Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 11:58 am Post subject: 13 Books That Will Actually Make You Laugh Out Loud
|13 Books That Will Actually Make You Laugh Out Loud
From ‘The Sellout’ to ‘A Confederacy of Dunces’.
We tend to ask a lot of books. We want them to make us feel, to make us cry, to make us less lonely, to connect us to other people. We want them to touch on topical social issues while also saying something new. One could argue, though, that the hardest thing we might ask of a book is to make us laugh. And I don’t mean a huh-that’s-funny non-laugh. I’m talking about something that actually makes you stifle snorts on the subway, that provokes a rumbling of hearty belly-laughs in Starbucks. Think about it: what was the last book you read that provoked that kind of response?
Well, we put the question to Book Twitter, and its always-helpful members came back to us with the following suggestions:
The Sellout by Paul Beatty (see also: all books by Paul Beatty)
“All books by Paul Beatty” was a pretty standard response to our question, but the most-mentioned title from his back catalog was unquestionably The Sellout. Winner of the 2016 Man Booker Prize, this biting, uproarious satire follows a young man resigned to his lower-middle-class upbringing in Dickens, California. Raised by a controversial sociologist, he becomes the subject of a number of racially charged psychology studies. Then his father is killed in a police shoot-out and his embarrassment of a hometown is quite literally removed from the state map. That’s when the narrator decides to take matters into his own hands: he’s going to make sure Dickens, California is a place to be remembered… by reinstating slavery and segregation.
Calypso by David Sedaris
Multiple books by the beloved American humorist were suggested, but the one that seemed to have readers in stitches most often was Calypso. In this 2018 collection of deeply personal, darkly funny essays, David Sedaris focuses his wit squarely on himself: what starts as a relaxing stint at the Sea Section (his vacation home) turns into a series of inescapable reflections on middle age, failures of the body, and his own mortality. (But in a fun way!)
The Pisces by Melissa Broder
A woman falls in love with a merman. A woman falls in love with a merman! A woman falls in love with a merman, and it gets surprisingly erotic. We’ll leave the actual physics of this up to your imagination (and to Melissa Broder). Imagine a love story told in that hilarious, self-deprecating @sosadtoday tone. Come for the fish sex, stay for the relatable cynicism.
The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson
Beloved travel writer and Iowa native Bill Bryson gives Kerouac a run for his money and traverses 13,978 miles in search of small-town America in the late 1980s. Trudging through 38 states, Bill Bryson finds something to complain about in pretty much all of them. If you, too, are disappointed by Connecticut and think of Lake Erie as “a large toilet,” this might be the book for you.
Less by Andrew Sean Greer
What could possibly go wrong? This is what Arthur Less wonders when he accepts every invitation to literary events around the world—in a desperate attempt to run from his real life. He’s a failed novelist, his last long-term love is engaged, and he’s about to hit the big five-oh. So, on we go. Following a protagonist with a f*ck-it attitude and very little to lose from a Moroccan ski chalet to a Christian Retreat Center in Southern India—what could possibly go wrong??
Made for Love by Alissa Nutting
To escape her sinister tech C.E.O. husband, a hapless young woman moves back home with her dad, who happens to live in a Floridian trailer park built specifically for senior citizens. Her dad, however, is already cohabiting with a freakishly life-like sex doll named Diane. As if that weren’t weird enough, in a nearby beach town, a handsome con man finds himself developing a fetish for dolphins, having been bitten by one. As you do. This being an Alissa Nutting book, Made for Love is deliciously funny in dark, perverse, and sometime quite sweet ways.
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole
One of the most iconic comic novels of the twentieth century and a true cult classic of American fiction. Ignatius J. Reilly is a slothful thirty-year-old crank who lives with his mother in early 1960s New Orleans. In his reluctant quest for employment, this modern day Don Quixote gets up to all manner of hijinks, with all manner of oddballs, in the vibrant chaos of the French Quarter.
Skippy Dies by Paul Murray
So, Skippy dies. On the floor of Ed’s Doughnut House, after writing his beloved’s name on the ground in raspberry filling, the lovelorn teenage boy breathes his last. And that’s just the beginning. What follows is a tragicomic mystery story told from about 20 different perspectives—Skippy’s teachers, parents, classmates, coaches, priests, and more—and covering everything from quantum physics and early-20th-century mysticism, to video games, celebrity infatuation, drug dealing, Irish folklore, and cartoon pornography.
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams
You’ve probably seen the movie and you probably know the meaning of life is 42 and “So Long and Thanks For All the Fish!” is probably playing in your head right now (you’re welcome), but have you actually read the book? The Earth is about to be demolished (for a galactic freeway—pave paradise and put up a parking lot, am I right?) and British everyman Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a intergalactic researcher for the Guide. If you thought the film adaptation was funny, you should pick up the source material and join this unlikely pair on their mad-cap adventure through time and space.
Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling
Everybody loves Mindy Kaling. She made us laugh on The Office and The Mindy Project, and now she’s going to do it again but in print. The Washington Post compares reading this book to “listening to a likably gabby friend chatter happily over generously poured glasses of red wine.” Well, based on the numerous Twitter testimonials we received, you’d better be prepared to laugh so hard that red wine will be coming out of your nose.
Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
Before she exploded, Agnes Nutter (Witch) was very clear: the world will end on a Saturday. So, naturally, everything is going to shit, but an unlikely pairing—an angel and a demon—have grown accustomed to living among the mortals here on Earth and team up to sabotage the End Times. From antics with the Antichrist (he’s taken home by the wrong family and named Adam) to the summoning of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse (they’ve got some big personalities), Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett have spun a raucous tale about Good, Evil, and everything in between.
A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving
You know when you’re eleven, and you’re playing baseball in 1950s New Hampshire, and you hit a foul ball that kills your best friend’s mother? Also, you don’t believe in accidents and you’re living at the height of hubris so you just assume you’re God’s instrument? A pretty wild set-up from the guy who brought us The World According to Garp.
How To Date Men When You Hate Men by Blythe Roberson
Okay, so this is a personal pick, but I really did laugh out loud quite a bit while reading it! (The title alone got me a lot of good-natured half-laughs on the subway from strangers.) Maybe it’s because Blythe and I are on the same cynical page when it comes to dating (the whole damn dance is so ridiculous, you just have to laugh about it!) but I think she just gets all the silly little things we panic about right and makes us laugh at ourselves. (There’s a list somewhere in here on how to signify to someone you’re into that you are, in fact, on a first date, and one of the things on that list is: point to your socks and refer to them as your First Date Socks.) Don’t believe me? Stephen Colbert endorses its hilarity, praising it as “an incredibly funny read that was surely not written when Blythe was supposed to be working for me.” So there’s that.
A few honorable mentions include: Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five, Hunter S. Thompson’s Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Jenny Lawson’s Furiously Happy, Tina Fey’s Bossypants, and Patrick deWitt’s The Sisters Brothers.
You should also check out Lit Hub’s list of 20 Very Funny Novels By Women because they exist and are constantly ignored by the Funny Book Canon.
Katie Yee is a Brooklyn-based writer and the Book Marks associate editor at Lit Hub. If you follow @bookmarksreads on Instagram, you'll see lots of photos of her rescue dog, Oliver.
This post originally appeared on Literary Hub and was published August 18, 2019.
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:01 pm Post subject:
|This Is the Most Bizarre Grammar Rule You Probably Never Heard Of
But I've been following it all my life, and so have you.
Adjectives in English must always be used in a very precise order. And even though none of us has officially learned this rule, we somehow all know to follow it, and that things seem very wrong whenever it’s broken.
