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TOPIC: restaurants

food / travel

When Racism Poisons Italy's Culinary Scene

This is the case of chef Mareme Cisse, a black woman, who was called a slur after a couple found out that she was the one who would be preparing their meal.


TURIN — Guess who's not coming to dinner. It seems like a scene from the American Deep South during the decades of segregation. But this happened in Italy, in this summer of 2023.

Two Italians, in their sixties, got up from the restaurant table and left (without saying goodbye, as the owner points out), when they declared that they didn't want to eat in a restaurant where the chef was what they called: an 'n-word.'

Racists, poor things. And ignorant, in the sense of not knowing basic facts. They don't realize that we are all made of mixtures, come from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. And that food, of course, are blends of different ingredients and recipes.

The restaurant is called Ginger People&Food, and these visitors from out of town probably didn't understand that either.

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Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Madrid

Madrid is the place to be if you want to experience the full variety of Spanish cuisine. Since it became the capital of Spain in the 1500s, Madrid has been a melting pot for culinary traditions from all over the peninsula. Its main dishes are simple, easy fares — often fried — prepared in bar and tavern kitchens.

The walkable Spanish capital city is easy to explore — especially through food. When Spaniards talk of “ir de tapas," they're referring to an itinerant way of eating — the tradition of wandering around a neighborhood, casually bar hopping while being served a tapas dish to “picar” alongside your beverage of choice (traditionally wine, but more recently beer has become popular, too).

Some of the most famous sides include padrón peppers, cured ham, cheeses, croquettes, chorizo and patatas bravas. It's a fantastic way to get to know an area, try new food, and, if you're the chatty type, make new friends.

But eating and drinking in Madrid is more than simply a sprawling tapas bar...

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Gùsto! How · What · Where Locals Eat (And Drink) In Warsaw

Poland's capital — known for its rich history, impressive skyline, and vibrant arts scene — is often overlooked when it comes to cuisine. Here's what to eat when visiting Warsaw.

For destinations like Rome or Paris, eating the local cuisine is a big part of the draw. Warsaw instead is an evolving food and drink experience, offering an eclectic mix of culinary options: traditional fare and trendy alternatives.

Fusion restaurants and gastro pubs have become popular as the Polish capital reinvents itself. Chefs are continuing to reinvigorate and experiment with Polish cuisine, and Japanese and Korean restaurants are enjoying newfound popularity.

Visitors looking to explore Poland’s flavors are sure to find them here.

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Krakow's Bottiglieria 1881 Becomes First Polish Restaurant To Earn Two Michelin Stars

The restaurant, created with Krakow locals in mind, is pushing Polish gastronomy on the international haute cuisine map.

KRAKOW — Bottiglieria 1881, tucked in an unassuming spot near Bocheńska Street in Kraków, has earned its second Michelin star. It is a historic recognition for Polish gastronomy: the restaurant is the first in Poland to have achieved this honor.

“All of our seats are reserved a month in advance, but the food we serve is not for a select few, but for anyone who wants to embark on a culinary adventure”, Przemysław Klima, the head chef and co-owner of Bottiglieria 1181, told Gazeta Wyborcza when the restaurant received its first Michelin star in 2020, just 10 months after he took over. “We serve some guests as often as once a week, and others come once every six months. There are no hard or fast rules, but under no circumstances is our restaurant only for special occasions. Every day is an occasion to eat something special.”

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food / travel
Julián López de Mesa Samudio

Big City Chefs Rediscovering Local Ingredients, Colombia-Style

Top chefs in Bogotá and other big cities in Colombia are rediscovering and updating the country's traditional fare to celebrate local ingredients.

BOGOTÁ — Travelers to Paris, Tokyo or Madrid aren't expecting to eat hot dogs when they visit those cities. Food is an essential part of any travel experience, and more so if you are eating for fun, so your menu really must be a typical, intrinsic part of the local landscape.

When people visit Colombia they are not looking for high-end salmon or French-style foie gras, because these are not the local fare. If you find them here, they were imported, and even if someone is producing them, you can't find the same quality, or those essential, cultural and environmental ties between any traditional food and its place of origin.

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David Barroux

Gluten-Free In France: Stepping Out Of The Shadows, Heading Upmarket

For those in the haute cuisine world of French food, a no-gluten diet (whether by choice or health requirements) has long been a virtual source of shame. But bakers, chefs and pastry makers are now taking the diet to whole new levels of taste and variety.

PARIS — The "gluten-free" aren’t hiding anymore.

Whether they avoid the grain protein by choice or by obligation — due to taste, allergies or an intolerance — many stick to a diet seen by the outside world as a little bit funny, or perhaps simply just bland.

