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We can say that cultures and cuisines vary around the world, but there's a common thread - most humans eat and sleep on a daily basis. If you're lucky enough, on some days you also get the chance to sing, dance, or engage in something uplifting for the soul. In Georgia, there is a huge culture of food, filled with many tasty, aromatic and flavorful dishes. The best part of all of this - it is so cheap! :)

Throughout the journey, I spent most evenings on the road at homestays, which are sometimes the only option in mountain regions. The cost for all of the rooms was a standard $50/per night, and this included hearty breakfasts and dinners. This cover photo is from the start of the road expedition, and this house was my favorite from the journey. Wonderful table filled with all kinds of homemade Georgian foods to fill the belly at the end of a very long and strenuous day of driving. I grew to crave this delicious yogurt soup, and ordered it frequently during the trip because the more traditional soup - "kharcho" - was too spicy! In general, Georgians like to stuff everything with decadent fillings - peppers, eggplant, potatoes filled with nuts, curry paste, spices - lots of other things buried in the pockets.

Today Americans celebrate Thanksgiving, where we gather around the table for huge feasts and fellowship, so it seems like a good time to begin the reports from Georgia and speak a bit about the food and lodging options. Let's go...Read more... )
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When I wrote about my old apartment and monthly costs for living near Washington, DC, many people asked me about groceries and food. After a trip to the market, my basket typically looks like this. If it's interesting to readers, I can lay out the prices for food and show photos of the types of products available in U.S. stores. However, I can't really understand what types of discussions readers want now? Traffic on LJ dramatically decreased, and the types of posts that now attract the attention of the masses are so idiotic and banal that I can't even wrap my head around their popularity. Is it really so interesting to discuss whether a woman's ass is too big, or whether her legs are too thick?

Please let me know the types of stories you want to read, and I'll do my best to accommodate readers if the topics are also of interest to me. Because the point here is to facilitate discussion, exchange ideas and simply explore how others live in various parts of the world. Also, I'm curious to know how much you spend on groceries per week/month? I can then make a cost comparison with the USA. Thanks! :)
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There's a certain childhood rite of passage I never experienced - eating cafeteria lunches. I attended a small, religious school from 5th - 12th grade, surrounded by the same faces until graduation. There were rarely new students who transferred to the school, no new boys to flirt with, or mysterious strangers who suddenly appeared at the desk beside me. In one word, I would describe my school experience as boring. The same can be said of my daily lunches, which my mom diligently packed every morning. Usually, the lunchbox consisted of a peanut butter or ham and cheese sandwich, some type of chips and a piece of fruit. I always envied kids who had the joy of entering the canteen each day to have old ladies with hairnets shovel different food onto their tray, sometimes completely inedible and sometimes a fun game to guess what the mystery meat or slop was. It all seemed very exotic and exciting for someone who was insanely bored being around the same kids and learning environment for so many years.Read more... )
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I continue to plan for the big journey in autumn, and discovered that a Georgian bakery recently opened in my home town of Manassas, Virgina. It's a real tragedy that there are no Georgian restaurants in the Washington, DC area, only Russian eateries. To compare Russian and Georgian cuisine to me is pointless, because they are different in my view, and certainly to my taste buds. I remember tasting Georgian food for the first time in St. Petersburg, some type of spicy chicken dish covered in a decadent and delicious sauce. Then, the waiter brought chacha and some hot bread which the entire table devoured. I visited the bakery yesterday, called MamaAchma's, with the hope of having a similar meal, but alas, there is still no decent Georgian dining options in my area. :(( The small cafe had almost no food choices, but there was one good thing...Read more... )
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I can hardly imagine a life where I'm a suburban mom or wife, greeting my husband at the door in full make-up each evening in lingerie with an overflowing bosom, while the scent of a delicious dinner permeates the air. However, the holidays are all about fantasy and dreams, so I decided to role play over the weekend and turn into a seductive Santa for my imaginary spouse. :) There is one thing that is real about this scenario, and that is my love for cooking. I suppose if I ever live with a man again he will be very well fed and cared for when it comes to eating and home-cooked meals. Today, I'll show you how to make a holiday dessert called "lemon lush." I showed everyone a photo of this dish in my Thanksgiving post, and many people asked me for the recipe. So, let's get started...Read more... )
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Here's a holiday repost for all of my new readers, but as a special thanks to everyone it is written in Russian. :) I changed the text a bit, there are some new photos because I made a different dessert for the feast this year (peanut butter pie!), and we started a new family tradition for this holiday (see photo 32). Thanks to my reader Alexander in Tbilisi, Georgia, for spending so much time translating the text in the middle of the night out of pure kindness. Cheers!

