I used to dread people asking me when my birthday is because I knew that once I told them I would be faced with those pitying looks and sympathetic remarks assuring me it’s not that bad. You see, I have what most people deem to be an unfortunate birthday. All you late December babies out there will feel my pain, but only those of you who also have birthdays within days of Christmas will truly understand the suffering. We generally get upstaged by Jesus.
Throw in the fact that my birthday is smack bang in between Christmas and New Year and you get the idea why I don’t usually celebrate it. There’s no point organising a shindig because people are either away on holiday or too skint to come toast to me getting another year older but none the wiser. So sometimes I like to celebrate my half birthday instead because June seems like a much more civilised time of year to have a birthday and in case you’re wondering, it was yesterday. Yep, happy half-birthday to me… all belated birthday wishes and gift are welcome, particularly if they involve food or drink.
I’ve been harbouring a desire to visit Lisbon since one afternoon in 2011 when I whittled away hours in a cushy leather seat at Wellington’s Embassy Theatre watching a film called Mysteries of Lisbon. Doesn’t ring any bells? It’s an elaborate web of love affairs, illegitimate children and extravagant costumes set in 19th century Portugal, so not your usual run of the mill Hollywood blockbuster. It is also almost 5 hours long and all in Portuguese, but I’m a sucker for a convoluted love story and some pretty dresses. In all honesty, I don’t remember much about the film or if Lisbon played a starring role, but what stuck with me was this romantic notion of Lisbon as an opulent and seductive location.
This memory set the bar pretty high for Lisbon and it did not disappoint. From the first moment we ventured into the mild winter’s evening I couldn’t stop smiling at the sight of the cobbled streets filled with beautifully tiled buildings on one side contrasted with its run down counterparts on the other. These sights confirm that Portugal is no longer the wealthy empire it once was but it is still rich in culture and of course, delicious food!
Those of you who have been following along will have realised by now that food is probably my favourite aspect of travel. I love eating what the locals eat and tasting the speciality dishes of the country or region, be it the street food stand everyone lines up for or that restaurant-of-the-moment where the chef is pushing the boundaries and giving the cuisine they know and love a modern spin.
I really enjoy going to museums and breathtaking churches but I equally enjoy walking through the aisles of a foreign supermarket- is that weird? I love taking in the views of a city and just getting lost in the streets soaking up the atmosphere of everyday life, but I’m also always on the look out for a bite to eat in those streets. Food can tell you a lot about a country’s culture and heritage; this may be through the story behind a certain dish, the produce most frequently used or even the styles of fusion food which have developed. But while all this is true, at the end of the day, I eat because I enjoy good food!
When the lovely Frankie, also known as The Mayfairy, nominated me to whip up my own Celebrity Cruises Taste of Travel Menu, I thought it would be pretty easy. I was wrong. I have eaten so much wonderful food on my travels so far that I have been umming and aahing about it for the last couple of hours, but here goes…