Saturday Surprise — Let’s Go Places!

Hello friends!  No no … don’t take your coats off, for we are heading out on the Filomobile in just a second, as soon as I find my bloomin’ keys.  JOLLY!!!  Have you seen my keys?


Okay … c’mon gang … we’re going to visit some fun places today, for I am getting tired of sitting home and listening to depressing news, aren’t you?  Yes, Hugh, I promise to get you back in time to shovel your snow!shovel snowHop aboard … sorry, but I don’t have a working heater in the Filomobile, and cannot afford to get this one fixed, but we’ll be where it’s warm in just a few minutes …

For our first stop, we’re heading to Mexico!  It’s been some 40 years since I’ve been to Mexico, though I used to go several times a year.  One of my favourite things when I was young was cabrito from street vendors … what?  You never had cabrito?  Roasted goat meat … they slow roast it over an open fire overnight, then sell it from carts on the streets … never has anything tasted so good!

cabritostreet vendorSigh … memories.  But today we are heading to Hierve el Agua, located in the Mexican state of Oaxaca.  Hierve el Agua is Spanish for “the water boils”, or “boil the water”, and the name comes from the bubbling natural mineral springs that are found here, that run into bathing pools on a spectacular cliff-top location. When you approach Hierve el Agua, from a distance, you see what appears to be a massive waterfall frozen on the side of the mountain. But ice is impossible in this hot climate. These are actually mineral deposits formed over thousands of years as a result of the mineral-laden water spilling over the edge of the cliff and trickling down the rocky mountain side. As the water runs down the rock face, it forms large stalactites like structures similar to those found in caves.hierve el agua-1Hierve el Agua consist of two waterfall-like rock formations. These are formed on cliffs that rise over fifty meters from the valley floor, with one “waterfall” reaching down twelve meters and the other reaching down thirty meters. The twelve meter one is called “cascada chica” (small waterfall) and “flows” off a base which is about sixty meters wide. The other is called “cascada grande” (large waterfall), and extends down from a base with which is about ninety meters wide and eighty meters above the valley floor. The more easily accessible and more often visited of the two waterfalls is the “cascada chica”. It is also called the Amphitheatre.hierve el agua-2.jpgThe waters of the spring are over saturated with calcium carbonate, which is what gets deposited forming the waterfalls-like rock structures. The waters, with their high mineral content, are reputed to have healing qualities, and you will see tourists soaking in the waters in one of the natural pools at the top of the rock.hierve el agua-3

I want to run over to Austria in a minute, but while we’re on this side of the globe, let’s pop over to Mexico City, for there is something I want to show you …coyote fountainThis, my friends, is Fuente de los Coyotes, or Coyote Fountain, a bronze statue fountain portraying a pair of beautiful coyotes surrounded by jets of water.  Coyotes were once a common sight in this part of the Mexican valley. During the reign of the Aztec empire, what is now buildings and roads would have been covered in pine forest and scrubland where coyotes and other animals dwelt. What’s more, the coyote was an animal with much significance in the Aztec cosmovision.coyoteOkay, now let’s travel across the pond to Austria.  Now, who else do you know that will take you halfway ‘round the globe to show you … traffic lights???  Bear with me now, whilst I tell you the story behind the lights …traffic-lights-1It all started with the Eurovision Song Contest. Held annually, the contest sees overs 50 countries battling in front of a live television audience of over 180 million to have their song proclaimed the Eurovsion winner. In return, the winning country gains the rather dubious honor of staging the next year’s contest, though the cost of this would, in actuality, bankrupt many of the tiny micro-nations that compete.

Several notable recording artists have begun their careers here, including ABBA and Celine Dion. Eurovision is also loved for its high-camp costumes and performances, making it a firm favorite with Europe’s LGBTQ community.traffic-lights-2The 2014 Contest was won for Austria by Conchita Wurst, a drag queen with a surname that means “sausage” in German. Thrilled by this success, and eager to welcome Europe to its capital in 2015, the Austrian authorities commissioned three new diversity pictograms for Vienna’s traffic lights.traffic-lights-3These Ampelparchen show three different paired figures (straight, gay, and lesbian), each holding hands and surrounded by hearts. Originally intended as temporary, a Facebook campaign led to them becoming permanent, and today they can be seen throughout the center of Vienna. Indeed, the Ampelparchen have been so well-received that cities as far afield as Salzburg, Utrecht, Munich, Cologne, Hamburg, and London have all installed their own versions.

I love the diversity … the recognition of diversity, don’t you?

We have, I think, time for one more stop before we head home.  Are you hungry?  Since we are already in Austria, it seems a shame to miss these rolls, which I hear are delicious. buchteln-1In Austria, pull-apart rolls known as buchteln often house a dollop of plum or apricot preserves. But throughout history, bakers have studded the center of these brioche-like buns with various ingredients, from squares of chocolate to poppyseed paste to lottery tickets!  During the Biedermeier era of the 19th century, a time during which Europe’s middle class expanded considerably, buchteln were referred to as “lotteries” because of their play-to-win filling.

