As we enter our 25th year of Ginkgo Press and Eat Smart Culinary Travel, we will devote a part of our blog to tell the stories of its team. We begin with Joan Peterson, Founder and President.
I have had the great fortune to travel extensively around the world. Surely the most amazing stint occurred in the early 70s. I was a part of a USO college group sent overseas to entertain the military during the Vietnam War. The shows we presented were written and staged by my husband, who was a professor of theatre and music at the University of WI-Madison, as well as a playwright. For a period of 4 months in the Pacific Rim and 2 months in the Caribbean, we played to audiences at military bases and various other locations, including several islands, where the military maintained business contracts.
These USO tours gave us ample opportunity to explore the countries we were in, since we only performed one show a day, and that was invariably at night. This left the daytime for exploration.
My husband and I were attracted to the colorful food markets, both indoor and outdoor ones, since we had become interested many years earlier in the cuisines of foreign countries and the new and unusual (to us) ingredients used in cookery around the world. The markets we particularly enjoyed were packed with vendors, each with a stall displaying a remarkable array of products. There always was a considerable amount of buying and selling activity, much of it quite boisterous, and I never tired of photographing these food stalls.
Our interest in international food can be traced back to membership in the University of Wisconsin League’s Foreign Foods interest group. Members and their spouses dined monthly on the cuisine of a foreign nation, each having cooked one of the meal’s courses. Members were just as enthused about choosing the countries as they were about planning the meals.
A real bonus for me was that my husband became quite fascinated with cooking and took over the kitchen on a daily basis. This was also prompted by my inability to come home from the university in time to make dinner. I was a graduate student in science, and many of my experiments would not be completed until late in the evening--and there were two children to feed.
It's been a long time in the planning! Publisher and author Joan Peterson teamed up with chef and culinary expert William Wongso to take a group to get to the heart of Indonesian culture through an exploration of her tantalizing cuisine. Nine ladies from around the globe met us in Jakarta on August 4 and thus began our tasting adventure on the islands of Java and Bali.
Those of us that flew on the same flight from LA were picked up by William Wongso, our co-leader for the tour. We stopped at Paradise Dynasty to sample their xiao long bao, and other delights. It was the perfect place to unwind and regroup after the long journey. After our early dinner we drove to the hotel to rest and get adjusted to the 12 hour time difference.
August 5 - Jakarta
Day 1 of our tour. This morning we met the rest of the group that took different flights and arrived at different times. We enjoyed our breakfast at the hotel, relaxed and were introduced to our co-host Astrid Enricka before heading out for lunch at Soto Pak Sadi.
After lunch we stopped for coffee before heading to JAVARA Indonesian Spices. Inspired by Indonesia’s food biodiversity, indigenous wisdom and spiritualism, JAVARA was founded by Helianti Hilman in 2008. JAVARA works across agricultural value chains from production to distribution in order to preserve such biodiversity and bring community-based, organic products to broader markets. We are proudly investing our time to scout, discover and relive the forgotten food biodiversity and traditional techniques as well as the old recipes. Working with over 50,000 farmers and 2000 food artisans, selling over 600 premium artisan food products, JAVARA is currently known as the leading social enterprise in Indonesia that works with a vast range of biodiverse community-based organic food products using ethical principles.
We stopped at MM Juice for an afternoon treat. We sampled durian juice, avocado juice and broken coconut juice and since it is a culinary tour, tried fried banana with cheese and banana cakes steamed in banana leaves.
After a little rest and relaxation at the hotel we headed out for our 17-course dinner at Namaaz Dining. Namaaz is the first molecular gastronomy restaurant in Indonesia which serves Indonesian food as its signature dishes. Chef Andrian Ishak uses scientific techniques to produce both playful variations on traditional dishes and wacky new food pairing. Inspired by a multitude of art disciplines including music and painting, he considers himself as a craftsman that expresses his creativity through food.
As you all may have realized, we decided to cancel our 2016 Culinary Tour to Turkey. We are currently unsure as to whether or not we will offer a tour to Turkey in 2017. As I was updating the website, I realized I hadn't put up any photos from our 2015 tour! These don't seem to be in any particular order, but are a wonderful snapshot of the wonderful tour we offer to Turkey. Joan and I are extremely saddened not to be going to our beloved Turkey, but we will back soon!
Thank you to everyone who stopped by to say hello to the authors and enjoy some samples made by the chefs at Metro Market. It was fun to share the Eat Smart Culinary Travel Guidebooks with our friends and neighbors at Metro Market. And a huge thank you to Metro Market for organizing the event! Can't wait to do it again!
Here are some highlights from our 2014 Culinary tour to Morocco. We had a wonderful time exploring the culinary delights. We enjoyed demonstrations and cooking classes, talks on culinary topics, and visits to bustling markets to learn about the herbs, spices and condiments that are prevalent in Moroccan cookery. And we also saw the major tourist sights, shopped and relaxed along the way!
Balloon ride day! After breakfast at Les Maisons de Cappadoce, we went to Avanos and visited the ceramic factory followed by lunch at Aravan House. We visited the Goreme Open-Air Museum in the afternoon. We then went back to the hotel for some rest and relaxation before heading to the rooftop for a güzleme demonstration (and eating!) followed by our farewell dinner. It was warm enough in the evening to eat outdoors, so it was a splendid end to the day and to the trip.
Today we had visits to Zelve, Uchisar Fortress, and other stops to see various unique structures. Our cooking class at was at Lil'a was such fun. We also visited a rug factory. Dinner at the Argos was lovely, and just a short walk from our hotel.
Off to Kayseri, in Cappadocia, by way of Istanbul. The group visited Ozkonak Underground City and then attended an optional Dervish dance performance. Our dinner afterwards was at the Somine Restaurant, which still stands out as one of the best in the area. We stayed at our usual cave hotel, Les Maisons de Cappadoce which always pleases.
Today we left Bodrum and drove to Izmir. On the way we stopped at an olive museum and had lunch at the Degirmen restaurant in Kusadasi, a lovely place with acres and acres of gardens full of animals. We then headed to the ruins of Ephesus, an ancient Greek city on the coast of Ionia. It was built in the 10th century BC on the site of the former Arzawan capital by Attic and Ionian Greek colonists. We finished our day at the beautiful vineyards of Urlice. We ate outdoors on the patio. The weather, food and Urlice family were a delightful combination.