Antisemitism, The Far Right And Me

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Antisemitism, The Far Right And Me

“Tolerance is not a synonym of weakness.” Satyendra Singh

Growing up with the children of Holocaust survivors, I learned it is always an anxious time to be an American Jew. If there isn’t a genuine threat to my safety, my brain can easily invent one. 

The BF says it’s because when my grandparents were being raped and pillaged in Eastern Europe, his grandparents were looking at real estate on the Eastern Shore. We have different anxiety levels.

According to the AntiDefamation League, antisemitism is up and growing over the last five years.

In the past, most antisemitic acts were random acts of violence from  personal hatred of Jews. But lately, the acts are from extremist, political ideology. Most recent acts of Antisemitism are being committed by the Far Right -in particular, white supremacist groups that are embraced by the Right. 

It’s mind-boggling to me that the Jewish Orthodox community has embraced a president who said that the group in Charlottesville who shouted “Jews will not replace us” had some very fine people. He shares the same conspiracy theories about George Soros funding immigrant migration that some synagogue shooters do. 

Antisemitism seems to be the backbone of most far-right groups and conspiracy theories. It certainly is behind QAnon and growing more so. The claim that rich Jews, including the Rothschild banking family, secretly control the world has long been a recurring feature in antisemitism and is behind QAnon theories. I was told that as a child as one of the explanations for Hitler’s popularity. I remember looking around my working-class Jewish neighborhood wondering how anyone could believe something like that.

The age-old anti-Semitic story claiming that Jews kill Christian children to harvest their blood for ritual purposes is making a comeback. I have a personal connection to that one. My last name means “holy seed” because my ex-husband is a descendent of a group of rabbis who defended a Jewish person accused of killing a Christian child to use his blood for a Passover service. They were ultimately killed in his place. I certainly didn’t think I would be hearing that ancient one again. QAnon sounds more and more like a rebranded Nazi cult. I didn’t hear Trump come out against them either.

Antisemitism has been called the world’s oldest hatred. It’s been used throughout centuries to explain all the bad things that happen in a society. It becomes more prominent in times of economic distress and political unrest. My mother used to say that the world needs someone to blame for their troubles. We have a lot of troubles right now. 

Antisemitism is on the rise in Europe as well. It isn’t just “hillbillies raising a confederate flag.” This isn’t an isolated hatred. Don’t stay silent. Two Qanon supporters were elected to Congress this year. Isn’t that how the Nazis started? No one took them seriously and look what happened.

PS I wrote this blog post on Monday.  On Wednesday among the many ugly, white supremacist groups storming the capitol were Nazis.  Carrying swastika flags and wearing shirts that said things like “Camp Auschwitz STAFF, work brings freedom” and “6MWE” (which stands for “six million weren’t enough,” a reference to the number of Jewish people killed in the Holocaust). The Nazis made themselves right at home in the Capitol stoking  fear and sending a clear message of the hate and violence they represent. They were not patriots, Jewish Ivanka.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Twenty Five Things I Want To Do in 2021

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25 Things I Want To Do in 2021

“Speaking of the happy new year, I wonder if any year ever had less chance of being happy. It’s as though the whole race were indulging in a kind of species introversion — as though we looked inward on our neuroses. And the thing we see isn’t very pretty… So we go into this happy new year, knowing that our species has learned nothing, can, as a race, learn nothing — that the experience of ten thousand years has made no impression on the instincts of the million years that preceded.”  John Steinbeck

Well, this will be different.

 Get a corona virus vaccine and go back to traveling and my normal life. 

 Stay healthy.

I want my children, family and friends to stay healthy. 

I hope small businesses and restaurants  get through this.

 Not check what crazy thing Trump did today.

 Eat in a restaurant with my friends and family.

 Rent a house in Portugal.

Get a massage.

 Take my trip to France and Germany that was cancelled. 

 Stop being afraid every time I leave the house.

Go to a film festival or music festival.

Get acupuncture.

 Go to a spa.

See the Grand Canyon.

Continue Qi, Gong, Yoga and Meditation.

Move.

 Go anywhere.

 Go to the theatre, ballet or a concert.

Go to Nicaragua, Costa Rica or Belize.

 Go to the movies and eat popcorn.

Fly on an airplane.

Go to Marfa.

 Go shopping in a store.

Go to the Galapagos.

Leave the house without alcohol spray, hand sanitizer,  wipes and a mask. 

Fly safe, Stay safe, and Next year will be better!!!

JAZ

Pandemic – Nine and Half Month Check-In

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Pandemic – Nine And A Half Month Check-In

“In the end, everything will be okay. If it isn’t okay, then it isn’t the end.”Unknown

The Bf bought me a beautiful necklace for Christmas. It’s not the kind of thing you can throw on in this pandemic casual world. I looked at it and wondered when I would get to wear it. For a moment I thought of how much protective gear I could get if I returned it. My presents to him were much more practical things that he could use now. 

This made me think how much the pandemic has already shaped my life and how it will continue to shape it.  Luckily, human beings have the ability to bounce back. Covid 19 highlighted the mess that the US is in. If we had been better about standing together and helping each other, we would be in a much different place now – mentally, physically, and economically. 

I have lived in LA for many years and the landscape has changed greatly.  It has become more gentrified, crowded, and expensive.  Many of my favorite stores, restaurants and bars have closed. 

But what if the change happens all at once? 2020 has been unprecedented.  At the moment restaurants, gyms, bars, hair and nail salons, theaters, and dance clubs are all closed. Small businesses are open but people are not supposed to go to them. 

There are many places in LA that have closed during the pandemic and many more will continue to close. I have tried to do takeout a couple of times a week throughout the pandemic to support local restaurants – even though in the beginning it was scary.  There has been no reason to buy clothes or accessories. I do my own nails and have wash and wear hair. I don’t have much need for dry-cleaning. I exercise on Zoom.  I order everything on Amazon. When I do go out, I drive by more and more for lease signs on small businesses and stores. I see more homeless camps on streets that did not have them before. 

