Explore the world while you’re locked down through recipes from faraway places

With many people staying home during the Covid-19 lockdown, interest in home cooking has never been higher. We’re trying new recipes and new foods like never before.

With many people staying home during the Covid-19 lockdown, interest in home cooking has never been higher. We’re trying new recipes and new foods like never before.

For travellers, one of the great pleasures of exploring new places is trying new foods so why not capture some of that joy of discovery by trying new recipes from other countries?

With travel at a standstill right now, tourism marketers are dreaming up all sorts of virtual experiences to keep us interested in their destinations and services until we return. Many of those experiences involve recipes and cooking classes that showcase the flavours of those faraway places. Here are some of their suggestions.

ANTIGUA – Avocado ice cream

Antigua has a many markets to visit for fresh fruits and vegetables. Here’s a recipe from an Antiguan vegan chef to try at home:

2½ cups avocado, frozen
1 cup banana, frozen
3 Tbsp unsweetened coconut cream
2 tsp fresh lime juice (optional)

Place frozen avocado and frozen banana in a blender. Start on a low setting, then gradually increase the speed. Blend until the the mixture resembles a thick paste.
Add coconut cream and lime juice and blend until smooth.
Scoop and serve immediately.
Serves 2, takes about 10 minutes to prepare

COSTA RICA – Gallo Pinto

The name literally translates to “spotted rooster,” and is the name given to Costa Rica’s ubiquitous national dish of rice and beans. Gallo Pinto is traditionally a breakfast dish, typically served with fried or scrambled eggs, but is eaten throughout the day and is one of the country’s most treasured side dishes. Each region of Costa Rica – and each family – has their own variation of Gallo Pinto, so there is no one recipe for the dish. The basics, however, are white rice, black or red beans, peppers, onion, and spices — and a lot of cilantro.

MACAO – Macanese Serradura

Serradura, also known as “sawdust pudding,” is an easy-to-make, fun dessert that can be found in almost every restaurant in Macao. To make this delicious sweet treat at home, all you need is 250 ml heavy whipping cream, 1/2 tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbsp sweetened condensed milk, and 1 package of shortbread cookies (traditional recipe calls for Marie biscuit cookies).
Full recipe and instructions can be found here.

PERU – Papa a la Huancaína

If you’re seeking Peruvian culinary inspiration, PromPeru’s Youtube page offers easy, one-minute recipes that can be made with most ingredients found in a fridge and pantry. Examples include local favourites such as Lomo saltado (a stir-fried beef dish) and Solterito de Quinoa (a simple quinoa salad), but you really should try Papa a la Huancaína (a potato and cheese dish).

TAIWAN – Bubble tea

Invented in the 1980s, bubble tea is a beloved Taiwanese classic. Though there are dozens of different variations, at its core it’s a combination of tea, milk and the ‘bubbles’ — which are little tapioca balls. Today, bubble tea is recognized as Taiwanese national drink, and you can also find bubble tea celebrations around the world. To try your hand at making your own bubble tea at home, take a look at this recipe.

The United States has many regional specialties that you’ve probably never heard about. Here is a selection of some to discover.

ARIZONA – Crispy pork shank

Recipe book getting tired? Executive Chef at ZuZu restaurant at the iconic Hotel Valley Ho, Russell LaCasce, has shared his easy-to-follow recipe for his delightful Crispy Pork Shank.

OREGON – Marionberry Pie

The marionberry was created in Oregon and Oregonians believe it makes the best pie in the world with a taste of earthiness and sweetness combined. While you may have to wait until your next visit to Oregon to sample the marionberry, you could substitute it for the next best thing available in Canada, the blackberry. Try this recipe.

UTAH – Fry bread

The staff at Goulding’s Stagecoach Restaurant, located in Goulding’s Lodge in Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, are 100 per cent Navajo. Each staff member has a family fry bread recipe that was handed down from great-great grandmas, to great-grandmas, to grandma, to mothers and so on. When you visit Goulding’s Lodge next time, be sure to order the Fry bread/Navajo Tacos. Here is their recipe.

