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Travel Cultures Language

You Say Potato . . . I Say Pomme de Terre

by Meredith Mullins on December 12, 2016

Potatoes on French market shelves, showing the cultural heritage of the potato in France. (Image © Meredith Mullins.)

Potatoes taking their rightful place on French market shelves
© Meredith Mullins

How France’s Parmentier Changed the Cultural Heritage of the Potato

Imagine . . .

a world without mountains of crispy French fries,

a holiday dinner minus fluffy clouds of mashed potatoes,

a steak without a baked potato dripping with sour cream,

a plate begging for a huddle of new potatoes with a hint of parsley and butter that launches pomme de terre into the strata of haute cuisine,

silence instead of the crunch of a potato chip while watching a ball game.

Have You a Party Piece?

by Joyce McGreevy on November 14, 2016

Kiaran O'Donnell and Rick Chelew play guitar at a small gathering, carrying on the Irish tradition of the party piece, sharing songs, stories, and poems. (Image © Joyce McGreevy)

Sharing our gifts turns strangers into friends; Kiaran O’Donnell and Rick Chelew had just met.
© Joyce McGreevy

What an Irish Tradition
Can Teach Us Today

It was known as the party piece, a “bit of an auld song” or spoken word. Would we have called it an Irish tradition? Probably not. As students in Galway, sharing songs, stories, and poems was just something we did on Saturday nights.

But the tradition goes back centuries, notes Irish historian P.W. Joyce. Ancient Irish sagas depict hospitality to travelers as a social virtue, and guests reciprocated with music or spoken word. “Like the Homeric Greeks, the Irish were excessively fond of hearing tales and poetry recited  . . . Every intelligent person was expected to know a reasonable number.”

Aha Moment: Halloween!

by Joyce McGreevy on October 31, 2016

A 19th century, bat-themed French Halloween costume offers an aha moment about Halloween around the world.

In 19th century France, Madame goes batty for Halloween.

Goblin Day Goes Global

What’s as changeable as a costume shop and has more frequent flyer miles than a witch’s broom? Halloween, of course.

An ancient tradition that’s as new as this season’s marketing trends, the popularity of Halloween around the world is soaring. An agile shapeshifter, it both adapts to and changes the way cultures celebrate.

A vintage ghost-themed Halloween sign offers an aha moment just right for Halloween around the world.

Halloween’s treats can be tricky!

But just when you think you’ve captured the essence of Halloween—solemn, scary, crass, or silly—it surprises you. Read on for an aha moment or two on global Halloween trends, tricks, and treats:

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