Если спросить у американцев про их любимые праздники, то большинство выскажется за День Благодарения и Рождество. Это наиболее значимые для Штатов праздники, и их отмечают с размахом большими компаниями, включая дальних родственников. А сейчас посмотрите, как этот праздник отмечает моя семья в небольшом городе Манассас в штате Виргиния. Приятного вам просмотра, тем же моим читателям, кто отмечает этот праздник в США или за границей - приятного аппетита! :)
Read more... )
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For the past two days, I hosted [ profile] popados and his lovely friend Luba in Washington, DC. Yes, they visited the State Department for cookies, but it was necessary to feed them proper meals. I offered to slave away in the kitchen, to prove that American women CAN cook, but they wanted to eat in restaurants so I took them to two ordinary places where a lot of Americans dine - Chili's and Outback Steakhouse. These are not expensive restaurants, but you can get a good meal at a cheap price, and taste some typical American cuisine. You can find these chains in almost all States across the U.S. Plus, it's always fun to sit in a cafe or restaurant and observe the natives in a social environment. Most Americans eat out several times a week, when they're in a hurry or just too lazy to prepare a homemade dinner. The list of choices is endless, even small towns typically have several shopping centers and restaurants. In this photo, a Tex-Mex salad, covered with chicken, salsa, beans, corn, peppers and avocado. But, of course, you can't come to America and not eat steak. :)) So, on the first night we went to devour a bloody piece of meat...Read more... )
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Herschel's Restaurant...Mount Pleasant, Texas. Our pancakes are better than yours. :)

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Sunday is my "fun day," especially during autumn and winter. I have no dietary restrictions on this day, and it's the day on which our professional football games are played from morning to night. American football is my favorite sport, and I watch it religiously. Almost always, I prepare a delicious meal the evening before, put it in the slow cooker, and then awake on Sunday morning and plug it in. Today, a nice cut of beef (London broil), covered in a red wine sauce, mushrooms, fresh potatoes and carrots, with onions layered on the bottom. It will cook for seven hours, and be ready to eat around 7pm. Yes, American women can cook! Don't believe the stereotypes. ;) Who wants to join me for dinner? Look tasty? :)

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Each traveler has a preferred manner of exploration. Some like museums or nature, but I always try to integrate with the locals to the greatest extent possible. This doesn't mean merely snapping photos of strangers on sidewalks or public places and making assumptions about their lives. It means taking the time to actually speak with them and learn a bit about their personality and story. For me, it's the most important part of every journey, though it's not always possible due to language barriers or safety reasons.

the post yesterday, I showed you an exotic dish and asked you to guess the name and country of origin. It was in Palestine that I ate the colorful creation known as "Maqluba" with this young lady and the rest of her family. It's known as the national dish of Palestine and also very popular in Jordan. And, yes, I know that Palestine is not a country but in my mind it's an entirely separate culture when compared to the Israeli-controlled areas I explored. The West Bank is for the most part a third-world arena, but in this environment I felt completely safe and comfortable. Now, a bit more about the national dish...Read more... )
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Who knows the name of this dish and from what country it originates? Tomorrow, I will tell you about it. :)

