Culinary Adventure for women over 50

Table of Contents

Travel through foods

Delving into the culinary offerings of a region is like embarking on a flavorful journey through tradition, heritage, and culture. Food serves as a gateway to understanding the heart and soul of a place. Before I set foot in a new destination, I make it a point to immerse myself in the gastronomic tapestry of the region.

My pre-travel ritual involves extensive research into the typical dishes defining local cuisine. I want to know how these new dishes are traditionally prepared and served. It’s not merely about satisfying my taste buds but understanding the food and culture.

Each region has its unique way of approaching meals – from the communal nature of a family dinner to the elaborate feast rituals. It’s a fascinating way to explore the world from home- before traveling! I check out cookbooks and restaurants and search for food trucks and street vendors to get a taste of cooking styles and create a fantastic culinary adventure.

close-up of sea urchin dish
Sea urchin dish at the Essencial Restaurant in Lisbon

Taste buds, stories, and traditions

Ultimately, my goal is to have the full experience, not just to taste the food but to absorb the stories, history, and traditions that come with it. Food becomes a medium through which I connect with the heart and soul of different countries, creating lasting memories that go beyond the plate. And that, my dear friends, is why I’m “a bit” overweight! 🙂

TRAVEL THROUGH A COOKBOOK

Every country is like a flavor-packed treasure chest, bursting with exotic spices, seasonal ingredients, seafood, enticing aromas, unique food, and irresistible cooking styles.

Grab a cookbook from the country whispering sweet nothings to your taste buds or one you plan to visit. Get your apron and dive headfirst into a delightful cooking escapade while simultaneously unraveling the secrets of their culture through the art of gastronomy.

Many countries, despite their vast differences, often share common culinary threads. Take a cue from Mexican, Indian, and Brazilian cuisines—they all boast fantastic one-pot wonders. Equip yourself with a soapstone or clay pot, and brace yourself for a culinary adventure full of taste and aromas.

Let me share a personal tidbit—I’m part Brazilian, and you won’t believe how many Brazilian dishes insist on a clay pot or a trusty cast iron pot. We’ve got a family friend who’s mastered the art of cooking rice in a soapstone pot, and let me tell you, it’s always a symphony of flavors. So, what’s your next kitchen experiment? Clay pot curry, Shrimp coconut in a cast iron pot?

lemon candy on a striped blue and white dish
Candied Lemon Peel

 

And here’s a recent twist in my culinary adventure: a few weeks back, I stumbled upon a charming cookbook celebrating northern Italian cuisine. Winter is looming, and what better way to cozy up than with pasta feasts, hearty stews, and mushroom masterpieces? Trust me; it’s like bringing a little piece of Italy into my kitchen during the chilly days.

Bon appétit and buon viaggio in the world of flavors, dishes, and different cuisines!

Ingredients for a Ratatouille: veggies and part of a blue cast iron pot

Cast iron pot and ingredients for a Ratatouille

EXPLORE THE WORLD THROUGH FOOD AT HOME!

Embarking on a culinary journey to explore a culture through its food is a fun way to satisfy the wanderlust itch and create a connection with a place without physically being there. I’ve recently initiated my Indian home-foodie-travel cuisine adventures using the cookbook “Dishoom” by Shamil Thakrar. While I’ve never set foot in India, I’ve frequented the Dishoom restaurant in Edinburgh, and each visit left me captivated by the flavors and aromas of Indian cuisine. If you go, you must try their black Dhal!

Living in Portugal presents challenges in sourcing all the ingredients listed in the cookbook, adding an exciting layer to the culinary exploration. The quest to find or substitute specific items becomes integral to the experience, mirroring the adaptability and creativity required in life’s various challenges. Cooking becomes a metaphor for life, teaching us about flexibility, resourcefulness, and the beauty of embracing the unexpected.

All this is to say that the few Dishoom cookbook dishes I cooked were nothing like the real thing! The experience was great, though, and I can hardly wait to return to Edinburgh and eat at Dishoom!

SET A LOVELY TABLE

Atmosphere is important. When I embark on an international food adventure at home, I look up the country’s flag, explore photographs of different popular dishes there, and see what kind of utensils, glasses, and plates they typically use. I consider how to cover the table for this new dish- should I use a towel or a placemat? Cloth napkin or a paper one? Different countries, cuisines, different traditions. There are so many things to think about! I love to explore the world through food and recreate the look and traditions of a typically served meal, but with my take on it all.

