“When you read a short story, you come out a little more aware and a little more in love with the world around you,” said American writer George Saunders. It holds true even for non-fiction. It’s my aim to see the world — one story at a time. Here are six short travel-tales from across the world
In Morocco bread is considered sacred. A life-sustaining force. Especially in rural Morocco. So they will never cut bread with a knife. It is considered a violent act. Desecration of the sacred! They use their hands to cut bread. Bread is omnipresent in a Moroccan home. It is eaten at all times. In the mornings, it is usually eaten with olive oil along with sweet tea and sometimes butter. Every morning women knead dough using wheat flour, water and salt. They then pat it into flattened rounds, put it on a tray and cover it with a cloth. After sometime this is taken to the community oven, which is like the tea shops of Kerala — it holds an important place in society. It is here that information is exchanged, gossip shared, advice given and counselling offered. It is the ‘ information central’ of the village. The baker always knows which bread belongs to which household. In a Moroccan village a baker is considered a “good catch” . Because they believe a girl who marries a baker will never want for bread.
Contrary to popular belief, muffins weren’t invented by the Americans. It was already a ‘thing’ in 10th century Britain. It came about when servants of aristocrats began using left over 🍰 to make what later came to be known as muffins which the Britishers ate during tea. Around 19th century , when there were no ovens in households, men sold muffins door to door. They were called the muffin men. They carried trays of muffins on their heads and walked down the streets during tea time ringing the bell in their hands. A lot like our vegetable vendors. . . .Then the Americans came in and spoilt it for the muffin men … 😀 For the longest time I thought muffins were naked cupcakes…you know cakes without the paper cup wrapper. now I know…😎 . . Do you prefer muffins or cupcakes?
Quinine was a bitter medicine used to treat malaria. It was usually mixed in tonic water (soda like) and given to afflicted people. In the early 19th century British officers stationed in India were easily susceptible to malaria. They had to be given Quinine in tonic water often. To beat it’s bitter taste the officers mixed it with gin, sugar and lime. This later became the quintessential gin and tonic – a drink that’s now popular across the world. And that’s how India gave gin and tonic to the world. 🍸🍸 I personally prefer vodka.😜 How many gin and tonic lovers here? Raise your ✋
London is more than a 1000 years old. The city is not built on a grid system. It is a maze of narrow lanes and bylanes. To become a London cab driver, you have to pass a test called the Knowledge Test. It is considered the toughest test in the world.💪 To pass the test one should learn every single street, road, avenue, public building etc within six miles each of Charring Cross, which is the heart of London. That would be 30,000 streets and 60,000 public buildings. Obviously you need a lot of room up there to store all that information. Research shows that the Hippocampus of a London cabbie is larger than the rest of us . They have more than average memory centres. Their training is responsible for this brain growth. Upside for those travelling in London? You don’t have to give the cabbie directions to your destination. And you will never get lost with a London cabbie at the wheel. They are like the human GPS.🛰️ Downside? The London black taxi is costlier than Uber. But I’ll take a London cabbie over an Uber driver anyday 😆
Before the decade long French Revolution, which began in 1789, the aristocrats and the super rich had grand kitchens and fine chefs. There were no restaurants or fine dining places in France or anywhere in the world at that time. There were just dingy roadside eateries or dark inns that served below par food. Ordinary people never ate out. Then the French Revolution began and the guillotine worked overtime chopping off the heads of scores of aristocrats. The remaining escaped to remote places. In the process numerous fine chefs were abandoned. Now they had no grand kitchens to show off their fine culinary skills. But they were alive and they needed to survive. So they began small eateries, which later came to be known as restaurants, where they served fine food. At the end of revolution and with the patronage of Napoleon Bonaparte, these fine dining restaurants began to thrive. That’s how restaurants came into existence. And fine dining was made available to commoners.
Coffee was introduced to Christian Europe by the Muslim invaders. Hence in Rome, it was known as the Satan’s drink People wanted Pope Clement VIII to ban the drink. He refused to do so before tasting it. He was brought a cup of coffee to taste. When he took the first sip… it was love at first sip for him. He then cleverly declared: “This devil’s drink is delicious. We should cheat the devil by baptising it.”