Category Archives: Food

Culinary Delights of Durban – The Awesome Bunny Chow

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The food of Durban is as diverse as its demographics. However, as the home of one of South Africa’s largest Indian population, it is hard to escape its unique and delicious version of Indian cuisine.

This cuisine is most typically represented by the Bunny Chow. The Bunny Chow is Indian fast food and quite simply it is a bread loaf filled with curry. Historically this dish was a means of serving up food to Indian workers at a time when the laws of the country did not allow them to be served inside certain restaurant.

This great dish has become somewhat of a staple on menus around Durban and it can be found in nicer restaurants like the Hilton Hotel in Durban CBD and the famous Britannia hotel or the delicious fast food chain Some Like it Hot.

Note – best eaten using your fingers and with a big dash of delicious chutney. Imagebig

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Reflections on Bogotá

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Bogotá is a huge city and we certainly can’t claim to have fully explored it. We stayed in the old city – La Candelaria – which is charming in a slightly run down way. Bogotá has many beautiful parks which we happily explored by bicycle and a large market (Paloquemao) which is a nice place to spend a morning. We took an interesting food tour which was focused in the area between the old and new towns, and this felt much more like local Bogotá than the old city. I think Bogotá has much more to offer than we could find in just a few short days.

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Culinary delights of … Colombia

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Tasty, fresh, varied –  these are all good adjectives for Colombian food. I think it is fair to say that Colombian cuisine is not as developed as say food in Peru – perhaps due to the many decades of civil unrest. However, almost anything grows well somewhere in Colombia and the food and flavours are fresh and tasty with lots of regional dishes to try.

The five dishes below show a good spread of the different treats on offer. However, even in our four weeks, there was so much we did not try. Two weeks on the Caribbean coast made a big impression and the first two dishes here are a testament to that.

1. Fried fish with patacón, rice and salad
A whole fried fish with deep fried plantain, also known as patacón, boiled rice and a small salad of lettuce, onion and tomato is the Carribean staple in Colombia. It is an understatement to say we ate this a lot and it was always delicious. Sea bream was a popular variety of fish however others were on offer including baraccuda. Personally, I could eat this twice a day, and sometimes did. It is especially good to eat while sitting on the beach watching the crisp blue Caribbean sea.

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Our pick: the Caribbean

2. Langoustinos
In the UK we usually turn these things into scampi – I think the Colombians do a much better job. Who can beat eating a bit plate of grilled langoustines while listening to the lapping waves of the ocean.

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Our pick: Playa Blanca near Cartagena

3. Ajiaco
Moving away from the Caribbean to the cuisine of the Andes. This hearty, moresome soup is a favourite of Bogotá residents. It is made from chicken, potatos and containes a piece of corn. The potatoes break down to thicken the soup.

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Our pick: Antigua de Santa Fe, Calle 11, No 6-20

4. Avena and Panedebonos
Avena is an cool oatmeal based drink and panedebonos is a cheese bread. This combination is a popular mid-morning snack across Colombia. The avena is thickened with cornstarch and sweetened with sugar. The panedebonos is made from corn, yucca flour, white cheese and milk.

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Our pick: La Estación del Pandebono, Carrera 7 con 63, Bogotá (thanks to our food tour guide Diana for showing this to us).

5. Colombian sweet treats
There are a wide variety of Colombian sweets on offer and they can be found all over the country. Popular ingredients include dulce de leche, guava jelly and coconut. We have never seen sweets like this anywere else – do not hesistate to try!

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Our pick: Colombia

We were lucky in Bogotá to be given a food tour by Diana Holguin of Bogotá Eats and Drinks. Diana was born in Bogotá and educated in the US and UK. We took her Chapinero food tour to visit a variety of culinary establishments in Bogotá. We strongly recommend trying one of her tours.

Finally, if you find yourself in Cartegena old city on a hot day then seek out these delicious ice lollies:
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What is Inca Kola?

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It is bright yellow and it is not Kola – so what is this mysterious drink called Inca Kola. This drink is made by Coca Cola however it was originally a Peruvian brand which was later bought by the big red beverage machine.

