The Globavore Interviews: Jennifer Billock

Travel and food, food and travel.  You know I love it, I assume you love it too or you wouldn’t be reading this. 
.
So what do other people think about it?  I’ve asked a number of writers who are passionate about both food and travel to share their views with us. Welcome to the world, Globavore Interviews — 20 questions I made up, but modelled after the Proust questionnaire (’cause, you know, we’re writers!).  
.

Here I hope you’ll find some travel and eating inspiration, plus discover some new fab writers to follow on their websites and on social media. To see everyone’s interviews: the ever-evolving list of Globavore interviewees.

Jennifer Billock

Jennifer Billock

.
First up is Jennifer Billock, an American freelance writer, author and editor. She’s usually focusing on some combination of culinary travel, culture and history. Jen is currently dreaming of an around-the-world trip with her Boston terrier. Check her out at jenniferbillock.com and follow her on Twitter @jenniferbillock.   
.
Would you like to be featured in the Globavore Interviews? Get in touch with me via social media or via my contact info. 
.
Jennifer Billock:
  1. Who are you and how does food play into your travels? I’m a writer, author, and editor. Food IS travel to me (and not just because I’m a culinary travel writer). Every dish you eat has the power to transport you to a different culture, or back in time, or to a happy place in your own experience. It’s transformative and emotional – and delicious.

  1. You’re at your favourite eatery with three companions (fictional, living or dead).  Where (and when!) are you, and who are you with? I would be with a priest, a rabbi, and a minister… I kid, I kid. I would probably eat with Shakespeare, Hunter S. Thompson, and John Steinbeck. Can you IMAGINE the conversation? It would be in Shakespeare’s time, at a Pizza Hut that came back in time with me.

    Moose! At an ice hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland. Photo by Jennifer Billock.

    Moose! At an ice hotel in Rovaniemi, Finland. Photo by Jennifer Billock.

  1. What are your favourite foods? Pastries and pasta while home, moose and horse while abroad. Oh, and escargot. Yum! I’m also obsessed with berries at the moment. Blackberries, raspberries, and blueberries specifically.

  1. Is there anything that you’d never eat? What is it and why? I’d probably try anything in the moment, but I would like to stay away from anything with anise in it. I can’t stand the flavor. That and raisins. They’re little dried pockets of hell, and they make everything taste like their nastiness.

  1. What do you crave but can’t get whilst on the road?  How do you satisfy the craving? To be honest (and I know I’ll probably get a lot of crap for this), burgers. I have yet to find a decent hamburger outside of the United States. I’ll attempt to satisfy the craving by eating one, but I’m usually disappointed. I just have to stick it out until I get home.

Ed.’s note: Can anyone recommend a burger place for Jen outside the U.S.? Canadian burgers are, of course, delicious, especially made with Alberta beef (yes, I’m originally from Alberta). I had a half decent burger in Bocas del Toro, Panama once. Other advice?

  1. What food are you embarrassed to admit you like to eat? I am so not embarrassed about this: Cheese in a can, on Ritz crackers.

  2. What / where do you dream of eating, but haven’t yet had the pleasure? Anywhere in Asia, specifically Tokyo and Hong Kong. No specific restaurants, I just really want to try authentic food from that part of the world.

    Termite nest in the Belizean  jungle.

    Termite nest in the Belizean jungle. “They taste minty!” Photo by Jennifer Billock.

  3. Strangest meal? At an event in Chicago, I had monkey brains (sadly not served in the skull like on Indiana Jones) and raw kangaroo. In Belize, fresh coconut and live termites from the jungle.

  4. Ever had food poisoning while traveling? Any advice to share? Surprisingly I haven’t. I’ve gotten pretty seriously sea sick, but never food poisoning. I’ve had it at home though, and I can give advice from that! Drink lots of (safe) water. Try and sleep it out. Just let it happen. Your body is trying to help you, not hurt you.

  5. Have you fallen so much in love with a foreign dish that you learned to make it at home? What’s the story? Yes! Pannukakku. It’s a Finnish oven pancake, and it’s custardy and eggy and amazing. I actually didn’t have it in Finland because I was in love with their porridge for breakfast – I had pannukakku in Michigan’s UP where there’s a huge population of Finns – but I’ve been obsessed with it ever since.

Ed.’s note: I think we need a post with the recipe, Jen!

  1. What’d the first thing you eat after returning home from a long trip? I know all of you will probably be disgusted by this… but McDonald’s. I’m usually pretty hungry right off the plane, and it’s the most accessible and easy thing to get at the airport. And sometimes… there’s just that awful craving for it. You know you’ll feel like shit afterwards, but nothing else can fulfill that desire in the moment.

  1. Favourite foreign ingredient you wish your home supermarket carried? Fresh cloudberry, horse meat, moose meat, all-dressed chips. Irish bangers.

    Apple tart in Paris. Photo by  Jennifer Billock.

    Apple tart in Paris. Photo by Jennifer Billock.

  1. Country / city where you’ve found the best food? Details please so we can check it out too! Paris! I didn’t eat at any sit-down restaurants (I tend to eat on the go), and I had the most delicious apple tart from a bakery by the Pantheon. And I love the baguette sandwich shops that are all over the city. Also, there’s a little food stand down the street from the Eiffel Tower (NOT the one right next to the bridge) that has spectacular chestnut crepes.

  1. Country / city where you’ve found the worst? What made it so awful? Gore Bay on Manitoulin Island in Canada. The restaurant selection was not great to begin with and the food we ate was overcooked, bland, tough… just overall pretty gross.

Bread display in Helsinki's Market Hall. Photo by Jennifer Billock.

Bread display in Helsinki’s Market Hall. Photo by Jennifer Billock.

  1. What are your favourite markets for a) eating b) finding unusual things and c) for photography? a) Hakaniemi Market Hall in Helsinki. b) George’s Street Arcade in Dublin. c) Milwaukee Public Market or Buford Highway Market in Atlanta.
  2. If money were no object, where (and what) would you eat? I would fly around the world to every major city and try their most culturally significant dish.

  1. Do you have any food regrets? A Caesar salad from Wendy’s that I got a few years back. I was sick for days.

  1. If you could invent any ice cream flavour, what would it be? (yes, I am looking for ideas to add to my ice cream repertoire!) Some unholy combination of cookie dough, oreos, peanut butter, bananas, hot fudge, pretzels, hazelnut, pistachio, and caramel. I would call it Abominable Scoops.

  1. What do you love and hate about food writing (yours and/or in general)? I love when writers really connect with the food they’re writing about and relate it to something personal from their past. I hate food writing that only touches the surface: “It tasted good. It was crispy. The meat was cooked perfectly.” And generally, I dislike the majority of my food writing. I think I get spooked by the food writing powerhouses and convince myself I’ll never be that good, even though I know I’ve got the talent for it and show that talent. I’m just overly critical of my own work – I think most writers are.

  1. You’re having surgery tomorrow and there’s a reasonable chance you’ll lose your ability to taste (oh the horrors!).  What would you choose as, essentially, your last meal? Beef stroganoff. No, pirogies. No, chicken lemon rice soup. NO, savory crepes. NO! Bangers and mash! You know, I just wouldn’t have the surgery.

Want to read more of Jen’s travel and food writing? She’s at jenniferbillock.com.

4 responses to “The Globavore Interviews: Jennifer Billock

  1. Great comment about craving McDonalds when finally home – for me it is KFC :-)

    Liked by 1 person

What do you think? Your comments are most welcome.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s