Life is full of strange rules that we know but can’t say how. English grammar is too. One of the most perplexing rules--at least to non-native English speakers--is the complex rule that governs the precise order in which adjectives must be used. In 2016, The New York Times’ European culture editor Matthew Anderson spelled it out in a tweet that’s been re-tweeted more than 52,000 times:
Things native English speakers know, but don’t know we know: pic.twitter.com/Ex0Ui9oBSL
-- Matthew Anderson (@MattAndersonNYT) September 3, 2016
Anderson is quoting Mark Forsyth's book The Elements of Eloquence, and Forsyth lays out the rule beautifully with the example of a “lovely little old rectangular green French silver whittling knife.” Think about it: You cannot move the order of those adjectives at all without having the sentence seem completely wrong. “Lovely little silver French green whittling old knife?” That sounds like word salad--which is a well-known symptom of mental illness.
Since we all seem to know this rule by instinct, it would seem to be cut and dried, but it isn't quite. Forsyth says there are eight types of adjectives, which should be used in this order:
But then, the Cambridge Dictionary--which certainly seems like an authoritative source--offers a list of ten types of adjectives in a slightly different order:
3. Physical quality
So, according to Cambridge, it should be a “lovely little rectangular old green French silver whittling knife,” which seems completely wrong to me. My instincts say “old” should come before “rectangular,” not the other way around. To further complicate matters, Cambridge lists “U-shaped” as an example of type, rather than shape as you might have expected.
In other words, even this supposedly ironclad rule that we all seem to know by instinct is tangled up and subject to debate. And don’t even get me started on what to do if you have two adjectives of the same type, say a “lovely valuable little old green French silver whittling knife.” Or when and whether you should use a comma, or the word “and.”
As someone with an advanced degree in English, an amateur linguist, and a lifelong professional writer, my best advice is this: When it comes to adjective order, you should probably follow your instincts. And you should definitely not have ten, eight, or even four adjectives piled up ahead of a noun. Adding adjectives to your sentences should be like adding spices to your cooking: Use them thoughtfully, sparingly, and when they'll have the most impact. Not only will that make your writing better, it will save you from having to worry so much about putting adjectives in the right order.
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:04 pm Post subject:
|10 of the best train journeys in Europe, chosen by Lonely Planet
Tom Hall, Imogen Hall and Oliver Smith
Mon 28 Mar 2022 02.00 EDT
Last modified on Mon 28 Mar 2022 02.18 EDT
Railways in Europe are many things. With their grand stations, history and evocative destinations, they evoke a timelessness that is absent from the uniform experience of flying. In recent decades, high-speed services have complemented classic routes, while the demand for more climate-friendly travel has grown and new options have sprung up, including a recent wave of night trains.
Lonely Planet, which for nearly 50 years has championed a down-to-earth, connected style of travel, has produced a new Guide to Train Travel in Europe aimed at unlocking adventures by rail from any starting point on the continent. Here the authors pick fantastic journeys from the book.
Paris to Berlin – fast or slow
A well-established network of high-speed trains and a huge choice of slower options connects two of Europe’s great cities. A glorious three-country tour would allow you to head from Paris to Brussels, travelling on to Cologne via the space-age architecture of Liège-Guillemins station. Cologne’s cathedral is so close to the station you can hardly miss popping in before boarding an onward ICE German fast service to the capital, which takes less than five hours. To see more than the immediate surroundings of the station buildings in each city, book separate tickets for each leg at trainline.com, or add in a stop of a few hours or an overnight booking via Deutsche Bahn (bahn.de). A high-speed connection from Paris via Frankfurt is also possible.
Amsterdam to Vienna on the Nightjet
One of several recent additions to Europe’s sleeper train scene, the Nightjet service operated by Austrian Railways (oebb.at) departs every evening at 7pm or 7.30pm from Amsterdam. As you doze off, the train will trundle alongside the Rhine, passing Cologne and Koblenz, then continuing south-east through Germany and entering Austria at Passau. A 9.19am arrival in Vienna ensures time for a lie-in and breakfast. This train can easily be combined with the Eurostar service from London or a ferry from Newcastle to Amsterdam, or from Harwich to Hoek van Holland.
Loop the loop in North Wales
Some of the world’s most beautiful narrow-gauge railways can be found in Wales and two of the best can be combined in a loop that takes in the mountains and coastal scenery of Snowdonia. Catch a service from Llandudno Junction – which has main line connections – down the Conwy valley to Blaenau Ffestiniog. Change for the celebrated Ffestiniog Railway, a distinctive steam-hauled service that winds 13 miles down to the coast at Porthmadog. Return via the sublime steam service of the Welsh Highland Railway under the summit of Snowdon to Caernarfon, where you can catch a bus to Bangor and main line services.
From Bastia to Ajaccio through the Corsican interior
The Chemins de Fer de la Corse (Corsican Railways) is a narrow-gauge railway centred on Ponte Leccia – from where three main lines head to Ajaccio, Bastia and Calvi, all providing incredible views of beautiful and rugged terrain. The route linking Ajaccio and Bastia is the longest and most celebrated, taking three and a half hours, so is best done with an overnight stop, rather than attempted as a day trip. Corsica is well served by ferries from mainland France such as Toulon, Marseille and Nice, opening up a tempting train-and-ferry route from the UK.
Dublin to Madrid by train and ferry
It is possible to head from Dublin direct to mainland Europe. A largely single-track line skirts the Irish Sea heading south as far as Wicklow before veering inland and stopping in the appealing county town of Wexford, set on the estuary of the River Slaney. It’s a short hop along the tracks from there to the port of Rosslare for the twice-weekly ferries to Bilbao, which take about 30 hours. Then it’s a five-hour rail journey on to Madrid. Recommended stops take in Burgos’s treasured cathedral, the former Spanish capital of Valladolid and Segovia’s Roman aqueduct and Alcázar fortress.
Venice to Palermo – across the water in Italy
Heading from top to toe in Italy, this dramatic journey’s potential stopping points need no introduction. Fast Frecciarossa trains connect Venice to the gastronomic centre of Bologna in 90 minutes, with Florence 40 minutes down the line. An hour and a half further on you’re in Rome. From here the south of Italy opens up. For one of Europe’s most unusual rail experiences take a train service all the way to Sicily. At Villa San Giovanni in Calabria, you and your carriage board a dedicated ferry to Messina, in Sicily, from where the hectic fun of Palermo is a slow-rolling four and a half hours’ ride away along the coast. There are several daily intercity and night services that run from the mainland, via the ferry, through to the Sicilian capital including sleepers direct from Milan, Genoa and Pisa.
From coast to coast, via a mountain high – Oslo to Bergen
A Flåm Railway train running through a valley, in Norway.
A contender for Europe’s best train trip, the Bergen Line (Bergensbanen) thunders past southern Norway’s mountains and lakes between Oslo and Bergen, reaching 1,222m at Finse station, where a snowball fight is generally on offer. The trip takes nearly seven hours, which passes quickly in a blur of incredible scenery on a comfortable intercity service. There’s scope to do a longer version of this route taking the Norway in a Nutshell tour, which includes the Flåm Railway – possibly the world’s most scenic branch line – and a boat journey through Nærøyfjord and Aurlandsfjord.
Paris to Barcelona on the slow train
These cities are linked by a fast train, but there’s a leisurely route south through France to the Pyrenees via Limoges, Toulouse and through magnificent rural and mountain scenery to Latour-de-Carol. While it’s possible to reach Latour-de-Carol by direct night train from Paris, you would miss the slowly unfolding views you can enjoy when doing this journey in daylight. From Latour-de-Carol a commuter line runs all the way to Barcelona and takes just over three hours. Possible stops along the way include fortified Ribes de Freser and Ripoll, home to an ancient monastery and a good starting point for hiking trails.