To me Inca Kola is very sweet and very fizzy and it tastes a little big like Irn Bru – the bright orange Scottish favourite – except Inca Kola is obviously yellow. It is nice so long as it is really really cold. Ask for it helado – that means ice cold.

Enjoy!

Culinary delights of … Peru

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The food is Peru is nothing short of amazing. It is tasty and varied with plenty of regional specialities. There are plenty of traditional favourites including Peru’s own variety of Chinese food – called Chife.  There are also some more unusual options including Guinea Pig – Cuy. Our week spent in a homestay in Cusco meant we tried a lot of local home cooked Andean food, however it was the seafood on the coast that really bowled us away.

It was tough to pick our top choices and there are plenty of delicious choices beyond our list here – tuck in!

1. Cerviche

Cerviche is a delicious dish made from raw fish or seafood which rather than being cooked with heat is ‘cooked’ using acid – typically lemon juice. Mixed with onion, garlic and usually chilli and coriander – this dish is fresh and healthy. It is usually served with boiled sweet potato, boiled corn and fried corn. Once we reached the coast I probably ate cerviche twice a day – I cannot get enough of it. We also had a go at making it with our friends in Lima.

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A delicious plate of cerviche

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Making our own cerviche with our friends Gabriela and Xavier in Lima


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Eating cerviche in Arequipa with our friendly guide Carlitos.


Our picks: everywhere close to the sea (or a river). Lima and Paracas in particular had great cerviche on offer however our first try was near the central market in Arequipa, at number 302 Pierola (pictured above).

2. Adobo

Adobo is a delicious soup made from pork and chilli. It can be found in many chicharronerias which are shops which primarily sell deep fried pork called chiccarron. The soup itself is quite thick (I think thickened with maize) and rich. It is spicy and ours contained a spicy hot rocoto chilli along with some potato and a couple of lumps of tasty pork.

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A tasty bowl of adobo. That big red thing is the rocoto chilli which was nice and spicy,

Our pick: we found great adobo near Qorikancha in Cuscoon Pampa de Castillo. Here we went to a busy chicharroneria with a menu outside with a cartoon pig – however there are many other options on this street.

Chupe de Pescado

This is a tasty kind of fish soup with a rich, creamy and slightly spicy broth. There are many kinds of fish and seafood chupe and other soups – any that we tried were delicious.

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Our first huge bowl of chupe de pescado shortly after arriving on the Peruvian coast in Paracas.


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A great chupe de mariscos at a restaurant we found near the sea in Lima. I wish we could remember the name of the place. This one was served with delicious fried plantain.

Our pick: in Paracas, at the end of the main beach is a line of about 20 small restaurants where we had a great chupe de pescado.

3. Chicharron de mariscos

Chicharron, as mentioned in the adobo section, is deep fried food. It is often pork but chicharron de mariscos is made with mariscos – sea food. Delicious squid, shrimps and scallops, but we were not so keen in the limpet.

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This picture really does not do this delicious plate of fried seafood justice. Tasty with a capital T.

Our pick: again in Paracas we had a great dish at one of the restaurants directly in front of the beach

4. Delicious camarones with garlic

I did say we went a bit mad in seafood in Peru. We had lots of delicious camarones – shrimps. We had this delicious dish of cooked prawns in garlic, it had a real tapas flavour about it.

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This may have been the best bowl of prawns I have ever eaten. Em could barely contain her excitement and she seems to be pinching herself to check she is not dreaming.

Our pick: a really tasty restaurant in Lima called Canta Rana on Genova 101 in Barranco.

5. Picarones and chica morada

Picarones are like Peruvian donuts made from sweet potato (don’t ask me how) and chica morada is a tasty purple drink made from purple maize, pineapple and orange. The two go great together as a sweet treat however chica morada is widely available on its own.

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All these for just 3 people - with lashings of honey.


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We shared these tasty treats and this lovely chica morada with our lovely Spanish teacher in Cusco - Paul. Thanks Paul for this recommendation and the great company.

Our pick: Ruinas restaurant on the corner of Ruinas (street) in Cusco specialises in these delights.

Sweet Review #6 – Gum in Cusco, Peru

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This is a very special gum review but before we get started a rare picture of me choosing sweets at a ‘sweet shop’ in Cusco.

