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Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller.  Photography © Manja Wachsmuth Photography 2016. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Whether we are inhaling the aromas of curry with spices like cardamom, cumin and coriander, or tasting a pasta sauce rich with rosemary, basil and oregano,  generally we simply enjoy the taste and smell food sensations. But although the word spice evokes the concept of piquant flavors and aromas of foods or drinks,  most of us don’t think of the ways in which these different herbs and spices may be altering our metabolism or have a medicinal effect. 

Spectacular setting - La Rosa Nautica

Before  flying to Iquitos and embarking on the Amazon River cruise, we had two evenings in Lima, capital city of Peru, to explore Peruvian fine dining cuisine. Driving in to the city from the airport, my attention was caught by a striking structure jutting our into the sea. Our driver informed us that this was a restaurant, La Rosa Nautica. 

When picking two fine dining restaurants for our dinners, I knew I wanted to eat at La Rosa Nautica, for the location alone. The second restaurant suggested for us was Cala, also located on the waterfront.  Both were great choices. Overall...

Graham Percy as Marlowe. Photo by Benjamin Laird Arts and Photo

Vancouver, BC:  Raymond Chandler's Phillip Marlowe is a tough, hardboiled, private detective, who operates in the seedy underworld areas of 1940s Los Angeles. First appearing in The Big Sleep, his second appearance as protagonist was in Farewell My Lovely, the novel that is the basis for this adaptation.

The storyline is a tad hard to follow but as expected in the genre of private  eye fiction there are beautiful and mysterious but lethal women, guns, blood and bodies, and strangely a psychic who turns out to be ... someone else.


Photographer, sculptor, poet, dancer, Tatiana Rivero Sanz, has a solo exhibition of her work - onceuponatimetana -at The Blank Tank Art Gallery, 148 Alexander Street in Gastown.

I had a chance to chat briefly to Tatiana at the opening and learn how her work integrates concepts of movement in space and time across the arts...

dinner first evening on board

On board, breakfast and lunch were usually buffet style meals while at night, dinner was a more formal affair with  a server taking your order from a printed menu.

I found my appetite was quite suppressed- a combination of the heat and the carb-based diet. I actually lost weight on this trip - but then I usually manage to drop a few pounds even on luxury cruises with gourmet food.

water discolouration from tannins

La Turmalina served as our home base as we cruised along the major rivers but as well smaller modes of water transport were used so that we could enter narrow, overgrown streams of water and get to  lagoons where we could observe the catfish farming practices of the river -side dwellers.

During these trips in the motorized skiffs or the small catamarans or rowboats we learned about the aquatic geography and the flora and fauna of the area.


On our exploratory hike to the jungle camp (see J: Jungle Walk to the Kapok Camp) our guide cracked open a pod which contained a mass of grubs. He challenged us to eat one after telling us of the protective effect against gastrointestinal upsets.Most of us were trying to keep from retching at the thought of eating a grub but as I mentioned in the earlier story, one brave soul chowed down the grub and did not later get the tummy upset that most others got.

That got me thinking about human entomophagy - the consumption of insects....

On board band

During our week-long journey on the waters of the Peruvian Amazon on the river boat, La Turmalina, each evening our group was treated to musical entertainment by members of the boat crew. They sang and played a variety of  wind, string and percussion instruments including the zampona, charango and cajón, and they also played a diverse range of music.

None of them were professional musicians but their joy and delight in sharing their music with us was palpable and made it special for us.

 Raresh DiMofte and Michael Kopsa. Photo by Tim Matheson

Everything was Blasted ! The protagonists, the set... and I. Knowing what was about to explode on stage before my eyes, I fortified myself with a pre-show glass of wine but that in no way softened the impact of this play. The anger, fear, acts so violent that I closed my eyes, hit me like the ton of the rubble that fell from the ceiling.  Yet Kane's characters are so appallingly grotesque that mercifully I felt emotionally distanced from the pain I was observing...

On the bank of the Amazon River

For those living on the banks of the river fishing is obviously important as a food source. On one of our excursions a father and son brought their dugout canoe up to the side of our skiff  to show us their catch. There were four different fish varieties in their haul for the day.

Creating craft products for sale from local resources like shells or seed pods is another important way of life.

Richard Russ as Wolfie. Photo by Tim Matheson

What a joy and a privilege it is to be witness to the premiere of a powerful beautifully written and performed Canadian play. The impact of Kanagawa's sensitive adaptation of Ibsen's play was evident by the momentary electrically-charged silence of the audience before applauding at the end of both the first and second act.

The image that ended the first act, of the boy floating in water, was quite haunting, and will fix this play in my memory for a long time.


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Spice Health Heroes by Natasha MacAller.  Photography © Manja Wachsmuth Photography 2016. Published by Jacqui Small, an imprint of The Quarto Group

Whether we are inhaling the aromas of curry with spices like cardamom, cumin and coriander, ...


I specially love the dancing when cruising on the Cunard ships, Queen Mary 2, Queen ...