February 2010

A large part of the reason why I travel anywhere is food.  When I get somewhere, the first thing I want to do is eat.  Prague is not an ideal destination for this–as a vegetarian, I’m mainly limited to the already-mentioned fried cheese.  While it’s good, it’s not something to eat every day.  If I was going to move somewhere else, it would have to be somewhere with good food.  One of my favorite memories from Italy is a meal I had in Rome.  Bruschetta, pasta with olive oil, cheese and pepper, and prosecco.  Erica, Allison and I ate around ten our first night at a tiny restaurant in Trastevere, down a winding back street dotted with glowing bars and bicycles locked up for the night.  From Thailand, I remember the tiny coconut milk cakes that you could buy in the markets.  They were so hot when you got them that you would invariably burn your tongue, but it was worth it.  Sometimes they were sweet, sometimes dotted with chives or sweet corn.  If I ever saw those at home, I would camp out in front of the restaurant.  Sadly, I don’t think they’ve ever made it outside of the realm of street food.

France, though…I don’t know where to begin with France.  Any country that values both their cheese and their desserts so highly deserves to be at the top of the list.  A few weeks ago, Heidi and I spent roughly 40 hours in Paris, and I would estimate that about three-quarters of that time was spent eating or staring at food.  And so, without further adieu (wordplay!), here are some pictures of food in France, plus one of the Eiffel Tower.  It’s Paris, after all.

Beautiful purple artichokes

Hot chocolate (somewhat oddly named L’Africain) from Angelina

Macarons in chocolate, caramel, strawberry and pistachio

Bread at a boulangerie

Fresh bread, five types of cheese, and wine made by Maud’s uncle


I’ve put up some more of my pictures from traveling at http://www.kunkelle.smugmug.com.  You know, in case you’re bored.

I go back and forth so much about my feelings for Prague.  There are days, like the days when I get yelled at by the tram driver for leaning against the wrong part of the tram or when I get lectured by a woman outside of my apartment for putting my garbage in the wrong can, that I can’t wait to come home.  But there are other days, long January days spent inside with friends and movies and voyages across the city for real Vietnamese food, that I am happy with the life I’ve made here.  My feelings are fickle, and I never know when I wake up how I will feel about the city by the time I go to bed that night.

Traveling does not make this any easier to determine.  When I leave Prague for somewhere else, I am reminded of all of the things that I miss about being in a larger city–the restaurants, the diversity, the sheer amount of space.  But then again, as Jack Donaghy knows, there’s always something to be said for the vacation effect.

Whatever the case may be, I’ve been lucky enough to do some traveling lately, beginning with visiting Tara in Munich.  Sometimes traveling isn’t all about tourism, and that’s what Munich was like for me.  Rather than making it our mission to go to museums and historical sites, we walked around the city, ate a lot of food, and talked.  And even though we were in Germany, this turned out to be a huge point in Prague’s favor–I love the friends I’ve made here.

For a point in Munich’s favor, though, we had the open-air markets.  I think Prague might be the only city in Europe that doesn’t have one of these.  The produce in Prague is, let’s face it, a little sad, especially when compared to the incredible colors and variety of even this small market in Munich.  The Czech Republic is totally lacking in dragonfruit, as far as I know.

And in the neutral category we have winter river surfing.  To each his own, but this doesn’t make me any more or less enamored of a city, although it was pretty great to watch.

I have five months left until my visa expires and I have to come home, and that’s a very strange thing to think about.  To reach the point when I’m counting down the days left rather than calculating how long I’ve been here makes the time seem to slip away that much faster.  Though Prague may not be a city that I’m meant to spend the rest of my life in, there are certainly things that I’m going to miss.  A lot.