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Okay this is just a stall on the side of the road but this is the way of things here. Check out my look of intense concentration as I peruse the options available. Tirelessly working to bring to the world reviews of the sweets on offer in South America.

1. A Gogo – SuPeR hiper AciDo CHICLE

I have no idea what the name of this gum is supposed to represent but the packaging looks exciting. Watermelon flavoured gum is the order of the day here and I expect that there might be a surprise in store. The red pack and alternating type face seem to give an omen of something to come – something that I am not sure if I am going to like.

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The ball of gum itself looks unusually pink and smells strongly – I am not sure what the smell is but it is sweet and reminiscent of lost memories from my childhood.

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I pop the pink sphere in my mouth and find that the outside does not taste strongly – I decide to take the plunge and bite down. Chewing my mouth is suddenly filled with an intensely sour sweet, but not particularly watermelon like, flavour. This is great, maybe the first really sour sweet of the trip and it keeps giving for a good 30s or more. At the end my teeth are left feeling somewhat on edge and I am left with an insipid but at least slightly watermelon flavoured, piece of gum in my mouth.

2. BOOGIE ICE limon

This exciting little box makes me feel like I am about to have a party in my mouth and everyone will be invited. Excitedly I prepare to open the box which initially appears to be inpenetrable. I battle with my fat fingers for some time before tearing the end off.

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Inside I find two fairly innocent looking pieces of gum but from the packaging and name I expect hidden inside is some mystical force that will make we want to get up and dance. Given the clear impossibility of putting anything pack in the pack I assume these two pieces are meant to be eaten together so in they go.

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I cannot describe the surprise when I bite down to find that this gum tastes of both lemon and mint at the same time – thoroughly unexpected and quite unpleasent. I perserverse expecting some boogie to hit me anytime soon but as the flavour slowly fades I realise I have been sourly mislead. I return the tasteless wad of gum to the poor broken packaging and lament – a tear in my eye from the unpleasant moments I have just experienced and the start of a faint headache from the chemical sweeteners.

Culinary delights of … Bolivia

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We spent a happy 3 1/2 weeks in Bolivia and I am pleased to say that the food did not disappoint. There are plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables and a good variety of meat treats to try. Local staples include corn, quinoa and potato and many meals feature a variety of carbs – it is not unusual to find rice, potato and pasta on one plate. Food in Bolivia is also very cheap when compared to their Argentine neighbours and it is possible to pick up a very filling meal for as little as 12Bs (£1.20, $1.60).

We stayed in the highlands, through Potosí, Sucre, La Paz and Copacabana. There are many regional dishes and I am sure there is also much to sample in the lowlands around Santa Cruz and in the culinary centre of Cochabamba – we did however still enjoy a lot of variety. Here were some of our favourites:

1. Soup, soup and more soup

Bolivian’s love soup and it comes in endless varieties. It is common to have soup before a main dish for both lunch and dinner. A bowl of soup can come cheap at a food stall in the market or at a small local restaurant – as little as 4Bs (£0.4, $0.6) – so it is a great, nutritious cheap eat. Some tasty varieties include sopa de maní (peanut soup) which includes ground peanuts and is a yellow colour and sopa de veduras (vegetable soup) but as a word of warning this is typically made of meat stock and don’t be surprised if there is a piece of meat floating inside.

It is also common to find pasta, quinoa, potatoes or a combination thereof floating happily in the bowl – yum. You may also find a small bowl of slightly spicy chilli sauce accompanying you dish – but forget the bread, we were not served bread with soup except in tourist restaurants where they serve more European varieties.

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Sopa de maní in Sucre market

Our picks: it is impossible to recommend any one place but both the mercardo central (central market) in Sucre and the main market in La Paz had lots of options – or any one of many small local eateries.

