When friends I met while traveling in Turkey asked if I wanted to join them on a trip to Bhutan – I thought… that would be cool! Why not?!
At that point, I knew nothing much about Bhutan except for these 3 things.
- It is known as the “Land of the Thunder Dragon”.
- They focus on their “Gross National Happiness” index.
- It is described as the last Shangri-La.
We arrvied at the Paro international airport a week after the Young King, Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck had married his wife, Jetsun Pema. Photos of them were posted everywhere to celebrate the special occasion. As they toured their country to share their happiness, we followed suit. Paro, Thimpu, Punakha and Wangdue. I could tell their citizen were sincerely happy for their marriage as each family hung their official royal wedding photos on the outside of their house. Authentic. Free will.
I learned a lot about Bhutan while on this trip.
What surprised me the most is their love for chili!!! I had no idea! The people of Bhutan eat chili fresh, dried, cooked, raw, whole, minced, every which way possible. One time walking to the back of a bookstore, the door to their back room was open and I could see on the floor was a bowl of cooked rice and a bowl of about 30 fresh chili, along with a couple small side dishes. My jaw just dropped. I knew many Asian cultures enjoy chili but I had no idea Bhutanese loves their chili THAT much! Popping little chili like they are a grape tomato!?
Ema-datse is considered as their national dish and it’s nothing much more than chili (ema) and cheese (datse) as a stew! So it is no surprise they have chili everywhere.