We need to make more of an effort to support our local businesses or they won’t be here when we come out of this.  Here are some things we can do.

 Delivery apps like Grubhub and Uber charge large fees to restaurants that are already losing money. Curbside pickup is usually available and safe. Try to pick up your own food directly from the restaurants. Don’t forget to tip. It’s not just restaurants – local farms are struggling as well. Sign up for a local farm box. It will mean less trips to the store, less  people handling your food and fresh healthy produce to help your immune system. Order from Gold Belly. Many closed restaurants are shipping all kinds of food products throughout the country. 

 Shop local.  Depending on your risk factor, put on a mask and go into a store that follows safety rules, or call and do a curbside pickup. Buy gift cards to use later. Many small businesses have put their stuff online and you can do that as well. Give businesses a shout out on social media. It’s free and helpful. 

Donate to a cause or help prepare food for those laid-off workers and their families during this time.

Above all stay home when you can. You will be protecting yourself and others. The pandemic won’t end when the clock strikes 12 on New Year’s Eve but help is on the way -Hang in there and Happy New Year.

Stay safe,

JAZ

 Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

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   Ten Countries With The Best Response To Covid 19

“The virus is cleverer than us, the virus is running faster than us.”  Dr. Li Ailan 

The one thing that the countries that seem to be doing better at controlling the virus have in common is that their governments, healthcare, and science are working together. Early action, testing, and contact tracing were key steps in controlling the virus. It is a very different approach than the countries with leaders who are using the crisis to accelerate their authoritarianism by blaming the “others”, demonizing journalists, and blanketing their countries in “I will never leave” darkness. Here are some countries in order from most to least cases with success stories. The numbers are from December 26.

Denmark 151,167 cases 1,153 deaths

Denmark’s response to the pandemic was “act fast and act with force.” Denmark is a peninsula and only shares one border with Germany. It was still one of the first country’s to close its border and have a national lockdown. Denmark immediately banned large public gatherings, closed down all unnecessary venues across its cities, heavily discouraged the use of public transportation and all manner of travel unless absolutely essential. Daycares, schools, and universities were very quickly shut down and air travel was severely restricted. Their entire free health care system was able to prioritize and reorganize medical departments, isolation wards, and hospital beds, as well as doctors and nurses, to be optimally prepared to isolate and treat admitted patients. The Danish people have complete trust in their government and politicians. There were no conspiracy theories or widespread panic surrounding the virus. They acted responsibly and followed the rules.

Singapore 58,519 cases 29 deaths

Timely preparation, aggressive testing, tracing of carriers helped limit the impact of Covid-19 in Singapore. The city-state’s comparatively small population of 5.7 million people and experience of SARS in 2003 gave it the upper hand against the encroaching virus. The government tightened border controls almost immediately after the disease first erupted in China – while also providing a clear public communication strategy. 

South Korea 56,872 cases 808 deaths

The government of South Korea has been able to keep the disease under control without paralyzing the national health and economic systems. The critical factors in South Korea’s public health administration and management that led to success include national infectious disease plans, collaboration with the private sector, stringent contact tracing, an adaptive health care system, and government-driven communication.

Australia  28,308 cases 908 deaths

 Australia put their faith in science to get the pandemic under control. They formed a National Cabinet comprised of the leaders of each state and territory and the Prime Minister to resolve differences and put the necessary restrictions in place. National cooperation was further enhanced by working with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee. In March they closed their borders and issued a two-week quarantine. Australians were quick to comply. 

Uruguay 16,218 cases 147 deaths

Less than two weeks into his new job as Uruguay’s president, Luis Lacalle Pou acted promptly when Uruguay’s first case of covid-19 was confirmed in the capital of Montevideo on March thirteenth. Unlike most Latin American presidents, Lacalle Pou shut down schools and businesses but asked rather than ordered people to stay at home to protect the population, the oldest in Latin America. Subsidies for small businesses were financed in part by a reduction of politician and executive-level public servants’ salaries, as well as by contributions made by business and social organizations. The swift action of the government slowed the spread of the virus and bought the country vital time to prepare its hospitals and testing system, says the team of scientists advising it. It also meant they could stop the virus’s spread before it became exponential as it did in the hardest-hit nations. The alignment of decision-makers, scientists, and national health authorities was perfect and clearly with great timing,” says Gonzalo Moratorio, a virologist directing Uruguay’s covid-19 testing unit. Early testing and contact tracing were key. The strategy of appealing to citizens’ sense of responsibility with measured restrictions has proven successful. 

  Iceland 5,683 cases 28 deaths

Although it is a small country with a population of 360,000 people, Iceland emerged as one of the leaders in controlling the virus. They immediately had a regiment of testing. contact-tracing and isolation, as well as genetic sequencing of the virus. On a per-capita basis, no country has done more testing They started screening in January a month before the first case arrived for high-risk people and anyone else who wanted to test. They took samples of the virus from every person infected to check for mutations.  The widespread screening helped them pick out asymptomatic people who might have been spreading the virus.

New Zealand 2,144 cases  25 deaths

New Zealand started in February 2020  to identify cases and chains of transmission of the virus before it infected vulnerable populations. They did widespread testing, contact tracing, isolating infected cases, and quarantined their contacts. New Zealand has strict border control policies for produce and plants and immediately implemented them for people as well. They had a very stringent five-week lockdown in March. Rapid, science-based risk assessment linked to early, decisive government action was the difference between New Zealand and the countries where the virus spreads out of control.

