Tag Archives: Europe

Fourteen Fresh Foreign Tourism Slogans

Iceland – “Very similar to level 6 on Super Mario 3.”

Bolivia – “Come for the salt flats, stay for the iguana meat salteñas!”

China – “What’s a few more people?”

Croatia – “Do not be intimidated by the crazy spellings.”

England – “Come see yer ol’ mum an’ colonial master guvna.”

Zambia – “So much copper!

Faroe Islands – “We’re Torshavn a ball!”

Papua New Guinea – “We’ll let you name a mountain.”

Indonesia – “Hurry, before the Komodo dragons turn on us.”

Romania – “The bloody lore of Transylvania has been greatly exaggerated.”

Malawi – “Anyone besides Madonna please.”

San Marino – “The leading travel destination for those who were initially just trying to google ‘Dan Marino.’

Greenland – “In life, there are precious few opportunities to see a narwhal!”

Germany – “Bygones?”

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Filed under F Lists, Foreign Lands

Food Feuds

Today we’re having a look at two spicy, bitter culinary rivalries. Who was the first to make a dish? Whose is the best? Can we resolve the great Slovenian-Austrian sausage fight? Is Tampa’s bread enough to usurp the Cuban Sandwich throne?

Let’s strap on the ol’ feedbag of information and scarf down some facts.

MIAMI vs. TAMPA: THE CUBAN SANDWICH

Let me begin by saying I have nothing against Tampa. Actually that came out wrong, I have plenty against Tampa. Those smug, highfalutin west coast Floridians are always dumping on us east coast Floridians like we’re all a bunch of second-class citizens, when the reality is that we record a very comparable amount of arrests for drunkenly trying to ride on large aquatic fauna every year.

Tampans (is that what Tampa natives are called? St. Petersburgers?) are rightfully proud of being the hometown of baseball legend Fred McGriff, in addition to above-average theme park Busch Gardens, but for them to challenge Miami on anything related to Cuban food is a step too far.

To make a long story short, Tampans claim that the “Cuban Sandwich” was invented in Tampa in the 1890s. At some point they made the dubious decision to add salami into the mix. There is essentially universal agreement on the sandwich’s other acceptable components: mojo marinated roast pork, ham, pickle, mustard and Swiss cheese, though Tampa’s bread is a bit different.

So Tampa’s claim to the Cuban Sandwich crown is hinging upon decidedly non-Cuban salami, and a slight bread variation, which is easily the least important part of any sandwich anyway. Let’s be honest bread is just a needlessly distracting, superfluous meat-blocking impediment.

I don’t care if NPR recently declared Tampa the winner of this food feud; Miami is the epicenter of the Cuban-American community, and as such shall have the final say on all matters pertaining to comida Cubana.

FEUD WINNER: MIAMI

AUSTRIA vs. SLOVENIA: KRAINER SAUSAGE

Sausage fight! Sausage fight! In this mighty meat melee between Austria and Slovenia, the world hasn’t seen a sausage-heavy confrontation of this magnitude since… I don’t know maybe last week’s Green Bay – Chicago Bears game.

Here’s a breakdown on the situaish…

Slovenia wants the very tasty Kranjska klobasa (or krainer sausage) to be given a protected and official status, as they claim it was invented in (what is now) Slovenia in the 1800s. But Austria has stepped in and made it clear that they do not approve of the Sound of this particular litigious Music, as sausage-eating, sausage-making and boasting about Austria are a few of their favorite things.

Apparently Austria’s claim to the sausage throne consists of the fact that they invented a similar but modified cheese-filled version, the Kaesekrainer*, in the 1980s. They also bemoan the fact that when the sausage was originally invented, the area was just part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and thus cannot be claimed exclusively by Slovenia.

Slovenia continues to push for a ruling stating that only sausages made in Slovenia in accordance with the original recipe would be allowed to be identified with the Kranjska or Krainer moniker. Austrian sausage-sellers wait on edge, as they believe changing the name of their porky product would be bad for business.

And of course there is an immense amount of sausage pride at stake here. That can’t be underestimated.