VIRGINIA – Peanut soup

If Virginia had a state soup, it would have to be this one. With peanuts growing abundantly in the state, this dish proposes a unique way to savor these tasty legumes. The traditional recipe is offered by the Food Network, while the Hotel Roanoke serves one of the best versions of this dish, along with their famous spoonbread. This Tudor-style hotel built in 1882 is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.


If you’re a fan of the Food Network and cooking shows on TV then you might be interested to follow along with online cooking classes being offered by master chefs from around the world. Here are a few to check out.


UXUA Casa Hotel & Spa is hosting weekly cooking classes on their IGTV with Chef Juliana Pedrosa. The tutorials, which incorporate snacks, main courses and sides, will be live on Thursdays and will be saved on UXUA’s Instagram profile for later viewings. Chef Juliana loves reinventing traditional ingredients and using them in unexpected fashions. For the cooking classes series, she will showcase UXUA’s signature dishes such as Aquafaba mousse, traditional Bahian Moqueca and tapioca breadsticks.


The Israel Ministry of Tourism is hosting an Instagram Live cooking demonstration with Israeli Chef Eyal Shani on May 27, 2020 at 12pm EST. The demonstration will air live via the Ministry’s official Instagram page @Visit_Israel. The live cooking demo will feature Shani’s delicious Falafel Burger recipe just in time for International Burger Day, observed on May 28.


Round Pond Estate in Napa Valley will offer a host of virtual classes to turn you not only into a master chef, but a sommelier too. Examples of virtual classes include private one-on-one sessions with the sommelier; a virtual group tasting; and virtual cooking classes with winery chefs that utilize the Round Ponds estate gourmet products.


Watch famous Oregon chefs turn their home kitchens into virtual cooking classrooms while in self-isolation.

James Beard award-winning chef Gabriel Rucker of Portland based Le Pigeon, has taken his talents to Instagram. Best of all, he saves his recipes — like the one for his miso cod rice bowls and steam burgers — to his “Highlights” section at the top of his profile.

Iron Chef winner Vitaly Paley is bringing his expertise to Instagram with a live show called “Ask Vitaly Anything” every Friday at 5pm PST, where he answers questions from viewers and does demonstrations.

Top Chef darling Gregory Gourdet, turned Instachef, has started streaming cooking classes called “Keep Calm and Cook On” on his Instagram channel three days a week at 5pm PST.
What are you cooking while you’re stuck at home?

G Adventures founder releases Unlearn, a manifesto about how we can travel better after the pandemic

Businesses around the world are being hit hard by the pandemic lockdown, especially those in the travel industry, but G Adventures founder Bruce Poon Tip is hopeful that we’ll all benefit from this pause to build a more mindful and sustainable travel experience when the world emerges from this crisis.

Poon Tip wrote a free-to-download instabook to outline his thinking about the future of the travel industry while confined in his Toronto home during the early weeks of the lockdown. Titled Unlearn: The Year the Earth Stood Still, the book came about as he struggled to write a statement about how his international small tours company was facing the pandemic, but found that whatever he wrote would either be obsolete by the time he finished it or too trite to release.

More of an extended essay than a true book, Unlearn presents Poon Tip’s dreams of a better future for a travel industry that has grown exponentially in recent years to the point where overtourism, climate change and sustainability have all become real issues.

“I think there is also a difference between what I would like to see and what might actually be possible,” wrote Poon Tip in Unlearn. “We have a chance to reset everything. This is what this instabook is about. It’s about you, me, and every traveller in the global community having the chance to rethink, restart, and rejuvenate the idea of what travel should be and could be.”

Part of the book is Poon Tip describing the early stages of the crisis when he was travelling from country to country, a normal aspect of his life and career, when it began to dawn on him that something bad was happening. Then, all of a sudden, he found himself stuck in his home, with nowhere to go, a very strange state of affairs for a perpetual traveller like him.

Like many of us, he started to use the time for some big thinking and collected those thoughts in the rest of the book where he outlines how he thought travel could be better.

First off, says Poon Tip, travel has to be better than just be sustainable. He hopes that we become more community minded when we travel and not just jet off to nice resorts or sit on cruise ships to never interact with the people in the places we visit.