 Viet Nam 1,440 cases 35 deaths

Viet Nam shares a border with China and moved quickly. With the help of the World Health Organization, Viet Nam already had an emergency health plan in place. They had 16 cases in February and imposed a three-week quarantine in those places. There were no more cases. In March a case came in from the UK. They closed the borders. Both the military and local governments were mobilized to provide testing, meals, and amenity services to all and quarantine facilities which remained free during this period. There was never a nationwide lockdown, people were advised to stay home and some restrictive physical distancing measures were implemented throughout the country. Masks were mandatory.  The Vietnamese public had been exceptionally compliant with government directives and advice, partly as a result of trust built up thanks to real-time, transparent communication from the Ministry of Health, supported by the WHO and other UN agencies. A COVID-19 song was released, with lyrics raising public awareness of the disease, which later went viral on social media with a dance challenge on Tik Tok initiated by Quang Dang, a local celebrity. (I love this)

Taiwan 783  cases  7 deaths

Taiwan was hit badly with SARS in 2003 and so as soon as a few cases of Covid 19 were identified in January, they were wearing masks. They had a public health response mechanism already in place to respond to the next pandemic.  Taiwan has a world-class health system with universal coverage which moved quickly to respond to the threat. They immediately implemented a travel ban to China. Medical officials held daily public briefings with instructions to prevent the spread of the virus. They were able to stop the spread of Covid 19 without a lockdown because they started in January when the Western World did not.

 Cambodia 363 case 0 deaths 

In the first few months, Cambodia detected and managed 122 cases and avoided widespread community-level transmission. With the support of WHO and partners, Cambodia has made important investments over the last ten years in its health security system that allowed it to successfully respond to the initial outbreak of COVID-19. A whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, along with vigilant surveillance, laboratory, rapid response teams, and good collaboration between the Ministry of Health and technical partners have all contributed to Cambodia’s successful response. They are better prepared for the second wave than they were ten months ago but like everywhere people have pandemic fatigue and need to work.

Today alone Los Angeles recorded 30,000 new cases and 150 new deaths. I am so angry right now. Nations as poor as Cambodia and Viet Nam moved quickly and listened to the science and health care professionals and the greatest country in the world did not. All this death could have been avoided.

Please stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

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Ten Countries With The Worst Covid Outbreaks

“Only if we end the pandemic everywhere, can we end the pandemic anywhere.”Unknown

The world has the same goal – to end this pandemic and go back to whatever normal is. Viruses don’t respect borders. These countries share the fact that at the start of the outbreak, they tested little relative to their size. Our healthcare systems are not equipped to handle thousands of people getting sick at the same time, so more people are dying in these countries. The governments in all these countries downplayed the severity of the virus, fumbled lockdowns, and instead of science used magical thinking in the hopes of ending the outbreak.  The numbers change rapidly but at the moment, here are the countries with the worst outbreaks in order. The numbers are from December 21.They will be higher by the time you read this.

10. Iran 1,164,535 cases 53,816 deaths

The difference between Iran and other countries experiencing a surge in the virus is the “maximum pressure” sanctions put on them by Donald Trump.  The Iranian government and doctors insist they don’t have enough medicines to fight the virus. Though the sanctions technically exempt food and medical supplies, human rights reports from Iran have repeatedly emphasized the impact of sectoral sanctions on gaining access to essential medicines and medical equipment, including respirators and protective equipment for health-care workers. Experts say US sanctions on Iran are indeed hurting ”foreign reserves, foreign currency abroad to purchase the necessary medical equipment — masks, anything that it might need to take care of its population,” Sanam Vakil.

9. Mexico 1,320,545 cases 118,202 deaths

One quarter of Mexico’s population has been exposed to Covid 19. The government thinks the real number is even higher than the reported numbers. The blame is on the country’s under funded health care system, lack of adequate testing,  and complicated effort to track the disease and coordinate the response. There was a voluntary lockdown from March to June but because of Mexico’s high poverty level many had to work and so the numbers went up. There has been no mask mandate. Some say it is to downplay the pandemic and some Mexican States have imposed their own mask mandate.

8. Spain 1,817,448 cases 48,926 deaths

Spain has been in a state of emergency since the end of October. The prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, has asked people to drastically curtail their social lives and limit their movements for the common good. Silvia Calzón, Spain’s secretary of state for health, urged people to act wisely and avoid large crowds. Spain is reluctant to blame its citizens for early on having the most cases in Europe, but they feel the increase is do to young people partying and socializing. Spain has a similar problem to the US where the Covid safety regulations have been left to the different regions.

 7. Italy 1,964,054 cases 68,099 deaths

At the moment Italy holds a record that no-one wants – the most corona deaths in Europe. Italy was the first country in Europe to be slammed with Covid and had the benefit of time and experience to be better prepared for the second wave. Italy waited too long to reimpose restrictions  and reinforce its medical community. Nearly 80,000 Italian health care workers have been infected and 255 doctors have died. Instead, on Nov. 3 the government divided the country into three risk zones with varying restrictions. But by then infections had been doubling each week for nearly a month and hospitals were already overwhelmed in Milan and Naples.

6. Turkey 2,043,704 cases 18,351 deaths

As with all the countries where the virus is highest, Turkey waited too long to impose Covid 19 restrictions. Now children under the age of 20 can go outside for three hours a day and have school on Zoom. People over the age of 65 can go out for a different three hours. The elderly and the young are banned from public transportation. There is a curfew. Many are angry about how the government mismanaged the crisis. The government played down the virus and sugar coated the numbers not counting the asymptomatic ones which were high.

5. UK 2,073,511 cases 67,616 deaths

The four countries of the UK are trying to avoid a spike over the Christmas holidays. They want to ease things up between Dec 23-27 with rules like only a single person household can visit another home. People living in the UK will be allowed to form a Christmas bubble of up to three households. Households can only be in one bubble and may not switch. London has moved from High Alert to Very High Alert and bars and restaurants will remain closed. Outdoor groupings must be limited to six people. The virus is accelerating and the hope is not to lose more and more people as the vaccine is being rolled out. 