2. Traditional Bolivian meals at local restaurants

There are plenty of very filling local dishes to be found as set lunchtime meals including a bowl of soup to start – as little as 12Bs (£1.20, $1.60) or for a tasty dinner, also with a bowl of soup to start. It is not uncommon to find dishes with beef, chorizo sausage, chicken, alpaca and fish along with a healthy pile of vegetables, sauce and trusty combinations of carbohydrates. We don’t recommend any particular dishes because there is a lot to try. Some that we enjoyed were:

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Ground meat with pasta - very filling


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Pique macho - a spicy combo of hotdog, beef and fries


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Majadito - like fried rice with some plantain on the side

Our picks: so many eateries to choose from (see soup above) but if you are looking for something slightly more sanitized then there is a great Bolivian fast food place in La Paz called La Quinta (calle Potosí 1240).

3. Saltenas

Saltenas are basically pockets of pastry with delicious fillings. They are very much like empanadas, which we recommended in Argentina and which are also prevalent in Bolivia) except the pastry is thicker and slightly sweet. Saltenas are baked where empanadas can be both baked or deep fried.

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Saltena and coke


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Inside the saltena - I needed a spoon to eat the filling

Our picks: look for specialist saltena eateries, saltenarias, or try the cafe Wistupiku (recommended to us by a local) on Coroico in La Paz – while there make sure you also dig into a glass of warm api (a spicy purple drink derived from maize) and cool mocochinchi (a peach flavoured drink which you can often find on the street containing a whole peach).

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Em drinking lovely warm api

4. Street food

One thing we loved about Bolivia was that there is so much street food – and we don’t mean food you eat off the street. Don’t hold back, we didn’t – just look for the more popular stalls where the food looks freshest. Some things you can try include:

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Cheesy deep fried thing

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Stall selling chorizo sandwiches

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Tucumana - a deep fried pastry full of delicious stuff

Our picks: keep your eyes open, there is plenty.

5. Chicken and chips

Roast chicken on a spit with a portion of chips is ever so popular with the locals and ever so tasty – served up with a nice potion of spicy sauce. This provides a filling and cheap meal, if not somewhat lacking vegetables. Buy your chicken in 1/4s or 1/2s (or wholes if you are that way inclined).

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Chicken and chips (and some fried plantain)

Our picks: there are loads of places behind the mercardo central in Sucre but we really enjoyed a place called El Pollo Loco on Loa 464.

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El Pollo Loco - the crazy chicken

6. Trout in Copacobana

Lake Titicaca is the worlds largest high altitude lake and fortunately that had the great idea to farm trout there. This means lots of tasty fresh trout is on the menu. Fish is not so prevalent in Bolivia because it is landlocked so this was a nice treat. There are lots of dishes to try with trout and you can also walk around the bay from Copacobana to the floating islands where they farm trout, select your trout and they kill it and cook it in front of you – you cannot get fresher than that.

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Trout pre-cooking (floating island)


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Trout post cooking (floating island)

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Trout with lots of tasty sauce from La Cupúla

Our picks: the floating islands (about 1.5 hour walk from Copacobana), the small canteens along the lake front in Copacobana and for something a little fancier at La Cupúla restaurant which happened also to be the place we stayed.

Some special mentions:
– Chocolate: it is very popular in Bolivia with lots of local chocolatiers – try El Ceibo and the shop Parati (for you) in Sucre.
– Pizza cones: weird and check out the special with cheese, strawberries and chocolate

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Pizza cone

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We didn't try this

– Hot dogs: yum with lots of sauce
– Tasty cafe food in Sucre – lots of homely food, tasty burgers and submarinos (hot chocolate made from real chocolate)

(Chris)

5 Favourites – Sucre, Bolivia

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We went to Sucre originally planning on spending 4 nights but there was something special about this laid back Bolivian city that made it very difficult for us to leave. So, after 8 nights these were our five favourite things about Sucre…

1. The food markets

Chris loves food. Especially local food. In particular local food where local people eat it. So, it was like Christmas morning for Chris when we found the first food market just outside our hostel (Mercado Central). There was an impressive line of little shops selling traditional Bolivian food (each behind the same coca-cola sign proudly displaying the name of the woman preparing the food). We each had a soup and Chris had a main course and the whole thing cost BOB14 (less than £1,40). Amazing!

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Chris enjoying his market experience

We then heard about a bigger market (Mercado Campesino) 15 minute walk out of the center of Sucre so we set off on Sunday to explore it. Again, it was full of delightful looking fruit, juice and homemade food.

