fluffy in iguazu

#Caturday Fluffy white cat in Iguazu, Argentina

Location: Puerto Iguazu, Argentina

There were a lot of cats at Aripuca and I’ve featured a sun bathing cat in Caturday.

One of the most fascinating of the feline was a very fluffy white cat. It was majorly adorable but I didn’t dare get too close in case it ran off.

Fluffy white cat at Aripuca

For more Meow Power, check out the other Caturdays:

Henri le chat noir in Turkey
Give a cat a rod
Good Cat Hunting in Athens

asado

#FoodFriday Appreciating asado, the Argentinian barbeque

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to Argentina for a hell lot of barbecued meat.

Before I went to Argentina, I thought I knew barbecue. To me, BBQ is a time when friends gather around and put dainty raw meat such as chicken wings, hotdogs and maybe some slices of meat on top of some charcoal.

Only wimps eat BBQ chicken wings.

Only wimps eat BBQ chicken wings.

Then on my second night, the Buenos Aires hotel I stayed at had a BBQ Thursday. Just hand over 70 pesos and you can eat all you want. When I heard of the event, I thought about how many chicken wings I can eat (many many!) and was glad that beef is popular in Argentina. Now I can replenish my iron supply!

But when I saw the barbecue pit and the meat on it, I realized how wrong I was about Argentina’s BBQ. Those were not chicken wings on the grill, those were huge chunks of meat (fatty parts included without apologies), wrist-sized sausages and half chickens.

Oh, I have to explain. Here, carne (meat) refers to beef.

BBQ pit at my Buenos Aires hostel

BBQ pit at my Buenos Aires hostel

Some of the guests from the US requested beef that was bleeding, not realizing that different cuts are used for BBQ. Unfortunately, the guys at the hostel didn’t really cook the meat enough so I was feeling a bit queasy after just a few bites.

Not very appetizing asado at the hostel BBQ

Not very appetizing asado at the hostel BBQ

Later in the supermarket, I saw a huge part of the meat section devoted for barbeque meat. They looked more like large intestines than meat.

Much better asado at restaurants

After the asado at the hostel, I was quick to dismiss Argentinian asado. But one day, I met the best barbecued meat of my life at a restaurant in Iguazu.

The restaurant is called Vaca Verde (Green Cow) and the owner was a really friendly old man who recommended the house’s asado.

Proper parilla in restaurant

Proper parilla in restaurant

The meat that came out looked a bit charred but the taste was marvelous. The slightly burnt skin tasted sour but the meat was sweet. I gobbled down my share quickly but I wanted more. More of this beautiful meat.

I dreamt about this plate of asado once. It was beautiful.

I dreamt about this plate of asado once. It was beautiful.

After the meal, my brain was still hooked on it. I even had a dream where I was served something that tasted exactly the same. Alas, I have not had the dream since then.

Which country serves the best barbeque? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

hot choc

#FoodFriday Making Mayan hot chocolate at Chocolate Museum

On my first day in Cusco, Peru, I didn’t have anything planned so I looked at the tourist map to see where I could go. Among the list of museums was the very curious chocolate museum. Since it was near where I was staying, I decided to visit and learn more about chocolate.

The museum is located on the second floor and you need to enter from a passage on the side of the building. The museum isn’t really a museum but a shop/café with a few panels with information on chocolate.

Maybe i t was my ninja sightseeing skills, no one from the museum brought me around to look at things. I later noticed that other tourists were swarmed by fawning employees. In the end I decided to take a seat and have a coffee, or a hot chocolate, to waste a way a bit of my time.

The most intriguing item on the menu was the Mayan/ European hot chocolate. Based on information in the museum, we know that Mayans drink their chocolate with chili powder while the Europeans add honey.

You are presented with the ingredients for both versions of the hot chocolate:

Clockwise from top: Chili powder, honey, mug with spoon, warm milk and chocolate paste.

Ingredients for Mayan hot chocolate

There’s no correct way to make Mayan hot chocolate so I dumped a lot of chili powder in. It didn’t taste as peppery hot as I expected so I was slightly disappointed. It did turn the regular hot chocolate into something festive with its red chili powder.