4. Russia 2,877,727 cases 51,351 deaths

As Russia struggles to get the virus under control, videos released of morgues piled high with bodies and hospitals that look like war zones, suggest the numbers are much higher than released. The way they count the Covid deaths, are different than the World Health organization guidelines which states that all deaths related to Covid-19 should be counted. Though the government portrays a country in full control of the pandemic, the strain on the medical facilities is becoming obvious to the Russian people. 

3. Brazil 7,241,612 cases 186,818 deaths

Fueled by the untimely political disputes, Covid 19 spread like wildfire in Brazil. Amid the controversy, Brazilian research disproved the theory that hydrochloroquine was helpful in treating the virus. Brazil was unprepared for the second wave of the virus and the hospitals are full with queues of patients lined up outside for beds. Bolsonaro has consistently downplayed the novel coronavirus as a “little flu” and said recently was at the “tail end of the pandemic.” Sound familiar? Brazil has the second largest death toll in the world from Covid 19.

 2. India 10,075,036 cases 146,134 deaths

Tens of millions of migrant workers were stranded without work or food after Prime Minister Narendra Modi  imposed a lockdown in March. By spring and summer, these workers were so desperate that the government provided emergency trains to carry them back to their home villages. They became virus trains and due to lack of testing and social distancing these trains brought the virus all over India to places where it had not appeared before. The government never adequately contemplated how  shutting down the economy and quarantining 1.3 billion people would cause desperation,  panic and  chaos for millions of migrant workers at the heart of Indian industry. Experts agree that the spread in rural areas, home to more than half of the population, is a challenge to both fight and monitor. The health infrastructure in these areas is weaker, making it harder to treat patients and testing isn’t easily available in many small towns and villages. 

1. US 18,312,007 cases 325,187 deaths

We are number one – in both deaths and number of cases. Few countries have been as severely hit as America has. The world watched as the US – once a model for government competence and health care, fumbled the response to the Corona Virus. Despite ample warning, immense resources, medical and scientific expertise, it floundered. The world listened in shock as our President talked about drinking disinfectant. When people in third world countries emerged from lockdown and began partying, they saw that Americans in certain states did the same. Almost everything that went wrong with America’s response was predictable and preventable.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Iconic Foods In Southeast Asia

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Ten Iconic Foods In Southeast Asia

“Food is our common ground- a universal experience.” James Beard

The rich variety of foods in Southeast Asia is one of the many memories I have from traveling there. It is both very affordable and different so you might want to ease your way into the cuisine. Don’t start with the spicy tarantula. The staple across the region is rice which is often served as a main dish. Second place is taken by a variety of noodles, which are boiled, fried, tossed, steamed or baked to form a part of a wide variety of dishes. You can’t drink the water in these countries which leads me to only eat cooked food. I have had some amazing meals and carefully ate in morning street markets when the food is fresh. If you going to eat street food (and you should) it is best to eat at the time locals do. If the stand is crowded, it is probably good.

Bahn Mi, Vietnam

The bánh mì is a French-style baguette, stuffed with an ever varying combination of meats, vegetables, and sauces. The bánh mì sandwich gets its origin from the French influence on Indochina. The baguette was introduced by the French, but appropriated by the Vietnamese in the 1950s when they started calling it the bánh mì or wheat bread. The traditional meats you find in bánh mì are pork, pâté, and cured ham. Typically, the vegetables are coriander, cucumber, carrot, slices, radish and more depending on what part of the country you are in. The best one I had I was at a roadside stand driving from Ho Chi Minh City to the Mekong Delta. Try them in Hoi An as well. Anthony Bourdain loved them there. Hoi An is one of my favorite places in Southeast Asia.

Mohinga, Myanmar

I watched as a street vendor in Yangon set up his food and put out a few small plastic tables and chairs. They were serving mohinga which is the most popular and also the national dish of Myanmar. It is a combination of rice noodles in a curry sauce with a base of fish combined with many flavorsome ingredients like ginger, garlic, onions, lemongrass, and a handful of dried spices as well. You can garnish it with chili and cilantro and if you spoke Burmese you could get a fried egg on top. It looked and smelled fresh and within minutes was crowded with people. I decided to try it. It tasted like something you would eat in Thailand or India which makes sense because Myanmar is between those countries. I watched as more and more tables were being set up and more street carts were appearing. It was quite good and cost about fifty cents.

Pad Thai, Thailand

Pad Thai was invented in the 1940’s as part of a set of cultural reforms to have a national Thai identity. Accounts vary but they say it was part of a national competition. It was given the name Pad Thai to distinguish it from the many similar Chinese noodle dishes. Pad Thai is not old or traditional but it is the most popular snack food in Thailand. There is not a lot of protein in it in Thailand but due to the popularity around the world, restaurants have added protein options to make it more of a meal.The dish usually combines tamarind, rice noodles, shallots, eggs, fish sauce, fresh bean sprouts, chives and miscellaneous fresh vegetables or protein. Chili pepper, Roasted peanuts and a wedge of lime are served on the side. I had it first in a restaurant near Ayuthaya which are the ruins of the old capital of Siam destroyed by the Burmese in the eighteenth century. In Thailand you eat it with a spoon and fork. The chopsticks are for the tourists.

Fish Amok, Cambodia

Cambodia’s most famous dish is fish amok. It is a steamed, mousse-like custard made of curry paste, with river fish and coconut milk and is served in a banana leaf cup. It probably started as an inland dish as the fish comes from a river or lake. Amok refers to the process of steaming food in a banana leaf. Sounds good right? It is so delicious. It was my first lunch in Siem Reap after visiting Angor Wat. This is eaten with chopsticks. Everything in Cambodia is eaten with rice. Having had so much starvation for so many years, it is odd for them to see people jogging to lose weight or not eat rice. I needed to eat some rice in Cambodia to understand the food. I felt a little of that first world privilege that I had a choice not to eat it.

