It’s another installment of Chewing the Fat, and this week we’re so happy to be doing so with the delightful Sarah of Sarah Somewhere! Sarah was a flight attendant for a major Australian airline for eleven years before deciding to quit her job and travel the world with no plan, agenda or foreseeable end date. She and her partner Tyrhone sold everything they owned, including their home, to travel and create a simple, fulfilling life of creativity and adventure. They write about the journey at Sarah Somewhere and Tell Them I Said Something. After a year of travel through South East Asia, China and India, they are currently based on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, swimming, writing, creating and of course… eating.
If you’re not familiar with Sarah and her blog, I can only assume this is because you’ve only recently discovered the internet; when it comes to travel writers, she is the real deal! Her posts always manage to be a magical blend of funny, introspective, down-to-earth, and amazingly candid… all qualities she brings in spades to this interview where we chat about just how good REAL Mexican food is, what the heck is up with vegemite, who the very best MasterChef Australia judge is, and so much more! Read on and be prepared for your mouth to water and your eyes to tear up from laughter…
We’re a big fan of “foodcations”—on more than one occasion we’ve taken trips motivated solely by the desire to eat our way through our destination. Of all the places you have visited in your travels, if you were limited to only eating the food from one country, which place would you choose and why?
This is a tough one! It would have to be a toss up between Thailand and Mexico. While the cuisines couldn’t be more different, I am in love with them pretty much equally. I suppose I would choose Mexico because they have a wider range of flavors within the one cuisine. I never thought I would get sick of Thai food in Thailand, but I eventually did, springing for a western meal every now and again. I haven’t had that issue in Mexico…yet.
And the flipside: of all the places you’ve visited, which country had your least favorite food? Why was that and were you surprised?
Laos. Have you ever had the feeling that you missed the mark in regards to the cuisine of a certain country? That was how I felt about Laos. Although, on my last evening there, on a stop over in a tiny village on the Mekong during a two day boat trip to Thailand, I had the most amazing chicken laab. I was like, ‘Thank you food Gods! Finally some flavour!!”.
What’s the most exotic/adventurous edible you’ve sampled and what did you think about it?
Hmm.. I just realised I’m not very adventurous with food! I’m certainly not a fussy eater, but I’m not big on the ‘eating weird shit’ scene. My boyfriend Tyrhone is certainly more daring than I, and has eaten the odd bug and gizzard. He told me I have to eat guinea pig when we go to Peru, which I’m not looking forward to much. I ate crocodile in Alice Springs, Australia once. Does that count? Tasted like chicken. Kangaroo is also delicious.
Many travelers mention succumbing to McDonald’s or other fastfood cravings while on the road… what is the guilty pleasure food that you indulge in when traveling?
I found that I succumbed to fast food a lot more in Asia than I have in Mexico. A cheese burger would be my ‘go to’ comfort food, for sure, but I think in the five months I’ve spent in Mexico so far, I may have had fast food twice! Mexico has a very well rounded cuisine with a lot of diversity, which lessens the cravings for junk food I suppose. Although, hmm…. cheese burger…
Sometimes you don’t know a good thing until it’s gone! If there were one food from back home that you could eat RIGHT NOW, what would it be?
The first thing that came into my mind was fresh prawns. I’m not sure why because I live on the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and seafood is way cheaper here than where I’m from (Perth, Western Australia), but it’s kind of a family tradition for us to buy a kilogram of fresh, cooked, Exmouth tiger prawns (from the north coast of WA) and eat them cold with lemon and cocktail sauce. Whenever I go home, we do this, and it reminds me of my family. Growing up, we could never afford to eat like that, so as things got better, it became a decadent treat we enjoyed as often as possible!
If you knew we were coming to visit you in your hometown, what would be the one food you would make sure we tried?
I think I just answered that question!! I’d take you to to ‘Kailis Brothers’ our most reputable seafood merchant, and pick out the freshest prawns and oysters (if you’re that way inclined). Then head home to Mum’s place or down by the river for a FEAST. If you don’t like seafood, well, I’m sorry, it’ll be a sausage in a bun for you!
