Sinterklaas vs. Santa Claus and Other ‘Merry-time’ Traditions

Many traditions this merry time of year have European origins, though the United States has added to them via storytelling and commercialism. Germany created Christmas trees and markets among other traditions, England caroling and the most famous seasonal poem, and the Netherlands Sinterklaas, who became known as Santa Claus in America.

Taking Bites of The Big Apple of New York City

Start spreading the news … The Big Apple of New York City is ripe to enjoy again and never tasted so good. The city that never sleeps remains one of the world’s cultural paradises. New York City will always have its charm, energy and vibrancy in spite of reality checks with humanity.

Falling Bodies and Flying Beings in Costa Rica

Although Costa Rica only accounts for 0.03 percent of the planet’s surface, it has 5 percent of the world’s biodiversity. A quarter of the country is protected territory, including 29 national parks, 19 wildlife refuges and eight biological reserves, and all of it is a playground for the adventurous. It’s where I bungee jumped dangerously, slept overnight on a beach, hitchhiked, stowed away and cruised down crocodile-infested canals.

Charades and Escapades in Antigua of the Caribbean

Antigua and Barbuda, a twin-island nation in the Eastern Caribbean archipelago, is known for spectacular white and pink sand beaches (365 for every day of the year), clear turquoise waters, coral reefs, rich sea life, a rainforest and frigate bird sanctuaries. As well, this little hot spot is a little-known foodie hot spot with outstanding European restaurants and creole cuisine. The latter, inherited from early Arawak and Carib settlers, is well-maintained in spite of British occupation for nearly 400 years.

Ghost Chickens in the ‘Living Skies’ of Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan, a western Canadian province known as the “land of living skies,” has been in my vocabulary for decades. First it was due to the uniqueness of the name. This childhood obsession morphed into my foodie profession. Saskatoon is “boomtown” of culinary delights.

Thirteen is a Lucky Number on July 4th in America

Why do Americans barbecue on the 4th of July? It’s a centuries-old tradition evolving from Paul Revere to Weber grill. Traditionally, it included a livestock roast and 13 toasts to the first colonies. Today, barbecues are much smaller but fireworks remain. Almost missing them one U.S. Independence Day, I attest to their invocation of patriotism.

Cruising the Inside Passage of the ‘Last Frontier’ of Alaska

A cruise through Alaska’s Inside Passage — a network of waterways, glaciers and coastal towns — shows that “Seward’s folly,” referring to the U.S. purchase of the land from Russia in 1867, was a smart move. The 49th and largest U.S. state is Mother Nature’s (and once my own mother’s) paradise.

Around the World in a Cup of Joe

Coffee is a hot commodity. It’s the world’s most traded foodstuff, worth more than $100 billion, and grown in 50+ countries in the Americas, Africa and Asia. Yet it’s more widely consumed where it isn’t grown and several countries have unique coffee preparation and drinking habits. My cup of Starbuck’s java inspired a trip around the world …

Easter Bunny Trail in Germany, America and Armenia

Teapot Sculpture Yerevan, Armenia

While Easter has been a Christian celebration for centuries, it began as a non-religious spring festival. And the Easter bunny hopped to America from another country. Moreover, the first Christian state in the world was in West Asia. Discover a basket of “eggs-cellent” facts …

Denmark is about 50 times smaller than Greenland with only 2 percent of its land space (43,000 vs. 2 million km2). However, Greenland has 1 percent of Denmark’s population (58,000 vs. 5.9 million).