For some, being gluten-free even came with some amount of self-consciousness: about being that person, the one who announced at the beginning of dinner that they wouldn’t be eating that bread, or that pasta, or that pastry — or about coming across as precious and complicated, or worse, as a killjoy for everyone else’s gustatory pleasure.

For those who feel that it is hard to speak up, it's often easier just to keep the gluten intolerance to themselves and eat only the vegetables at meals, abstaining from bread and dessert to avoid stomach cramps.

But the times, they are a-changin'. Living without gluten used to feel punitive; now it feels more like an option. The number of gluten-free products has exploded, in both quantity and quality, and there’s never been a better time to join the "no-glu" camp.

In supermarkets, bakeries and restaurants, there are increasingly varied alternatives to gluten. And demand is just as high — €1 billion per year in sales in France alone, according to Nielsen. The research consultancy found that 3% of French households were gluten-free in 2019. Now, that number is 4.4%, which is twice as high as the number of “strictly vegetarian” households.

According to market research firm Kantar, the frequency and number of purchases, as well as the average amount spent for gluten-free products, continues to increase — up 6% compared with 2019.

In this context, it’s hardly surprising that gluten-free alternatives are becoming increasingly chic.

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Meike Eijsberg

Japanese Restaurants Rebel Against Olympic-COVID Alcohol Curfew

Walking past a restaurant in Tokyo this week, you might spot the following sign: "Saké, ok!" Nothing out of the ordinary, it would seem, but these days it has another meaning: that restaurant is part of a growing rebellion against the government's directives not to serve alcohol after 7 p.m, reports Le Monde.

Tokyo, and its three bordering departments (Chiba, Kanagawa and Saitama), have been placed in a state of emergency since August 2 following a surge in COVID cases. Establishments that serve alcohol have been required to close at 7, while those that don't can stay open an additional hour, according to Kyodo news. But not everyone is sticking to these rules.

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food / travel
Léo Bourdin

What's Chic Now In Paris Dining? African-American Soul Food

Chicken waffles, mac and cheese, cornbread… these iconic African American dishes aren't just trending on Netflix — they're also making a name for themselves in the capital of haute cuisine.

PARIS — Soul food doesn't imply a region or nationality but something broader, closer to a sentiment — a feeling at the border of a sensory and culinary experience. With iconic dishes such as fried chicken (fried chicken legs seasoned with Cajun spices), mac and cheese (macaroni and cheese baked in the oven with melted cheese), and cornbread (a pan-fried, corn-based bread borrowed from Native Americans), this African American cuisine has become one of the most popular symbols of North-American food culture.

These comforting recipes, filled with history and emotion, have found their way to France as more and more restaurants, such as New Soul Food, Gumbo Yaya and Mama Jackson, advertise their soul food menus. Originally poor and rural, the nourishing tradition has come a long way from its 17th century origins, when its creators were Black slaves working the plantations of the southern United States.

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Alessio Perrone

Post-Lockdown Milan: All Booked And On The Verge Of Bankruptcy

Bars and restaurants are finally able to receive customers, at least for outdoor service. It's a welcome shift for a weary population that is still, nevertheless, wary about the lingering pandemic.

MILAN — Hanging from the wall opposite the main entrance of Red Red Wine, a blackboard reads: "Tasting of indigenous grapes of Southern Italy. Reservation required."

The words are scribbled in colored chalk and advertise an event that took place more than a year ago — on Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. The board is a time capsule, in that sense, like a broken clock that stopped ticking, from one day to the next, right around the moment when everything in Italy came to a halt, when time suddenly stood still.

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Jacques Attali

Restaurant, Mon Amour: A French Reflection On Lockdown Choices

By closing bars and restaurants, we are not only depriving the sharing of meals but also the real exchange of ideas.


PARIS — Everywhere in the world, but perhaps especially in France, pandemic management has been characterized by its inconsistencies. How can we justify closing theaters and cinemas when metros and trains are still running? How can we explain why universities are shut when primary schools are still open? And how can we accept that grocery stores are closed at the 7 p.m. curfew, which, for most people is the only time they can do their shopping? One day, all these questions will need to be answered.

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food / travel

Dining With Distance: Restaurant Innovation Adapts To COVID-19

For many, getting back to "normal life" means going out to eat. But people also want to be safe, which is why eateries — from Amsterdam to Australia — are experimenting with distancing innovations that might soon become the new normal in the field of gastronomy. So how will dining out look like in the post-pandemic world? Here are few glimpses:

• In Saxony-Anhalt, Robin Pietsch, the Germanstate's only starred chef, is thinking about setting up small "greenhouses' in an open space at Wernigerode Castle, the German daily Die Weltreports. Each glass cubicle would accommodate two guests and protect them from other diners, and yet still allow them to appreciate the surrounding scenery.

