately aware of the role food plays in our cultural, professional and personal relationships. It was at tables set for holiday gatherings or simple meals with Cameroonian friends that I built friendships and a deeper understanding of the people, their struggles, joys and customs.
Now, understanding that traveling around the world on a gluttonous tour or benevolent charity effort is not always readily accessible to many folks, I’ve set out to bring the exotic flavors of other places into home kitchens. When you’re hungry for a snack, you make take a quick inventory beginning and ending with asking yourself “what sounds good to eat?” I want people to consider not only what suits their current mood for taste, but also for which culture, memory or favorite destination they’d like to experience during the meal.
Throughout my travels, I have been fortunate to connect with new friends and neighbors – learn about and come to appreciate their traditions, agriculture and family life socializing over cuisine that was previously unknown to me. It’s not just the food itself, but also the little nuances – the techniques used, the time spent and even the customary dining etiquette that paints the whole picture of that culture’s cuisine.
Of course, I’d be lying if I said that my intentions are entirely altruistic, that I only really care about the global and cultural effects of food. It also has to have taste great! Food has always been my favorite component to travel. I’m constantly on the hunt for the most delicious dishes wherever I am, and I relish being able to recreate those experiences when I return home.
Pics of foods prepared using Hungry Globetrotter service. Pics provided by Vijay and used with permission.
1. South Indian Sampler: Madras chicken, garam masala vegetables and rice, cucumber raita
2. Rock the Kasbah Moroccan Dinner: Green olive and lemon lamb tagine, couscous with fruit and nuts, roasted tomato harissa
3. Yakitori Party Japanese Dinner: Yakitori chicken, miso soup and crunchy salad with yuzu ponzu dressing