Against the Nile

By Audrey Bellis

Audrey Bellis owns The Bella Bambino, a family owned, special occasion children’s boutique, available online and by appointment in Los Angeles & Manhattan.

Growing up in an inner racial/inner faith household, I can honestly say that there aren’t many situations I feel uncomfortable in. In fact, I’m a little bit chameleon like. When I’m with my Mom’s side of the family (Mexican/Catholic), my Spanish is excellent, I keep up with telenovelas (soap operas in Spanish), and I can sing the latest music & all the classics too. I blend in, even if I have a non Mexican name like Audrey. I can go to mass with the family- I can pray in English & Spanish, and I completed my sacraments as a Catholic. I am even an advisory board member for Catholic Charities Los Angeles, the San Pedro region.

On my Dad’s side (Italian/Jewish) of the family, I still blend in. I have a Hebrew name from being named in the synagogue as a child (Peninah Shoshanah), my accent is spot on, I think lox on anything is God’s gift to breakfast, and my latkes (according to my Dad) are the best in this world (thanks to the fact that I add zucchini and jalapenos to them) and I can kvetch like no other. While I consider myself more Catholic than Jewish, I still keep a fusion household: i.e ChristmaKkuh or HannuMas, EastOver etc…

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The Cake Walk

By Sarah Tuttle-Singer

Sarah Tuttle-Singer is a contributing editor at Kveller.com where she (over)shares her parenting (mis)adventures with the internet at large. This post originally appeared here

Sarah also blogs at The Crazy Baby Mama.

My baby girl turns three today.

Three.

When she was born – looking like a cross between a plucked chicken and Lord Voldemort – I never imagined that she would suddenly, somehow, become the leaping and laughing KID she is today. 

Three is big. Three remembers. 

(I remember my third birthday… the balloons, the presents, and the chocolate cake my mom baked.)

So, I want to bake my daughter’s birthday cake.

But the thing is, I am pathologically unable to follow recipes. When I cook, I end up experimenting, but not in a good way.  I substitute honey for sugar and the cookie crumbles.  Flour for breadcrumbs, and the schnitzel burns.   And FYI if you want to watch your family turn various shades of green, use olive oil instead of butter when making scrambled eggs. Continue reading

How I Entered the Twilight Zone in Greece.

By Yves Sztajnkrycer

Yves Sztajnkrycer is too complex for a brief description. He is a citizen of the world who writes with humor, honesty, and a poignancy that will stop you in your tracks.

Desiderius Erasmus Roterodamus was a Dutch priest who lived in the 15th century and who was in favor of religious tolerance. And during my junior year of college I left Paris to follow a student exchange program also known as Erasmus program.

So I moved to Piraeus, a city not far from Athens. With my Parisian eyes I found the port of Athens full of agitation. I fell in love immediately with the noise, the smell of spices, the contrast between the crowd moving in and out of the ferry boats, and the constant deliveries to the street market.

I enjoyed walking home after class in the tumult of people and fragrances, watching the old men playing backgammon and drinking ouzo, slamming between the mopeds and the pretty Greek girls.

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To Pho or not to Pho. In Seoul

By Jacqueline Gabel

Originally from Minneapolis, Jacqui worked in fashion in New York before she took a leap of faith to quit her job and move back to her hometown. She spent some life-altering time traveling in South America, and she currently teaches in South Korea, finding her biggest inspiration from the food she tastes and the people she meets along the way. 

This post originally appeared here on Jacqui’s blog, Something For Sunday.  

My list of foods never to consume in the company of a person I might hope to see again is short. Some might say alarmingly so. Besides ribs, everything else is pretty much fair game.

That list doubled last weekend with the addition of rice noodle soups.  Here’s the story.

It had been awhile since I’d had a bowl of pho, but it’d been even longer since I’d gone on a first date. The day started late and lazily, but even so, it was the sort of day that called for a nap. A big, warming bowl of noodles steeped in savory broth for dinner sounded like a bulls-eye. Also, I miss cilantro like I miss a mammoth slice of thin crust pizza. In other words, pho on a first date was my idea. (I should add that I didn’t exactly realize it was a first date until the day after it happened. Good thing, because I would have been more nervous by epic proportions). Continue reading

I Think I’ve Reached My Linguistic Limit


By Matt Gross

Matt Gross writes about travel and food for the New York Times, Saveur, and Afar magazine, and about parenting for DadWagon.com. When he’s not on the road, he lives in Brooklyn with his wife and daughter.

Nine months ago, on a Cathay Pacific flight from Hong Kong to Surabaya, Indonesia, I began flipping through Lonely Planet’s Bahasa Indonesia phrasebook, not expecting to learn much of the local language. After all, this was a mere five-hour flight, and I’d had virtually no exposure to Bahasa before. How much could I pick up before we touched down?

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Piglatin in Spanish

By Audrey Bellis

Audrey Bellis owns The Bella Bambino, a family owned, special occasion children’s boutique, available online and by appointment in Los Angeles & Manhattan.

