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Global travel and collaboration have become quite a hallmark of our work at Oldways, as experiencing traditional diets in-situ is a delicious vehicle for teaching health through heritage. Though we love our usual quinoa salads and morning oatmeal, we have been especially delighted to encounter less ubiquitous whole grains during a particularly whirlwind bout of jet setting.
In October, Oldways visited Moscow, Russia to participate in the annual World Pasta Day conference and celebration. Though pasta was the food of the hour, we were also delighted to see a number of Eastern European whole grains on restaurant menus and grocery store shelves, most notably, buckwheat.
This buckwheat porridge, which we topped with golden raisins, honey, and a splash of milk, was served at our breakfast buﬀet as a cozy, slightly tangy alternative to oatmeal. Buckwheat also showed up at a traditional Russian restaurant in the form of soba noodle and mushroom soup, giving a nod to the country’s inﬂuences from the Far East.
In Greece, where we led a “Culinaria” food and culture tour throughout Thessaloniki and Athens in early November, it was barley rusks, or paximadia, that seemingly appeared around every corner. These crunchy whole grain biscuits were just as at home in cozy, hole-in-the-wall tavernas as bustling, trendy cafes. Like a no-frills spin on biscotti, barley rusks are twice baked to attain their signature crunchy bite, and are often softened up with dressings, sauces, wine, or even water. In addition to acting as a crouton of sorts, barley rusks also hold their own on cheese platters or alongside appetizers and dips.
Many cultures around the globe have a rich history of grain based recipes and diets. If you’re stuck in a cooking rut, ﬂip through a cookbook about a new-to-you region, explore a new cuisine by dining out, or wander through some of the ethnic markets in your city. And if all else fails, there is nothing like travel to stimulate culinary creativity! Our next Culinaria trip explores the cuisines of the Rivieria in Liguria, Italy & Menton, France, for any hungry takers. (Kelly)