Budapest to Split on a sleeper
During the summer there’s a tempting night service between Hungary’s capital and the Adriatic. In recent years the train has left Budapest at midnight, getting into Split after lunch. En route it passes the Hungarian holiday playground of Lake Balaton and Zagreb, Croatia’s capital. Once on the Adriatic coast, buses head south to Dubrovnik, while ferries and catamarans radiate out to nearby islands.
Locarno to Domodossola through the Swiss Alps
Pretty much any journey in Switzerland promises jaw-dropping scenery, and on several routes trains run slowly specifically to show off the mountains, rivers and lakes that can be seen from the window. Travelling between Locarno in Switzerland to Domodossola in the Piedmont region of Italy, the Centovalli (Hundred Valleys) Railway is a short but scenic service past 52km of waterfalls, chestnut groves, church-topped villages, deep ravines and vineyards. Highlights include the Isorno Bridge near the village of Intragna and Intragna’s gorge.
These routes, plus tips on rail travel, are featured in Lonely Planet’s Guide to Train Travel in Europe by Tom Hall, Imogen Hall and Oliver Smith (£19.99), available at shop.lonelyplanet.com
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:07 pm Post subject:
|The True Story of Wild Rice, North America’s Most Misunderstood Grain
On a sunny afternoon in the last days of summer, I broke the first rule I had ever been taught about watercraft and stood up in a canoe. Mike Magney and Moon Jacobson of the White Earth Band of Ojibwe had offered to take me out onto Little Elbow Lake and show me the wild-rice harvest—not as a past-tense reenactment, we agreed, but in a present-tense this is how we do it sort of way. So as their canoe shot surely ahead into a thick stand of rice, I heaved my weight onto a 12-foot-long pole in an attempt to keep up. The wind took fierce bites out of the water, working against me. Cotton-batting clouds sped across the blue gel of the sky. The northern Minnesota wild-rice harvest takes place during a two-week sliver of September, and the racing wind heightened our urgency.
We were at Sahkahtay, an annual wild-rice camp hosted by members of the Ojibwe tribe, one of the largest groups of Indigenous people north of Mexico, most of whom live in a long arc that stretches from the upper Midwest to Quebec.
Jacobson was at the three-day festival to teach ricing skills to the next generation and to harvest his own 50 pounds—”about half of what my grandma calls a year’s supply.” He grew up in Minneapolis but spent a lot of time with his grandmother in Mahnomen, a nearby town of 1,200. He followed her around, helping her put up her year’s worth of food: harvesting berries, foraging for medicinal plants, and filling a buried chest freezer in her yard with whole walleye, which the arctic Minnesota temperatures swiftly preserved to stiffness.
Magney stood at the back of the canoe, pushing his pole into the thick chocolate mud of the lake bottom, using its lever action to propel them across the water. Jacobson sat in the front with a short wooden stick—called a knocker—in each hand. The stands of rice are thickest 20 feet from shore, and we rolled into them as if into a darkened forest of pencil-thin bamboo, the rice seed heads rattling like a dorm-room bead curtain. Plunging one knocker into the rice stand, Jacobson parted the stalks like hair, bending a thick hank over his lap with one hand and neatly sweeping off its loose seed heads with the other. Rice rained down obediently into the canoe as they moved forward, his poles tapping out a click-click-click rhythm born of years of repetition.
Wild rice is one of the only grains native to North America, and definitely its most misunderstood. It is not directly related to Asian rice. What’s more, the black rice you see in countless Thanksgiving stuffing recipes every fall is an imposter. Here in northern Minnesota, at the center of the genetic reserve of wild-rice seedstock, where it grows naturally in lakes and creeks, we call that black stuff by its proper name: paddy rice. In the 1960s, the University of Minnesota began domesticating wild rice. They planted it in rows in flooded paddies, which they drained to harvest by combine like any other field crop. Ironically, paddy-grown rice isn’t wild at all.
Real wild rice varies in shape and color from lake to lake, but once cooked, it is always some shade of luminescent milky brown—the color of tea spilled onto a saucer. It curls into loose ringlets that pop delicately between your teeth. It tastes the way a morning campfire smells: of smoldering wood coals and lake fog at dawn.
I’d been a guest of Sahkahtay as a curious local once before—I live 20 miles down the road—but this time I was more attuned to the language of this harvest. Some people there referred to the grain we were harvesting—a foundation of Ojibwe culture and ceremony—as manoomin, “the food that grows on water.” No one called it “wild.” Mostly, everyone just called it rice.
We headed to the shore, where a group was cooking the green rice in a giant cast-iron kettle. Like coffee beans, wild-rice kernels need to be roasted, or parched, over heat to firm their tawny core and dry for long-term storage.
Jacobson introduced me to Logan Cloud, an artfully tattooed, soft-voiced 20-something member of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe. While parching rice in an iron kettle over a birch-wood fire, he described the difference between wild rice and paddy rice in blunt terms: “Paddy rice is the Western mindset, in edible form,” he said.
The story of how real wild rice lost its name is a long tale of appropriation—nothing less than one of the greatest identity thefts in American food history. Its story is braided tightly into the history of this region, a remote area where the economy, for both Native peoples and white settlers, has generally been one of subsistence. But it was the mostly white-owned paddy-rice industry, centered in California, that pushed to make wild rice a marketable commodity. In the ’70s, wild-rice prices soared, sending both tribe members and whites out onto the lakes in record numbers. Money—or at least the prospect of it—drove everyone to excess. People harvested too early, before the rice had a chance to reseed itself, wiping out once-flush stands. Tribe leaders moved without consensus to sow spent reservoirs with seeds from other waterways, wiping out age-old varieties. The University of Minnesota bred a rice with a thick stem that could handle mechanical harvesting, without any thought to the way it would cross-pollinate with the native plants.
Cloud bounced some hot, smoking rice onto the canoe paddle he was using as a stir stick, and lobbed a few kernels into his mouth to test for doneness, crunching audibly and spitting out the hulls. He threw another log onto his fire and described how he knew that the rice was getting close when it turned the toffee color of Golden Crisp cereal, “the one with the bear on the box.” He first went ricing at age 9 with his best friend, a portable radio set up in their canoe, to make some extra cash to buy the sneakers and jeans that fourth grade required. At his dad’s backyard rice camp, they parched rice over live fire in a steel drum.
At the point of first colonial contact, the Ojibwe smoke-dried their rice in birch-bark vessels strung up high over the fire. Cloud explained that these gave way to kettles sometime after “the invaders arrived and we realized that we could take something useful from them.”
Cloud moved to a treading pit lined with birch bark and filled it with about 6 inches of parched rice, then asked a volunteer in high moccasins to “jig” the rice, to loosen its hulls. She danced in short, halting steps, light and twisting at the hip. A drummer hammered out a bass beat, steady and hypnotic, the tempo set to keep the jigger jigging. Cloud transferred the rice to a shallow birch-bark basket and tossed it in the wind. This method was surprisingly effective at winnowing away the hulls, but still, it was hardly a speedy process. By the time it was finished, every grain of rice had passed through someone’s hands and every stray hull had been flicked out onto the grass.