My mom is the youngest of 6. All my aunts and uncles and their families live within a 30 minute drive. With a family that large and very close knit (too close at times) conflicts are bound to arise. Growing up, our house was Switzerland- always neutral. From the time I was a little girl, I always remember my mom, grandma, and aunts congregating in our kitchen over a fresh batch of my mom’s cookies or pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread) and strong pot of coffee.

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An Unfinished Room in Montevideo

By Charla Cooper

Charla Cooper is a 54 year old single mother and US citizen currently living in Montevideo, Uruguay, where she teaches yoga.

She graduated from Swarthmore College in the U.S.

While her Father and Grandfather were accomplished writers, this is her first published piece.

I like white walls.  Whitewashed walls with nothing on them.  Like in Greece and the pueblos blancos in Spain.   White walls remind me of Nothing.

*    *    *

I moved to Montevideo, Uruguay with Christina, my beautiful one-and-one-half year old half-Fijian daughter, on Decemeber 1, 2008.

“Why Uruguay?”  everyone asks. Continue reading

585.1 miles in 28 hours

By Dan Blank

585.1 miles in 28 hours. We did not make it but not for a lack of effort. I was visiting Cusco, Peru with a friend. We took the train and intended to take the bus home to Lima. We met up with one of her friends who convinced her to try to fly stand by. At the airport, a local was helping us secure a flight. He found one seat for my friend and assured her that I would be able to catch a flight on one of the next eight flights leaving to Lima. She flew home and every ½ hour for the next four hours, this guy would come back to tell me that there were no seats on the next flight. He came to me one more time and said that there were no seats on the last flight that day but an interesting proposition just came up. And so the adventure begins…. Continue reading

Swimming in an Ocean of Intermediates

By Lola Akinmade-Åkerström

As a Stockholm-based writer/photographer, Lola has contributed to many major travel publications such as National Geographic Traveler (both US & UK versions), BBC, CNN, Forbes, Vogue, Fodors.com, Travel + Leisure, San Francisco Chronicle, New York Times’ LENS blog, United Airlines’ Hemispheres, AFAR, Matador Network, and many more - http://www.akinmade.com/articles.

I was shocked when I read the news off my husband’s iPhone.

A famous Swedish actor had died in a house fire on New Year’s Eve. Quickly turning to one of the other dinner guests, I tried explaining to her what I’d just read, expressing how horrendous it was.

She looked me straight in the eye for two seconds and burst out laughing.

I was confused. Why would someone’s death generate such forced laughter? She chuckled a bit more, nodded, and then turned away. We’d chatted freely earlier that evening – in Swedish - and the conversation had flowed both ways.

This time felt different, and it was then I realized she hadn’t understood a word I had said to her, and she felt too polite to say she hadn’t grasped it. If I’d been purely green, she might have stopped me or switched to English.

But she let me go on.

This wasn’t the first time I’d gone on and on in Swedish to a local only to have them respond incorrectly. They usually just pick out a few keywords, try to form the context of what I was explaining in their minds, and formulate incorrect answers.

Again, if I’d been an absolute beginner, they probably would have asked me to repeat or switched to English.

I’d finally moved into the class of intermediates – language learners whose hands weren’t being held anymore. We were now in the sink-or-swim category; that nebulous never-ending transition period one seems to find themselves in forever.

A transition period I now call the plight of the immediate speaker.

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Learning the Lingo

By Simon Fenton

Simon was born & educated near Oxford. After a career lifeguarding at nudist clubs, conducting pregnancy tests & weighing organs in a morgue, he set off for Asia for several years, staying as far off the beaten track as possible & financing himself by teaching English & acting in Bollywood movies. Upon his return to the UK, he realized he far preferred off the beaten track to city life & went back to work as a pig breeder in Vietnam for four years. Eventually, however, the call of the not particularly wild was heard, & he returned once more, living in London & Brighton. A perfect storm of events re-ignited his wanderlust, however, and he he woke up one morning and said to himself ‘goodness, I forgot to cross the Sahara’. Reader, he crossed it, landing a ‘job’ on the other side managing a lodge in Senegal. He liked it so much, he bought another ticket.  Simon currently lives in Senegal with Khady, son Gulliver, dog Toubab and Kermit the jeep. where he indulges in his three main passions: travel, writing & photography.  For more, check out his blog.  

I always struggle with languages. I’m currently getting by in French, but if people speak too fast I crumple. I was dismayed to watch a French film the other day and barely understand a word. But with my friends, who know my capabilities, we can communicate perfectly well. It was similar in Vietnam. After two years in the bush, I could hold a conversation about agriculture, building farms and lon’s. I was also proud to be able to hold a 30 minute telephone conversation.
So, it’s with an affectionate smile, and not mocking sarcasm, that I enjoy laughing at and recording various language and pronunciation errors around the world.