Category Archives: Wanderings, Cultures

Olive Oils — SIAL* 2014

[SIAL* — Salon international l’alimentation — an annual Food Tradeshow recently held in Montreal, on April 2, 3 and 4. Please read the last two posts here (if you missed them) to learn more about my visit there.]

Logo_Olive_d_Or_2013OLIVE d’OR (Golden Olive) is a leading international olive oil contest held in Canada through the SIAL Tradeshow — a perfect place for someone like me to be, who is always on a quest for the best and the finest in olive oils, amongst some other food products!

It was very pleasant, therefore, to have a few minutes with one of the representatives of the Silver winners of the 2014 Olive d’Or Prize at SIAL, the Oleiva premium oil. This oil is produced by Slama Huiles**, aTunisian company, Tunisia today being one of the largest producers of olive oil in the world.

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The gentleman I spoke with was, of course, disappointed that they didn’t win the gold prize, having won it in another international competition in New York, some years ago. I tasted and loved the Oleiva oil. When they saw the look on my face as I savored the taste, and then asked where I could buy more, they told me they would send me the information soon, and gave me a few small sample bottles, since no selling is permitted at Tradeshows. I’m relishing it at home, treating it like liquid gold, which it is :)! They asked me if I would do an interview with them, which I readily agreed to, so, please stand by for more on Oleiva!


2014-04-06 12.39.11-1The pamphlets they gave me have some rich and useful information. The olive tree has a very long history in the Mediterranean region. The culture of olive oil goes back to years BC. It was first brought to Tunisia from the Middle East by the ancient Phoenician founders of Carthage. From ancient times Carthaginians, Romans, Arabs and all civilizations in the region have been passing the olive oil cultivation and production know-how down to the successive generations.

Slama Huiles has been in the hands of the same family for three generations, continuing a 2000 year old tradition from their ancient olive grove “Domaine Le Baron”.

Besides it use in food, especially as a dipping oil with crusty breads (my favorite), olive oil is full of medicinal and nutritional value, which I’ll be writing about at a later date!

**The word ‘Huiles’ means oils in French. The French influence in Tunisia comes from the French colonial Empire era when Tunisia was under the French Protectorate from 1881 to 1956.


SIAL — If you read the previous post…

2014-04-04 17_59_38…you will know how enthused I am about the Food Tradeshow SIAL, that took place in Montreal this year on April 2, 3 and 4. As in the previous two shows, this time too, I discovered some wonderful new items, along with the old traditional staples like olive oil, maple syrup, small scale productions of liquors and wines, coffee, chocolate, breads, desserts, amongst others. These latter are the reason I started visiting SIAL, as I am always on a quest for better and better olive oil, coffee, chocolate and breads.

One of my favorite things about a show of this caliber is the extremely high quality of the products seen there. A small example is the pecan nuts I tasted at the section of foods from the United States. I have never seen or tasted pecans of this color, size, freshness, and taste (picture below)…incredible at all levels. Now I’m spoiled 🙂

2014-04-04 16_31_35I shared the pecan samples with a friend who travels to the US often and he too found them of extremely high quality. This is nothing to do with SIAL, but as someone who travels frequently by road to Florida he said they must come from Georgia (I have yet to investigate that) and told me that all along the highway, signs of pecan groves and pecan products for sale are ever-present. One of his favorites is the ‘pecan roll’, which is not a baked good like a cinnamon roll but a nougat/fudge like item, covered with crushed pecan nuts. He’s promised to bring me some to taste the next time. In the meantime I checked online and found info at this link:

There’s lots more to come from my experiences at SIAL… stay tuned! 🙂

My favorite ‘show’ is back :)

SIAL (salon international de l’alimentation) the International Food & Beverage Tradeshow, is an annual show, alternately held in Montreal and Toronto. When the show is here, in Montreal, I dust off my ITWPA (International Travel Writers & Photographers Alliance) badge and go. Here’s a video from a past show that captures the ambience of the place!

