We must admit, we were floored when Susan J. Young profiled us!
Andrew and I were flattered, to say the least, when our profile appeared along with three others in Susan’s inimitable blog, https://blog.pavlus.com/ We want you to read all three but in the interests of space, we’re printing ours here for you to read. So here goes…
This week, The Meandering Traveler spoke with four notable travel writers, journalists, authors and/or bloggers to learn a bit about their world.
Travel Tips: Chewing the Fat with Monte Mathews
“If we can make it, you can make it,” says the header atop the “Chewing the Fat” online culinary site. It’s co-authored by Monte Mathews, travel journalist, blogger, and culinary writer, New York City, and his partner Andrew Phillips, a world-class home baker, and real estate expert. To “chew the fat” is a phrase that typically means to talk or discuss informally or to talk at length about a variety of subjects. On Mathews’ site, the fat being chewed refers to food and travel talk. The site delves deep into what we eat, where it came from, and stories that surround almost every recipe shared. Mathews believes that you don’t have to be a world-class chef to create similar, yummy cuisine in your own abode. And the site’s recipes, tips, and culinary pointers help consumers do just that.
Finding Culture via Cuisine
“Since I write about all things culinary, I am a big proponent of discovering a culture through its food,” Mathews says. “Virtually every country on earth can be explored through food.” He also believes that some cuisines reveal a country’s history. Take Vietnam, for example. “This is a truly multi-national food culture,” he emphasizes. “Its Asian roots are obvious in its wonderfully fresh, green ingredients. But many of its preparations owe their invention to its years under French rule.” Pointing to Vietnam’s Banh Mi Sandwich, he explains that the sandwich bread is French. Yet, the bed is the freshest of local vegetables. Pork belly — a classic Vietnamese protein — is then often topped with Foie Gras, which is pure French. Banh Mi Sandwiches are sold everywhere in Vietnam, according to Mathews: “Travelers might buy one from vendors standing roadside throughout the country to a Hoi An Sandwich shop where Anthony Bourdain found Nirvana for the equivalent of one dollar.”
Favorite Trip – Any Cruise Ship
As for a favorite trip, Mathews readily admits that his favorite place on Earth is aboard a cruise ship. “I can’t think of a better way to see so much of the world in great comfort and style. All those old saws about unpacking just once are true. And oh, the people that you’ll meet!” He believes travelers can always find open-minded, adventurous, and wonderful companions on a cruise ship. Plus, the port destinations offer amazing opportunities for mini explorations all over the world. “Meanwhile back on board, you can be as busy as you want with lectures, games, spa treatments, or just finding yourself in a quiet corner with a good book,” Mathews notes. His advice to travelers is this: “If you’ve never cruised, try it just once. You may never travel any other way after you do.”
Travel Tips: Preserving Memories
When returning home, Mathews fondly remembers past trips with pottery or glass pieces displayed in the Mathews/Phillips homes (see photo below). “We never come home without a piece,” he adds, noting that to make sure they will fit in, “we have a blue/green palate that guides our purchases.”
The personal interactions with “locals” create vivid memories.
“On a visit to Bali, I had the good fortune to hire a guide, Wahyu,” says Mathews. “His affection for his island was apparent from the moment he picked us up at our hotel,” he notes. “There was simply nothing that Wahyu didn’t know. His knowledge ranged from rice-growing to the biographies of every Hindu deity.” As a result, Mathews became particularly intrigued with Ganesha, the lord of success and destroyer of evils/obstacles. Ganesha is also the Hindu deity of education, wisdom, and wealth.“And then there’s Ganesha’s appearance,” Mathews adds. Ganesha has an elephant’s face, a curved trunk, and big elephant ears, as well as a pot-bellied body of a four-armed man. And he sits upon a turtle shell.
In Search of Ganesha
“Well, I had to have one,” quips Mathews. So, for weeks after his short Bali stay, he and Wayhu exchanged many photos. From afar, he could see the individual Ganesha art pieces that Wahyu had identified. The writer finally picked one to buy. Three months later, the “selected” Ganesha arrived at Mathews’ abode (see photo at right). “He overlooks where Andrew and I work at home, and I like to think his ability to remove obstacles has been a great help when a real estate dilemma or writer’s block threatens,” he quips. At the same time, the writer fondly remembers his interactions on tour with Wayhu, a friendly, caring spirit. That too is a bright memory.
Thank you Susan so very much!
And please follow this link to read the stories of Susan’s other subjects, Heidi Sarna, Ramsey Qubein and Sarah Graves-Gabbadon. https://blog.pavlus.com/2022/03/29/travel-tips-writers-dive-deeply-savor-memories/?fbclid=IwAR3nBwz5HN343NPqmxGbis4n1AoQJyBG1izcDZQzlMiJHoAtluHEx8NgQoc