Travel

anchoragepic.jpg Anchorage, Alaska has some of the best restaurants in the world. Especially if you like salmon.  Years ago, I spent a summer in Anchorage-it was the Exxon Valdez trial, and it went on for months.  I remember some things about the trial.  I remember everything about the dinners, which isn't particularly remarkable, as I had the exact same thing-in different restaurants-every night (except for this one place where I always ordered venison).

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verona3.jpgI did it for you, dear reader. I did it all for you. I did something I vowed I would never do. Not in a million years. But there I was in Verona. City of Romeo and Juliet. City of beauty. And after seeing so many beautiful things, one does get a bit peckish. And all the guidebooks recommended the same thing: horse. It’s a specialty of the area. So when Jim and I found ourselves at the local restaurant perusing the menu, there it was, staring us in the face: smoked horse with arugala salad. There was also pasta with a donkey ragú on the menu like it was the most normal thing in the world to eat these equines. “ I guess we had better try it,” said Jim. “Really?” “Yeah. How bad can it be?” He said nonchalantly. I could sense a challenge. “OK, go ahead order it.” “Ok, I will,” he countered, adding, “and we’ll share it.” I took a large gulp of my prosecco and waited anxiously for the dish to arrive.

It’s not as though I am vegetarian or even a vegan. It’s not as though I grew up riding horses through the British countryside or fox hunting, thank God. But I suppose the prospect of eating horse is like eating dog. i.e. eating a pet. Although to be honest I’m not much of a dog person either. I prefer cats. And thankfully no one ever talks about eating cats. OK, maybe in Asia But nonetheless horses and dogs are our friends: we feed them, we take care of them and there is something about turning around, killing them and eating them that seems rather upsetting. A ‘Charlotte’s Web’ syndrome, if you will.

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If you ford a river with the crowd, the crocodile cannot eat you.
         –Malagasy proverb

view-8.jpgMy husband, Bill Rollnick, and I were part of an American Red Cross team traveling to Madagascar to help implement the global Measles and Malaria Preventive Initiative. In October, our team was part of a joint partnership led by the American Red Cross, the United Nations Foundation, UNICEF, CDC, WHO and the Malagasy government in which millions of Malagasy children, ages 9 months to 5 years, received measles vaccine, Vitamin A, de-worming medicine and insecticide-treated mosquito nets.

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bohemians_1917.jpgMy roots are in Prague. Not my real hereditary-type roots — they lie somewhere in Lithuania, in some long-forgotten shtetl in the Pale of Settlement.

I’m talking about my cultural roots, my identity as a bohemian, or in the current vernacular, a boho. The bohemian movement started in Prague, or at least was perfected there. Also, Prague is the capital of Bohemia, which is an historical region that takes up about two-thirds of the current Czech Republic. So, Prague is Bohemian and bohemian. Around 1912, Franz Kafka met a Yiddish-Theater actor named Isaac Löwy, who introduced him into a world of writers, artists, thinkers, physicists and anarchists.

They hung out in bars or in Berta Fanta’s salon – upstairs from her husband’s pharmacy; they drank absinthe, they had sex with actresses (I’m sure they did; I don’t have historical data at my fingertips, but believe me, they did); they stayed up all night and talked about Expressionism and Modern Music; they discussed the ideas of Einstein and Freud, who were both kicking up their heels around this time.

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herringtypes.jpg I was looking forward to seeing the tulips on a recent trip to Amsterdam. I imagined endless fields of brightly colored flowers. Unfortunately I missed tulip season by a week. While the tulips were gone, the spring herring were running and long lines of devotees waited patiently at the herring stands throughout the city.

Pickled herring with sour cream and onions was a staple in my house when I was growing up. Every night my dad had several fat pieces on buttered pumpernickel bread.  Wanting to connect with him, I would join in. The firm fleshed pieces slathered with sour cream, topped with thin strands of pickled onions took some getting used to, but eating herring wasn't so much a culinary preference as an attempt at father-son bonding.

My dad passed away many years ago and I haven't eaten herring since.

While I was in Amsterdam, I wanted to try the local favorites. The Dutch love Gouda, beer, bitterballen – a crispy fried ball of meat and dough – and, of course, herring. I wanted to try them all.

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