About Me

¡Hola, reader! Thanks for visiting. My name is Melissa Denchak, and I’m a writer/editor who lives in Panajachel, Guatemala. Where’s that, you ask? Pana, as the locals call it, is two-and-a-half hours outside of the capital (Guatemala City) in the southwestern part of the country on Lake Atitlán, the deepest lake in Central America and the most beautiful. Okay, that last point is subjective, but it is the opinion of many, including Aldous Huxley, author of the book Brave New World (a book that I have admittedly not read):

Lake Como, it seems to me, touches on the limit of permissibly picturesque, but Atitlán is Como with additional embellishments of several immense volcanoes. It really is too much of a good thing.

Yes, we’ve got volcanoes here, folks. Three.

Guatemala, for anyone who needs a refresher, borders Mexico, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador. The majority of its coast lies on the Pacific, though a bit meets the Caribbean, too. Guatemala City is about a two-and-half-hour flight from Miami and five hours from New York City, my beloved former home.

I moved here in April 2012, along with my partner, Shon, and my dog, Chaddy. Shon’s doing good in the non-profit world, Chaddy’s getting back to her street dog roots (she was once one in Paraguay), and I’m gathering fodder for travel- and food-related stories, brushing up on my Spanish, learning as much as I can about local foods and Mayan culture, becoming an expert on coffee and cacao farming, and doing my best to satisfy a raging sweet tooth by baking cakes and cookies in a seriously sub-par oven.

We live in Guatemala, but we’re exploring many other areas of Central America, too. And while we’re certainly not living large, we’re also not quite roughing it: Our lives include cheap but good manicures (well, mine does), the occasional bottle of bubbly or bourbon, whatever ripe, stinky cheese we can sniff out, a cushy hotel room now and then, and the best luxury of all–the chance to explore new places.

Apart from pursuing freelance gigs, I’m also a contributing editor for Fine Cooking magazine and have worked for other publications including Departures, Black Ink, Publishers Weekly, Budget Travel, and Food & Wine. My writing has also appeared in Adventure Travel, American Way, and Digital Nomad magazines. I have a culinary diploma from the Institute of Culinary Education in Manhattan.

Have a question, suggestion, or comment? Please e-mail me at mdenchak (at) gmail (dot) com. You can also visit my professional website melissadenchak.com.

¡Buen provecho!

4 responses

  1. Bravo, Melissa!
    Love your blog!
    Love your writing!
    Had me laughing out loud.
    Keep it coming, please.

  2. Hi melissa, I really enjoyed reading your blog. your life and guatemala sounds very exciting and adventurous.
    With your expertise in cooking and baking I thought maybe you’d be the perfect person to ask your opinion . I made a german chocolate souffle and the middle would just not set up. I baked it in a 10″ springform pan. The recipe calls to bake for 40 to 45 minutes.
    When I checked on it, it was still wiggly in the middle, I kept it in for at least another 15 min.. I let it cool only to find out that it was still very wet.. So I put it back in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes and decided that was enough I was just gonna have to go with it.
    so my question is, did the recipe have it wrong? Are you supposed to baked soufffes an hour and 40 to 45 minutes, or are they supposed to be wet in the middle?

  3. I see a lot of interesting articles on your blog. You have to spend a lot of
    time writing, i know how to save you a lot of work, there is
    a tool that creates unique, google friendly posts in couple of seconds, just type in google – laranita’s free content source

  4. Dear Melissa,

    My name is Joe Pinzone and I’m casting an international travel show about expats moving abroad. We’d love to film in Central America/Caribbean and wanted to know if you could help us find expats who have moved there within the last 15 months or have been there for 3-4 years, but recently moved into a new home. The show documents their move to a new country and will place the country in fabulous light. The contributors on the show would also receive monetary compensation if they are filmed. If you’d like more information, please give me a call at 212-231-7716 or skype me at joefromnyc. You can also email me at joepinzone@leopardusa.com. Looking forward to hearing from you.

    Joe Pinzone
    Casting Producer
    P: 212-231-7716
    Skype: Joefromnyc

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