“I hope that one of the things we get from this generation-defining event is that we think more about people as individuals wherever we go and conduct ourselves accordingly,” wrote Poon Tip. “That means being as conscientious when we travel as we are at home, not only by reducing single-use plastic to help the turtles, but by travelling in ways that don’t rip people off.”

As for overtourism, rather than go where everybody else goes, Poon Tip hopes that we spread ourselves out a bit more and not all go to Venice or stand with throngs of people in Paris looking at the Mona Lisa. Instead, he offers a list of recommended destinations that few visit, but are every bit as fulfilling like Uganda, Bolivia and Albania, among others.

While some of those places may sound like rough outposts for hardy backpackers, Poon Tip writes that he believes that there are opportunities to enjoy luxury travel just about anywhere, but that we should change how we define luxury. Today, luxury experiences are virtually indistinguishable from one location to the next giving you no sense of place so why not enjoy what people in India or Serbia consider luxurious instead of some idealized Western ideal?

Poon Tip is not a fan of cruise ships or all-inclusive resorts and fully expects people to indulge in both when the Covid-19 pandemic passes, but believes that many might think twice before doing so.

“Maybe Covid will make this sort of insular travel obsolete. It’s possible. I mean, we don’t travel on Zeppelins anymore either,” he said.

Poon Tip sees a bright future for homestays where travellers embed themselves in homes in the places they visit in order to better experience how people live there. It’s something that G Adventures has been doing for years and he hopes that others travel providers embrace it because it’s not only good for visitors, but benefits hosts and their communities as well.

Having interviewed Poon Tip a few times, I’ve always been impressed by his philosophy that travel can be a force for good. Everything he writes in Unlearn is consistent with that world view and nicely crystallizes his beliefs in one quick read. I’d encourage all travellers to read what he has to say and take the time to reflect on their own travel motivations and how they can be better travellers when this is all over.

“Travel’s always done good, whether we travellers have thought about it or not. But it can do a lot more good when we know what we’re doing, and why. We’ve been doing good, but after the pandemic, let’s see if we can do better,” concludes Poon Tip.

If you’re still seeking flights home during the pandemic, check all versions of the booking site you’re using

A research team from VPNOverview analyzed several major online airline booking sites this week and discovered that anyone still stranded abroad that is looking for affordable flights to get home will get different results by using different versions of the sites that are aimed for specific countries.

On March 22 and 23, the Dutch website that specializes in cybersecurity and privacy topics examined several flight options that are still available via large booking sites like Skyscanner, Agoda, and Expedia.

They looked at flights available on the Dutch, American, Romanian, Portuguese and British versions of the relevant booking sites to see whether the offer and pricing of flights changed depending on the regional version of the site.  They also checked whether changing the IP address by using a VPN had any impact on the price and availability of flights.

In one example, they looked at the Dutch version of Skyscanner to book a flight from Cairo to Düsseldorf on March 28, 2020. The “fastest” flight was 17 hours and 25 minutes at a price of €1779. The American version of Skyscanner offered an 8 hours and 35 minutes flight that cost a mere €492. Many other examples were observed and it wasn’t always the British or American version of the booking website didn’t show the fastest or most competitively priced flights.

Their conclusion was that for anyone booking a flight online, they are advised to review multiple versions of the booking site they are using to ensure they are shown the most suitable flight options which is especially important during a time of crisis like the one the world is currently experiencing. A full article explaining the study’s methodology can be found on VPNOverview’s website


Airlines and government agencies working to get Canadians home during COVID-19 pandemic

For any Canadians still stranded abroad during the COVID-19 pandemic who wish to come home, Global Affairs Canada is coordinating special flights with airline partners like Air Canada, WestJet, Sunwing, Swoop and Air Transat.

Canadians travellers are strongly encouraged to register with Global Affairs Canada in order for the federal government to provide information to them as soon as it becomes available. For emergency help you can contact [email protected].