Camps like this one anchor traditional ricing knowledge in the present, but they also function as social gatherings. Every- one I talk to at Sahkahtay remembers going to rice camps as children, where they moved through the harvest as if in reverse: first sitting next to the elders sorting out hulls, jigging as they got older, harvesting and parching as young adults. The people who come to Sahkahtay want to parch 50 or 60 pounds of rice for their own extended family in the most traditional and flavorful way, and preserve the social history.
Given that many local Ojibwe now parch in large steel-drum barrels over wood fires, Cloud’s iron kettle seems like a throwback. I asked him: In the long history of rice parching, from birch-bark vessels to the larger barrel parchers used today, why stop here? Why parch in the iron kettle? He smirked. “Doing it this way is like fixing your own car.” Then he said, more seriously: “When we began to mechanize the parching, we started thinking in a colonized way. Processing rice became easier, but our lives did not get easier.”
As we talked about large-batch parching, the age-old battle lines drawn between mechanization and handcraft, science and intuition, we ate wild rice from foam bowls. “Paddy rice is like chewing on wood chips,” he said. “It’ll stab your gums.” But his real wild rice, cooked simply and sauced with maple syrup, fell lightly from my spoon like snow, and melted almost instantly on my tongue. My small bowlful somehow filled me up. Simultaneous lightness and heft is one of its gifts.
Cloud, throwing fresh logs under a batch of green rice, described his small-scale parching in a sensory way. But his narrative quickly made tracks down the path of his people’s history: the original prophecy that led them to the rice beds; Ojibwe astrology; the Christian missionaries intent on converting the natives; the boarding schools that separated children from their families, their language, and their ceremonies. And he circled back to where we began: the enormous paddy rice operations that inject science and greed into what should perhaps remain an intuitive process. “Both the scientist and the preacher, they want to know everything. They want to remake rice in their image.”
Machinery and temperature gauges can break, making you question your own good judgment. And these modern methods can distance you from your culture. “If it weren’t for the rice, Ojibwe culture wouldn’t be here today,” he said, moving a log with his boot, squinting from the glare of the white sun sinking toward the lake. “And if we lose it, we won’t exist as a people for long. We’ll be done too.”
Even here, where wild rice grows abundantly, it can be hard to find a bag of the real thing. The grocery stores stock jet-black paddy rice and, occasionally, a few bags of sturdy, wood-parched Canadian wild rice. To get my yearly 10 pounds of the soft rice harvested nearby, I have to rely on my local connections.
Twenty miles down the road, in a parching shed near the town of Ponsford, on the White Earth Reservation, a fat black iron barrel the size of a commercial propane tank rolled on its spit over a jumping fire. The thick sweat of rice parching hung in the air, a mixture of smoke and water and grain. The toasting rice in the barrel exhaled humidity in quick, short bursts. Like a priest’s swinging censer, it gave off a thick smudge that rose up to the high crease of the shed’s peak. I’ve been buying rice from the Dewandeler’s parching operation for years—first from Lewy, now passed on, then from his son Richard, and now from Lewy’s grandson, Aaron. Among local wood-parched wild-rice processors, their shed is the cathedral. They parch in machines they’ve fabricated over the years. A 90-year-old engine pulled from a Ford Model A powers the huge barrel that spins over the wood fire. A cylinder painted sky blue houses a flywheel of soft paddles engineered to gently knock off the loosened hulls. And now Aaron has a new baby: a giant mechanical separator. It gyrated in the middle of the room, its screen plate shaking the good, beautiful finished rice to one end and the broken, undesirable rice to the other.
Three generations of parchers, and they all judge doneness differently. “You know how you don’t listen to your parents? My dad wouldn’t listen to his, and I didn’t listen to mine. My grandpa, he could see the doneness in the smoke, in the blue haze coming off the hot barrel. My dad can smell when it’s done. Me, I have a laser. And I taste it.”
He shot the laser into the rice to test temperature, then dipped a broom into the barrel, vigorously rubbed some loose kernels between his hands, and threw the rice into his mouth. Like most parchers, he can taste which body of water the rice came from. “This is heavy rice—mostly from Shell and Basswood lakes, but I like small-creek rice best. The little kernels take on more of the smoke.”
Aaron is white but has a complicated interface with Native culture common in the area. His kids are White Earth members; his grandparent’s farm is on the reservation, but only because the majority of White Earth land has been owned by non-native people since its inception.
He parches rice very differently from Logan Cloud, but they have some things in common: a desire to protect the genetic diversity of local rice, and a hatred for paddy rice—and for sand. Sand that gets in the rice, whether in the canoe or in the parching shed, is the enemy. Once it’s in, you can’t get it out. Every chance he gets, Aaron sweeps his cement floor clean.
He paused when a black Chevy Tahoe rolled up. “It’s the tribe, here to collect their rice,” he said, and started heaving the first of 15 burlap sacks toward the door. He loaded 900 pounds of finished rice into the back end, and the Tahoe slumped.
Aaron’s operation is as big as it gets around here. He parches tens of thousands of pounds of rice each fall, all within three weeks—possibly the limit for a solo operation. He usually sells out before Thanksgiving.
Two weeks later, Aaron texted me: “Come get your rice. It’s sitting there making my grandma nervous.” When I arrived, I found Bette Dewandeler in a housecoat at the kitchen table, sorting scrap-paper orders, her wit as dry as ever. Once a fixture behind the counter of the local post office, Bette would send me boxes of rice when I lived in New York City. As she is recently retired, everyone must now come to her.
As we talked, two trucks pulled up. My neighbors Adeline and Winnie walked into the kitchen, followed by some other guys I didn’t recognize, all of them with checkbooks in hand. Here, under the bright light of Bette’s kitchen, her table piled with plastic bags of rice and checks and wrinkled magazines, the transaction has the warm veneer of an illicit thrill, as if we’re buying something that will get taken away.
And it might. While the rice still grows wild on many local lakes and creeks, clogging up open channels the first week of September, its future is in question. Climate change and genetically modified rice threaten the manoomin seedstock. In this area alone, seven distinct varieties are at risk of being reseeded with hybridized rice, which ducks move from lake to lake. State wildlife management workers blow up beaver lodges, interfering with the natural water-level consistency that wild rice requires. Runoff seeps into the soil, raising sulfide levels above what this sensitive plant can handle.
The tribes continue to sell and ship out rice—some of it coming straight from Dewandeler’s parching shed—via their websites. And yet it feels like the local interest in hand-harvested, wood-parched rice—the smoky, good stuff—is on the wane. Most small-town gas stations used to sell a few bags in the fall but rarely continued the practice when they gave way to national chains. Meanwhile, health-food advocates—the same people who talk a big game about high-protein organic grains—ignore the one right under their noses.
But viewed another way, the rice has returned to the tribes and to the small parchers. It sits where it always has: in sheds and garages, tightly sheltered in burlap sacks, far from the masses—perhaps just where it belongs.
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:09 pm Post subject:
|How to Make Southern Butter Rolls
A nearly forgotten celebration of Southern ingenuity.
Although it might not occur to us to think of recipes this way, much like sea turtles, VCRs, and hefty phone books, there are some that are in danger of going extinct. Any cook or baker with internet access now has millions of recipes at her or his fingertips, but foods need to be made, and shared, or they become forgotten. One obscure but beloved recipe is most certainly on the endangered list: It’s known as Southern butter rolls, or sometimes just roll (even if there are multiple rolls involved).
While the origins of Southern butter rolls are hazy, the roots run deepest in Memphis and a few other areas in the Mississippi Delta region. Chef Fran Moseley of the former HM Dessert Lounge in Memphis, where butter rolls ruled the menu, describes them as “A cinnamon roll baked in a custard, but made with biscuit dough, not a yeast-raised dough.” That concise description fits the bill perfectly for a recipe that is the pinnacle of doing a whole lot with not much at all — a true kitchen MacGyver move.