Khao Piak Sen, Laos

Though I wanted to eat laap in Laos, (traditionally raw meat salad) which I saw many people eating, I stuck with cooked food. Rice noodle soup in Luang Prabang is the best way to start a busy day of sightseeing. It is a flavorful meat or chicken broth with thick handmade noodles and has a thicker consistency than watery soup. At the table setting you will usually find a small dish of fresh herbs, hot red peppers fried in oil, shrimp paste, and often some dried crushed peanuts as well. It is one of Lao’s oldest, most traditional dishes.

Samusas, Myanmar

Samusas are a popular snack throughout Myanmar.They are smaller than their Indian cousins and are served with a sauce unique to the Burmese region. Burmese are obsessed with frying – the more oil, the better.  In the tea shops in Yangon they chop them up and serve them in a salad. They are also served in a soup. I felt they were cooked enough to eat from a street cart when my blood sugar got low. I really wanted to try the raw sugar cane juice with it but I had green tea instead.

Bun Cha, Viet Nam

I ate bun cha when I arrived in Hanoi. It started in Hanoi and is their signature dish. Rice noodles are served on a separate plate (bun). Cha is pork cooked in two styles: cha vine (ground pork) and cha mieng cha (grilled thin sliced pork). It is served in the broth which  is made of fish sauce, vinegar and sugar. In the big basket of greens on the table, you will find fresh lettuce, Thai basil, cilantro, fish mint, banana flower, and coriander. There are two ways to eat it. You can wrap everything in lettuce and dip it in the broth or you can throw everything in like Hanoians do and eat it like soup with chopsticks. I did that to cook the lettuce a bit. It was fun to relive the experience watching President Obama and Anthony Bourdain eat bun cha in Hanoi.

Khao Niaow Ma Muang,Thailand
Mango with sticky rice is one of my favorite desserts. Mango is the most popular fruit in the world. Traditionally, sticky rice is made by being soaked in enough water to cover the rice, and then left overnight before being steamed and sweetened with sugar and coconut milk (it has a similar taste to rice pudding although it is not quite as moist). It is served to complement the sweet mango. There are many streets vendors in Bangkok that sell it in the summer months. You can also get it as a dessert in restaurants.

Chaa Angrong Sach Ko, Cambodia

Hunger is a legacy that lives on in Cambodia and everything is edible. This is not my first fried bug country but there are a lot of them here. Platters of fried tarantulas and spiders are common in the market. They told me the red ants that were biting my leg on the hammock were delicious when cooked with beef and fresh basil and they were right. The insects add a tangy, sour pop to the savory, fragrant medley of chili, basil, ginger, lemongrass, garlic, and shallots. As long as it is cooked, I’m willing to be adventurous. Anything fried in oil and salt tastes good and they add a pop of more protein to the dish.

Pho, Viet Nam

No matter what time of day or night, a steaming bowl of pho noodle soup is never hard to find in Vietnam. Pho consists of flat rice noodles in a light, meat-based broth. There are small amounts of meat or meat balls cooked separately and added. Fresh vegetable garnishes complete the ensemble, usually composed of Thai basil, green onions, cilantro, and bean sprouts. Bean Sprouts are for the tourists who get that in their own countries. The dish is usually accompanied by basil, lime, chili, and other extras on the side so that eaters can season the soup to their own taste. The balanced tastes of sweet, salty, spicy, and citrus are highly contagious; pho usually becomes an instant favorite. It is Viet Nam’s unofficial national dish and eaten all over the world now. The first pho I had in Viet Nam was on the way back from Halong Bay. Pho costs about two dollars. It is eaten with chopsticks in one hand and a spoon in the other. Slurping is encouraged.

 

Stay safe,

JAZ.

Ten Iconic Dishes From South America

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Ten Iconic Dishes From South America

I love everything about South America. It is my favorite continent. The food is very diverse, influenced by the Spanish and Portuguese conquerors, indigenous people and African slaves, Here are some of my favorites.

Ceviche, Peru

Peruvian ceviche is a meal you wont be forgetting anytime soon. It is raw fresh seafood that has been marinated in lemon and lime juice, chili and varied spices.

In Lima (where I had it for the first time) it is served with a spoon so you always get the juice with each bite. Ceviche is the most popular food in Peru. All the food in Peru is innovative and delicious – except cuya. I can not eat a guinea pig.

Feijoada, Brazil

Brazil has many region specific dishes but the one that can be called the national dish is feijoada.The name stems from the word feijão (bean), the key ingredient of feijoada – which is essentially a bean stew mixed with beef and pork. Feijoada is typically eaten at the weekend with family or a group of friends over an extended lunch period. It’s considered a comfort food and is often called “food for the soul.” I had it for the first time in the Santa Therese neighborhood of Rio and walked around and looked at the cute stores and galleries after,

Chivito, Uruguay

Uruguay is not a country for vegetarians. The chivito is Uruguay’s classic sandwich. Chivo means “goat” in Spanish so it means baby goat but the sandwich is made with steak, ham, cheese, and sometimes other ingredients, like lettuce, tomato, and fried egg. Walk past any small eatery in Montevideo you’ll see two, three, even four people sharing a single sandwich. We had the scaled down version.

Sancocho Stew, Colombia
Ask anyone from South America what their favorite soup from childhood is, and you will get Sancocho as the answer. The first time I had it was in Panama (their national dish) and I can see why. The main ingredients are chicken (also can be meat) vegetables, corn and cilantro.I was so happy to find it again in Bogota. In Colombia, they use plantains, yuca and serve onions, lime, rice and avocado on the side.

Asado, Argentina

An asado in Argentina is every carnivore’s dream. Gather  your friends, drink wine and coca cola and stuff yourself with meat. There is never a wrong time in Argentina to eat meat. I did a winery tour through Salta and Jujuy in the mountains of Argentina. Every day we stopped at another beautiful vineyard for special wines and asado. A traditional asado includes sausages, and different parts of the cow cooked on the parrilla (barbecue) including, kidney, intestine, brains and tripe. This is followed by meat. Never say no to an invitation to an asado. Each one is different, with its own charm, entertainment, and cooking style.

