Visiting Salinas – America’s Salad Bowl

The Salinas Valley is just south of San Francisco in the county of Monterey and is home to many charming small cities and towns including Bradley, Castroville, Chualer, Gonzales, Greenfield, Jolon, King City, Lockwood, San Ardo, San Lucas, Soledad, Spreckles and Salinas which is the county seat. The word Salinas means “salt marsh” in Spanish but the water has been drained from these fertile fields. Now this area which is about ninety square miles running south-east from the ocean-side city of Salinas to King City.


Geologically the Salinas Valley is also very interesting because it is located on a geological terrain that lies right on top of the San Andreas Fault.  The land is on top of granite and it clashes with soft sedimentary soils to the west.  The area is known for having earthquakes that register 6 or higher on the Richter scale roughly every 22 years.


Fresh water from mountain springs in the surrounding mountain ranges help irrigate the mineral rich land.  The Salinas river that runs through the valley is also unusual because it is a “sand river” which means it only really shows a lot of water when it floods.  There are also two reservoirs in the mountains, the San Antonio Reservoir and Nacimiento that help prevent salt water from the ocean from intruding into the fields and occasionally water is released to fill the Salinas River.


The Salinas Valley is called “The Salad Bowl of the World” because of the large amounts of vegetables grown there including lettuce, peppers, strawberries, spinach, tomatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, celery, olives and plums.  It is also a designated American Viticultural Area which means that it has the sandy soils, temperate climate, foggy mornings and full sun that is perfect for growing grapes.


The salad bowl is also a great place to sample wines. If you want to cruise through beautiful countryside visiting winery after winery then traveling along Highway 101 and it’s side roads in central Monterey is a great idea. Famous wineries in the area include Paiso Vineyards, Ventana Vineyards, Smith and Hook Winery and Wrath wines. Most of the wineries are located between Soledad and Coburn on the 101 highway.


There are lots of interesting sites to see in the Salinas valley including the Agricultural and Rural Life Museum in King City which features exhibits from 19th and 20th century life in the area including an old blacksmith shop, schoolhouse and train depot.

Don’t Miss the Amazon Cuisine of Brazil

If you travel to Brazil then make sure you to travel to the lush jungles of the Amazon, where a very distinctive cuisine is served up by the villagers that live in the regions. These are dishes created by the hand of the cabocas and some the humble recipes have been handed down for generations.  Amazon cuisine is unlike any other type of cuisine you will find in Brazil or the rest of the food. It is made of specific fruits and liquors and fish that are indigenous to the Amazon forest in Brazil.


Some of these dishes are more elegant than any chef could serve up. A good example is pachica. This is a type of stew made from turtle blood and parts that is served up in the turtle shell itself. It is seasoned with chili and chicory and lemon.


As there is no wheat or any other substance to make flour with in the Brazil Amazon, the cabocas make flour out of fish. This fish flour is called piracui.  It is made out of a fish called acari, which is gutted, salted and dried.


The favorite fish of the cuisine is from a very fatty piscine found in the Amazon River called the pirarucu. This fish is so rich that it is not advisable for people with health states like pregnancy or diabetes. This fish is often fried or dried and is the main dish featured in many of the cabocas celebrations.


There is also a special casserole called the tambaqui, which is a fish stew that is made with parsley, shallot, chives, tomato, onion and a little palm oil or olive oil.


Yet another unique feature of this cuisine is the luscious fruits that are just served raw with it or made into ice cream, juice, desert, liquor, chocolate, salamis and wine.


You cannot travel here without sampling a pupnha. It is almost like bread it is so common in the Amazon. It is a big orange fruit somewhat like a papaya. A tucuma the fruit of a palm tree and has 1000 times more Vitamin A then an avocado. The jenipopo is a sweet purple fruit and is used to make wines. It is also used in celebrations that involve body painting.


If you are lucky you may be able to try cupuacu, which contains caffeine and theobromine. It’s juice is served everywhere in Brazil as a special drink and it is still used as a sacred drink in special ceremonies.