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Fruit juice sellers

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Packets of pasta for sale

I am expecting Chris to follow this blogpost with one with a lot more detail on the tasty food he tried throughout Sucre.

2. Visiting the theatre

Sucre has three theatres. We kept walking passed the one close to the center (just off plaza 25 Mayo) and the ‘this is obviously a comedy’ poster for the play lured us into the box office. The ticketing system is hilariously archaic. The have a wooden diagram of the theatre with a hole in the wood for each seat. The ticket for that seat is then rolled as small as possible and stuck into the whole. So, when we chose our seats we were handed the rolled up pieces of paper from inside the hole.

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The ticket machine

The theatre itself was tiny – a small raked stalls section and then a series of boxes (each holding 4 people) on 2 levels. Finally, there is a gallery in the rafters. We chose the back seats of the stalls since Chris is a giant in Bolivian terms and we didn’t want to block anyone’s view. Despite the fact it was a late show (eventually starting after 10pm although billed to start at 21:30) it was packed with children of all ages. They even had some children sitting in the aisle and in front of the only fire exit – I don’t think the show is ever ‘sold out’ – there is always space for one more family.

The play was hilarious and while we didn’t understand most of the words (as expected, it was all in Spanish and, as feared, we are not yet fluent), we understood the plot and enjoyed the noisy, haphazard Bolivian experience.

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The actors taking a bow

3. Dinosaur footprints

By a stoke of luck, Sucre discovered a large set of dinosaur footprints on the outskirts of town. The story goes that many years back, Sucre experienced a severe earthquake. The city needed to rebuild itself (this time using concrete) so they set up a concrete factory outside the city. While the workers at the factory were working in the quary they discovered a large wall with prints in them. This turned out to be a collection of 100s of footprints of dinosaurs! Conveniently, the movements of the earth had caused them to lift so now the footprints are seen on an upright wall – much easier for tourists. Unfortunately, part of the wall recently collapsed so now they can only be viewed from afar. Still, we found it very exciting to peer at real life dinosaur footprints. And the brightly coloured life size dinosaur models only added to the fun!

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The wall of footprints

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Chris and some of the real prints that had broken off the wall

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Us with some fake dinosaurs

4. Taking Spanish Classes

When we realised how much we liked Sucre we decided we should sign up for more Spanish classes – this would give us a reason to stay for at least a week. We signed up for semi private classes (just Chris, me and a teacher) with http://www.latinoschool.com/html/sucre.html for an initial 20 hours (4 hours a day for 5 days) but liked our teacher Lili so much that we stretched it our for another 2 days. Hopefully, we are slowly improving with this Spanish learning!

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With Lili at our school

5. The white buildings

I’ve made this point number 5, hoping that no on notices that architecture always appears on our favourite things list! Oh well, when the city is full of such beautiful white washed buildings you can’t help but include it on the list.

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Chris on our roof terrace at sunset with the cathedral clocktower

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More clocks

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And a special mention for…

People dressed in zebra suites

In an attempt to help children, old people and tourists cross Bolivia’s dangerous roads safely there is some sort of initiative whereby students dress up as zebras and tell people when its safe to cross. (Although on at least 2 occasions I could stuck behind and enthusiastic zebra and was still in the middle of the road when the lights changed and the danger increased.)

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Friendly zebras

Sweet Review #5 – Sucre, Bolivia

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Two exciting sweets today which I have been carrying around in my bag for a while. Em has actually forbade me from buying more until I review these two so here we go. We have another Accor Poosh Fizz and a Nestle Wonka Fun Dip. I can barely contain my excitement.

1. Accor – Poosh! Fizz Mandarina

This sweet comes in a variety of individually wrapped flavours. It is hard to know exactly what is meant by the name Poosh! but the imagery on the pack leads me to think I will soon be foaming at the mouth.

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Poosh! - are you ready to foam at the mouth?

These little individually wrapped sweets are quite common in South America but opening this one I find a bright orange bird egg of a sweet with a hard outer shell. I must admit I am nervous to find out what Poosh! means but here goes…

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Orange egg

Putting the sweet in my mouth I bite down to release a distinctly chemically but clearly mandarin flavour and a release of something slight fizzy and powdery in the centre. The fizzing sensation from the powder passes quickly and as the remnants of the hard shell dissolve I am left with a vaguely mandarin flavoured chewing gum in my mouth. I have found that many sweets here eventually become a fairly nasty piece of bubble gum and one is left wondering where to spit.

