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  • In the first episode of the new series "Meals on Wheels", we visit the Douro region of Portugal in the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo.
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    Meals on Wheels: in Portugal with the Marco Polo.

    In the first episode of the new series "Meals on Wheels", we visit the Douro region of Portugal in the Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo.

From Fiji to Los Angeles.

Tanned, designer stubble and always smiling: Louis Tikaram could easily pass as born-and-bred Portuguese – yet the 29-year-old top chef who works in his own "E.P. Restaurant" in Los Angeles is originally from Fiji. That's where he learnt to cook: "In the kitchen with my grandmother", he tells us proudly. "My grandmother's family had roots in Fiji, India and China. The cuisine in our house was equally colourful. I inherited my love of cooking from her".

Today, Louis is not cooking in hectic Los Angeles nor on the gorgeous Fiji islands. The kitchen is a picturesque view point in the north-east of Portugal: it is a Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo which is parked at a view point. From here, there is a wonderful view of the Douro region, one of the best wine-growing areas in Portugal.

Usually, Louis Tikaram cooks in his own restaurant in Los Angeles – he has travelled to Portugal for "Meals on Wheels". He fell in love with the country immediately.
Accomplished knife skills are essential for a good chef.

Chilli, chorizo … rancho!

"It's more spacious than I had thought!" exclaims Louis about the interior of the Marco Polo while finely chopping chillies, onions and garlic at lightning speed with a practised hand. These are ingredients for today's main course: rancho, an extremely hearty stew and one of Portugal's numerous delicious national dishes. "Food means everything to me. It is a way for me to express myself - to show where I am from and who I am".

The secret of a star chef.

While the rancho is simmering away on the gas stove in the Marco Polo, Louis lets us in on the secret of the delicious stew: "The rancho is really very easy to prepare. The intense flavour comes from the many different types of vegetables, the spicy chorizo and the spices, such as paprika, salt, pepper and ginger. I added a little chilli too, to make it a little more spicy". Good ingredients aren't everything though explains Louis.

“As a chef, you always have to be open to new flavours and cultures. Which is why it is very important for me that I travel a lot and try new things”. The Fiji-born chef fell in love with Portugal immediately: “I love the people and the mountains here. And the wines – especially the port. The Portuguese are wonderful, just like their food”.

While the rancho is simmering away on the gas stove in the Marco Polo, Louis lets us in on the secret of the delicious stew.
Wine has been grown in Alto Douro in the north-east of Portugal for over two thousand years. In 2001, the region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Top wines from Douro.

The scent of strong spices, seared onions, chillies, olive oil and garlic is intensifying in the bright kitchen area of the Marco Polo. Our gaze wanders out of the big windows, over the beautiful landscape of the Douro valley, through which the Douro river winds like a snake towards Porto, where it eventually flows into the Atlantic. Wine has been grown in Alto Douro in the north-east of Portugal for over two thousand years. In 2001, the region was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The climate, the good soil and the many hours of sunshine make the Douro red wines vivid in colour, full-bodied and rich in tannin.

The Marco Polo kitchen is perfect for preparing a delicious meal on the road.

The chef and the winemaker.

The Niepoort family's vineyard is also located in this melting pot of traditional cuisine and wine enjoyment. In the 19th century, the family moved to Portugal from the Netherlands and ever since, the "Niepoort Vinhos" wine cellars have been producing some of the best wines in the Douro region. One member of this traditional wine-making family is a guest today: Verena Niepoort enters the Marco Polo – and she has brought several bottles of Niepoort red wine with her. "It goes perfectly with rancho", she says, laughing while skilfully opening the bottle.

A perfect dinner in the Marco Polo.

After a delicious meal with lively conversations about wine-growing and tradition, the evening slowly draws to a close. It has started to rain outside, but that doesn't bother anyone in the comfortable interior of the Marco Polo. They are reflecting on the merits of the camper van: "I would never have thought that the Marco Polo has so much space for cooking", declares Verena, surprised.

Louis is clearly also taken with the Marco Polo: “The workmanship is high quality and the equipment is practical: in addition to the gas stove, the tap and the fridge are a real help when cooking fresh meals. And combined with the delicious aroma of food coming from a camper van and not from a big kitchen, it is almost a little surreal. A brilliant experience”.

The Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo surrounded by vines in the Douro region in the north-east of Portugal.
Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

2 Die angegebenen Werte sind die „gemessenen NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 2 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153, die im Einklang mit Anhang XII der Verordnung (EG) Nr. 692/2008 ermittelt wurden. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Aufgrund gesetzlicher Änderungen der maßgeblichen Prüfverfahren können in der für die Fahrzeugzulassung und ggf. Kfz-Steuer maßgeblichen Übereinstimmungsbescheinigung des Fahrzeugs höhere Werte eingetragen sein. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch und die CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zum Kraftstoffverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.