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Can you guess what's growing in the bright, green leaves? :) I think one of the biggest misperceptions about Americans is that we all stuff our faces with fast food and pizza every day. This may be true for some people, but not the majority. I once read a report from a well-known blogger who wrote that gardens are common "only in American ghettos." Such characterization is very strange, because it's ordinary for Americans to grow fruits and vegetables in their yards, and not only in rural areas. This photo is taken from my sister's house, right in the middle of suburbia. Each year, she attempts to grow various fruits and vegetables during the summer in her tiny yard. Hidden behind these leaves is a fruit that most Russians know very well and consume on a regular basis...what is it? )
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At my school, there was no cafeteria. Each morning, my mom awoke early and packed lunch for my sister and me. It grew monotonous, eating the same sandwiches and fruit each day. Secretly, I dreamed of being like my friends who went to public schools, lining up each day to have some old woman with a net around her hair throw slop on my plate. In the U.S., there's constant debate over what school children are fed in the cafeteria. A lot of schools have removed snack and soda machines, and guidelines about nutritional values for school meals are always shifting. Over the weekend, I looked at the menu from my nephew's elementary school, listing the meal choices for each day in the month of May. Common choices include pizza, tacos, hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken nuggets and pastas, all served with some type of vegetable and potatoes or rice. There's always one healthy option like grilled chicken or fish, and a wide-variety of fresh fruit is available for purchase. Yet only the most disciplined of children would pick such options when there are tastier and more indulgent choices placed in front of them each day. All of this creates a very sad picture on the white tray. I grew curious, and began to read about school lunches around the globe, and here's what I discovered!Read more... )
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When the food sanctions were announced last year, many Russian bloggers ran to create scandalous headlines and photos showing empty shelves and the threat of inflated food prices. Now, it's my turn to show a small level of panic arising in the markets of the USA. I'm not good at creating yellow headlines for stories, it's simply not in my nature to have a hysterical or panicked mind, even for the sake of ratings. However, I've noticed these signs posted in a lot of local stores, warning that organic milk is running out. The demand in the American marketplace has far exceed the supply, for many reasons. As a result, markets can now charge a premium for this product, but there's a constant debate as to whether the benefits of this type of product outweigh the increased cost. "Organic"...sounds good and healthy, but what does it really mean?Read more... )
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What do you desire after a long day of travel? For many, especially those on long road journeys, a decent meal and comfortable bed are high on the priority list. With this in mind, a Tennessee man named Dan Evins decided to open a cozy restaurant in the small town of Lebanon, Tennessee. Although the town is tiny, it sits off of I-40, a large interstate that runs between the big cities of Nashville and Knoxville. The idea was to create an environment where people could eat a good, cheap meal and be reminded of home and childhood delights in the process. In 1969, his imaginary restaurant came to fruition and the first "Cracker Barrel" opened in America. Mr. Evins a living embodiment of the American dream - work hard, produce quality products and reap rewards. Today, the chain has over 600 locations in 42 States, mostly located off of main roads or highways. This is one of my favorite places for dinner, where you're always greeted with friendly Southern hospitality no matter where you are in the country. Let's take a closer look inside.Read more... )
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Every weekend, I look forward to delicious breakfasts with my family. Sometimes I'm treated to a home cooked meal from my parents, but often the entire family goes to a restaurant for Sunday breakfast. This weekend, I decided to take a few pics with my iPhone to show you what we eat. I don't think American breakfast differs much from the Russian version. In many parts of the world, people are eating eggs and meat to start the day, and we do also. My favorite thing is pancakes! You can see based on this photo that the American version is much thicker than typical Russian pancakes. We have so many varieties of this dish, with various toppings. I always get chocolate chips baked into mine. Not the healthiest option, but tasty! Weekends are meant for indulgence. :)Read more... )
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Over the weekend, I visited a huge market in Washington, DC called "Eastern Market." There you can find the most unusual food items, including the image in this photo. Can you guess what this food is?? It looks almost like delicate flower petals, but trust me, it doesn't smell good and your girlfriend or wife would probably scream if you brought it home. There was a sign on the display window describing the item, and after seeing the name of the food, I couldn't taste it. Same when I attended a Hawaiian luau and saw the dead pig roasting on the fire pit. It triggered something in my mind and made the pig seem human, like a farm pet, such that I couldn't enjoy the feast. Look how cute!Read more... )
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When walking the streets of Ramallah, it's impossible not to notice all the food vendors. Smells of exotic spices, roasted meats and sweets penetrate the air. Everywhere vibrant colors, constantly distracting me and causing me to fall behind from the rest of the group. For a food lover, it's an overwhelming experience. I wanted to touch and taste everything, and most vendors gladly offered a small sample to tease my taste buds. Typically I'm a picky eater, but when traveling in Palestine there were so many street options for interesting foods that I stepped out of my comfort zone and discovered many new delights. Unfortunately, I can't remember the name of most of them. Maybe readers can help? This was some type of fruit, with a fuzzy texture (similar to a peach). The taste was sour and the skin tough, but a surprise in the center! A small nut, or maybe it was a pit or seed? Overall, a strange and unusual taste but I liked it. I've never seen anything like it in America. Does anyone know the name of the fruit?Read more... )
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Trips to Russia are always good for one thing - weight loss! I can't eat the food there. Sorry, I sometimes try but most Russian cuisine does not appeal to my palate. In St. Petersburg, I came across these strange dried fish in a liquor store. I don't understand how you eat them as a take-away snack? The eyeballs are still there! I'm not the only one confused by this treat. Look here. :)

More food confusion )
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Hello! My name is Shannon, and I'm an American who lives near Washington, DC. I previously showed you my day with Russian villagers in the Kostroma region, but today I want to show you how an ordinary family celebrates an important U.S. holiday - Thanksgiving.  If you ask any American what their favorite holiday is, the top two answers will be Thanksgiving and Christmas. These are the most popular celebrations in the States, and on both occasions even distant relatives gather together for large feasts and companionship. Now, let's take a look at how my family celebrates in the small town of Manassas, Virginia. Enjoy my Thanksgiving day and happy eating to all readers who celebrate this day in the USA...:)

Read more... )


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