a secret food paradise series 1 – gifts from nature

I seldom write about food in our blog because it has always been a sensitive subject between Toni and me. For a typical Asian like me, food is extremely important and I used to think that the most exciting thing during traveling was to try out the local food. On the other hand, Toni could survive with minimal sustenance for days if he does not “feel hungry”, and his hunger depends heavily on how much he has moved his limbs (moving WITH trains or planes or other vehicles doesn’t count), the packaging of the food (styrofoam kills his appetite), the way the food is prepared (no processed fish / meat balls please), the price of the food (“let’s get black bread and banana from the supermarket”) and my appetite (the more hungry I am, the more full he is)…

The secret food paradise I’m going to write about is a magical place that converted Toni into a connoisseur, a food lover. First, he started eating exotic fruits and nuts in front of me when we were skyping. Then, when I visited him, he brought me to different restaurants, bars and markets to savour the local dishes. He memorised the complicated cuisine names by heart even though he didn’t have time to learn the local language. He told me he got “addicted” to certain food and we indulged ourselves until both of us got stomachache and sulfur burps and diarrhea…

This paradise, is Azerbaijan. Nature has bestowed Azerbaijan with not only oil and gas, but also fertile soils with flourishing fruits, nuts and spices. Even in the hustling capital of Baku, we could see pomegranate trees, grape vines and olive tress almost everywhere on the street.

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Figure 1: fig trees

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Figure 2: black pepper trees

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Figure 3: saffron trees (even the grasshopper looks delicious!)

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Figure 4: hazelnut trees

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Figure 5: a typical bazaar in Baku

The first place that Toni brought me to when I arrived at Baku was the bazaar near his flat. It was a huge tentage with a variety of stalls selling vegetables, fruits, meat, nuts, pickles and dried food. Everything was seasonal and we saw a row of trucks selling melons during this particular time. They had gigantic honeydews like this

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as well as the mini versions.

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We only realised later that this cute melon was meant to be kept for its natural fragrance when we cut it open and tasted its blandness~~

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Figure 8: trying out fresh figs for the first time!

We also made our own food at Toni’s flat a few times with the fresh herbs from the bazaar. Even a simple dish tasted so good!

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Figure 9: home cooked breakfast

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