Culinary Adventures: Maptia Storytelling Theme 6

By Maptia, Co-founder Team Share

Have you ever experienced a moment when you have tasted something and the world is changed—be it a transcendental bowl of pho soup or tasting kopi luwak, the world’s most infamous cup of coffee? Have you ever learnt the art of making sweet candies in rural Myanmar, foraged for rare truffle in secret English woods, or felt the roof of your mouth instantly explode with a searing spear of spice-induced heat?

You have to taste a culture to understand it.
— Deborah Cater

To whet your appetite, here is a map showing the locations of our featured stories that tell the tales of 20 mouthwatering culinary adventures...

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Rick Steves once quipped that, ‘travel wallops our ethnocentricity’—stating that when you immerse yourself in an unfamiliar culture, you become aware that there are an infinite number of ways to orientate yourself on this lump of spinning space rock we call home. Without doubt, one of the most profound and transformative of these ‘whallopings’ can occur through the medium of food.

Taste speaks the truth. It creates momentary mouthfuls of exquisite epiphanies that thrust our senses into ecstatic parallel universes of unfathomable zesty and zingy dimensions. A foreign flavour opens up untrodden paths to explore the ‘terra incognita’ of our personal culinary cartographies. In the spirit of St. Augustine: 

The world is not a book but a Smörgåsbord—and those who don’t travel, experience only one dish!

Why do we humans embrace gastronomic exploration? Because when one sense comes alive so do the other four. The depth and life-affirming intensity of a flavoursome dish can have the power to not only bring our focus to the present moment, but also to stretch our senses beyond their previous limitations. And even after the plates of a magnificent meal have been cleared away, our senses never quite return to their original dimensions.

The Spanish have a interesting untranslatable word—‘sobremesa’, which describes ‘food-induced conversations’. As James Beard says, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience” and the shared ritual of preparing and savouring food is a vessel for cross-cultural exchange and a forger of human connection. Or sometimes (in the case of our founding storyteller Matt Evans) the less palatable ‘cultural delicacies’ will provide food for thought—pushing our culinary comfort zones and causing us to call into question the values that we feel quite literally in our gut, yet when pressed, cannot quite rationally justify.

With your stomach hopefully rumbling in anticipation, we hand the cutlery over to you dear ravenous reader, and invite you to tuck in and choose your own culinary adventure—feasting on the 20 mouthwatering narratives prepared by our founding storytellers. Bon Appétit!


1 | Hospitality and a Lesson in Burmese Candy

8 min read · By Shannon O’Donnell · Read this story on Maptia

Learning the art of making sweet candies in rural Myanmar as my niece and I biked through the countryside.

As Shannon says on her beautiful blog—the world’s too big to just tell one story. If you enjoyed her story as much as we did, be sure to let her know here on Twitter @ShannonRTW.


2 | Palm Hearts and Piments

8 min read · By Sarah Duff · Read this story on Maptia

The Indian Ocean island of Mauritius is best known for its package holidays, resorts and powder-white beaches, but its food is what will draw you away from your lounger.

Sarah Duff is a Travel writer, photographer and Alain de Botton disciple who spends as much time as possible on assignment in Africa and attending music festivals. Find her wonderful work on and say hi to her on Twitter @sarahduff.


3 | The Gift of the Guru

6 min read · By Diane Caldwell · Read this story on Maptia

My tongue and the roof of my mouth instantly exploded in a searing spear of heat. This was undoubtedly the hottest, spiciest curry I had ever tasted. This was the unexpected gift I was to receive from the guru.

Almost 9 years ago, stifling sobs, and trying to swallow down the rock lodged in her throat, Diane Caldwell boarded a plane to Greece. She hasn't been back to the USA since. Follow her adventures on Twitter @dianewanderer.


4 | Vietnamese Food Fables

8 min read · By Matt Evans · Read this story on Maptia

Every meal in Vietnam can be a journey into the unknown, each mouthful an adventure. Everything is not always as it seems in the world of street food—leave your preconceptions behind.