Spicy Mayan hot chocolate

Where can you find Mayan hot chocolate

Choco Museum in Cusco

Other yummies in South America:

pescado

#FoodFriday Peruvian seafood soup

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re slurping some soups made of fruits of the sea in Peru.

Some time ago, I talked about Latin America’s ceviche, a dish with raw fish cooked in lime or lemon juice. Today, we’re still eating food from under the sea but it’s cooked using fire.

I love soups and this extends to noodle dishes in soup. There is something very comforting about a food that doesn’t require you to chew too much.

I also like my soups tongue-burningly hot because that’s when I know that I am alive. I’m a bit of a masochist when it comes to soup.

Seafood soups in Peru

Seafood soups in Peru were unlike the Chinese soups that I’m used to. Instead of clear soup, we have a stock that is bright orange. The ingredients always seem to threaten to escape from the bowls which are huge.

Seafood soup of the house in Lima

Chupe de pescado--Fish soup!

Read more:

#FoodFriday I love ceviche!

Where to find cheap food in Aguas Calientes [#FoodFriday]

#FoodFriday Lactose-less milk in Peru

how to make a submarino

#FoodFriday Make Argentinian hot chocolate ‘Submarino’ in 4 easy steps

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re making our own hot chocolate, Argentinian style.

I was introduced to the submarino–a winter Argentinian drink–in my Spanish class in Buenos Aires. Out teacher asked our class of 3 if we knew what a submarino was.

Being the smart ass (although truthfully more ass than smart) that I am, I said that it was a sandwich, thinking that it was a quirky nickname for Subway.

Then the teacher explained that it was a drink. In a tall glass of hot milk, a bar of chocolate is submerged, giving it its name “submarino” (submarine).

One day, I tried the drink at a Buenos Aires cafe. The waitress came with a glass of milk and TWO bars of chocolate. The chocolate’s label indicated that it was for submarinos. However, I took a nibble and discovered that it tasted the same as regular dark chocolate.

submarino

Instead of flying to Buenos Aires during winter to try the submarino, I will share my recipe for making a submarino in 4 simple steps.

Step 1: Prepare the ingredients

Ingredients for submarino

For this recipe, you will need:

  • Milk
  • A bar of chocolate, preferably dark
  • Microwave-friendly heat-resistant mug
  • A spoon

Step 2: Heat the milk

Prepare one cup of milk

Pour out your milk into your mug. Put the mug of milk into the microwave and heat it up in 20-30 seconds intervals, test the temperature of the milk and you are ready when the the milk is steaming hot.

Microwave the milk so it's hot

Step 3: Submerge your chocolate and stir

Drop a row of chocolate

Break off a row of chocolate and drown it in milk. Stir vigorously with your spoon.

Once most of the chocolate has turned to liquid, you are ready to…

Step 4: Serve

A mildly successful submarino

Drink the whole mug in a go.

Oh, you might need to bathroom afterwards because even people who are not usually lactose intolerant will have some of its symptoms when finishing a large glass of milk. (Or maybe it’s just me.)

Have you tried the recipe? How do you like it?

assassin cat

Caturday: Assassin cat in Miraflores, Lima

Cat in Miraflores, Lima

Cat inner monologue:

I knew that this assignment won’t be easy but I need the money for catnip. Why did I even touch that drug in the first place.

I’ve been following the target since this morning but strangely, I think somecat is following me too. I keep looking over my shoulders but I only see humans. I think I’m losing my touch.

The target has stopped to lean against this wall. He can’t hear me because I’m a silent assassin. Maybe if I pounce now, I can eliminate the target immediately. Here goes nothing.

Cat in Miraflores, Lima

More Caturday goodness on YQtravelling.

foodfriday ceviche

#FoodFriday I love ceviche!

Welcome to YQtravelling’s FoodFriday. The day of the week when I show off some of the lovely eats I had while travelling.

Today we’re going to going to South and Central America for some raw fish yummies.

It was my mom who introduced me to the wonders of sashimi. A long long time ago, I didn’t realize just how tasty raw fish with a hint of spicy wasabi is. One day, she encouraged me to try out “just one slice” of tuna sashimi. I was hooked!

Since then, I always welcome dishes with raw seafood (even if they taste like rubber) so imagine my joy when I learned about Latin America’s ceviche.

