We love using Flavorpill when planning our weekend getaways to the big cities, so we were especially excited to chat with Tanja M. Laden, the Managing Editor at Flavorpill LA, and pick her brain on all things travel. Check out what she has to say and be sure to use Flavorpill when planning your next city escape.
I’m lucky, because I’ve been traveling all my life — my family always believed that the best way to learn about a different culture is to visit it. These days, I’d say I’m inspired by the same impulse to discover and explore new destinations. I still believe that the only way to really understand a place is to experience it firsthand.
2. What are three of your favorite global bites?
1) Ćevapčići (pronunced che-vap-chi-chi) is found in Serbia and other parts of southeast Europe. It’s a grilled mixture of beef, lamb, and pork, formed into small patties and served with onions and ajvar — a relish made from red bell peppers, eggplant, garlic, and chili peppers. It’s like a hamburger and sausage, all in one.
2) Lei cha is a kind of tea/broth/porridge served in the Hakka districts of Taiwan. (“Lei” means “grind,” and “cha” means “tea.”) You make it by grinding a mix of herbs, sesame seeds, nuts, and tea leaves with a mortar and pestle. Then, you add hot tea and puffed rice, according to taste.
3) All across Paris, street vendors serve up fresh handmade crêpes with a variety of different toppings, but my favorite is crème de maroons. It’s like a preserve made from chestnuts, and it’s even better than Nutella, if such a thing were possible.
3. Where do you travel for adventure? Why?
I think that travel is an adventure in itself, but my level of familiarity with a destination and the amount of distance involved helps determine how much of an adventure I’ll have. So the less I know about a place, and the farther away it is from where I live, the better the chance that I’ll actually have an adventure. Morocco, Thailand, and Taiwan come to mind.
4. What are the top three things you always pack?
Hand sanitizer, a camera, and a map.
5. What’s the best travel advice you’ve ever received?
6. We know traveling can sometimes be painful–what’s one of your most agonizing travel memories?
In Thailand, I rode an elephant who was clearly being abused. The man who sat atop the animal had a long, pick-like metal instrument with blood encrusted on the end of it, which he used to consistently prod and injure the poor elephant’s forehead. That said, there are many parts of Thailand where the animals are treated favorably. One sign that can help travelers distinguish how an animal is being treated is whether or not it’s confined to chains. (This one was.)
7. I’m sure you have tons, but what’s one of your most ecstatic travel moments?
One of my most thrilling travel moments was riding in the sidecar of a vintage motorcycle along the streets of Paris.
8. What’s the one place you always want to go back?
Hvar, an island off the coast of Croatia, on the Adriatic Sea. The water is warm, still, and crystal-clear. I could float in it for hours, if it weren’t for the jellyfish.
In addition to Flavorpill LA, Tanja is the publisher and co-founder of Pop Curious, and a Huffington Post blogger. She is also a regular contributor to LA Weekly, Lost at E Minor, The Rundown, Bluecanvas, Lomography, and Dame Magazine.