Category Archives: Food

Italy Has The God Father. Kars Has The Cheese Shops.


Karsak 2013 - full of friends, family, and a very cute eniste.

Karsak 2013 – full of friends, family, and a very cute eniste.

When I reach my lowest of lows – when times are so tough that the greatest solutions I can think of involve the characters of a Lyle Lovett song with a twist – a horse, a boat, and Muhammad Yunus  – there is only one thing left to do. I walk 3 kilometers to town, pumping my music, staring off into the distance at clouds as they conform around each other, an explosion of dark colors, like emo Tetris pieces, and only as the sidewalk starts to give to the final stretch of castle and mosques, do I press my face against a shop window I know only too well and stick my tongue out. That is my warning signal. Inside, the masters prepare themselves for my entrance.

I swing open the door, grab a string of white cheese jerky from the silver tray on the left, plop my bag down next to the desk, throw my hand and head forward for an embrace, and slump into a black leather chair. My Cheese Men greet me, and then with trained patience and deep wisdom they say as much as a question as a statement – “how are you baby.” (more…)

Kars’ Secret


The ancient Silk Road bridge standing on either side of the Turkish Armenian border is the symbolic gateway to Ani and this region - aiding foreigners in their travel to and between Anatolia.

The ancient Silk Road bridge standing on either side of the Turkish Armenian border is the symbolic gateway to Ani and this region – aiding foreigners in their travel to and between Anatolia.

Kars has a secret. Walk to the Police Station near the west end of town, past the security, up the stairs, take a right, walk three offices down and through the entrance marked “Yabanci Subesi.”  The desks and file cabinets shift every few months, but once you sit down in the latest seating arrangements and chat for 20 minutes or so, the secret I am talking about will poke it’s head through the door and say, “salam.”

Kars is filled with foreigners. (more…)

Just Sit Down And Suit Up


http://distilleryimage0.ak.instagram.com/b6feedbabc6f11e29cc922000aaa090c_7.jpg

Some of the women’s English class notes from the program.

This is a story I understand both completely and… not really at all.  It goes against my principles to tell it…but also to keep it quiet. It was just too weird but also just another chapter in the hundreds of stories of the complex intersecting worlds of villages and local bully politics. And funnily enough, my team and I keep driving right into that intersection, stopping our car, and bracing ourselves at the sounds of a thousand passive aggressive honks.

Where to begin? (more…)

BALYOLU IS BACK – Walking the World’s Very First Honey Tasting Trekking Route


As the snow melts and the rain pours, I slosh around the Black Sea in my hiking boots in search of bees.

In search of bees…how many times have I finished a sentence with that phrase in the last three years. A Georgian man adorned in a bright and colorful ewok costume chases after me, whip in hand, while I pass through a traditional village in search of bees. I drive 8 hours over Azeri deserts brewing with mud volcanoes and cracked flowers, staring nauseously out the window, in search of bees. I fall to my knees before an ancient lake in Armenia, drinking holy water and silenced by its beauty, in search of bees. I float over flowing velvet green carpeted hill-sides in Eastern Turkey, the sounds of cowbells chorusing throughout the valley, in search of bees. I cry in a hospital, blowing my nose on sheep’s wool, wondering how so much could happen all for some great search for bees!

(more…)

Explorer’s Journal: Dropping 2,700 Meters, Nine Hours, Downhill, Through ‘Nam. And You Better Leave the Forest By Six.


 

Phrase from Field: Eager hands direct us to thick scratchy rhododendron bushes, promising a fast route down the 2,700 meter drop through the Macaheli cloud forest maze, mentioning little of waterfalls, river crossings, or the labyrinth of towering trees and their karakovan hives, beacons of history reminding us of the final words of mountain villagers, “Make sure you leave the forest by six.”

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