Friday, May 4, 2012

There's More To Dundee Than Marmalade (But The Marmalade Is Pretty Tasty Too)

Feta stuffed olives...plum mead...pistachio and cinnamon baklava...these are just a few of the amazing things Halie and I tried on our food crawl through Dundee! We had such a fun day!

There was a market being put on in Dundee, so we decided to go check it out. We both originally thought our priority would be looking for things like jewelry, but that all changed once we saw (or more accurately smelled) the food vendors! So we stopped, reevaluated our situation, and decided to do a food crawl instead!

Our first stop was at a Greek/Turkish stand. The man there was selling every type of olive you can imagine. He insisted that we try almost everything before buying it, so we basically had a meal before spending a penny! The only one I didn't like was stuffed with sardines, but when he realized that I didn't like it he fed me really tasty roasted cashews! Totally worth the momentary discomfort! After our taste test, our final choices were olives stuffed (separately) with feta, chillies, some tasty red stuff we didn't recognize, and garlic. We also got some chillies stuffed with feta, grilled eggplant, and rice rolled in wine leaves. It was all so delicious!! Little did we know though, the real treat was yet to come! Halie and I are now converts to Baklava! We tried traditional baklava, almond and ginger tarts, a nutty one rolled in something resembling pieces of shredded wheat cereal, and our favorite - pistachio and cinnamon baklava. They were so beyond delicious, and literally melted in your mouth. Luckily they were small and we were able to split them between us and get a taste of everything!

We needed to wash down our baklava with something, so our next stop was at the mead stand. I was a little incredulous, since I'm not a huge fan of most alcohols, but mead is delicious!! The men working the stand thought Halie and I were very entertaining, and made us try every type of mead and wine they had. And they had a lot. Honey mead, elderberry mead, king's mead, mulled wine, apple wine, raspberry wine, plum wine, something called goblin's fire (the only one I didn't enjoy)...that was about all the ones that I remember. Everything got a little bit fuzzy after we tried one that was 80 proof. We were only allowed to take a drop on our finger, and it seriously numbed your mouth! I informed them (by this time feeling very comfortable with my new friends) that they should use that product to numb dental patients in the future for a much more enjoyable experience. Needless to say, 30 minutes later Halie and I giggled our way to the ATM so that we could take some spirits home with us. I chose the traditional mead, which basically tastes like alcoholic honey, and the apple wine, which is essentially an apple pie in a glass. Yum!

Feeling like we should probably eat something more absorbent than olives, we tried some Spanish Paella. Another success! We enjoyed spicy meatballs served over flavorful rice, chillies and tomatoes. We're not exactly sure how to say "Holy cow woman, you sure know how to kick all other rice's butt" in Spanish, but I'm fairly certain that our euphoric facial expressions did a pretty good translation job for us.

We were feeling like we only had room for one more stop, and of course, we couldn't leave Dundee without eating some marmalade. There wasn't a scone stand (for shame) but there was a crepe tent, and they offered one filled with tangy, chunky marmalade which did just the trick. The perfect end to a delicious tour of the market!

Our whole experience lasted about four hours, and we enjoyed every bite of it. I am supposed to be opening my mind to cultural experiences, and I believe I learned some valuable study abroad lessons today:

-Baklava is on par with Molly Mallone's sticky toffee pudding. For those of you who have had the pleasure of Molly's pudding, you know what a loaded statement that is.

-Mead tastes like a gift from God, but is as sneaky as the Devil (most of it 15%).

-Americans don't know how to cook rice. Full stop.

-Dundee's marmalade is famous for a reason!

So here's to you!

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