The dish, also spelled as “cebiche”, is raw fish or seafood marinated in citrus juice. The juice “cooks” the fish using some scientific magic. Or About.com can explain better:

In the culinary arts, ceviche is a Latin American recipe for raw fish and seafood marinated in citrus juice, mainly lime and lemon juice. The acid in the citrus juice coagulates the proteins in the fish, effectively cooking it.

Ceviche is served in the morning and until noon in Peru because it’s not good to keep the half-cooked fish until dinner time. However, for tourists, restaurants do serve ceviche for dinner.

Ceviche at Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

My first ceviche experience was in a Peruvian restaurant in Buenos Aires.

Chan Chan was near my hostel and was said to serve cheap food. I ordered the ceviche, despite not knowing what to expect. I imagined a large plate of sashimi slices but it looked like this:

Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

There was a bush of onion on my fish and a piece of tapioca and a small corn. I thought it was going to be all meat. :(

Still, I fell in love with the tangy dish despite my ulcers which were stabbed by the lime juice with each bite.

From then on, I was open to tasting as many ceviches as I could. However, until now, the dish from Chan Chan remained the best tasting and the most filling ceviche that I’ve had.

Ceviche at San Camilo Market, Arequipa, Peru

I’m hesitant about eating ceviche in most places because the combination of raw fish and unsanitary conditions equals disaster.

So I was glad to learn that the couple from GQtrippin did not have problems with the ceviche at San Camilo Market in Arequipa. I made it a point to visit the market and taste the local ceviche.

Ceviche from San Camilo market

Cebiche from Chan Chan, Buenos Aires

The sauce for my ceviche was dyed a slight orange color from what I hope was the tapioca. The dish was nice but it couldn’t compete with my memory of my dish in Buenos Aires.

This other ceviche place in Arequipa

Cebiche

I adore ceviches but I find it frustrating that they never serve a big enough serving to strerch my stomach. Ceviches are served in petite portions with more garnish than the actual fish.

Sometimes the dish is served in fancy wine glasses like this one from a ceviche recommended by one of the teachers in Arequipa.

Four-taste ceviche from Mares, Arequipa

Cebiche from Mares

Cebiche from Mares

As a budget traveller, I do not frequent fancy restaurants much. But when I was studying in Arequipa, Peru, my retired schoolmate Tasha* (not her real name) always had plans to visit nice restaurants. I could have said no but I always went along.

At Mares in Arequipa, they have a dish with four different sauces for ceviche. I quite like the one that tasted of fruit but I do not remember the proper name.

El Salvadorian ceviche

El Salvadorian ceviche

El Salvadorian ceviche

I tried ceviche at a seafood restaurant in San Salvador. There was quite a lot of fish and even a fried banana biscuit to garnish.

I was surprised by the crackers they gave me. The waiter told me that I should eat the fish with the cracker.

The fish was quite OK and I liked the salty taste of the cracker combined with the lime juice. Yum yum.

When I head back to Southeast Asia, I’ll miss ceviche the most. Even if restaurants sell ceviche, I seriously think that the price will be over the roof so I’ll just eat all my share of ceviche here before I head home.

Have you eaten ceviche? Do you like it?

around the world with overexposed model

Around the world with The Overexposed Model

There’s a side of me on the internet that I’ve not shared on YQ Travelling, until today.

Back in December 2012 when I was in Singapore, I created a Tumblr called The Overexposed Model (OEM) to record ads which I’ve come across that feature an ambiguously raced young lady.

The tumblr was actually a follow up of a blog with a similar goal. The blog was called The Overexposed Big Mouth Model but it disappeared when I was trying to submit my sightings.

Since OEM was in so many ads as the generic smiling women, I thought it was fun to chronicle my discoveries. I shared the blog link with a few friends but I mostly kept it as a semi-private collection.

Then one day, a freelancer from the Phillipines asked if he could interview me about the blog as part of a feature on the model. I can now honestly say that I was in Esquire Philippines (or something like that), however not as a bikini model.

In March, the Singapore media ran out of story ideas and featured The Overexposed Model in various print and web outlets. Some readers started submitting their own sightings of OEM to the tumblr. I put those up too.