Curanto, Chiloe Island, Chile

If you happen to be on Chiloe Island, in Chile (and I was) you must try a Curanto. Curanto is a traditional Chilean technique of cooking meat and seafood. In order to prepare it, chicken, pork, sausages, seafood (clams, mussels, chapales (potato bread), potatoes, and various vegetables are placed in a pit that’s lined with curanto (hot stones). Each layer of the ingredients is topped with large nalca (Chilean rhubarb) leaves that keep the steam trapped inside. Once cooked, the meat and seafood are usually served with pebre (hot sauce), and milcao (potato pancakes). We had it at Tierra Chiloe, our beautiful hotel on the island.

Picarones, Peru

Picarones were invented by the Spaniards who came over to Peru and wanted to make bunelos (fried dough with sugar). However they used the local ingredients instead which was squash and sweet potatoes. They created something new- crispy on the outside, soft  on the inside and served with sweet, spiced chancaca syrup (cinnamon, cloves, cane sugar). If you know me, you know that I love doughnuts and if you live with me, you know I love sweet potatoes. They are Peruvian street food. I found them near my hotel in the Miraflores neighborhood of Lima on my first day in Peru. I was looking for the Starbucks to get a Peru mug for my collection. I still do not have one.

Calentado, Colombia

Calentado is a traditional Colombian breakfast consisting of last night’s leftovers that are simply reheated. It stems from the past, when much of the Colombian population lived in poverty and nothing was wasted. This hearty breakfast usually includes rice, beans, plantains, steak, fried eggs, and arepas. Arepas are one of my favorite things to eat. They are corn cakes similar to tortillas and can be eaten with everything.

After a Colombian breakfast you are ready to pick coffee beans in Perreira as I did, or for a day of serious Bogota sightseeing.

Bobó De Camarão, Bahia, Brazil

I was torn between writing about Bobo or Moqueca (seafood stew). They are similar. I loved the flavors of the food in Bahia. Bobo is a stew made from pureed cassava (bobo),fresh shrimp, coconut milk and dende palm oil. The word bobó comes from the Ewe people who were brought to Brazil as slaves. It is often served with rice and farofa (toasted manioc/ cassava flour). We have some in a restaurant near our hotel in Pelourhinio and head to Baile Folklorico.

Dulce De Leche ,Argentina (also Uruguay)

Dulce De Leche is a popular sweet made from caramelized milk, sugar and vanilla. Both Argentina and Uruguay have tried to claim it as their national dish. It is kind of like vegemite to Australians but so much better. The first time I ate it was in Buenos Aires. The thick caramel spread was served for breakfast with toast.

Many desserts are made with dulce de leche. The most popular cookies in Argentina are the alfajores. They are a sandwich cookie filled with dulce de leche. Everyone brings them back from a trip to Argentina.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Iconic European Dishes

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Ten Iconic European Dishes

“Who eats will be strong.” Estonian Proverb

If you have fantasized about eating your way through Europe or at the moment even traveling through Europe, I am with you. Each country has their own delicious food but also has one dish that people think of when they think of this country. These traditional foods are not only delectable, but they also tell the story of the country’s history,  I picked ones that I have eaten in no particular order  because I miss traveling and they remind me of countries I have visited, 

Pretzels, Germany

It takes about two hours by train to get to Schwangau from Munich. We are on our way to Neuschwanstein Castle. It was commissioned by Ludwig the Second and is the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. I buy a thick, salty, hot pretzel for the journey to add to what we have already taken from the breakfast buffet at the hotel. Train rides make me hungry.  I need carbs. I learned in Germany that pretzel (German word is bretzel) is a shape and laugen is the pretzel bread. Laugen comes in other shapes as well. I call them pretzel rolls.They are available in every bakery as sandwiches.

 Fondue, Switzerland

When I was sixteen, I took my first  European ski trip. The Alps, the majestic mountain chain that spans across France, Italy, Switzerland, Austria and Germany, are a paradise to visit and to  ski. We stayed in Cervinia on the Italian side and one morning we skied to Zermatt, Switzerland. It was very exciting carrying our passports across the mountains. We went to lunch and I ate fondue for the first time. Fondue means melted in French and this one was made with fresh cheese from the mountain cows. i sat with my friends around a hot pot of melted cheese and dipped pieces of bread. The challenge was not to drop the bread in the pot. One of the customs in the Alps is to finish the fondue with an egg. The egg is dropped in the remaining cheese, mixed until cooked, and then you mix in the remaining chunks of bread. The fondue meal is usually served with sides of salad and charcuterie. It’s the perfect rich warm dish to have when you are skiing.

Stroopwaful, Netherlands 

I stopped in Amsterdam on the way to my daughter’s wedding in Africa. Noordemarkt on Saturday is part antiques market and part famers market. i watched as one of the vendors made stroopwafuls. He took a freshly baked, thin waffle, and coated it with a dark, sugary syrup.  Then he took  another thin waffle, and place it on top of the syrup. I had a momentary thought of  not getting one to make sure I fit into my dress. Amsterdam is one giant stair master and it is never just one flight of stairs so I would probably walk it off on the way back to the hotel. Fresh, hot stroopwafuls are delicious.

 Goulash, Hungary

There was something not warm and fuzzy about being in the former Soviet Union in the early 2000’s. The first thing I noticed in Budapest was that people did not smile.  Older people did not speak English so if you needed to ask a question, “ask young” I was told. They were still trying to find their way between the vestiges of communism and the new capitalism. They had missed the sixties, seventies and eighties.  The results were sometimes odd. I’m sure it is much different now.The national Hungarian dish goulash (stew with beef and vegetables)  and the lighter goulash soup were everywhere. My favorite sign was the restaurant that served sushi and goulash. I’m sure it’s not there anymore  Goulash is comfort food- a thick hearty stew. My friend ate it a lot. You have to eat goulash in Hungary at least once but try the other food as well. I personally liked chimney cake, langos (fried flatbread covered with sour cream, cheese and garlic), stuffed cabbage, sausages  and chicken paprikesh better. 