A Cinnamon Roll Like You’ve Never Seen
In the most common variation, a straightforward biscuit dough is rolled thin, spread with butter, sprinkled with sugar and spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, or a combination), then rolled, sliced, and placed in a baking pan much like standard cinnamon rolls. What follows next is something that must be experienced to be believed. A liquid mixture of dairy and sugar is heated just to a low bubble, and the whole lot is poured over the unbaked rolls. (The first time I made this recipe, as the rolls began to float and bob in the liquid, I kept saying aloud “What? No. Surely no!”) During the baking time, the dough almost poaches like a dumpling as it browns on top, and the sweet milk begins to reduce and caramelize into a silky sauce. As Chef Moseley says, “The love is in the custard.”
Butter rolls live at the center of a Venn diagram of frugality, simplicity, and deliciousness. It’s a recipe born out of necessity, a crafty way to use leftover biscuit scraps, and a path to a rich dessert that can feed a crowd made out of just a handful of inexpensive ingredients. “It’s one of those recipes where nobody knows where it came from — we only know that our grandmothers and our great-grandmothers all made it, and somehow it was always on the table,” Moseley says. “It comes from the African American community (especially those who moved up to Memphis from Mississippi). My grandmother always said we were the mothers of invention when it came to using scraps and making something good out of it. It’s like taking day-old rice and making rice pudding. Nothing goes to waste.”
Butter Rolls of All Shapes and Sizes
There are dozens of forms of butter rolls found in Southern recipe boxes. Each one depends on the baker, which adds to the charm. As Moseley said, “You make it the way your grandmother made it, and you only get the recipe from her when she gets too old and tired to make them anymore.” Some recipes have you slice the entire log of coiled dough into swirled rounds, as mentioned above. But others call for dividing the dough in half, rolling both halves into logs, slicing one log into rolls, and placing them in half the pan, while the other log stays whole and is nestled lengthwise in the same pan next to them.
I found yet another version from a man named Bill Shanle, owner of the now-closed Leonard’s Pit Downtown in Memphis (another location, not owned by Shanle, remains open). His version of the butter roll involved no rolls at all. Instead, he layered sheets of biscuit dough with butter and sugar like a giant biscuit lasagna, and doused the whole thing in a sauce made of even more butter, water, and sugar — but no milk. As it turns out, there are many ways to roll, and this recipe is a mash-up of many of them. Butter enthusiasts, this one’s for you.
Southern Butter Rolls
Yield: Serves 12
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes to 50 minutes
For the dough:
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon fine salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter
1 cup well-shaken buttermilk or whole milk
For the filling:
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the sauce:
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
2 cups half-and-half or whole milk
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Pinch fine salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Let 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter come to room temperature for the filling if needed.
Make the dough: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat the oven to 350°F.
Place 3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar, 1 tablespoon plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, and 3/4 teaspoon fine salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Cut 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter into small pieces and add to the flour mixture. Work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Pour in 1 cup buttermilk or whole milk and stir gently with a fork until a soft dough forms.
Make the filling: Place 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg, and 1/8 teaspoon fine salt in a small bowl and stir to combine.
Generously flour a work surface. Transfer the dough onto it and pat into a rough 12x15-inch rectangle. Spread evenly with the 8 tablespoons softened butter. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the butter. Starting at a short end, tightly roll up the dough into a log. Pinch the ends to seal and arrange seam-side down.
Cut crosswise into 12 pieces. Arrange the pieces cut-side up in a 9x13-inch baking pan (preferably metal), 4 across and 3 down.
Make the sauce: Place 1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups half-and-half or whole milk, 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, and a pinch fine salt in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir gently until the mixture just begins to bubble and the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from the heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. Pour over the rolls, they will be swimming in sauce.
Bake until the rolls are puffed and golden-brown, and the sauce is bubbling and beginning to caramelize, 40 to 45 minutes. Let cool for several minutes. Serve each roll with a spoonful of sauce.
Storage: Leftovers can be covered and refrigerated up to 3 days.
Shauna Sever is the author of 3 cookbooks. She is a contributor for The Splendid Table, and has been featured on many other TV and media outlets. She lives with her husband + two children outside Chicago. Her book, Midwest Made, will be published in Fall 2019.
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:13 pm Post subject:
|The Best Cheeses For Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Look beyond Kraft singles and elevate your sandwich game with these dynamic selections.
Mar. 18, 2022, 05:45 AM EDT | Updated Mar. 20, 2022
Culinary experts have tried countless combinations of bread, cheese and other ingredients in the pursuit of grilled cheese perfection.
The grilled cheese sandwich is a lunchtime staple that, for many of us, dates back to childhood. Whether served with tomato soup or on its own, it’s hard to go wrong with gooey cheese on warm, toasty bread.
But there’s certainly a range of quality when it comes to the cheeses you can use. And while Kraft singles are a classic, consider looking beyond American cheese when you whip up a grilled cheese sandwich.
We asked culinary experts, including professional cheese specialists (yes, we’re jealous of their jobs, too), to share their favorite cheeses for grilled cheese. Keep scrolling for some exciting options and combinations of cheeses to inspire your next melty sandwich.
As Clare Malfitano, head chef at Murray’s Cheese Bar in Queens, New York, advised: “Don’t be afraid to mix and match ― try more than one cheese to really turn up the flavor profile.”
Janet Fletcher, publisher of the Planet Cheese blog, recommends toma, a cow’s milk cheese with a semi-hard texture and buttery taste.
“Point Reyes Farmstead Toma melts like a dream,” she said. “It has a mild, buttery flavor that even young kids enjoy.”
For a “more adult experience,” she also recommended making sandwiches with TomaTruffle ― which is the same cheese with Italian black truffle added ― and serving them with sparkling wine.
Janet Fletcher, of the blog Planet Cheese, recommended Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.'s Toma and TomaTruffle.
Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Co.
“Mild cheddar is always my to-go for a grilled cheese sandwich,” said Lola Osinkolu, a home cook and blogger at Chef Lola’s Kitchen. “Sharp cheddar tends to separate into pools of fat when used for grilled sandwiches, while mild cheddar is balanced and melty.”
She noted that mild cheddar melts quickly and evenly, has a nice tang and offers good flavor that stands up well to the other flavors in the sandwich without being overwhelming.
“One of my favorite combinations is Carr Valley Cheddar with grilled onions and pretzel bread,” said Sheana Davis, a cheesemaker, culinary educator and owner of the Epicurean Connection.
“I’m a huge fan of using Gruyère for a gooey grilled cheese that packs some flavor,” said Alex Hill, a home cook and creator of Just Add Hot Sauce. “It melts really well and has a nutty flavor that pairs well with some good salty bacon, or make it into a French onion grilled cheese with caramelized onions.”
Davis likes to combine melty Gruyère with thin-sliced ham and aioli on sourdough to whip up a satisfying sandwich. Diana Manalang, chef and owner of Little Chef Little Café in Queens, also endorses sourdough with Gruyère because “it has a tangy goodness that the rich buttery flavor goes so well with.” She suggested blending Gruyère with Colby cheese. “They make the richest, most decadent and delicious cheesy middle of the grilled cheese.”
Meanwhile, Osinkolu recommends pairing Gruyère with mild cheddar to achieve “a complex, delicious grilled cheese” and “melted, stretchy and tasty sandwiches.”
Gruyère is a Swiss cheese noted for its melting properties.