Peruse more of Matt’s whimsical and worldly adventures over on and if you are suitably impressed then feel free to engage with his abbreviated ramblings @mattyevans75.


Finding your first truffle IS the ultimate prize in foraging. I have never found or shot anything that has caused quite the same level of elation. With patience, observation and a synergy with the natural world, you can uncover a culinary treat that will have you eating like a king for days.

Nick Weston is the founder of Hunter Gather Cook Foraging and Cookery school in Sussex, UK. He’s also an avid tree house dweller, writer and surfer. Follow his foraging adventures on Twitter @huntrgathercook


Last week, on my journey into work with the usually apathetic commuters on the BART, something amazing happened. Something that restored my faith in human kindness.

Azmina Aboobaker is an SF-based Mamma-lawyer, prolific cookie baker and gleeful DIY’er just counting down the minutes until lunchtime. You can track of her delicious adventures at or send her a recipe on Twitter @lawyerloveslnch.


7 | The Secrets of Soup in Mui Ne

10 min read · By Jodi Ettenberg · Read this story on Maptia

From soup to sunsets, from ducks at dusk to delicious tamarind crab, from bamboo boats to the striped red and white dunes, Mui Ne is far more than just a kitesurfing beach.

Jodi Ettenberg is an author, soup expert and former lawyer from Montreal, she has been eating her way around the world since 2008. Check out her book the Food Travelers’ Handbook, sign up for one of her food walks in Saigon or ask her pho soup related questions on Twitter @legalnomads.


8 | Ghana by Plate

6 min read · By Ozoz Sokoh · Read this story on Maptia

My Short History of Ghanaian Food. Ghana, the First African Country I ever visited. Because I haven’t visited Nigeria. For you can’t very well visit a country you were born in. Have lived in. Currently live in. I love Ghana—my window into Africa. South of The Sahara. Discovering Flavour.

Ozoz is a food loving explorer, a map enthusiast and celery hater. Keep tabs on her glorious foodie adventures at and say hi on Twitter @Kitchnbutterfly.


With a few hours free in Geneva and chocolate on my mind (as always), I figured it was about time I paid a visit to the Favarger shop on the Quai des Bergues in the city center. They’ve been making chocolate since 1826 after all.

Kerrin Rousset is a food and travel writer who combines her two greatest passions in life—she’s always ready for the next adventure or new culinary discovery. Follow her food adventures on or drop her a note on Twitter @mykugelhopf.


10 | When in Portugal

5 min read · By Becky Dumas · Read this story on Maptia

Portugal’s “Festival Internacional de Chocolate de Óbidos” is an annual celebration of all things chocolate. A small tale of how this Canadian found herself not only tasting this festival, but competing in it.

Becky Dumas is an intrepid soul on a quest to spread understanding to the corners of our round world.


11 | In a Dream—Riding Brazil

6 min read · By Allan Karl · Read this story on Maptia

Living, and tasting, the dream as I ride 5,000 miles along the coast of Brazil. On the Ilha de Itaparica I discover the meal that first inspired my book—“FORKS: A Quest for Culture, Cuisine, and Connection.”—due to be published and available in March 2014.

On July 4, 2005 Allan Karl left his home in Southern California on a Journey & Adventure to travel around the world -- from top to bottom, then all the way around -- alone on a motorcycle. You can read more about his adventures in a beautiful new book over at and find him on Twitter @worldrider.


12 | Eating like a Cow in Bali

4 min read · By Delia Monk · Read this story on Maptia

Can you imagine going off to have lunch somewhere and filling one stomach, while deliberating over your next few restaurants for the remaining three stomachs? You could literally eat all day. This is a tale of street food, multiple stomachs and Bali delicacies.