.Pastel De Nata, Portugal

You can have  pastel de nata everywhere in Portugal. Every single pasteleria (pastry shop) offered pastéis de nata (plural). The famous custard tarts made of egg, puff pastry, milk , sugar, lemon and cinnamon are the most popular sweets in the country.  After visiting the the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos, in Belem. I went to the famous bakery, Pasteis de Belem. There is always a line.  The person in front of me said that the bakery began making the original Pastéis de Belém, following an ancient recipe from the Mosteiro dos Jerónimo in 1837. The recipe is a secret and so only the ones bought here are called Pasteis de Belem. The rest are Pasteis de Nata. IF you are in Lisbon, I think it’s good to try the one that is unique in the world and nothing could be more Lisbon than that. 

Pirogi, Poland

I’m not a huge fan of Eastern European food.  But I do feel a country’s food is part of the experience so you have to try it. I walked into a restaurant in Krakow where you can see the food and pointed to something and said in English, “I’ll take that.” The older woman who was waiting on me shook her head no. She did not speak English as most older Eastern Europeans do not. I shrugged and mimed that i was hungry. She laughed and gave me a plate of small dumplings called pierogi.They were filled with meat and were surprisingly tasty. You can get pierogi all over Poland with different fillings like cabbage, mushrooms, cheese, fruit and meat. They are the most affordable dish you can eat in Poland. A teenager came over to me and asked how I liked his grandmother’s pierogi. He said no one makes them as good as she does. I finished the plate and gave her a thumbs up and she laughed. 

 Apfel Strudel, Austria

I think the Viennese coffee house defines Vienna. You can sit for hours with one cup of coffee. In the old city you will find architecturally beautiful coffee houses many originally owned by pre WWll Jews. It is completely normal to sit for hours alone reading the complimentary newspapers or chatting with friends. The word is gemutlichkeit. (coziness, comfortable unhurried).  We went to Café Central home to great philosophers, poets and leaders (such as Leo Trotzky, and Sigmund Freud). We wanted to try the apfel strudel. This is one of Austria’s most popular and traditional desserts. It is thin layers of dough (philo dough-like Baklava), filled with a flavorful apple filling, served warm and accompanied by a scoop of vanilla ice cream. It’s the perfect dessert in the perfect place to linger for one more coffee and one more story before continuing your city touring.

Paella, Spain

One of my first assignments in my high school Spanish class, was to go to a Spanish restaurant and eat something. My friends and I went to a restaurant in Greenwich Village and ate paella. We learned that traditional paella is rice, beans, rabbit, chicken, sometimes duck, and seasonal green vegetables. Seafood Paella is just seafood and rice. Paella Mixta (mixed paella) combines meat from livestock, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans, with the traditional rice. it was a dish meant for sharing. Every family in Spain has its own paella recipe and because of the time it takes to make, it is served on Sundays but for some some unknown reason, you can always find paella in restaurants  on Thursday.  Paella originated in Valencia but since i was not going there on my first trip to Spain, I ate paella as soon as I arrived in Barcelona. It is a good dish to eat for lunch.  Don’t eat paella near the Sagrada Familia, or where they have a photo of paella outside or where a man is standing outside telling you they have paella. They know it is the only Spanish food Americans have heard of. I was lucky enough to find a family owned restaurant in Barceloneta to try this delicious iconic dish and then I walked on the beach back to my hotel.

Baklava, Greece

The first time I ate baklava, I was in my teens in Greece. I knew then that I could eat baklava every day. I have spent a few summers in Greece and sometimes I did.  It is the best known dessert in Greece, Turkey and rest of the Middle East. It is just as delicious and a bit different in all these countries.  The ingredients in Greece are phylo pastry, walnuts and sugar syrup or honey.  I like to have it with a cup of Greek coffee.  Afterwards a friend, a friend of a friend, the waiter or a relative will tell your fortune from the coffee grounds. Once the coffee is drunk, you turn the cup a few times around, while you’re making a wish. Then cover the cup with a saucer, and turn it upside down. It takes about 10 minutes to settle on the cup walls and form shapes, essential for the coffee reading revealing events of the near future but also secrets of the past.

 Pizza, Italy

My dream is to go to Sicily and eat pizza. I have not been lucky enough to do that but I have eaten pizza in other Italian cities. My daughter was doing a two week ballet program in Florence. It was a few months after 9/11 and  my first time entertaining myself in a foreign city. There was a bomb threat at the Duomo set for Easter Sunday. (There are no holidays for dancers.)  I decided to avoid the main streets and headed to Dante’s house which is a museum. Florence with its medieval buildings doesn’t look very different  from the time of Dante. Police were everywhere. To calm my nerves, I needed pizza. I walked into a pizza restaurant and heard a lot of Italian which is always a good sign in a tourist area. The availability of good pizza in Italy is impressive. I always feel that to try a pizza you need to order the Margherita. Florence doesn’t disappoint. The pizza was really good and no one set off a bomb that day. 

Fly safe,

JAZ

25 Things That I Want To Do In 2020 – Did I Do Them?

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25 Things That I Want To Do In 2020 Did I Do Them?

“Man plans. God laughs.” Yiddish Proverb

 The world has certainly changed since I wrote this a year ago. Did I do anything from this list?

Spend New Year’s Eve In NY.  Yes.

Go to Paris.  Cancelled.

Practice Qi Gong. Yes every day. I have time now.

Spend some time in Provence. Cancelled.

Practice Tai Chi. Yes. I have time now.

