A Reason to Travel, as Told on an Empty Stomach

It wasn’t a great spoonful of rasgulla, but that’s not the point.

Fine, food is usually the point, but often I place the same amount of importance in good wandering for the day.    Nowadays when I travel, I eschew guidebooks and traditional points of interest and just go for a long walk.  Very long.  Particularly in places that long ago decided that sidewalks were too pedestrian-friendly, and in those cities where breathing is a task best left to cigarettes.

Nevertheless, I wander, as was the case when I briefly visited Palermo, Sicily, Italy.   Beyond a long-winded local population, I expected to see small Indonesian and Filipino communities, due to the cruise and shipping industries.  Yep.  I was surprised however, to encounter Bangladeshis selling various trinkets and wares throughout much of Palermo’s urban core.  I may have also seen some Bengali youths playing cricket, but my mind was likely getting its West and East Pakistans all mixed up.

Naturally, i didn’t buy anything from those vendors, because the last time I did I couldn’t return my “AA½” batteries.  Though I did read that many Bangladeshis emigrated to Italy in the 1980s and 1990s, not ONCE did I hear of a “Little Bangladeshin Sicily.  I must not be hanging around the best of circles.  In any event, I trudged on with my amble, and came across a street (named Via Calderai) with a few Bengali expat stores.  Could Italian-Bengali cuisine – puchka alla vongole – be in the works?  Maybe not this century, but a small snack from the subcontinent proves that wandering without having to worry about checking off heavily fortified attractions is both enriching and appetizing.

Palermo - Rasgullah

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6 comments on “A Reason to Travel, as Told on an Empty Stomach

  1. How neat it would be if a “Little Bangladesh” in Sicily existed!!!! It saddens me when a food cultures does not thrive after immigration to a new country… :-(

    • Does Albuquerque have a thriving and diverse food scene? I was there once, in the mid-90s, but that was when I could barely stomach a bell pepper, let alone anything spicy. Also, I remember the airport being surprisingly welcoming, for the US!

      • Albuquerque does not have as thriving or diverse a food scene as many cities. Nothing like NYC, Atlanta, Chicago, SF, LA, Houston – or even smaller towns like Austin. It is not a “food” town (sadly!). However, the local produce and meats are excellent – we have some great farms and a few couple of creameries (mmm, cheese) down South. The spicy foods you mention – green chile, chile spice blends, big pots of local pinto beans – are probably where NM really shines. :-) I have lived here for almost four years – one more year here and then onto new culinary adventures!

      • Oh, we do have some awesome Vietnamese and Thai foods here – you just have to know where to go – very delicious and authentic. :-)

  2. […] to sample a choleric fruit shake. Then there are other places that I choose to conquer by foot. If food is the goal, that's an even bigger incentive. __________________ I […]

  3. […] My apologies to everyone.  I was very busy/in places where the internet was as unreliable as the daily food-borne illness.  But I’m back now, ready to re-tackle those pressing issues. […]

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