Tips for the Cruise Neophyte

Tips for the Cruise Neophyte

The Queen Mary, one of the world’s most elegant ships in her time.

Once upon a time, cruising was strictly for the wealthy. Indeed, the word cruise still evokes images of elegantly dressed society types, lounging, cocktails in hand, while a palm court orchestra plays in the chandelier-hung salon. Think Deborah Kerr and Cary Grant in An Affair to Remember.

It’s still a self-indulgent means of travel, but cruising has become much more affordable. Travelers by the score are opting for shipboard luxury when they plan their holidays. Continue reading

Spicing it Up with Chilero

Spicing it up with Chilero

Visitors to Macaw Lodge love their delicious chilero. This spicy condiment can add zest to meats, eggs, even veggie dishes.

Chili peppers are good for you. They contain vitamins and minerals. But most importantly, they have been shown to have positive effects on prostate cancer, blood, and even ulcers (no, they don’t make ulcers worse!). Cultures where hot pepper is used liberally have a much lower rate of heart attack, stroke and pulmonary embolism.

Chili peppers have varying degrees of heat, depending on the amount of capsaicin in each variety. It’s this ingredient that produces that unmistakable sensation of heat – and pain! − in the mouth by stimulating pain receptors in the skin and mucous membranes. The response can be sweating, watery eyes, and strangely enough, exhilaration. One scientific theory says that in response to the discomfort produced by the burning, the brain releases endorphins. At high levels, these can actually create a sensation of pleasure.

Hot, hot hot

Capsaicin is also the active ingredient in some topical pain-killers because it numbs pain receptors in the skin.

You can accustom your taste buds to chili. Over time, the receptors will react less fiercely. In the Mexican province of Tabasco, we were served a little bowl of chopped chilies in lime juice on the table at every meal. My first tentative taste graduated to healthy dollops on my food. And when I returned home after just 10 days, I actually missed the spice.

If you find the chilies too hot to handle, don’t drink water. Water and alcohol only increase the burn of chilies in the mouth. My Indian friends tell me to eat bread. But I’ve been reliably informed by Jim Garcia, a chili expert, that the only real antidote is dairy – milk, yogurt, sour cream, cheese.

. Although it sold bottled, they kindly shared the recipe in a recent newsletter with the following information:

Behind the spicy feeling, chilies that spice our cuisine have capsaicin, which can be used as an analgesic for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis and other neuropathologies.

 

About 1 kg chilies (aji, panameno, habanero)
3 cups olive oil
3 cups white vinegar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 big carrots (can substitute with yuplon or starfruit)

Mix this amount (or desired proportion) of ingredients in a blender. Serve in small quantities with meats, rice and beans or other dishes. Refrigerate when not being consumed.

 

Want to know more about chilies

 

Bonnehomme Carnaval

Bonnehomme

Arriving at the airport in Quebec City, I can’t resist a photo with a familiar character.

Bonnehomme Fun Facts

To most Canadians, Bonnehomme is as familiar as Santa Claus and he’s immediately linked with Carnaval, Quebec’s unbeatable way to warm up the winter.  But did you know these little known Bonnehomme facts? Continue reading

Joyeux Carnaval!

Joyeux Carnaval! Bonnehome and me

Bonnehomme Carnaval and I posing in the eerie light of this year’s Ice Palace. Take a tour further down.

If there’s one thing Canadians know, it’s how the make the best of winter. But Quebec has perfected the art of making it fun.

No matter how cold it gets, hibernation is not an option. Instead, Carnaval, the largest winter carnival in Canada and one of the oldest in the world (it began in 1894) takes a bite out of frosty February. Continue reading