FoodTrex Spain Presents The 4th International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism, Pamplona, May 27th-28th

This Thursday and Friday, the World Food Travel Association, in association with Navartur, is holding its FoodTrex Spain event, also known as the International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism.  Normally, Navartur would be hosting a larger event focused broadly on tourism; however, due to COVID-19 this was postponed until next year.

The 4th Annual International Congress of Gastronomy Tourism will focus primarily on workshops in which exhibitors and patrons learn about how to reignite culinary tourism in the wake of a pandemic.

For background, the World Food Travel Association is a 20-year old non-profit organization that promotes hospitality and tourism through local cuisine, and Navartur is a Pamplona-based tourism group focusing on Navarra and the Basque country, located in the central northern portion of Spain.  Furthermore, with its idyllic beaches, cuisine, landscapes, and ancient history, Spain is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, not to mention the headquarters of the World Tourism Organization.

In addition to in-person conferences and B2B sessions, as the COVID-19 pandemic is still very much a concern, event organizers have decided to also add a virtual session for attendees unable to travel to Spain for the two-day summit.

New Tokyo Take-Out Serving Mehari-zushi, One of Japan’s Oldest Snacks

Meharizushi with Shrimp Tempura, at めはりと鶏天みふく

To explain a bit about what Finding Food Fluency can represent, I’d like to introduce to everyone today’s meal, mehari-zushi (sushi becomes zushi, depending on the preceding sound), coming to us from Japan.

Mehari-zushi – 目張り寿司 – is one of the oldest recorded fast foods in Japan, dating back hundreds of years to Kumano city in Wakayama prefecture (source, in Japanese: https://gurutabi.gnavi.co.jp/a/a_613/).  At the time, Kumano was in a state called Kishuu (紀州), which comprises of parts of present-day Wakayama and Mie prefectures.  Mehari-zushi is simply a ball of vinegared rice enveloped in pickled mustard leaf.  That’s right, no fish, no bait, no mayonnaise, just two major components.

The origin of the name is amusing; since the mehari-zushi clumps used come quite big – with each one intended to be a snack for hungry workers – the Japanese name roughly translate as “sushi that makes your eyes open wide,” since opening your mouth wide does the same for the eyes (見張る/みはる).

Although it’s much more common in the Kansai area of Japan (where Wakayama, Osaka, and Kyoto are), a new mehari-zushi restaurant, めはりと鶏天みふく (Mehari to Chicken Ten Mifuku) opened on April 20th in the Tsukiji district of Tokyo.

As a huge fan of Japanese food and Tokyo, I can’t wait for international tourism to restart, particularly in Japan.  Knowing that mehari-zushi aren’t so easy to find in the capital makes me want to add this take-out shop to the endless list of places to try.

Restaurant link: https://www.instagram.com/mifuku_tukiji/
Restaurant location: https://goo.gl/maps/XXEyspFccHwjM9wV6

The 26th Annual Epcot International Food and Wine Festival Starts This July

From July 15th until November 20th, 2021, if you’re raring to travel abroad but your desired countries are still closed due to COVID-19, perhaps you will want to check out The 26th Annual Epcot International Food & Wine Festival.  To attend, you will need to have both admission to Epcot, as well as reserve a place in the Disney Park Pass system.

Marketplaces such as Greece, Germany, Hawaii, and Islands of the Caribbean will be present, showing off food and drink commonly found in those parts of the world.  Wine and beer aficionados will also have their shops at which to indulge in buying souvenirs.

Due to the pandemic, the Festival will be taking place in a somewhat modified format.  For instance, due to frequent overcrowding at the Eat to the Beat Concert Series, in order to properly maintain social distancing among Festival attendees, Epcot will instead host local musical acts spread throughout the day.  Also, the number of global marketplaces will only be twenty, as opposed to thirty before the pandemic.

Epcot is known for its futuristic attractions as well as its permanent country pavilions, with Morocco, Japan, and the United Kingdom among the more popularly visited ones.