Culinary adventures are visual!

I buy fresh flowers or scavenge branches to help set the look and ambiance, and sometimes, I go to the flea market to add things to my table to make the food look even more appetizing. Lately, I had to stop the flea market shopping because I live in a small apartment, and it was getting cluttered- so I did a Marie Kondo and am now into a more minimal but colorful table.

Do you want to get ideas for setting a creative and festive table?

Turn your museum visits into a thrilling adventure! Dive into the mesmerizing world of past paintings and explore the nooks and crannies of historical interiors. Take notes on the quirky details of dining tables or the entire room – you never know what might spark your creativity!

Flea market excursions are treasure troves of entertainment. Marvel at the imaginative displays vendors and locals use to showcase their wares – it’s a playground for your creative spirit! And don’t overlook the charm of stores and department stores; check out their innovative setups for a burst of inspiration to showcase your amazing food.

When it comes to table decorations, unleash your inner boldness and dare to be different! Create unique table setups even when it’s just for you – after all, you’re the star of the show, and you deserve nothing but the best! Let your creativity run wild and make every dining experience a masterpiece.

close up of fish soup in a white dish and a colorful sous plat Modified Portuguese fish soup
Modified Portuguese fish soup

Food photography for women over 50

After much research, preparation, cooking, and creating beautiful dishes, you may want to take photos of the food you spent hours preparing! Food photography is an art in and of itself, but you can easily snap beautiful images with nothing more than a camera phone. Give it a try, and tag me in your results! Share your dishes with me on Instagram: @50andrising

close up of blue sweater, hands holding vegetables
Photo by Marguerite Getting ready for a veggie stew

Explore the world through food + eat out

Creating a food experience at home is an insightful way to learn about a country if you can’t travel and a great way to gain a deeper understanding of different locales if travel is on your agenda.

Restaurants serve as portals to understanding the intricacies of the traditions of different countries, offering a sensory feast that extends beyond the palate. The ambiance, decor, and interactions with staff and fellow diners contribute to a holistic exploration beyond the mere act of eating.

Soi in Lisbon

I find myself at Soi; quite often! It’s an Asian eatery in Lisbon, where I go on a culinary journey through their diverse food. I love the exquisite Malay Laksa soup infused with distinctive spices and a captivating aroma, particularly on chilly days. Among my preferred dishes is the pork Bao, and it surprised me to discover that Bao traces its origins back to North China, challenging my previous belief that it was a Vietnamese delicacy. The Bao takes on various forms across cultures; some resemble dumplings with delectable fillings, yet they all share the commonality of being steamed bread.

The restaurant exudes a perpetual buzz, alive with animated conversations and laughter, immersing me in a lively, almost transportive atmosphere.

Watercolor of fish on plate, bottles with flowers, veggies on plate
Watercolor by Marguerite Fresh + delicious fish form Peixaria Estoril Mar in Estoril

New flavors, amazing foods

I’m excited to explore a rich tapestry of flavors—whether in the comfort of my home or restaurants- and find that tiny special place. My mission is to discover hidden treasures in local street food vendors, unveil secret havens with delightful treats, and immerse myself in the vast world of diverse world cuisine.

Recently, a friend introduced me to an enchanting eatery in Lisbon called Agulha no Palheiro. Owned and operated by the dynamic duo of Chef Antonio and Joana, this culinary haven is nestled near the Alfama area, just below the Pantheon. With only five tables, securing a reservation is a culinary must!

3_mushrooms
Mushrooms with duck sauce from the Agulha no Palheiro in Lisbon

Attempting to define the cuisine proves challenging but oh-so-exciting! It’s a Portuguese culinary journey with a whimsical twist, incorporating herbs from diverse cultures and countries, global dishes, and an infusion of unique spices that dance on the taste buds.

Exploring this special place promises to be a flavorful and unforgettable experience.

Books, movies, and food

Another way to explore food and different cultures

After watching “Like Water for Chocolate,” I got hooked on Mexican cuisine. I was living in Miami then, and fueled by my newfound craving, I hit the road to Homestead the next day in a quest for the perfect Mexican food. Mission accomplished – found a gem! I tried a few dishes at home later, but let’s be honest: when the craving hits, I’m more likely to head out and savor the flavors at a local Mexican joint.