Naively, I thought that the tumblr will hibernate while I go on my four-month journey. I still keep seeing OEM.

In the beginning, it was fun spotting OEM but now it feels kind of like a nightmare. Each time I see her, there’s less giddy surprise and more “NOT AGAIN!” Of course, I still obediently take out my camera and snap her photos.

Overexposed Model in Malaysia

OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.

OEM selling ulcer medication in Sabah, Malaysia.

My first overseas sighting of OEM was back home in Sabah in a clinic. She was in a ulcer medication ad.

Overexposed Model in Greece

Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.

Overexposed Model in an optician ad in Athens, Greece.

In Greece, I found OEM hawking glasses in Athens.

Overexposed Model in Argentina

Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport

Overexposed Model in Buenos Aires airport

I thought I was safe from OEM but I found her at Buenos Aires airport, selling some sort of travel card.

Overexposed Model in Peru

Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.

Overexposed Model on Cruz del Sur website.

I found her on a bus company’s website, ready to go for an unplanned weekend travel.

Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.

Overexposed Model in a clinic ad in Arequipa, Peru.

In Arequipa, in a lonely building, I found her in a life size printout. I thought I should stand next to her to prove that I spotted her.

Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.

Overexposed Model in the papers in Peru.

Then I saw her again in the papers.

Overexposed Model in San Salvador

Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador

Overexposed Model in a pharmacy ad in San Salvador

When I was out window shopping, I saw her outside a supermarket.

I don’t think I will ever get used to seeing OEM in an ad. It’s funny how she’s featured in so many different countries. Does her looks makes her the everyday person of the countries she’s been featured?

Have you seen the Overexposed Model? Share where you’ve seen her in the comments below.

YQ gets a haircut

Getting a haircut in Lima [YQrtw Day 115 Aug 3]

Location: Lima, Peru

As I said yesterday, I don’t have any thing planned for Lima so I decided to get a haircut today. So much for doing my own hair, huh.

Below my hostel is a nail salon and a proper hair salon. The salon was closed when I was going out so I walked along the street looking for another hair salon. (I later found out that they also do hair jobs in the nail salon.)

I got my hair cut in the shop on the left

I got my hair cut in the shop on the left

I found a little place called Gladys. It was the name of my host mother in Arequipa so I thought that it was a good sign.

When I went in, there was only another customer doing her nails. The owner, employee and customer were all watching a volleyball match on TV between Peru and China. I interrupted them, asking if I could get a haircut.

The only chairs were taken by the customer so I didn’t think that I could get my hair done. However, the owner told me that there were haircuts so I stayed.

The owner dragged a chair from behind the counter and put it in front of the mirror above the sofa. That was my makeshift hair cut chair.

While she was getting her tools ready, she excitedly pointed at the TV and then to me. “China,” she said. I replied, “Soy de Malasia.” (I’m from Malaysia.)

I thumbed through a few hair catalogues and pointed to a short bob. The hairdresser looked at it and shook her head.

She got out another book and showed me other hairstyles. I chose one that looked very much like the last one. Fortunately, she agreed.

She started snipping away. And she even used a fun-looking razor. It was a razor covered on one side with a teeth-shaped plastic.

I was kind of worried that my hair was cut too short. The problem with my hair is that if it’s too short, it will start to stand vertically. When I was a baby, my hair defied gravity all the time.

Halfway through the hair cut, the result of the volleyball match was announced. China won and Peru was “among the top 4”.

I was really worried that the hairdresser might wreck my hair because China won. (Chinese-looking person == China == Gals who beat Peru.)

Fortunately, I was still alive by the end of the haircut. I don’t hate my new hair but I suspect they will be doing some gravity-defying stunts when I get back to humid Southeast Asia.

It was only 10 soles for the cut (about S$5) so I won’t complain!

YQ gets a haircut

YQ gets a haircut

Rest of the day:

Took the bus one from one end to another. The areas away from the city center reminded me a lot of Indonesia.

Scene from Lima's street

Scene from Lima’s street

Lunched at a Foursquare-recommended place. Had seafood soup.

Seafood soup in Lima

Seafood soup in Lima

Took bus to Miraflores. Drank coffee.

Went grocery shopping before heading back to hostel.

Had a pedicure in the nail salon downstairs.