I know there are thousands of Brown Girls out there who are entirely consumed by wanderlust! And who wouldn’t be, right? To travel is liberating in so many ways. Although there are various destinations world-wide on everyone’s bucket list, you can never go wrong with a trip to Europe. So before you set-out on your next journey, free of commitments and ready to explore, take a look at these five tips to get you started on your adventure there!
1. Save on Tips!
If you are visiting from a country such as the United States or India, you are conditioned to think that leaving tips for the waiters after a meal is customary. And let’s be honest, if you are desi, you have probably been slammed of being cheap with the tips. Guess what my cheap brown friends? You do NOT have to tip in Europe if you are not a 100 percent satisfied with the service, and here’s the deal – it is absolutely OKAY! No shame in no tipping.
This was a surprise I was NOT looking forward to. Living in the United States for a while now, I got used to the whole idea of free cups of water and free refills. So it came to me as a shocker when I saw the €3 reflected on my bill! Who charges for water? Isn’t that a base level human right? Oh well, if they are going to charge me for water, I might as well drink wine then. And that is exactly what I did for the rest of my tour!
[ Did you know, in Europe, you don’t have to tip the waiter unless you’re 100% satisfied with the service? Photo courtesy: SheKnows.]
3. You can drink ANY-friggin-WHERE!
Too many times I have seen people grasping bottles of alcohol wrapped tight in thick opaque brown bags in the streets of New York, chugging away to glory! Because, God forbid, if they get caught drinking on the streets – they are going straight to the slammer! Well imagine my surprise when I saw three women board the train in Berlin, pop open a perfect bottle of Jack Daniels and pour it in three cups and drink up in broad daylight! I was SHOCKED how openly they were committing such transgression only to realize later on that this was perfectly normal and LEGAL!
So drink up when you’re in Europe! You won’t be behind bars.
Another Europe travel hack that I would never have known if not for my local friend in Florence! This happened when we went to one of the coffee shops. When I ordered a cappuccino, the waiter asked “At the bar or the table?” Of course the table! I thought. But my friend interjected and said “The bar, please.” It made sense when the bill arrived. Turns out, if I had enjoyed my cup of cappuccino at the table it would have been €3, but at the bar it was only 90 European cents! Moral of the story: Stay at the bar!
[Ever heard of drinking cappuccino at the bar? You might want to try this the next time you’re in Europe because it might just be the better bang for your buck! Photo courtesy: Eating Italy Food Tours.]
5. The waiters change in front of you!
You know the whole song and dance routine where at the end of a meal, you ask the waiter for the bill; then the waiter gets the bill, you pay, the waiter takes your payment and then returns with the change? Well, Europeans are way too efficient to go through this entire drill! When you pay for your meal (in cash), the waiter carries this weird looking satchel, which has change stashed up and within seconds, the waiter gets the change out and dumps it on the table. It is that in-your-face! So if you do decide to give them a tip, you need to tell them beforehand to deduct the tip and give you the appropriate residual amount back. But then again, you don’t HAVE to tip if you don’t want to!
PS: Just for the record, I did tip. I might have gone overboard just to fight the desi frugal stereotype. ;)
Aditi Paul is an assistant professor of Communication Studies at Pace University. She tries to find out how strangers become friends and lovers with people they meet online, all in the name of academic research. When she is not professing, you will find her pretending to be a singer and a guitar player on SoundCloud.
It is officially that time of year—the holiday season. There’s nothing like Christmas and New Year’s in the West Indies. Between the pepperpot in Guyana and the palm trees decorated in lights in Trinidad, the home food, warm weather and laid-back ambiance makes us wish we could escape the cold and head back to the Caribbean. Most of us, however, cannot “take holiday” and find ourselves hungry for fresh dhal puri and doubles. But, thanks to these Indo-Caribbean food bloggers, we can bring the motherland to our kitchens.
From Diwali mithai specialties to curry chicken, Matthew is creating a name for himself as a young Guyanese food blogger. He makes a great effort to incorporate Hindu holidays and traditions on his Instagram account, in conjunction with the customary foods and sweets associated with these religious events. However, his expertise does not end there, with new and alternative recipes for classic dishes such as curry chicken and bhara, Matthew takes center stage sharing both traditional Guyanese dishes as well as specific religious dishes made for festivals. His most popular YouTube video, with 1.4 million views, features his grandmother and focuses on the best tips to make the softest Guyanese paratha roti. In addition, his YouTube account is home to many videos offering guidance to Indo Caribbean cooking. Find recipes at @mattews.guyanese.cooking
Natasha Laggan of Trini Cooking with Natasha is wildly popular throughout the Caribbean and the U.S. With humble beginnings, Natasha credits her love of food to her family’s business. She speaks of the nostalgia home food provides her as she reminisces memories of her grandmother’s cooking and helping her mother make sandwiches early in the morning. Featured by Forbes, Natasha grew her Facebook following quickly throughout the pandemic by posting old YouTube videos. Today, she has more than 1 million followers on Facebook and over 200K followers on YouTube. She uses her passion for cooking and Trinidadian culture to bring easy-to-follow recipes to viewers. Her following has now reached the West Indian diaspora globally as she has also become a brand ambassador to two well-known food companies. Follow the food expert @trinicookingwithnatasha.
With over 100K followers on YouTube, Ria is quite the expert when it comes to making roti. Her dhal puri, sada roti and paratha roti tutorials have over 1M views! However, her expertise does not stop there. Of the 180 YouTube tutorials, her recipes vary from curry to other Trinidadian favorites like macaroni pie and pigtail soup. Just scrolling through her YouTube page makes your mouth water. From doubles to classic Trinidad bakes like pound cake and sweet bread, she provides precision and anecdotal commentary while guiding you through the familiarity of home food. Check out Ria’s page at @cookingwithria.
Known as Chef Devan, Devan Rajkumar embraces his Guyanese Canadian heritage by creating recipes combining flavors of both the East and West Indies. His love of food has allowed him to expand his role to judge in a popular Canadian cooking show: Food Network Canada’s Fire Masters. His cooking often blends the flavors of multiple cultures but also creates the classic recipes of his motherland. With a multitude of interests, Chef Dev uses his social media platform to connect with followers by sharing various aspects of his life that go beyond cooking. His most recent YouTube video provides a trailer for an upcoming video “Tastes Guyana” which shows him exploring Guyana from the inside, specifically deep parts of the inner country. To learn more about Chef Devan follow @chefdevan.
Reshmi is the chef behind the growing blog, Taste of Trinbago. A Trinidadian native who now resides in Texas, she uses her love of food and Trinidadian culture to share hacks, tips and easy recipes with West Indians throughout the globe. She finds a way to simplify traditional West Indian meals, that we once watched our elders make with curiosity. From holiday specialties like black cake to Diwali delicacies, Reshmi has brought vegetarian and non-veg recipes to followers in an extremely accessible way. She even posts recipe cards on her IG highlights for followers who may need written instructions. Her IG profile is a mix of various West Indian foods while also sharing bits of her life and even her secrets to baby food. Follow her @tasteoftrinbago.
These are just five Indo Caribbean food bloggers sharing their secrets to easy cooking. The once very daunting recipes and food instructions our parents gave have been simplified by most of these bloggers through video, voice over and modernized recipes. We no longer have to estimate a “dash, pinch or tuk” of any masala. We are just days away from Christmas and this is the perfect time to find the best-suited recipe to make that paratha for Santa.