Menorca, Spain Is A 2022 European Region for Gastronomy

Along with Trondheim-Trøndelag, Norway, Menorca earned the recognition of European Region of Gastronomy for 2022, as voted by the International Institute of Gastronomy, Culture, Arts, and Tourism (IGCAT). IGCAT is a non-profit organization formed in 2012 with four primary goals:
  • Empower People and Engage Citizens
  • Instill Local Pride
  • Support Local Communities
  • Create Ambassadors and Inspire Young Generations
Although it had been chosen at an event in Brussels in 2019, since the tourism outlook for Spain is improving with regards to COVID-19 – and, they are planning to open to fully vaccinated tourists on June 7th – I decided that this would be a good first post for FindingFoodFluency. In spite of its small size – Menorca being 43 times smaller than Belgium – this Balearic island in the Mediterranean is home to more than 300 food producers, and more than 1800 businesses in the food industry, including hotels, restaurants, bars, and distributors. You may also be interested to know that its capital, Mahon, lent its name to one of the world’s most popular condiments, mayonnaise.
h/t to https://www.hosteltur.com/133501_menorca-ya-es-la-region-europea-de-la-gastronomia-2022.html

Waiter, There’s Salt Outside Your Restaurant (Japan)

Years ago, before I went to teach English in Shenzhen, China, I happened upon a satirical video about the traditions of eating in a Japanese restaurant. What can one do, besides wax famished about those daily searches for good eats?

More importantly, what does Shenzhen have to do with this?…

Once settled in there, in order to spice up my daily Chinese meals, I went looking for Japanese food.  After stumbling upon a vertical “Japantown” in Luo Hu, the old commercial center of Shenzhen, I started to explore different floors of the building.  Seedy stuff – with discounts for Japanese businessmen – was located on the top floors, whereas just below those were restaurants.

Hungry, I alighted to find something that had been making me chuckle since watching the sushi video above:

Just what am I pointing to?

Salt.  Right outside of a Japanese restaurant.

The mound of salt is known in Japanese as 盛塩 (morishio).  Why was it there?  I asked the manager, and she didn’t know.  Though, one theory says that it was placed out front by the door sill in the event that your meal wasn’t salty enough.  Other possibilities include a nobleman being present in the restaurant, or that when you pass through the door you’ll be purified.  Another two mention that salt is placed there for good luck for the owner, or to keep evil spirits away from one’s abode (in Japanese).

Imagine at your own discretion, but please, the next time you reach for a bit of salt, think of your kidneys.

Morishio, “lucky salt,” outside of a Fukuoka Sushi Restaurant


Have you noticed this when you’ve gone out for Japanese food?  Have you taken advantage?

If Food Had Passports: Guatemalan Cardamom

Source: https://qtradeteas.wordpress.com/2011/02/16/cardamom/
Source: Qtradeteas

Ever since I started raiding the breath freshener (and carminative) trays at Indian restaurants, I’ve been curious about cardamom.  Whereas my usual reason for diving into those trays was for the candy-coated fennel seeds, the inimitable aggressive and unique flavor of cardamom always stood out.  When else could I find the expensive pods in my food?  Atop biryanis, in milk and as a seasoning for teas.

And in Antigua, Guatemala, in chocolate:

Antigua, Guatemala - Cardamom Chocolate (2)Prior to World War I, German coffee farmer Oscar Majus Kloeffer introduced cardamom to the fertile soil of Alta Verapáz.  Guatemala is currently the world’s largest exporter of cardamom, though hardly uses it on the domestic front, save for adding it to bars of local chocolate much to the amusement of self-declared travel/food bloggers.  Most of it is shipped to the Middle East and India, the latter of which frequently expressing sour grapes over one of its native crops.

If you’re curious about the history of cardamom – a distant relative of my favorite root, ginger – visit the Western Ghats of India to discover its origin.


Are you a fan of cardamom?  Have you ever been to Guatemala?

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