“My favorite cheese for making grilled cheese, be it for myself or my kids, is havarti,” said Chef Marshall O’Brien. “It’s creamy, and has a rich yet very versatile flavor. We make a lot of Turkish (my wife is Turkish) toast, which is grilled cheese with [a] variety of variations.”
He prefers Arla brand havarti, and combines it with sausage or Kalamata olives and tomatoes for Turkish toast.
“One of my grilled cheese favorites is Marin French brie and orange marmalade on a walnut bread,” Davis said.
Meggan Hill, executive chef for the recipe site Culinary Hill, said she also likes this brand of brie for “an epic grown-up grilled cheese.”
“For the grilled cheese of my dreams, I choose a combination of havarti, fontina and brie with a spread of fig jam,” Hill explained. “These three cheeses bring different flavors to the sandwich and are creamy and ideal for melting, while the sweet fig jam cuts through the richness of it all.”
Many people think of brie as something found in a baked appetizer, but this soft French cheese also makes for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
Many people think of brie as something found in a baked appetizer, but this soft French cheese also makes for a delicious grilled cheese sandwich.
Sharp White Cheddar
“The best grilled cheese starts with two thick slices of New York State Sharp Cheddar Cheese from Herkimer County Cheese,” said Bradley Wood, head chef and contributor to Adventures of a Nurse. “The sharper the better, and add grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.“
He recommended combining two thick slices of white bread, whole-grain mustard and freshly shredded cheddar, and grilling until golden and crusty. Then sprinkle the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano on both sides of the bread.
Andrea Mathis, the registered dietitian behind the blog Beautiful Eats and Things, also goes the shredded sharp cheese route for her grilled cheese sandwiches.
“I can’t get enough of that distinct, tangy flavor!” she said. “The shredded cheese allows for the cheese to melt more evenly when compared to sliced cheese.”
Mathis’ favorite brands are Sargento and Tillamook. Cookbook author and “The Forest Feast” founder Erin Gleeson said she prefers sharp white cheddar by Clover “because it’s local to me and also a great company ― they are certified B Corp.”
“I like to make a Dutch grilled cheese with Gouda cheese, sautéed sweet onions and cremini mushrooms on tiger bread (Tijgerbrood),” said cookbook author Brian Theis.
Chef Alexander Lord-Flynn, whose restaurant Vinyl Steakhouse is set to open in New York City this spring, said he likes to combine smoked Gouda with havarti, aged cheddar and Swiss cheese.
“I pick cheeses for their meltability first, so they melt into the pan and create those burnt edges we all crave,” he explained. “The havarti brings a melty luscious aspect, the cheddar adds the classic cheese flavor and the Swiss adds nuttiness. The Gouda is my secret weapon ― this is the cheese that makes people’s eyebrows raise and do a dance. The smokiness and depth of the Gouda rounds out the sandwich. You don’t feel like you are eating cheese upon cheese, but layers of flavors.”
Give your grilled cheese sandwich a little Dutch flair by using Gouda.
“For a basic grilled cheese, I always love going for the classic cheddar cheese, but for some extra meltiness and flavor, I mix it with other cheeses,” said Dzung Lewis, a YouTuber and author of “The Honeysuckle Cookbook.” “Monterey Jack or pepper jack has a high fat and moisture content, so it has great melting properties that go very well with the cheddar cheese.”
Lewis recommends shredding hard cheeses like pepper jack for optimal and even melting, and she pairs this particular combo with sliced kimchi. Theis likes to make a Mexican-style grilled cheese with pepper jack.
“[I use] pepper jack cheese, a bit of shredded Mexican cheese blend, with refried beans, tomato salsa and guacamole on pambazo,” he said.
Theis also shared his recipe for an Italian-style grilled cheese made with Asiago.
“‘Pressato’ or ‘fresco’ will melt best,” he noted. “Add a little smooth and melty shredded mozzarella, sautéed grape tomatoes with oregano, slices of pepperoncini and a basil chiffonade! On focaccia, of course!”
Named for the town in Italy where it was first produced, Asiago is a cow's milk cheese that comes in different textures.
“If I’m looking for something a little more complex and elevated, taleggio, an Italian cheese very similar to brie, melts beautifully while also providing a mildly pungent and nutty taste,” Lewis said.
She usually pairs this cheese with bacon or onion, arugula, and pears, apples or peaches, depending on the season.
“My all-time favorite is sourdough with a ripe, stinky taleggio, Dijon mustard, any kind of jam (quince paste aka membrillo is also great), cooked low and slow with butter until crispy and finished with fleur de sel,” said Chef Sophina Uong of Mister Mao in New Orleans. “Salty, gooey, sweet perfection.”
“I like to use three cheeses when I make grilled cheese: sharp cheddar, Parmesan and Swiss Emmenthal,” said Remy Forgues, chef-instructor at the Institute of Culinary Education. “The cheddar brings a sharpness in flavor, the Parmesan brings saltiness and the Emmenthal has good melting properties with a milder taste.”
To make this grilled cheese sandwich, Forgues recommends buttering two slices of bread on one side each, and placing them in a pan butter-side down.
“Top one slice with cheddar and the other with the Emmenthal, so it cooks open-faced,” he said. “Then put the Parmesan in the middle when putting the sandwich together, because it doesn’t melt.”
Emmenthal is a medium-hard cheese that originates from Switzerland.
“One of my favorite combos is a nice spread of Indian Amul cheese and a layer of Muenster cheese for a delicious grilled cheese that’s got an Instagram-worthy cheese pull!” said Gaurav Anand, chef and owner of Baazi in New York City.
“Amul cheese tastes like cheddar with a familiar buttery flavor, but a slight tang and saltiness,” he explained. “It melts beautifully, too. Muenster is mild, silky when melted and has a rich, buttery flavor. Plus, it has the perfect fat content for heating up without the oil separating.”
Anand also sometimes uses Monterey Jack instead of Muenster for an extra kick of spice.
Like Gruyère, comté is an Alpine-style cheese noted for its ability to melt easily.
“Comté is a grilled sandwich classic, the taste of tradition,” Fletcher said. “This raw-milk French cheese is intensely nutty, with a deep roasted onion flavor that reminds me of French onion soup.”
Laura Werlin, the James Beard Award-winning author of six books on cheese (including two about grilled cheese), recommended a cheese that is similar to comté ― Pleasant Ridge Reserve from Uplands Cheese Company in Wisconsin.
“For the best grilled cheese sandwich, the cheese has to be a good melter, of course, but it also has to taste like something once it’s melted,” she said. “Beyond [its melting properties], this cheese has such amazing depth of flavor ― nutty, brown butter-like, a little grassy, a little fruity, a little caramel-y.”
Next time you're selecting an Alpine cheese, consider trying comté.
“A great melter like fontina is a classic grilled-cheese go-to and really [adds] a nice flavor beyond everyday cheddar,” Malfitano, of Murray’s Cheese Bar, said.
Sharee Hill, the food blogger behind Savory Spicerack, recommends combining fontina with Gorgonzola and Swiss cheese on sourdough bread.
“This combination of cheeses gives you a mixture of flavors and textures for something new when it comes to a grilled cheese,” she said. “The end results are creamy textures with a salty, earthy, nutty cheese flavor. My preferred brands when I make this special grilled cheese are the Fabes Fontina Fontal Italian and Igor Gorgonzola Dolce cheeses from Whole Foods.”
“My go-to cheese for all things requiring cheese in the U.S. is Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Yellow Cheddar,” Theis said. “It’s the one cheese I would take to a desert island!”