It is so much fun to mingle with food professionals at all levels; introduce myself as a freelance ‘food and wine-focused’ travel writer and make such wonderful discoveries. I saw and tasted two fruits today, one from Panama, and the other from the Dominican Republic that I hadn’t even heard of before. It is very moving, to meet people who come to such trade shows with awesome products, full of hope to find distributors for their products. One young woman I met, from Panama, was selling a hot sauce based on her grandmother’s recipe. That was so cool!

Another product that caught my attention was a sausage from the Lac St. Jean area of Quebec, which had blueberries added to it! That just blew me away. It was absolutely delicious, with a very distinct flavor of blueberries in the meat! This company will soon start supplying stores in Montreal. They promised to let me know when and where, and as soon as I hear from them I’ll report the information here.

SIAL is co-located with SET Canada, the National Food Equipment and Technology Tradeshow — the two cater to the North American food-industry professionals. SIAL Canada and SET Canada are an integral part of the SIAL Group—the world’s leading network of food-industry shows— which has a presence on 4 continents (Paris, Montreal/Toronto, Shanghai, São Paulo and Abu Dhabi) counting 7,500 exhibitors and 200,000 visitors from 200 countries.

SIAL lasts three days…today was Day 1. So, expect to find very interesting food posts here in the next few days 🙂


This post is NOT a hoax :)

It’s the first of April 🙂 — did anyone play a joke on you yet? Called April Fools’ Day (sometimes called All Fools’ Day) the world over, it is an informal holiday celebrated every year on April 1. The day is not a national holiday in any country, but it is widely recognized and celebrated as a day when people play practical jokes and hoaxes on each other, called April fools. Hoax stories are also often found in the press and media on this day.

Precursors of April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria, held March 25, and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held December 28, a day on which pranks are still played in Spanish-speaking countries. In 1508, French poet Eloy d’Amerval referred to a poisson d’avril (April fool, literally “April fish”), a possible reference to the day. In Italy, France, Belgium, and French-speaking areas of Switzerland and Canada, the April 1 tradition is often known as “April fish” (poisson d’avril in French or pesce d’aprile in Italian). This includes attempting to attach a paper fish to the victim’s back without being noticed. Such fish feature prominently on many late 19th- to early 20th-century French April Fools’ Day postcards. In these countries, the pranks always involve the use of the word fish, in some form!

Ashley Macha of Health News and Views hasd argued that April Fools can be good for one’s health because it encourages “jokes, hoaxes…pranks, [and] belly laughs”, and then explained all the benefits of laughter, including stress relief and reducing strain on the heart. It also noted that the themed content makes sense within a larger context: “April 1st also marks the start of National Humor Month, a month-long celebration of laughter and happiness”, and who can argue with the benefits of that! 🙂

In most countries, the accepted rule is to play jokes and pranks only until 12 noon… after that the ‘perpetrators themselves become fools’!!!


A marvelous flamenco evening :)

What a treat it was on Sunday evening to see a show by  Israel Galván! This flamenco dancer has been variously called “revolutionary”, “avant garde”, and quite simply “a genius”… It was my first time to see him, and my first time to be exposed to a contemporary, if I may call it that, flamenco style. Israel was born to flamenco dancing parents, and at age 18 decided to take up flamenco professionally, and what a stir he has created in the dance world with his talent.

imagesThe brochure I was given at the Theatre described his dance as complex, with rapid-fire footwork and movement and in the show I saw it all! In the world of dance, Israel has won every possible flamenco prize there is to win, including the Giradillo prize at Seville’s flamenco biennial, the Flamenco Hoy critics’ award for best dancer of the year, which he received in both 2001 and 2005, and Spain’s national dance prize — I have to say it was a humbling experience to be in his presence, simply because to be so good one has to put intense and long practice into what one has a passion for, and that is something to be admired and appreciated always!

I’m posting a video of his, so you know what I’m talking about… OLÉ!!!


Our beliefs ‘make’ us

Londonderry Air is an ‘air‘ (music) that originated from County Londonderry in Ireland (now Northern Ireland). It is popular among the Irish diaspora and is very well known throughout the world. The tune is played as the victory anthem of Northern Ireland at the Commonwealth Games, and the song “Danny Boy” set to the tune, is hugely popular.