Well as the name suggested I definitely received some fizz and the mandarina bit was fairly self evident. I am still left wanting and wondering what exactly the Poosh! was – did I miss it. I will report back should it surprise me in my sleep later tonight.

Verdict: Taste 3, Mouth Feel 3, Packaging 3, Experience 2 (underwelming)

2. Wonka (Nestle) – Fun Dip, RazzAppleMagicDipp

Many things intrigue me about this product. The psycadelic packaging, the lack of spacing in RazzAppleMagicDip, the registered “Lik.m.aid” slogan which invites lurid interpretation and the “artificially flavoured” caption – yes I was expecting natural Razz Apple.

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So much to take in

The first problem – I am not sure how to start. It feels like there are two compartments but how do I open it. For no good reason I decide to try the bottom. I was right and I prise from the smaller compartment an unusual looking eating stick captioned “Lik.a.stik” and in the other an exciting turquoise power.

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Where shall I put this?


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I think it goes in here


Without further ado I lick the end of the Lik.a.stik and stick (sweet but not strong in flavour) and dunk it in the Razz Apple powder.
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Ready to take the plunge

I prepare myself and stick the powdered end in my gob. It takes me a few goes to pin point that flavour and it is basically tastes of very little. I would blame it on the RazzApple but we know this is just an artificial replica of the real thing. It is a shame because the bright packaging and turqoise powder spoke to me of something stronger, more sublime and altogether more inspiring. The stick does not seem to be disappearing fast so I try a quick bite to see if there is something hidden inside, alas no.

This should have been so much better. Perhaps this is what RazzApple is supposed to take like.

I was however left with a pleasingly green tongue (I have spared you the picture but feel free to request a copy by email).

Verdict: Taste 2, Mouth Feel 3, Packaging 4, Experience 1 (disappointment)

(Chris)

Sweet Review #4 – Salta, Argentina

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Finally – a very late sweet review thanks to the rubbish internet connection in Bolivia.

Two tasty treats today, the first is a Nestle Classic Duo chocolate bar and the second is the awesome Mogul Filled Brains.

1. Nestle – Classic Duo

We were quite excited by this chocolate bar because it is a similar product to a South African chocolate bar by Cadbury called Top Deck. It is also a good chunk of chocolate for the money.
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Opening the bar we found the white and dark chocolate blended together quite nicely, although unlike a Top Deck it is difficult to separate the two parts if you want to eat them separately.
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The chocolate itself quite sweet and chalky, which I expect is probably partly due to changing temperatures during storage. It unfortunately lacked the nice creaminess that I would have hoped for from the white chocolate. On the plus side the chunks were a good size and there was plenty to go around. Overall, I was happy to eat this bar but it won’t make my top 10 any time soon.

Verdict: Taste 3, Mouth feel 2, Packaging 3, Excitement 3

2. Mogul – Filled Brains
I bought this very exciting looking product some time before I built up the courage to eat it, and I ended up carrying it around in my bag for a good few days. Finally, on one slow bus journey I built up the courage to discover what treats these filled brains had in store for me.
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The packaging really says it all and the nice window on front gives you a teaser of the brightly coloured, soft jelly, brain shaped sweets inside. It is clear to see something lurking inside those brains – what horrors awaited me. I was practically sweating with excitement, or was that the bad air conditioning on the bus.
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Opening the pack and handling the brains added to the excitement – they had a distinctly brain like squishiness (yes I am an expert on brain texture). Placing the jelly in my mouth the first thing I experienced was a pleasant fruity taste. I took the plunge and bit into the sweet and out oozed a different flavoured fluid – delicious and slightly weird at the same time. Biting one in half this unctuous fluid can be seen oozing out.

Each of the sweets tasted good and the only down side was that there were not enough in the pack. Not for everyday eating but a definite treat

Verdict: Taste 4, Mouth feel 5, Packaging 4, Excitement 5

(Chris)