Noted Thai food expert, blogger and author Mark Wiens recently travelled to Mardan and Peshawar along with his wife, child and a photographer to experience different traditional dishes and beverages of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa besides paying visit to a few heritage sites.
He started his trip from Lahore to Islamabad and reached Mardan via motorway to enjoy breakfast with the provincial minister for tourism, sports, youth affairs, culture and archaeology.
The world famous food traveller bought a pair of the famous Kaptaan Chapals from Namak Mandi Bazaar after eating tasty wareeta there.
“We went round Mardan and Peshawar without any security protocol. I believe when you travel, there is no better way than food to connect with people. No matter what culture or country you are from, or wherever you choose to travel, the one thing you and I have in common is that food is a huge part of our lives,” said Mr Wiens.
He said that after eating a bit of Seri Payee in Lahore, he suffered stomach cramps but in KP no such thing happened to him.
He said that he made videos of several KP foods and would soon share the same with the world. He said that he found KP the best destination for world food travellers.
“During our two-day stay in KP, we experienced different traditional foods. The Chapli Kabab is one the greatest meat foods I have ever come across in the world. It is the combination of foods and people that make KP a wonderful place for international tourists. There is no recipe for Chapli Kabab, the vendors keep the right ratio of every ingredient in their minds and mixed them into minced meat and slid it into a liquid of animal fats. Only this one meat dish can make the world travel to KP,” said Mr Wiens.
The visitors told this scribe that they were welcomed everywhere. “KP people are generous, hospitable and peace-loving. We roamed around in Qissa Khawani Bazaar, sipped green tea, enjoyed Kabuli Polao and also Lassi and green veg with maize bread on roadside,” they added.
Mr Wiens, his wife Ying, child and photographer Joel Bruner went to the food street of Bank Road in Mardan and shot videos of various foods and juices and headed towards Peshawar but smell of the popular Chapli Kabab outlet in Taro Jaba near Peshawar lured them to stop for a wonderful bite and some videography.
Staying in Peshawar for a night, the visitors walked up to Hashtnagri to enjoy Halwa Puri and Nikka Paye at the historic site of Gor Katri.
Their next destinations were Ghantha Ghar and Masjid Mohabat Khan.
Joel Bruner said that while travelling from Lahore to Islamabad and then to KP, he saw how the landscape was changing and so were the people. It was marvelous to walk on the streets of Mardan, enjoy Falooda on Bank Road and share smiles with common people, he said.
Mr Wiens said he and his colleagues were wonderstruck when young students approached them in Mardan and Peshawar for a selfie because they were already among their four million followers.
He said that most vendors didn’t charge them for food and juices. “We are taking an impressive image of the most delicious foods, beverages and wonderful people of KP,” he said.
Originally published in Dawn, October 19th, 2018