In a past life Delia Monk can be found travelling around the world with her notepad instead. You can peruse her adventures over at or drop her a friendly note on Twitter @DeliaMonk.


While visiting a coffee compound in Bali, my family and I experience a cuppa Kopi Luwak, which is produced via a very dubious method.

Constantly curious, Stephanie is a traveler, teacher and freelance writer. Follow her misadventures at or drop her a line on Twitter @TravelOops.


A short tale of bright lights, fog and fish guts in Busan, South Korea.

Ailsa Ross is a Scottish writer—sure she would be a wilderness explorer if she wasn’t so scared of the dark. Follow her thoughtful notes from a road going anywhere over at


The only experience we’d had with Mexican food was the Tex-Mex variety we’d eaten at suburban franchises around the U.S. so, we were eager to discover what this part of Mexico offered. This was going to be a culinary journey with a simple goal in mind—to eat good food.

My Le is a food loving traveller interested in energy, philanthropy and social impact. Follow her on Twitter @mylegoel


Halfway around the world on year-long travel, I rediscover the tastes of home in Hong Kong. With prevailing migration of food, flavours, and people east over the Pacific to North America, I shouldn’t be surprised.

Henry Lee is a recovering astronomer & still curious about our blue globe. He writes about photographic journeys over on or follow him on Twitter @fotoeins.


17 | Atacama Dine With Me

9 min read · By Alanna Freeman · Read this story on Maptia

Consider a journey where everything was liberally coated with salt, and where nearly everything was frozen except for the food... Even for those with a thirst for adventure, longing for a taste of the bizarre, this Bolivian off-road trip was surreal in the extreme.

Alanna Freeman officially caught the Travel bug in 2010 and has been wandering wondrously round the world on and off since then. Find more of her great writing at


18 | The Quest for Fish

3 min read · By Jonathan Lee · Read this story on Maptia

The indigenous Emberá people of Panama traditionally rely on fish as part of their staple diet. Through my past work in Panama, I was able to connect closely with an Emberá family and embarked on a camping and fishing trip with several of the members.

Jonathan Lee is a photographer of beauty, an activist of social good and sustainability, aspiring traveler and student of the world. Follow his cycling adventures across the Pacific Northwest over at or drop him a note via Twitter @subtledream


A story about discovering culinary peculiarities along the roadsides and in the night markets in Taiwan.

Sarah is a snowboarder, polyglot & part time explorer. You can follow her adventures here.


From cooking in the Gobi Desert, to cooking in the highlands of Tibet. From learning how to cook “HuiGuoRou” in Sichuan province in China, to exploring Thai Islands and learning how to make the famous “Tom Yum Soup”. My journey through the world had been a true culinary adventure.

Neto Trevino is a gastronaut & traveler enjoying life to the full. Follow his adventures at or drop him an note on Twitter @netotrevino.


Choose Your Own Culinary Adventure” (tweet this here) and feel free to @mention any foodie friends who might like to sample our smörgåsbord of stories!


Adrenaline Seeking

Maptia Storytelling Theme 7


Have you ever taken a leap of faith and surrendered your limbs to gravity? Or felt a cocktail of endorphins turn up the saturation on life? We hope that a few brave thrill-seekers among you will find a moment to share your adrenaline-fuelled tales. The top stories will be featured on our blog as usual. Be sure to complete your story by Friday March 7th for a chance to be featured.

For now, just a small group of founding storytellers are contributing to Maptia and we are only able to send a limited number of new invites each week. We don’t yet have the resources to cope with more, and are still working on the coding and design. However, if you have a thrilling story in mind, and absolutely can’t wait to get started, then send a 200-word snippet and photo to and we would love to shuffle your invite right to the front of the queue.


If you made it through all 20 mouthwatering narratives the why not move onto one of our other popular posts below:

Al Humphries in Icelandthe creator of the world's first 'mappazine', read about Al's expedition across Iceland.


Date added
Location Locarno, Switzerland