Go to a spa in Baden Baden. Cancelled.

Try to see the glass half full. I don’t have the virus so far. 

Work on my anxiety. It’s hard with insane politics and a pandemic. 

Meditate every day. Yes I have time.

Try to be more organized. Organized for what?

Get a system.  Not necessary now.

Take a train from Adelaide to Darwin. Nope.

Look up less random things on the Internet. Nope.

Go to Germany. Cancelled.

Walk my dog every day.  He hates the beach so no. I try for every other.

Go to Marfa . No but I went to Sedona.

Think before I speak. I don’t speak as much to people so it’s better.

Do more art things in LA. No.

Buy a smaller suitcase. Yes and it still has tags. 

Drive less during traffic hours. LA is getting crazy. Yes I hardly drive at all. 

Write things down. Not necessary.

Go somewhere special for the BF’s big birthday. Cancelled.

Breathe. Yes.

Be grateful. Yes. 

Let it go. Being in quarantine, you have to let it go!!!!

Well, that was depressing.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Ten Iconic Foods To Eat In The United States

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Ten Iconic Foods To Eat In The United States

“Nobody seems more obsessed by diet than our anti-materialistic, otherworldly, New Age spiritual types. But if the material world is merely illusion, an honest guru should be as content with a  Budweiser and bratwurst as with raw carrot juice, tofu and seaweed slime.” Edward Abbey  

Nearly every major state in the US has their great culinary specialties. I don’t plan my trips around a specific food item but I definitely include it in my itinerary. Here is a list of some must eat foods in America. They are in no particular order. I have tried some and I will try the others when I get there. 

 Lobster Roll, Maine

Half the fun of eating a lobster roll in Maine is the bun filed with butter or mayo and lobster, the other half is eating it somewhere that you can smell the sea. My first Maine “lobstah” roll was in Portland’s Old Port district, where cobblestone streets are lined with 19th-century brick buildings housing restaurants and boutiques. The restaurant was a hip spin on a seafood shack, with indoor picnic tables. You can get a lobster roll in Maine in both Mcdonalds and  7-11. I eat lobster for breakfast, lunch and dinner in Maine and it is always great. 

Beignet, New Orleans, Louisiana

Beignets are pillows of fried dough covered in a mound of powdered sugar. Don’t breathe in when you take your first bite or the sugar goes into your lungs making you cough. Cafe Du Monde is the iconic beignet establishment serving them since 1862,  Exploring the city, you are never far from a hot beignet if the low blood sugar feeling strikes. 

 Copper River Salmon, Washington

Copper River salmon is prized for its bright color and fatty meat and is said to be the best salmon in the world, Sockeye and King filets sell out quickly. It is available fresh from mid May to the end of September and comes from Alaska. If you are lucky enough to be in Seattle in the summer, you can eat it in many restaurants.  It is the best salmon you will ever eat. The fishmongers at Pike’s Place market in Seattle throw the fish around, which started as a way to save time and ended up as a tourist attraction. 

 

Key Lime Pie, Florida

The Florida Keys are iconic for many reasons. Hemingway fished there, the Beach Boys wrote songs there and it is still the best place in the world for Key Lime Pie. Key limes are smaller than the traditional limes sold in grocery stores. The fruit is yellow and usually just fall off the trees when they are ripe.  Add  sugar, carnation milk and aa graham cracker crust and you have the traditional pie.   Just about every restaurant in Key West serves one. 

Deep Dish Pizza, Chicago, Illinois

At three times the height of a New York style pie, Chicago’s deep dish pizza can be intimidating for those who are accustomed to thin-crust pizza. The crust is lighter than it looks followed by a cheese layer and topped with a chunky tomato sauce. Any toppings are contained within. I am a pizza fan and I did love this pizza when I lived in Chicago. 

King Crab, Alaska

 Alaska is America’s “Last frontier” known for its bitter winters and natural beauty. Seafood is a specialty in Alaska but Alaskan King Crab is the most sought after meal. I like it the old school way – boiled with a side of drawn butter and maybe  a few lemon wedges. Many of Anchorage’s best restaurants serve it this way. 

Hoagie, Philadelphia

The Bf is from “Philly” and he says the food doesn’t get more iconic than a hoagie. It was declared the official sandwich of Philadelphia in 1992. The hoagie is a built-to-order sandwich on a long Italian roll, typically filled with deli meat and cheese, garnished with fresh lettuce, tomatoes and onions, and finished with a drizzle of oregano-vinegar dressing. it is never heated or toasted.

Barbecue, Texas

I feel like I’m going to be intimidated the first time I walk into a Texas barbecue joint.  First of ail it will be my first time Texas and it’s food you have to eat with your hands. I also feel that people who eat Texas barbecue are able to consume a lot of meat. I’m definitely going to look for a place with a line of people around it and the aroma of wood smoked meat. I will have to ask them what to order and definitely try the sides which could be fried okra or salad with ranch styles dressing. Hopefully I will be on line next to someone who has eaten there before.

Crabcakes, Maryland

Baltimore and the surrounding Chesapeake Bay area are known for serving exemplary crab cakes. The ideal crab cake according to those who know, should have no visible evidence of breading, not be perfectly formed and contain as much pure sweat crabmeat as possible. Asking for the best restaurant for crab cakes in Baltimore is like asking New Yorkers for the best pizza, you are bound to get a lot of passionate recommendations. 

 Fry Bread, Wyoming

Fry bread is the history of the Native American population.The United States forced Indians living in Arizona to make the 300-mile journey known as the “Long Walk” and relocate to New Mexico, onto land that couldn’t easily support their traditional staples of vegetables and beans. To prevent them from  starving, the government gave them canned goods as well as white flour, processed sugar and lard—the makings of fry bread. Fry bread ( like Jewish matzoh) is the food of survival. Eating fry bread would mean that I was in Wyoming for the first time and learning about Native American culture.

Stay safe,

JAZ