He likes to make an English-style grilled cheese by combining sharp cheddar with a bit of blue Stilton cheese for a tangy punch and eating it on a farmhouse loaf with butter and Branston Pickle.
Malfitano is also a fan of yellow cheddar, especially the local variety sold at Murray’s.
“A younger cheddar, like New York Yellow, is a great place to start for the ultimate grilled cheese,” she said. “The yellow in our New York State Cheddar isn’t artificial, and adds that fun color to a grilled cheese.”
Yellow cheddar lends itself to many different flavor combinations in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Yellow cheddar lends itself to many different flavor combinations in a grilled cheese sandwich.
Davis endorsed the Wisconsin original ― brick cheese. This medium-soft cheese, named for its rectangular shape, dates back to the 1870s.
“Another one of my favorite combinations is Widmer Brick Cheese with tasso ham and creole mustard on whole grain bread,” she said.
Smoked Or Flavored Cheddar
“I recommend Tillamook smoked cheddar for always,” said chef Victor King of the Essential in Birmingham, Alabama. “It makes the ultimate punchy, savory grilled cheese.”
Fletcher suggested Beehive Cheese Red Butte Hatch Chile for an extra punch.
“It’s a cheddar flavored with spicy New Mexico Hatch chiles, so your grilled cheese sandwich has the seasoning built in,” she said.
Last edited by Info on Wed Mar 30, 2022 10:17 pm; edited 1 time in total
Joined: 27 Jan 2003
Location: Hong Kong
|Posted: Wed Mar 30, 2022 12:26 pm Post subject:
|The 30 Best National Parks in the World
The parks on this list span six continents and tens of millions of acres, offering excellent fodder for any nature-addicted international traveler looking to jump-start their wanderlust
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Though the U.S. often gets all the credit for inventing the national parks idea, there are a wealth of countries that, since Yellowstone was instated as the first national park in 1872, have taken the notion and run with it. The result? Protections over vast natural empires of electric-blue glacial lakes, galloping wildebeest, colorful eroded badlands, and craggy, snow-capped peaks worldwide.
The parks on this list span six continents and tens of millions of acres, offering excellent fodder for any nature-addicted traveler looking to jump-start their wanderlust and plan the next adventure. From Costa Rica to Croatia, we’ve uncovered the very best.
Kruger National Park, South Africa
Perhaps the most iconic safari park in the world, Kruger is a bastion for animal lovers dreaming of an up-close look at Africa’s famous wildlife. The park’s immense boundary stretches for nearly 2 million hectares—larger than the state of Connecticut—and once inside, visitors can embark on guided night safaris, speed along on game drives, enjoy walking tours through the bush, or stay at Ngala Tented Camp (from $952 per person per night) on the Timbavati River.
Mana Pools, Zimbabwe
When the rainy season dumps a deluge along the fragile plains bordering Zimbabwe’s Zambezi River (typically December through March), a series of seasonal lakes form and then slowly evaporate under the hot sun, turning the remaining pools into excellent grounds for wildlife viewing. Under the shade of fig, acacia, and baobab trees, travelers to this Unesco World Heritage Site have the opportunity to spot many of Africa’s “big five”—lions, leopards, elephants, and Cape buffalo—in addition to zebras, cheetahs, and more than 450 species of nesting and migratory birds.
The Africa of lore awaits at Serengeti: lions surveying their kingdom atop grassy kopjes, leopards prowling in dense riparian areas, and each year from May through October, a migration of more than 1.3 million wildebeest, 250,000 zebras, and 500,000 gazelles through the park and into neighboring Maasai Mara National Reserve. This expansive park covers more than 5,700 square miles of golden hillsides and ungulate-freckled plains and is hands down one of the best places to safari on earth.
Set aside as a natural wonder in 1936, Fuji-Hakone-Izu is home to steamy hot springs, rippling waterfalls, volcanic islets, and, of course, Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji. It’s a park as diverse as Japan itself, with top-tier surfing in the Izu Islands, sizzling sulfur vents at Owakudani, and thousand-year-old shrines. Hike to the snow-capped summit of this sacred mountain and feel the modern world melt away.
Recently touted as being the fifth most popular national park on TikTok, Göreme, in central Turkey, is so much more than a haven for flocking influencers. The protected area, which is—you guessed it—a Unesco World Heritage Site, is full of Byzantine-era art, painted badlands, and underground towns dating back to the 4th century. Perhaps most picturesque are the landscape’s many eroded hoodoos, known locally as fairy chimneys, which you can explore on one of the area’s many loop trails.
Khao Sok, Thailand
Chattering macaques hop from treetop to treetop in this national park, which houses the oldest evergreen rainforest in the world. Located on the mainland between Phuket and Krabi, Khao Sok is a lush jungle where towering mountains of limestone rise from the earth like rocky fingers. Visitors have the opportunity to catch some z’s at Floating Bungalows Khoa Sok Lake (from $198 per person per night) between their on-water safaris and elephant sightings.
In a land where rust-red mountains crest up from the sea and kaleidoscopic coral reefs lurk just below the surface, it might be a touch easier to believe that dinosaurs still roam the earth. Famed for its most notorious resident, the Komodo dragon, which exists nowhere else in the world, this far-flung island park straddles the Indian and South Pacific Oceans and is a mecca for reptile lovers and reef divers.
Guilin Lijiang, China
With a landscape so breathtaking that it appears on China’s 20 yuan note, Guilin Lijiang National Park centers around the Li River and the Seussian-like horizon of rugged limestone hills that jut upward from the earth surrounding it. Climb to commanding views of rice terraces along the 1.8-mile Ping’An Trail, or go for a river cruise to absorb the majestic terrain in peace from below.
Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers, India
Perched high in India’s northwestern corner, these two adjoining national parks preserve a complete ecosystem of high-altitude Himalayan flora and fauna, including blue sheep, Asiatic black bears, and the elusive snow leopard. The Valley of Flowers, with lush meadows full of its namesake blooms, gives way to the harsh mountain wilderness of Nanda Devi, a steep, glaciated peak stretching 25,643 feet above sea level. One way to explore this area up close and on foot? Take a six-day guided trek.
Hiking to Everest Base Camp is a life-list item for many, one that lies inside Nepal’s most noteworthy national park—Sagarmatha—which translates to “goddess of the sky” in Nepali. The region, which is the traditional homeland of the Sherpa people, is known for its high-altitude peaks, though the park’s terrain varies from jewel-toned glacial rivers to grazing lands for herds of yak to verdant forests of bamboo and hemlock. Consider a guided backpacking trip to help support the local Sherpa people and ensure a safe trip to base camp.
Wadi Rum Protected Area, Jordan
Like many places on this list, Wadi Rum is renowned for its ancient cultural and natural resources. Located some 200 miles south of the capital of Amman, the park contains honeycombed cliffs of vibrant red sandstone, narrow ravines carved by millennia of erosion, and impressive archeological remains, including more than 25,000 petroglyphs, dating back 12,000 years. Marvel at the coral-hued sunrise from your very own tent at Wadi Rum Starlight (from $43 per person per night) before exploring on camelback.
Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, China
With its narrow ravines and forest-laden pinnacles of rock, Zhangjiajie, in central-eastern China, is so gorgeous it looks Photoshopped. Delicate pink spires of quartz sandstone dot the park’s most scenic area around Baofeng Lake, where visitors can take a boat tour or amble across the world’s longest, highest transparent glass bridge for a bird’s-eye view of the otherworldly landscape.