While the two countries await an official European Union Commission ruling on the matter, The Mighty F is always ready to issue a snap judgment based on little more than emotion, speculation and gut feeling.

FEUD WINNER: SLOVENIA (Sorry Austria, but a tie or a close ruling will probably never go to the country where Hitler was born.)

*A good lesson to all you aspiring inventors out there. If something’s already been invented, just stuff it with cheese, and bam, that’s a new thing.

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Filed under Fighting, Food

Ferdinand Magellan Fires Up Modern-Day Portugal

Caramba.

Portugal, it’s time for a chat. I’ve just been kind of hanging out, forlornly navigating the nether realms the last 500 years, but enough is enough. Clearly you need a pep talk.

There was a time when Portugal was great. I mean truly big-time. Harlem Shake? Are you kidding me? At one point in the 16th century, a quarter of the earth’s inhabitants were doing the Lisbon Shimmy – provided they had finished their 15-hour shift of brutal forced labor and yielded sufficient production for the day.

It’s time we recapture our glorious heritage. Do you remember what that even entails? Do you remember what I did? Or to a much lesser extent what Vasco da Gama or Henry the Navigator did?

I’ll tell you what I did. I navigated the crap out of planet earth – not so much for myself or my Spanish paymasters – but for you. I captained a ship that circumnavigated the world so future generations of Portuguese meninos e meninas could have what I never got to enjoy.

I didn’t intrepidly sail around the world with a crew of rough men, eating penguin flippers, dodo bird legs and shoe leather; enduring storms, loneliness and unbelievable hardship for my own benefit. I sailed for you.

My parents died by the time I was 10, so I had to grow up fast. I spent what little time I had exploring, risking it all, advancing, and fighting; until I got speared to death on a remote Philippine island. Do you have any idea what that was like? It was awful. Yet I died a horrific death 8,000 miles from home not for my own gain, but to ensure a glorious future for mother Portugal. The last few hundred years I can’t help but question this decision.

Look at you now: a debt-ridden country bereft of overseas possessions that has had to legalize drugs because everyone is so sad. Clearly this sadness is due to a lack of maritime glory.

I feel we have lost our noble Portuguese identity. We are a land that is smaller than those bobos North Korea, or even the U.S. state of Indiana, yet we have given the world so much. The delight of sardines, the faux hawk – that was totally Cristiano Ronaldo – and Fogo de Chao? You may think of that as more of a Brazil thing, but the way I see it, the riches of Brazil, Cape Verde, Mozambique and Goa are yours, Portuguese people.

The spoils of these savage lands are your birthright. In fact, a fellow apparition just informed me that Angola now has better job prospects than our beloved motherland. So there you go. It’s all out there, you need only tap your inner navigator and set sail for a new Portuguese Golden Age.

I exhort you, Portuguese homens e mulheres, recommission the caravels and raise your masts. Plunge your padrões into foreign lands and stake new claims.

Reclaim your birthrate. Rediscover your heritage. Reclaim greatness. For Portugal, for God, for future glory.

– F. Magellan

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Filed under F History, Foreign Lands

440s – 450s A.D.

A while back we did a post on what the world was like in 1555 A.D. That was a lot of fun and I’ve been watching those awesome “Mankind” shows on the History Channel lately, so how’s about another foray into our spicy past? This time, we’re looking at another great era for the letter F: the 440s – 450s. A.D.

What was happening then? What were we doing? Who was blading and javelin-ing whom? What sorts of fluffy, pointy hats were en vogue? Was America rockin’ it superpower-style? The mighty Atilla the Hun died how?

Come with me as we delve into these dark, dank, kinda’ depressing decades that featured decadence for few, and decapitations for many. We don’t have much patience or relevant expertise room, so we’ll just look at a couple folks who were big at the time and skim some general happenings of the day.

By 440 A.D., the world was changing fast. The glory days of the intellectual Greeks had passed, the Roman Empire had been sliced into Western and Eastern entities and was careening toward its demise in 476 (the debated but generally historically accepted date of its demise), Christianity was on the upswing. Hypatia, history’s earliest female mathematician, had been murdered, Augustine had died, the great Library of Alexandria was no more, and the world’s balance of power seemed to be tilting toward barbaric sorts. Speaking of barbarism, let’s start by discussing that perennial first-round choice in everyone’s Fantasy Bloodthirsty Warlord Draft, Atilla.

