My Global Food Challenge

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Zip Facts about Spain:

  • The original paella, one of the best known Spanish dishes, consisted of rice mixed with snails, chicken, rabbit and pork
  • Tapas isn’t a type of food, but a way of eating.  Tapa means cover and was traditionally a slice of bread or meat which sherry drinkers used to cover their glasses between sips to discourage fruit flies
  • In Spain, 94% of its population is Roman Catholic. Despite strong opposition from the church. Spain legalized gay marriage almost a decade ago
  • More women than men are enrolled in Spain’s universities
  • In Spain, the tooth fairy is a tooth mouse named Ratoncito Pérez or Ratón Pérez

Spain the-women-of-algiersPablo Picasso, “The Women of Algiers” (1955)

“In 2015, Picasso’s The Women of Algiers has set a new world record for the most expensive artwork to be sold at auction after reaching $179m in New York.”

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Zip Facts about Slovakia:

  • The shield on the Slovakian flag contains a white cross on three blue mountains which represent the three saints, Benedict, Methodius, and Constantine
  • Of all the non-gypsy populations in Europe, Slovakia has the highest percentage of gypsy (Romani) genes
  • Slovakia became an independent democracy when is Czechoslovakia split in 1993
  • Within the European Union, the women of Slovakia marry the youngest (avg. 24) but only average 1.33 children in her lifetime
  • There is still much confusion between the countries of Slovakia and Slovenia, even among the “worldly” politicians including George W. Bush and Italian Prime Minister Belusconi.  Staffers in both embassies meet every month to exchange mail

Slovakia miriamaschniererova_32434234243_largeMiriama Schniererova, “Untitled II”

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singapore-flagWhat’s better than trying a spice or ingredient that you’ve never had, trying a spice you have never heard of before.  Galangal, or “Khaa” in Thai, looks a bit like ginger, but it tastes more like pepper.  There is a dry form and powder, but if you use it fresh you should remove the skin and the slice and crush, or cut into thin strips.  Dry galangal needs to be soaked before use, and the powder substitution is 1 teaspoon per ½ inch peeled and chopped fresh galangal.

Despite my wonderful access to markets, I didn’t plan this meal too far in advance, so even in the international Fairway market, they did not carry galangal in any form.  But never say impossible, we do have several Thai restaurants in our area, so when we asked for a piece, they thankfully obliged.  They keep a small amount of galangal frozen and gave us a very generous portion.




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Zip Facts about Singapore:

  • The national symbol is “the Merlion”, half-fish and half-lion
  • “The Night Safari” of Singapore is the first night zoo in the world
  • While Singapore is one of the twenty smallest countries, it is second in the density of its population after Monaco
  • The highest man-made waterfall and the largest fountain in the world are both located in Singapore
  • It is said that more births occur in October there than any other month of the year

Singapore Unknown_11Shubigi Rao,Fictioneering for Jonah” (2015)


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Zip Facts about Slovenia:

  • Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia on June 25th 1991
  • There are many fun food festivals in Slovenia, including the Cabbage Festival, the Salt Makers’ Festival, Bean Day, and Chestnut Sunday
  • There is approximately one vineyard for every 70 people in Slovenia, and while the majority of wine produced is white, the oldest grape vine in the world resides here, is over 400 years old, and bears about 50 kilos of red grapes per year
  • To ensure a long and happy marriage, the groom traditionally carries his bride up 99 steps at the church on Bled Island
  • The dragon is the official symbol of Ljubljana (the capital city) which was reportedly slain by Jason (of Jason and the Argonauts)

Slovenia avgust-cernigojAvgust Černigoj (1898–1985)

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Zip Facts about Easter:

  • Why are there bunnies and eggs associated with Easter?  The holiday was named after the Anglo-Saxon goddess Eastre, whose symbols were the egg (rebirth) and the hare
  • Egyptians were the first to celebrate the resurrection by exchanging eggs which was then later passed on to the Christians
  • Started in the 19th Century, women strolled up Fifth Avenue on their way to St. Patrick’s Cathedral to show off their new Easter bonnets.  Hence the birth of the Easter Parade
  • In 1883, the Russian Czar Alexander commissioned the “Faberge Egg”, from goldsmith Peter Carl Faberge, as an Easter gift for his wife, the Empress Marie
  • Solid, hollow, marshmallow is the preferred order for the favorite type of chocolate bunny and most Americans eat the ears firstEaster Rabbits

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South Africa

012614_1803_Alphabetica204.gifAdditions/Omissions:  Fairly straight-forward recipe, no additions or omissions 

Taste Test:  A relatively mild curry, could use a little kick                

Zip Facts about South Africa:

  • There is a penguin colony in South Africa due to the cold Antarctic currents on the southwest coast.
  • South Africa has the third best drinking water and the cheapest electricity in the world.
  • The world largest diamond (Cullinan Diamond, ~3100 carats) was found here in 1905 which was cut into the Great Star and the Lesser Star of Africa, and assorted nearly flawless diamonds, all part of the British Crown Jewels.
  • Traces of ancient blue-green algae from over 3,500 million years ago were discovered in eastern South Africa.
  • Monkey Gland Steak Sauce, a favorite in South Africa, is thought to have originated by chefs to insult Johannesburg diners who poured Worcestershire and tomato sauce over everything

South Africa battiss_market

Walter Battiss: Streetmarket

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It’s great to find good meatball recipes from around the world for the combination of spices and distinctive flavors, but it is even better when I can take the inspiration from another meat dish and create my own recipe.

Additions/Omissions:  did not use cloves

Taste Test:  My country-inspired meatballs are not always perfect on the first try, but this one is pretty good, the spices are nice and sharp.                                                          

Zip Facts about Somalia: 

  • Somalia has the distinction of being the only country in the world without a centralized government (under Xeer, polycentric customary law)
  • Ancient Somalia (Regio Aromatica) was the original home of myrrh and incense
  • Somaliland, in the northern part of the country, is a self-declared country not internationally recognized as an independent nation, but as an autonomous region of Somalia.  The blue field of the Somali flag was influenced by the flag of the U.N.
  • It is considered “the nation of poets”
  • Meat dishes constitute most of the Somali meals but they are under strict Islamic law

Somali MadarMadar Osman

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