• Pietsch says he was inspired by the "separated greenhouses' that a vegan restaurant in Amsterdam set up on the waterfront and tested earlier this month. The restaurant should reopen for the public in the beginning of June with other Dutch restaurants and terraces hosting up to 30 guests, reported NH Nieuws.

• Unlike its European neighbors, Sweden never enforced a lockdown, and bars, restaurants and cafés continue to serve seated customers, albeit with certain precautions in place. Many establishments decided, for example, to rope off every other table to make social distancing easier. But that's nothing compared to the approach taken by a new restaurant called Bord för En (Table for One), which opened two weeks ago serves just one customer per day, seated at a table in the middle of... a field! Not only that, but food is served in a basket attached to a rope. Offering seasonal and locally farmed food and drinks, the restaurant's owners also have a novel approach when it comes to the bill: It's up to the guests to decide how much they're willing to pay. "We're all facing difficult times," the restaurateurs​ told theInsider.

• The proprietor of aseafood pub in Ocean City, in the U.S. state of Maryland, have also found a creative way to keep business afloat while maintaining social distancing. Customers at Fish Tales, which is reopening its dine-in services, will once again be allowed to mix, mingle and much, but with one condition: They have to wear giant inflatable inner tubes on wheels. These "bumper tables' are six feet wide, and according to UJ City News, the owner intends to fit 40 to 60 of them inside her restaurant.

Photo: Fish Tales

• A café in northeast Germanycame up with a similar idea, only instead of inner tubes, customers use swimming pool floats (water noodles) to maintain social distancing. The 1.5-meter-long noodles are attached to hats that customers at Rothe in Schwerin, as the café is known, don while dining, Euronewsreports.

• In Spain and Italy, some restaurants plan to reopen with plexiglass screens separating tables or even individual diners. One restaurant in the town of Leganés has already installed the prototype screens to test the design, reports The Local. As part of a pilot test, it has also set up thermal cameras that detect the temperature of diners.

• In New South Wales, Australia, in the meantime, restaurants are back in operation, but with strict limits on the number of diners allowed. Eateries can serve no more than 10 people at a time. Concerned that some clients might find the relative emptiness a bit off putting, the owner of one Sydney restaurant came up with a crafty solution: Why not fill the empty chairs with cardboard cutouts? And because the faux customers can't, of course, talk, the proprietor also outfitted his establishment with recorded background noise that simulates the chatter of clients, 7 News reports.

•A restaurant in Bangkok, Thailand had a similar idea, but instead of cardboard customers, decided to go with stuffed panda dolls. Different strokes, as they say, for different folks.

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Anastasia Yakoreva

Winners And Losers In Russia's Currency Crisis

MOSCOW — If you happen to produce widgets in Russia and sell them in foreign currency, your time has come.

Konstantin Babkin, president of a company that produces tractors, is convinced that the ruble should have been devalued long ago. "An excessively strong ruble already killed our airplane construction, food and light manufacturing industries," he says.

Some economists agree that the previous exchange rate of 33 to 35 rubles per dollar was bad for exports. "The disparity between the "real" exchange rate and the official rate is unprecedented, and it is a real barrier for exporters of high-tech products," one observer said in the middle of November. Now the ruble is trading at more than 45 per dollar.

And the exporters are happy. "In the end, our exports have grown by 27% this year," Babkin says. His company exports tractors to Poland, Hungary and Romania, although exports comprise only about 20% of the company's sales. This year, the company sold its first products in Germany.

Babkin thinks that a fair exchange rate would be about 55 rubles per dollar. But exporters would feel a bit more confident if it was readjusted gradually instead of undergoing a free fall. The quick fall the of ruble has made international buyers hesitant about investing in Russian products. After all, if you buy a tractor, you're committing to several years worth of parts and repair services. "What if everything falls apart there tomorrow?" those buyers no doubt ask themselves.

"I have another factory in Canada," Babkin says. "A Hungarian bank was willing to give a farmer a loan for my Canadian combines but not for a Russian tractor."

Babkin says his domestic orders are up by 15% too. "Large agribusinesses have started to buy our machines," he says. "They never even noticed us before."

Sollers, an auto manufacturing company, is also experiencing a booming business. "The devaluation is an excellent opportunity to expand the sales market," a representative from the Sollers press office says. "But that opportunity with be limited within a year or two, so the effect will be less noticeable."

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