Fall is here (not that you can tell this from the 90-plus degree weather we are having here in southern California) and that always gets me in the mood to travel.
Not that I am traveling anywhere outside my computer screen, mind you.
When I was a graduate student in England, fall was when I took most of my trips. Prague. Paris (more than once). Italy. My husband and I have been to Hawaii several times in the fall, and have taken a few trips up and down the California coast, too.
These days I must rely on my imagination. Not only because our travel budget is not as robust as it might once have been, but because our work schedules are far too demanding. I've talked before about using the books I write and read to transport me to exotic locales. But I also like to do the same thing with food and drink.
There's an Indian restaurant just down the street from us that makes curry the way they did where I lived in England. It's two degrees of separation, but it tastes like those nights out in York, UK, so long ago now: naan and a curry and a casual conversation about great literature with rain all around.
I've been searching for the perfect fish & chips in every faintly British-inspired pub in southern California, to no avail: none of it tastes as good as the fish & chips I got at least once a week from the chip shop just over the road from my flat. I would smell the scent of it on the evening breeze and sooner or later, head over. Nothing in California comes close to the vinegar and salt rush, the newspaper print staining my fingertips.
There's a French place nearby that feels as if you're really in France. Pastries and strong coffee. Actual French-speaking staff and a Nicoise salad that could make you weep. It attracts a European clientele, complete with strong, imported cigarettes and that careless elegance that American men just don't possess.
I drink a lot of tea. Jasmine. Roasted rice. Yorkshire teas from Harrogate. PG Tips. Every sip takes me somewhere else.
I remember the first time I found a bottle of Amarula outside of Zimbabwe, where I'd first tasted it. Every sip was another adventure under wide African stars, even so far away.
What takes you far, far away, like Alice through the looking glass? Or even Calgon?