We are big fans of Mexican food—it’s probably the one food we crave the most consistently and have had the hardest time finding since leaving home. But our understanding is that Mexican food isn’t really done in Australia or the UK, two places that you have spent a significant amount of time. Tell us a bit about what it was like making it to Mexico and finally trying authentic Mexican cuisine. How does it compare to the stuff you experienced back home?
Oh, it simply doesn’t compare to Mexican food in Australia, which is soggy, heavy and laden with cheese. The states definitely has a better crack at it, being so much closer and more connected to Mexican people and their culture, but nothing compares to what you get here. From the smallest taco stand to the family-run restaurant serving up Mama’s ‘Mole’ to the more upscale places adding a modern twist to traditional dishes, it is all fantastic. Plus, there are many different dishes unique to each region of Mexico, so there is always something new to try. Apart from ‘tortillas twenty ways’ there are soups, ceviches, stews and asados (grilled meat) and more.
While in Singapore we finally had the chance to try the Aussie miracle that is Tim Tams. What other quintessentially Aussie foods do you think the world needs a little bit more of? You get 10 bonus points if you can explain the logic and appeal of vegemite…
I think the world needs more boxes of ‘Roses’ chocolates. They are an Aussie institution that should be protected; individually wrapped chocolates filled with fruity, nutty or caramel goodness. The ‘Turkish delight’ ones are my favourite, which no-one else usually likes. I’m not big on Tim Tams, never have been. I wouldn’t knock one back of course…
Picture this: A thick slice of fresh white bread, laden with butter, and a light spreading of rich, dark goodness. As you bite into the soft slice, the creaminess of the butter is slightly offset by a hint of salty bitterness…
How did I go?
On your blog, your revelation that your partner Tyrhone fell head over heels for Texas during your visit in the U.S. was met with bemused horror by many in the comment section. We’re curious though: as a tourist, what did you view as the best and worst aspects of the American dining scene?
We only had a brief stop over in Dallas, Texas, and it was Tyrhone’s first visit to the States. As funny as it sounds, I think your first visit to the USA is a bizarre experience. It’s a culture you know so much about from television and films, but being there in person is like stepping into a parallel universe where everything is familiar and alien at the same time. The best part about eating in the States, aside from the ridiculously large portions, is the friendly service. In Australia you’re lucky to get a smile from the waiter, and the ‘cooler’ the place, the more surly they are. In Texas we feasted on BBQ ribs and pulled pork, paying far less than we would have for a similar meal back home. Tyrhone was in heaven!
Final question! It’s a worldwide phenomenon, but we’re pretty sure that the very best iteration of MasterChef is the Australian version, complete with its Katy Perry-themed opening credits. If you could take a private masterclass with one of the three head judges, who would you pick: Gary, George, or Matt (Preston, obviously!)?
This question made me laugh! “You’re hot then you’re cold..” Aah, Masterchef! I loved it.
Definitely Matt! He’s a critic, not a chef, kind of like me! I love food, and whilst I can crack out a winning meal every now and again, I don’t see myself as a great cook. I revere good food, and it doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, in fact the food I love rarely is. Although, I once dined at ‘Mozaic’ fine dining restaurant in Ubud, Bali, and they served a lemon basil sorbet that has been etched into my consciousness ever since. Good meals are unforgettable.
Big thanks and a hug to Sarah for taking part in this week’s interview and Chewing the Fat with us! I won’t lie—even with all the wonderful Asian food we’ve been eating we’re incredibly jealous that she has gotten to spend the better part of a year stuffing herself on authentic Mexican fare. I’m not sure if she’s sold us on vegemite BUT stick it in a taco with some carne asado and you never know!
Like what you read here and want to be featured in a future installment of Chewing the Fat? Great! We’re always looking for new people to dish about dining with! You don’t have to be a long-term traveler, or even have your own blog to participate; all you need is a healthy appetite and an appreciation for food. Contact Us letting us know that you’re interested in taking part in this series, and we’ll get back to you with all the information you need to get started.