“The COVID 19 pandemic has created an unprecedented crisis in the global aviation industry that is already having a significant impact on the air transport industry, travellers, shippers and the economy. Right now, our priority is to help Canadians who are abroad to return to Canada,” said The Honourable Marc Garneau, Minister of Transport this weekend. “The Government of Canada is working with Air Canada (and other airlines) to bring Canadians home from locations that are particularly challenging. I am pleased to see these flights beginning this weekend.”

In the last week, Air Canada has brought more than 200,000 Canadians back home through its regularly scheduled flights and plans to operate more than 300 flights until the end of March from international destinations and more than 850 from the Unite States in order, to enable hundreds of thousands more Canadians to return home.

WestJet  announced that between Monday, March 23 and Wednesday, March 25, the airline will operate 34 repatriation flights to international and trans-border destinations to ensure the safe return of Canadians who remain abroad.

These new flights are in addition to the 10 flights that WestJet has operated  last week after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced it was time for Canadians to come home. WestJet  said that it will continue to add flights as the need is identified.

“In the face of this global crisis, WestJetters are dedicated to bringing Canadians home,” said Ed Sims, WestJet President and CEO.

WestJet and WestJet Vacations guests with current reservations on or after March 23 will receive, if they have not already, an email notification of their schedule change. All guests are urged to check the status of their flight and their emails for the most up-to-date information pertaining to their revised departure.

Any remaining seats on these flights are now also available for booking to the Canadian public and are capped at the airline’s lowest economy fare for Canadians who require transportation home.

Air Transit announced on March 18 a gradual temporary halting of all its flights until April 30 as a result of the pandemic.

Operations are being stopped gradually in order to enable Transat to repatriate as many of its customers as possible to their home countries.

As of March 18, some 65,000 Canadian Transat customers were at Sun or Europe destinations. By March 22, about 40,000, or more than 60 per cent of them, had been returned to Canada.

The company also announced that it was forced to  temporarily lay off about 70 per cent of its workforce in Canada. The final Air Transat flight prior to the full suspension of its operations is scheduled for April 1.

Budget carrier Swoop also announced that it is altering its international operations to help with the global efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19. As of Monday, March 23, Swoop suspended all international and tran-sborder flights and has begun.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) also announced that it is prepared to help Canadians who have been outside of Canada for an extended period and are heeding the advice of the government of to return home.

At land borders, Canadian citizens and permanent residents not exhibiting any symptoms of COVID-19 infection will be provided with important health advice from the Public Health Agency of Canada and must isolate for 14 days. Those exhibiting symptoms will be provided a mask and be referred to a health professional when seeking entry to Canada.

In exceptional circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, some Canadians may need to cross the border in a United States (U.S.)-plated vehicle in order to get home. The CBSA will facilitate entry for Canadians driving U.S. plated vehicles by permitting the temporary import of U.S vehicles without paying duties and taxes, subject to certain conditions.

Women like to get to the airport earlier than men, survey reveals

One of the biggest hassles of travel for me is having to wait at the airport, which is pretty much in line with a recent survey that found women are more eager than men to get to the airport early in order to avoid missing their flights.

A survey of 230 travellers, commissioned by the GO Group, LLC, an international ground transportation provider, found that 47 per cent of women preferred to get to the airport at least two hours in advance of departure time for a domestic flight compared to only 39 per cent of men.

More men (42 per cent) thought 90 minutes was the ideal time to arrive, although an equal number of women agreed. Meanwhile, 14 per cent of men thought an hour was enouugh time as did 10 per cent of women. Unsurprisingly, no one thought 30 minutes was enough time.

The results were different for international flights, with 44 per cent of women and 39 per cent of men saying they arrived three or more hours prior to their departure time. The preferred time was two hours with half of the men (50 per cent) and women (52 per cent) choosing that amount of time. Only eight per cent of men and two per cent of women said 90 minutes was their target, while another two per cent cut things close, arriving just one hour prior to their scheduled departure.

Clearly, how you respond to the question depends a lot on the airport you are leaving from and the time of day. All I know is that no matter how much I tell myself I will leave later for the airport to avoid waiting, I still end up spending far too much time sitting at the departure gate.