Atilla the Hun – Truly one of history’s great purveyors of warfare and wanton bloodshed, Atilla hacked his way through Europe, carving out huge swathes of territory (eventually from what is now modern-day Germany all the way to the area of modern-day Georgia [Tbilisi not Honey Boo Boo/Chipper Jones]) and raking in crazy amounts of tribute along the way. He destroyed cities without mercy and massacred their populations.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day.

Awesome Atilla the Hun figure sporting the pointy, fluffy hat of the day; riding a horse with an emo haircut.

After his brother Bleda died in 445 (some say he died in a hunting accident, while some say Atilla was responsible for his death – who are we kidding, let’s just presume Atilla is guilty here) Atilla became the sole Khan of his vast empire. Though he was defeated in 451 by the fantastically-named Flavius, he continued torturing what was left of the Roman Empire and invading neighbors until his comically unmanly death in 453. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, F History, Foreign Lands

Falconry

By: Paul Washington

Although it is only the second most popular method of capturing wild game that starts with F,* falconry deserves its day in the sun, that day being today.

Falcons wear leather helmets as an homage to the last time Notre Dame football was relevant. (ND Zing!)

Falconry is as old as time. (Editor’s note: many different types of birds of prey can be used in falconry, including hawks, kestrels, owls and eagles). According to Wikipedia, falconry may have begun in Mesopotamia some 2,000 years before the time of Christ.**  Given the prohibitive cost, it was practiced primarily by noblemen in medieval Europe and the Middle East who had the resources to acquire the birds and the time and space to train them.  With the advent of firearms, the use of trained birds for acquiring meat for the table declined.  Go figure.

Fast-forwarding to the 21st Century, a handful of folks still practice the time-honored art of falconry.  Like anything else that’s fun, becoming a falconer involves a significant investment of time and money and requires federal and state licensure. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, Flora + Fauna

Fifteen Fifty Five (1555 A.D.)

Today we’re going back into time… a time before electricity, aeroplanes, telephones, Cheetos and Progressive car insurance commercials. It was a time when people had to pour sweat into the earth to survive, when brave men risked all to rape, pillage, steal natural resources and exploit native peoples navigate the open seas and find mysterious knowledge at the ends of the unexplored earth. The year: 1555 A.D.

What was happening in the world 457 years ago? (Surely this was in the front of your mind when you woke up this morning?) Let’s look at a few broad topics.

Cultural Learnings – By 1555, the Renaissance had emanated across Europe. Sparked by the Italian masters named after Ninja Turtles and innovations like the printing press, Europe at this point was increasing in knowledge, improving technologies, increasing food diversity (the rich at least), and afire with vigorous religious debate (#euphemisms). The arts (literature, sculptures, music, paintings, etc.) were flourishing, China (under the Ming Dynasty) was inventing all sorts of neat gadgets, trade was becoming an increasingly global affair, and tremendous leaps were being made in various sciences. Continue reading

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Filed under F Commentary, F History, Food, Foreign Lands

Five Disappointing Countries

The world is an unforgiving place. One day, you’re on top: you got the power, the land, abundant resources, strategic advantages over neighboring countries, compliant subjects, and vanquished foes far and wide. It seems like the good times will last forever. But they never do.

All empires wax and wane, but let’s be honest; some declines have been more disappointing than others…

1. Portugal – To be fair, for such a tiny, sardine-powered nation to have ever accomplished the level of world domination they did is quite impressive. There was a time in the 15-16th centuries when they ruled the seas like none other – they navigated the crap out of planet earth, plundering untold riches and carving out territories in India, Brazil and throughout Africa along the way.

But let’s face it, what a free-fall it’s been for them the past several centuries. Today’s Portugal is mostly famous for its debt problems, the legalization of drugs, and a soccer team that can never quite win the big one. Vasco de Gama must be forlornly navigating around in his grave. Continue reading

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