Expat fusion cuisine: combining foreign foods with favorites from home

expat fusionPart of the fun of traveling is trying new and exotic foods. Many travelers try to eat only locally and eschew the familiar, though eating at American chain restaurants abroad can be its own experience. But when you make a foreign country your home, you have to adapt your tastes and cooking to what’s available locally while craving your favorites from home. I’m lucky enough to live in Istanbul with an amazing food culture heavy on roasted meats and grilled fish, fragrant spices, and fresh produce. Some foreign foods like pizza and sushi have been embraced in Istanbul, but Turkish food has remained largely uncompromised by outside influences and passing trends. Convenience foods are still a new concept in Turkey but you can always grab a quick doner kebab or fish sandwich on the street if you aren’t up to cooking.
In my own kitchen, I’m learning to work with Turkish ingredients and dishes and mix in some favorites from home, creating some “expat fusion” cuisine. Meat-filled manti ravioli gets an extra zing with some Louisiana hot sauce. In the hottest days of my pregnancy this summer, I craved pudding pops from my childhood, making them more adult with some tangy Turkish yogurt. One ingredient I miss here is maple syrup, which is generally only produced in North America, and hard to find and expensive in the rest of the world (a small bottle in Turkey costs about $20!). One of my American friends brought me a bottle this summer and I poured it over pancakes (surprisingly easy to make from scratch when you can’t get a mix) and my favorite Turkish treat, kaymak. Kaymak is a clotted cream popular on the breakfast table, served with a crusty loaf of bread and honey, available in most local supermarkets but best eaten fresh in a cafe like Pando’s Kaymakci in Istanbul’s Besiktas neighborhood. I draw a lot of inspiration from my friend and fellow expat Joy, who was a professional pastry chef back in Baltimore and now chronicles her mouth-watering cooking in her Istanbul kitchen on her blog, My Turkish Joys. She posts beautiful food photos and recipes with both American and European measurements to help US and Turkish readers recreate her dishes such as sour cherry pie. Afiyet Olsun (that’s Turkish for bon appetit)!

Gadling readers, have you created any expat fusion foods with ingredients from your travels? Make us hungry and leave us a comment below!

Four hot, sticky and sweet deals in New England this spring

Now that the freeze that grips New England is easing up, the region’s becoming dirty, sticky and sweet. “Mud and maple season” is upon us says the New England Inn and Resorts Association, and its members are offering some delectable deals to lure you up to its small corner of the country. NEIRA boasts more than 250 member properties, but I just don’t have the stamina to poll all of them to find out their deals for spring. So for now, at least, let’s stick with the top four.

1. Mud Season Getaway: Three Stallion Inn, Randolph, VT
Spend your time hiking on 35 km of trails … after having started your day with a Vermont breakfast cooked to order. At night, enjoy a gourmet dinner, served with mudslide drinks and mini-mud pies for dessert. You can get all this for $242 per couple per night through April 30, 2010.
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2. Maple Sugaring Weekend Getaway: Rabbit Hill Inn, Lower Waterford, VT
Pick up two nights, an intimate dinner for two and breakfast every day with this package. You’ll also be invited to afternoon tea and take home a gift of maple syrup and maple candy. While you’re up in Lower Waterford, take advantage of two free passes to the Rocks Estate Maple Experience. Rates start at $500 a couple.
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3. March Maple Tree Hugger Package: Centennial Inn Hotel, Farmington, CT
Any deal that involves a jug of maple syrup is bound to get my attention! In addition to that gift, you’ll score a night in a studio suite, breakfast and maps to sugar houses. Also, for every booking, which starts at a mere $135, the Centennial will donate $10 to the ARBOR Foundation. This deal’s only good through the end of March.
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4. Celebrating Maine Mud Package: Inn by the Sea, Cape Elizabeth, ME
With your two nights in a single-bedroom accommodation, settle in and enjoy a Peppermint Maine Mud™ with chocolate chip cookie amenity, two mudslide cocktails by the fireplace and two pairs of L.L. Bean signature boots for walking in the mud. At $687.98 per couple, this is a bargain. You’ll have to stay by April 30, 2010.
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