Victor is a wine aficionado from Taiwan, and the first Couchsurfing guest to appear in the Globetrotter Cookbook blog. He spent a month travelling through Spain, staying mostly with generous hosts who showed him the best places to sip the country’s famous vinos – from fruity red Rioja in Logroño to the dry Fino sherry in Jerez.
Txokos: The secret societies of Basque Country
Naturally, wine pairs best with food. While planning his trip to the Iberian Peninsula, Victor stumbled upon the secret world of txokos (pronounced tcho-koh): private gastronomical societies scattered around Basque Country. Members gather to cook, drink and socialize in restaurant-grade facilities. To participate, members bring the ingredients, and under an honour system deposit dues into a wooden box. These fees are put toward cleaning and maintaining the basic stock and supplies.
Victor was disheartened to learn that txokos are exclusive societies and do not open their doors to tourists. By chance, his Couchsurfing host in San Sebastian, Antonio, was a txoko member, and invited Victor along to cook with him and his friends. His Couchsurfing experience was transformed into something even more special and authentic, proving that connecting with locals is the best way to travel!
Vegetarian food in Taiwan
Sharing is my favourite part about hosting travellers – and Victor shared many interesting things about food culture in Taipai, Taiwan. I learned that not only is Taiwan home to many vegetarian Buddhists, cooking at home is not so common because kitchens are small and stocking cupboards with ingredients is less economical than eating out. Cities offer many street food stands that provide cheap food and lots of vegetarian and vegan options.
In the Couchsurfing spirit of sharing, Victor cooked me up two Taiwanese vegetable recipes straight from his mum’s kitchen. Now, prepare for your mouths to water because I’m going to share them with you.
These recipes are a great addition to your travel-recipe arsenal because the ingredients are cheap and easy to find. You don’t even need soy sauce because the garlic and salt bring out all the flavour you need – I was skeptical, but trust me on this one! Both dishes are vegan, but if you are vegetarian, I strongly recommend topping your dish with a fried egg with a runny yolk. No explanation needed.
Do you Couchsurf? What have you cooked up for your hosts? Let me know in the comments!