Though the yeasty treat originated in the Bohemia region of Czechia, today, Austrians consider the warm, fruit-filled style—often served fresh from the oven—a local classic. Bakers press jam in the middle, then place the dough side-by-side to create the finished bread’s pull-apart effect.  Let’s try a few, shall we?

Home cooks also turn plain, unfilled buchteln into a decadent dessert by serving them in a pool of vanilla cream. The fluffy rolls absorb whatever sauce they touch, so it’s best to avoid attempting this style with the ticket-filled version.buchteln-4Well, folks, now that our bellies are full, we better head home so you guys can get on with your weekend plans.  I’m so glad you made a bit of time to join me in this little jaunt here and there!  I will be hibernating for the rest of the weekend, as we are supposed to have an ice storm, followed by up to 9 inches of snow, and with sub-zero temps!  Have a safe and happy weekend, dear friends!

33 thoughts on “Saturday Surprise — Let’s Go Places!

      • My Gram’s recipe calls for caster sugar, are you familiar with that? Youngest Daughter purchases it online now, although she used to obtain it at specialty stores some years ago. I have no patience for anything with yeast and do not have the “light” touch that many yeast doughs require. A pastry chef Daughter, albeit a professionally retired one, is a gift for those lazy bakers like myself that love the delicacies sans the work! Thank-you! P.S. I convinced her that I need some Buchty forthwith…she is obliging!

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        • No, I’ve never heard of ‘caster’ sugar … methinks this just got too complex for me! You’re lucky to have a pastry-chef daughter, and especially one who is so obliging! Enjoy your Buchty!!! Think of me as you savour it! 😉


  1. Surprise! Benjamin is here on Saturday to enjoy Saturday Surprise on an actual Saturday! Just as well, as he may or may not be here on Monday, because Daddy has the day off due to the holiday. Benjamin is delighted to see Jolly and laughed about the Filomobile. He wants Miss Jill to know that Winter Storm Harper is bringing snow for him this evening and he is going to finally be able to build a snowman. I chose not to rain on his parade, literally, the snow that is beginning at 6 PM will be decimated by the rising temperatures changing it to rain around 3 AM. Your roasted goat meat received a big “YUCK!”, from both of us!! We are fascinated with those waterfall rock formations, double WOW!! I grew up on Buchteln, my Gram called hers Buchty and she made the powidl (plum filling) herself. Benjamin also wants you to know that : “My Mommy makes Buchty too”, and she does, just for ME using Gram’s old recipe. Although, she uses a prepared plum filling that she buys (Darbo, I think), but makes her own vanilla sauce. Good Grief, I am so craving one now! Sorry, we have got to run and make a quick trip to the market before the snow starts…it is a Rhode Island Tradition to stock up on bread and milk prior to any snowfall, ever since The Blizzard of ’78! The shelves may well be empty already! “Namaste and a neck-buster hug & kiss” from Benjamin and a plain “Thank-you” from me!!

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    • Awww … I am so sorry Benjamin won’t get to play in the snow, build a snowperson, and lob a few snowballs at Gem!!! We, however, are getting the full effects of Harper with a base of about one inch of ice, covered by … as I write this at 2:00 a.m. … about 3″ of snow, and a total accumulation expected of about 9″. Temps are expected to be sub-zero by morning. I would gladly send you all of this for Benjamin’s pleasure … however since that is not possible, I just took a picture from my front door and will send it in an email for him!

      Hah! I made a quick trip to our local Kroger for soup bones, Kleenex and sugar yesterday and the place was packed … took me 10 minutes just to find a parking place! At the mention of the ‘S-word’, the masses go nuts here!

      Tell Benjamin that Miss Jill thanks him so much for the neck-buster hug (I have plenty of Advil) and that I return his Namaste with much love. Hugs to you both!!!


  2. My wife and I went to Hong-Kong for a week last summer when her company was thinking about asking her to go over there for a year. You can’t imagine what the prices of things are over there, school was $52000 a year for both kids and housing was around $3000 a month for an apartment that was around 900 square feet. Shopping is such a thing over there that they actually announce it as one of the attractions when you’re coming into land and there was a mall attached to our 50 story hotel.

    Hong-Kong was very fast, very loud and very humid. They’ve got one of the best cleanest public transportation systems I’ve ever experienced, they have a rule, no food and drink in the transit system.

    Though it was a nice experience, as a blind person, the accessibility of the city was questionable at best and this is something that I’ve read on other forums as well.

    I’ve got audio recordings of the transit system system and other sounds from over there. It was an interesting experience and I encourage anyone who hasn’t, to travel to another country.

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    • Those prices are staggering … jaw-dropping! Heck, I couldn’t even afford either the school or the rent, let alone both! And then you still have to buy food, doctor’s visits, medicine, utilities, etc. How does anybody afford to live there, I wonder? It sounds like it was a great experience, though, and one that you will remember for a lifetime!


    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! Bundle up and keep warm out there. It is 37 here at the moment, but supposed to drop to minus 3 overnight, with up to 9″ of snow. Keep safe & warm!


  3. That’s some vehicle you have there Jill! I’m still a bit dizzy from the journey. Thanks for the trip though, spectacular ‘mineral falls’

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