Bruno, Chief of Police

Now, Bruno, the Chief of Police in those mystery books, has me daydreaming about St. Denis in the south of France. Seriously, the guy’s life is like a culinary adventure – solving crimes, tending to his veggie garden, whipping up mouth-watering omelets, unique spices, good French wine, and more. And don’t get me started on his routine of casually grabbing a croissant and coffee or picking up something special to cook for friends – even his dog scores some tasty leftovers!

Bruno’s world is wrapped in mysteries with a side of fantastic food tales – black truffles, wine, duck, chicken, vineyards, you name it. It’s like a French cuisine rollercoaster. And guess what? Martin Walker and Julia Watson made it even easier for me to bring a piece of Bruno’s kitchen into mine with “Bruno’s Cookbook, Recipes and Traditions from a French Country Kitchen.” Now, I can dive into the flavors of France without leaving my kitchen. Can hardly wait to start cooking that fantastic food. Bon appĂ©tit!

Three Pines and Inspector Ganache

One of the mystery book series I absolutely adore is the Three Pines series featuring Inspector Ganache, penned by the talented Louise Penny. (Some stories have been adapted into an Amazon series; sadly, there are no more sequels.) Inspector Ganache has this quirky habit of munching away right before or during an investigation. It’s like a buffet of French Canadian rich cuisine and culture served with a bit of crime-solving.

The narratives are sprinkled with mouthwatering food descriptions that make you want to whip up their delectable food, conveniently available on The Nature of the Feast website. Happy sleuthing and cooking!

Stanley Tucci will keep you fascinated with Italian cuisine

In “Searching for Italy”, Tucci travels around Italy, trying different foods and allowing us to peek into kitchens. Stanley Tucci is a fantastic food storyteller! He chats about unique dishes and their flavor- I think you will love his series and books.

And let’s not forget the fabulous book and movie Chocolat!

Picture this: the fabulous Juliet Binoche swoops into a charming French town with her daughter, ready to sprinkle some cinematic magic. What’s the plot twist, you ask? They open an adorable chocolate store that becomes the epicenter of a whirlwind tale! Brace yourself for a rollercoaster of intrigue, love, small-town gossip, religious debates, and drama—all cleverly intertwined with the heavenly chocolates crafted at Vianne’s chocolate store. It’s a delectable narrative that reveals how chocolate becomes the glue that binds the entire town together. A delicious excuse to indulge in, savor, and share the magic of chocolate!

This film ignited a burning desire within me to enroll in a patisserie school, eager to immerse myself in the enchanting world of chocolate craftsmanship. I envisioned mastering the creation of exquisite truffles, crafting chocolate finger cakes with an artistic touch, and delighting in the satisfaction of serving luxuriously thick hot chocolate.

As I roamed the streets of Paris, I found my education unfolding amidst the enticing array of chocolate stores that lined my path. Each storefront served as a wellspring of inspiration, offering a diverse and rich tapestry of chocolate delights that encapsulated the essence of the city’s culinary craftsmanship. My time there evolved into a sensory journey, akin to a sweet symphony playing on my taste buds and deepening my appreciation for the delectable art of chocolate-making.

However, amidst the tempting world of chocolate, I ultimately pivoted. Instead of diving into the confectionery craft, I focused my energy on photography!

Bon appétit!

Tips for Tasty Fishburgers by Marguerite

Lets Play with Food by Marguerite

Resources

Fun books that include food, recipes, mystery, and life adventures:

Bruno, Chief of Police

Bruno, Chief of Police is a series of mystery novels set in the Perigord area in France. You’ll learn about wine, cheese, truffles and other French cuisine while Bruno solves a crime.

Julie and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously by Julie Powell. The movie or the book: Both are fun.

Three Pines Nature of Feast website

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

A history of BAO

The book: Sourdough by Robin Sloah

Stanley Tucci: Taste, My life through food

Cookbooks Dishoom: The First Ever Cookbook from the Much-loved Indian Restaurant by Kavi Thakrar, Naved Nasir, and Shamil Thakrar

Cook with Christopher Kimball from Milk Street

Christopher Kimball will take you on an adventure to new and exotic locations without ever having to leave your kitchen with his exquisite online recipes.

Marguerite Beaty, Blogger, Photographer & Artist

Welcome to the sunny side of life for women over 50! We aim to create a space where women feel empowered, supported, and inspired to lead their best lives after 50. Join our Instagram!

Share this article with your friends!

Join our newsletter and get my FREE e-book

Start shifting your routine with creativity and curiosity!

ebook 7steps from 50 and Rising