In French, a calanque is a narrow, cliff-lined inlet made of limestone or other carbonate strata, much like a miniature fjord. This national park in the south of France lends itself to exploring craggy coves and the turquoise waves that envelop them. Break a sweat on one of the area’s dozens of hiking trails, snorkel, or relax aboard a sailboat tour of the sea’s biodiverse waters, home to starfish, sea slugs, and snakelocks anemones.
Lake District, United Kingdom
For expansive views of rolling, emerald hillsides speckled with the occasional sapphire tarn, add Northern England’s Lake District to your bucket list. Full of free-roaming Herdwick sheep, grassy moors, and dozens of opportunities to bed down in a cozy cottage or castle, this park is ripe for long afternoon walks and evenings spent reading Charlotte Brönte, whose seminal novel Jane Eyre is set in this landscape.
Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
Waterfalls, waterfalls, waterfalls. They’re the main course at this 29,842-hectare park centered around 16 lakes that are all interconnected by rippling cascades. Plitvice was designated a Unesco World Heritage Site in 1979 for the unparalleled beauty of its travertine terrace formations, limestone caves, and wide range of wildlife (including wolves, bears, and dozens of bird species) that calls the park home. Head to Entrance 1 for the best photo opportunities.
Swan dive into the verdant and culturally rich Rondane Mountains, in the highlands of eastern Norway. A place known for its rugged, lichen-blotched summits, roiling waterfalls, scenic byways, and rustic mountain huts at Rondvassbu Mountain Lodge (from $14 per person per night), the country’s first national park has something for adventurers of all ages and skill levels, even in winter.
In Triglav, the largest protected area in Slovenia, rugged tree-strewn peaks fall away dramatically into mirror-clear azure lakes. Travelers looking to escape the crowds of Europe’s more famous Alps to the west will appreciate the area’s watery wonders, from aquamarine River Soča to picturesque Lake Bled and its church-topped island.
Vatnajökull is massive. As the largest national park in Europe at 4,600 square miles, it centers on yet another superlative: the continent’s largest glacier, which shares the park’s name. Intrepid travelers can ice climb its namesake feature, hike through glassy frozen caves, or trek through Iceland’s dormant volcanoes and remote rhyolite mountains. It’s a park that encapsulates the country’s nickname: the land of ice and fire.
North and Central America
Canyonlands, United States
In America’s National Park System, the Grand Canyon commands all attention when it comes to sprawling, miles-long views of red-rock ravines. But avid park visitors know that Canyonlands is the real winner for those looking to escape throngs of tourists and experience a more rugged sandstone landscape akin to Mars. As Utah’s largest national park, Canyonlands features scenery that is nothing short of stunning, from the mesa-top Island in the Sky District to the mazelike Needles.
Corcovado, Costa Rica
Costa Rica is a country famed for its forward-thinking conservation efforts and breathtaking national parks. Corcovado, on the southern Osa Peninsula, is the best for wildlife seekers. Slow-moving three-toed sloths, brilliantly colored toucans, cacophonous howler monkeys, and endangered jaguars all reside in this untrammeled tropical rainforest. Hire a local guide to spot hard-to-find wildlife on your adventures.
Though sometimes overshadowed by Banff, its cousin to the south, Jasper National Park is the definition of wild and scenic. Home to booming populations of moose, elk, and grizzly bears that take refuge in its snow-topped peaks and conifers, the park is every bit as feral as its inhabitants. Plus, with 1 million-plus more acres than Banff—it’s the largest park in the Canadian Rockies—visitors have the ability to spread out and soak up the solitude they came for, whether it be on a three-mile jaunt to Valley of the Five Lakes or an all-day excursion on the Whistlers Trail.
Wrangell-St. Elias, United States
As the largest national park in America, 13.2 million-acre Wrangell-St. Elias has a lot to live up to. Thankfully, with its tremendous easy-access glaciers, historic mining town of Kennecott, epic rafting trips, and world-class mountaineering, it more than lives up to its hype. Day hikers won’t want to miss the challenging nine-mile trip up to Bonanza Mine.
Yosemite, United States
Yosemite, with its landmark valley of granite domes and thousand-foot waterfalls, is one of the world’s first national parks, protected by Congress in 1890. Now a haven for rock climbers, trail trekkers, and auto tourists, the park includes more than 800 miles of dirt paths through giant sequoia stands, wildflower-lined lakes, and alpine meadows. Consider renting a bike and wheeling across the famed Valley Multi-Use Path to take in the sights from the basin floor.
Oceania and Australia
Cradle Mountain, Lake St. Clair, Tasmania
Separated from southern Australia by the Bass Straight, Tasmania is just about as wild as it gets. Cradle Mountain and Lake St. Clair sit high in the island’s northern region, a glacially carved alpine wilderness marked by serrated dolerite peaks, bright foliage, and sparkling tarns. Backpack the park’s popular 65-kilometer Overland Track by foot, or head off on a mellow trail ride. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a Tassie devil.
Fiordland, New Zealand
Formed over the past 100,000 years, as glaciers gnawed away at the dramatic southern New Zealand ridgeline, Fiordland is best experienced by land and sea. Daily cruises speed in and out of South Island’s Milford Sound, the best known of the area’s 14 fiords, bringing tourists face to face with 161-meter Bowen Falls, the knife’s edge of 5,522-foot Mitre Peak, and the Underwater Observatory, where you can spot fur seals. Ardent backpackers won’t want to miss hiking the Milford Track, one of the country’s top walks.
Tongariro, New Zealand
If you’re a Lord of the Rings fan, you might recognize Tongariro’s desolate volcanoes and serrated peaks as the sinister landscape of Mordor and Mount Doom. Distinguished by Unesco for its spectacular landscapes and cultural significance to the Maori people, this New Zealand locale is perfect for adventurers looking to ski Whakapapa or Tūroa, raft the Tongariro River, or backpack one of the country’s “Great Walks” through this transcendent glacially cut landscape.
Uluru-Kata Tjuta, Australia
Located on the ancestral lands of the Anangu Aboriginal people, the enormous umber-tinted monolith of Uluru (formerly called Ayers Rock) is a critical piece of Australia’s natural and cultural heritage—stories of their creation period, Tjukurpa, originate here. The park offers visitors a chance to marvel at this famous mesa of arkose sandstone, sure, but those willing to slow down and linger a few days can take a Ranger-guided Mala walk for a unique glimpse at one of the oldest cultures on the planet.
The Galapagos archipelago is one of the most biologically unique places in the world. Sure, the park is best known for its native giant tortoises and marine iguanas, but the protected ocean areas between the islands harbor what many consider the best diving and snorkeling on the planet. Hammerhead sharks, manta rays, sea turtles, frogfish, and nudibranchs all call these waters home. Academy Bay Diving helps visitors see them all via day excursions and live-aboard experiences.
Los Glaciares, Argentina
It’s hard to tackle a list of the most mind-blowing national parks in the world without including Argentina’s iconic Fitz Roy Massif. These soaring granitic fins have worked their way into climbing lore—Tommy Caldwell and Alex Honnold famously became the first to traverse the towers in 2014—but the national park surrounding them is also home to less death-defying fare, like easy hikes overlooking immense icefields, crampon-clad glacier trekking, and overnight backpacking trips.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Often touted as the eighth wonder of the world, Chile’s Torres del Paine—which translates to “towers of blue” in Spanish and Tehuelche—truly lives up to its name. Encompassing 181,414 hectares of sky-high granite towers, shimmering teal lakes, and deep cobalt crevasses, the park is famous for its alpine climbing and snapshot-worthy overnight treks, like the 41.3-mile W Circuit.
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