Homeostasis on Skid Row

© Moira G. Gallaga

The click-clack of a jump rope. The drumming of a speed bag. The cold air of a morning jog. The smell of leather.

Bruised knuckles. Black eyes. A bloody nose. Sprawling in a bath of salt.

If you lose this one you’ll be a journeyman. They’ll pay a couple hundred dollars for some slick prospect to come in and beat you up. You’ll be a record-padder, a stepping-stone, a joke, a nobody. You’ll need a new career, kid.

Raised in poverty. Surrounded by criminals. Tempted by mediocrity.

I enter the ring. I am alone. There is nobody to help me, and I have never been good at helping myself.

With every opportunity I seize, I am forced to destroy the dreams of another just like me.

06 January 2014

Gastrodiplomacy in Madeira


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Food is the best way to explore and learn about other cultures. Take risks and try something new with food. Love and make memories with food as well. When I travel, the smells, textures, and tastes of all the different foods that I experience stay with me.

This is a flat bread made without yeast, which is SOO delicious served with garlic butter, and goes well with sopa de tomate e cebola.

Food when put in the context of a particular country or culture becomes so much more. It is an entire tradition of a place and a people that is so much different from who you are.

“Carne de Vinho e Alhos” is a typical Madeiran dish and consists of small pieces of pork meat marinated in wine for at least a day before it is cooked with garlic. The dish is normally served at Christmas time, namely on the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on 8th December.

Food is a means of expression. It is social,funny, and fun. You will always find some new flavor to experience, a new cuisine to sample, a new friend to cook for, and a new restaurant to toast to the high heavens.

Lagareiro Salad (Octopus salad)

Food is poetry. It is playful, assertive, sweet, and irreverent. It can make the worst day in the world all better. We use food as fuel, but it is so much better to see it as more than that.

Coquetel de camarão (Shrimp cocktail)

Food is fun. It is fluid and keeps changing. It can spark an idea, a conversation, and a completely creative way to experience life.

Everyone enjoys food and relates to it on so many levels. Social justice, creativity, and matters of the intellect can all be related to food. There are those who even say that it is the stuff of life.

Sopa de Tomate e Cebola: traditional soup of Madeira, made of tomatoes and onions topped with a poached egg. Great to pair with Boca de Caco bread.

Most of all, I find food most unique because it can connect diverse people from all four corners of the planet. It lives in a place between past, present, and the future. Food is a way to escape from the humdrum of life and make it extraordinary–even for just one meal.

Bife com um ovo a Cavaco: Portuguese steak with sunny side up on top of the steak. It is cooked in a wine-based sauce and served with fried potatoes, rice or salad.

One of the most important Madeiran delicacies this Christmas season is their famous “Bolo de Mel” (Honey cake). It is made of sugar cane – cane honey, the rum and molasses. This is the oldest pastry in the island, due to the fact that it dates back to the times when Madeira was an important sugar cane producer in all of Europe. Another variation is called “Bolo de Mel Cana” or in English cane honey cake. Honey in Madeira is made from sugar cane.

Another variation is called “Bolo de Mel Cana” or in English cane honey cake. Honey in Madeira is made from sugar cane.

Most common denominator in the food, cookies, jam, drinks, etc. in Madeira is sugarcane. Amazing and very impressive how they make creative use of sugarcane. The last time I munched on fresh sugarcane was when I was in elementary in Masbate. In Madeira, whenever you buy fresh juice you can ask for a small piece of sugarcane to munch on.

© Moira G. Gallaga