Thoughts about Food + Music

When a person is offered lots of food that they know they love, do they still try strange and unfamiliar food? When hungry, doesn’t one prefer to eat what one knows rather than try something that looks and smells… unusual? Isn’t the same true for streamed music? How often do we listen to favorite albums, or our own playlists, rather than explore unknown music? 

One great element of travel used to be the immersion into a food culture. You traveled somewhere and ate the local food. There was no choice and that was all that was available. A few decades ago Italy only had Italian food – as if that could be a hardship because Italian cuisine is really great. This is no longer true, of course, and nowadays you can observe tourists going to the familiar McDonalds near the Pantheon in Rome, rather than exploring the Italian restaurants in the area. Or going to an Asian  restaurant in Milan. The same is true almost everywhere in the world. 

We are cocooned inside a bubble of our own preferred music, food, clothing, atmosphere, etc. etc. The same is true for opinions. No matter what our opinion, however unusual, we can always find places where this opinion will be reenforced. Social Media provides. Perhaps we can say we are choking on our own preferences which, in the process, are becoming narrower and narrower. 

Except for public radio and college stations, all commercial radio has a cultural bandwidth of maybe five degrees. Everything sounds the same. Everything is constantly repeated. Every hour sounds similar to the last. Some people were shocked when AI created a perfect simile of a Drake song… why?

I don’t have a solution. Eat local food, wherever. Avoid chain-anything. Have Shazam at the ready to discover the music you might hear in the Uber to the airport, or in a local shop – I keep Shazam accessible on the Apple Watch, to be immediately engaged at a whim.  Follow RSS blog feeds by people with different musical tastes… that’s how I discovered the Bandcamp page from my earlier post about Voices + Paintings

What are some of the things you do to discover food, music, etc.?

Tea + Cha

I knew that there are two main words for the popular beverage made from Camellia sinensis, namely TEA and CHA. I remembered that it depended on which port in China the tea left from. In the south of China the infusion drink was called teh, or tê, which is also how it is pronounced in German, where it is written Tee. (I think it is the only word in German that has a consonant followed by two identical vowels)

In the north of China the drink was called cha.

After reading my post about hacking matcha in my kitchen, Yumiko sent me a link to a Portuguese website that sells tea and tools. Read their story here. It’s remarkable!

Nosso Chá is the result of the first harvest of green tea in continental Portugal. Our tea plantation is situated in what is known as “the land of the camellias” on the coast of Northern Portugal and is the first of its kind in this location. Chá Camélia uses only organic, artisanal production methods. Nosso Chá is picked by hand and processed in an Asian style.

Nosso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

Very impressive. I also found the following quote, but can’t find any evidence to support the claim of TEA being an acronym.

Luso Chá celebrates the first European imports of tea by the Portuguese in the 19th century, in which the boxes were marked with the acronym “TEA”, an abbreviation for Transport of Aromatic Herbs. The origin of the word TEA that the English then gave to this incredible drink.

Luso Chá – Comprar Own Production en línea – Chá Camélia

I looked at the Wikipedia entry for tea and found that my memory was mostly correct. 

The etymology of the various words for tea reflects the history of transmission of tea drinking culture and trade from China to countries around the world. Nearly all of the words for tea worldwide fall into three broad groups: te, cha and chai, present in English as tea, cha or char, and chai. The earliest of the three to enter English is cha, which came in the 1590s via the Portuguese, who traded in Macao and picked up the Cantonese pronunciation of the word. The more common tea form arrived in the 17th century via the Dutch, who acquired it either indirectly from the Malay teh, or directly from the tê pronunciation in Min Chinese. The third form chai (meaning “spiced tea”) originated from a northern Chinese pronunciation of cha, which travelled overland to Central Asia and Persia where it picked up a Persian ending yi.

Tea – Wikipedia

Cha from the Portuguese and Tea from the Dutch. Chai is Cha plus a Persian “yi”. All this learning about tea… I had to get up and make a glass of matcha. 

I love that organic green tea is produced in northern Portugal and will find a store in Lisbon that carries it. 

Portugal isn’t the only new ground for growing tea. Here is a video about a tea grower on Vancouver Island and here is their website.

Thanks Yumiko. 

Matcha Hack

I brought some Matcha with me and assumed I would find a chasen (whisk) somewhere in Lisbon. No bamboo whisk nowhere.

Today, I wanted a bowl of matcha. I looked around and saw that I have a unused coffee press. I boiled water, mixed it with cold water until the temperature felt right, poured it over the tea powder and worked the plunger. Voilá. Not bad. Much better than no matcha. :-)

PS: I did forget to make that half turn of the bowl that Yumiko showed me. Then again, I had no bowl.

Powdered Beer

A monastic brewery near Munich says it’s created the first powdered beer. Just add water, and it’ll froth up, complete with a foamy head and full flavor. The result promises massive savings on transport, because it can be shipped at 10% of the weight.
German monks create world’s first powdered beer

Link to the brewery’s website, in German.


A tea that’s been around for more than 900 years might be just what the doctor ordered as a treatment for depression, a new study has revealed. Already renowned for its health benefits, researchers have now demonstrated matcha tea’s antidepressant-like effects.

Matcha tea is a fine powder made from the leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same plant used to produce white, green, black and oolong teas. In recent years, the health benefits of matcha tea have been touted due to its high concentration of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory substances. Matcha tea is also thought to reduce anxiety and elevate mood
Humble tea’s antidepressant properties confirmed