For some inexplicable reason, this song has always brought up a lot of haunting sadness in me, since I first heard it at the age of around 12. Now that this has come up again today, I think I need to investigate the connection ;)…

But another lovely poem/song that is set to the same melody, Londonderry Air, I learned and memorized during my school years. It is something that moulded me to become the person I am in my life. Here are the words, written in 1906 by Howard A. Walter, learned at around age 12, and never forgotten:

I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
I would be pure, for there are those who care;
I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
I would be brave, for there is much to dare.

I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
I would be giving, and forget the gift;
I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.

Here’s the best youtube link I found, although the words are slightly changed in it!


Interesting though, that upon checking this poem out online, I found the original version that I never knew existed… very Christian, but lovely, all the same (I’m not Christian). If I removed the religiously-inclined words, it still makes perfect sense to me :)!

If only more people… but let’s not go there! I can only speak about MY truth 🙂


A never-arriving spring ;)

People in Canada, and in many parts of North-America are just plain tired of the winter not making its exit — it’s just going on and on and on and on…. The ‘real-feel’ temperatures early this morning in many places hovered between -16 and -18 degrees C. Feeling a little glum I set out to work and this is what truly brightened my day. I opened facebook and there it was, this hilarious depiction of the ‘national’ mood of Canadians everywhere! I burst out laughing, and couldn’t stop :)))))… Here, take a look, and see if it doesn’t put a smile on your face too :)!


Laughing Out Loud :)))

How many…

…countries are there in the world?

Ans.  Strangely enough there is no firm answer to this question. Depending on the source, there are between 191 to 196 countries in the world.

…languages are there in the world?

Ans.  Wikipedia claims there are 7,300 languages spoken in the world, not taking into account the dialects. An interesting aside is that half the world speaks 13 main languages, and the rest are spoken by the other half of the world

…religions are there in the world?

And.  There are 21 major world religions and roughly 2,400 minor religions.

…how many species of animals are there in the world?

Ans.  Zoologists, scientists who study animal life, have recorded 20,000 species of fish, 6,000 species of reptiles, 9,000 birds, 1,000 amphibians, and 15,000 species of mammals.

…McDonald’s restaurants are there in the world?

Ans.  Till the end of 2012, there were over 33,000 McDos, in 118 countries in the world, of which over 14,000 are in the U.S.

We live in a strange but very interesting world :)!



Do you have Spring Fever :)?

untitledSpring Fever is a term which applies to physical and psychological symptoms associated with the arrival of spring. In general it refers to an increase in energy and vitality, often particularly strong in those suffering from SAD, seasonal affective disorder, and thus experiencing lows during the winter months.

In some, however, it refers to the opposite, an unexpected loss of energy with the onset of spring when people have difficulty in focusing, concentrating, being productive etc. In the northern hemisphere the symptoms usually arise from mid-March to mid-April, and depending on the person may be more or less pronounced. Weariness (despite an adequate amount of sleep), sensitivity to changes in the weather, dizziness, irritability, headaches, and sometimes aching joints and a lack of drive are the most common.


Although the causes of spring fever have not yet been fully resolved, hormone balance may play a role. According to this hypothesis the body’s reserves of the “happiness hormone” serotonin, whose production depends on daylight, become exhausted over the winter, making it especially easy for the “sleep hormone” melatonin to have its effect. When the days become longer in springtime, the body readjusts its hormone levels, and more endorphin, testosterone and estrogen are released. This changeover puts a heavy strain on the body, which responds with a feeling of tiredness.

In addition, temperatures usually fluctuate greatly in springtime. When temperatures rise, blood pressure drops, since the blood vessels expand. Food also plays a role. In winter one tends to consume more calories, fat and carbohydrates than in summer. But during the hormone adjustment period the body requires more vitamins and proteins instead.

It must be because of all the above reasons that this post is late today ;)… I think I need a pre-dinner nap :)… ciao, ciao!