My Global Food Challenge

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andorra-flagThis is one of the first times I have even thought to mix veal with chicken, I have mixed veal with beef many times before.  I do like to “marry” pastas on occasion, mixing sizes and textures, although I usually stick to the “rigati” (or lined) pastas.  I also don’t mix pasta and rice often, except to make a pilaf.  All in all, it was comfort food, lots of meat and vegetables for a two pot meal.

Additions/Omissions: no ham or pork

Taste Test: The stew was very good without the background of pork, but I am certain it would have been better with it.

Zip Facts about Andorra:

  • Andorra, bordered by France and Spain, is located in the Pyrenees Mountains. Because of this, its inhabitants have adapted a mountain society from its sociopolitical and economic movements to its urban rule, where 30% of all facades are to be constructed of stone masonry
  • The cultures of both countries have provided dualistic influences in many of the traditions and activities of the Andorran people, such as in language, public education, and currency (see French and Spanish Andorran stamps below). However, political and civil societies are trying to consolidate an Andorran national identity
  • The Andorran diet consists mainly of meat, fish and vegetables with popular winter dishes such as escudella (a stew of chicken and veal) and trinxat (potatoes and cabbage). The cuisine is predominantly Catalan
  • Andorra is one of the few countries in the world which boasts a 100% literacy rate
  • Andorra is a duty free zone, but without an airport. You can travel by plane to Barcelona, which is the nearest one

Andorra 97-ciutat flotan4Helena Guàrdia – “Proof of the existence of the floating city”  structure with photograph (2011)

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belgium-flagBooyah Chicken! This particular recipe came from a military base in Belgium and seems to be a fitting name for the dish.  However, the name Booyah does not come from the military.  The dish originated in Belgium and was brought to the northeastern part of Wisconsin in 1853 by Belgian immigrants.  It is a very hearty soup/stew made primarily with chicken but may include other meats, and has been referred to fondly as “Belgian Penicillin.”  There is some discussion about the origin of the name, some say it comes from the word “bouillon” or the French word “bouillir”, others insist that it comes from “bouyu” in the Belgian Walloon language.

Additions/Omissions: For usual reasons in this challenge, I did not use the pork and left out the rosemary.  Since the dinner fell during Passover, I had to leave out the peas (legumes) and the green beans (different groups say that green beans are OK for Passover since they do not soak up water and swell like other beans).  But when in doubt, leave it out.  I also cut the chicken and beef, before boiling, into small bite-size pieces.

Taste Test: very good, the smaller chunks of chicken and beef kept them very tender

Zip Facts about Belgium:

  • Belgium, considered one of the “low countries” with land at or below sea level, is populated by two major groups, the Flemish and the Walloons
  • Stamp collecting and model trains are popular pastimes for Belgians, who are known traditionally for crafts such as lacemaking, tapestry, pottery, hand puppets and marionettes
  • On Shrove Tuesday in Binche, the “March of the Gilles” parades men in padded costumes and white hats with ostrich plumes who pelt spectators with oranges and bags of water
  • The Cat Festival of Ypres celebrates the medieval overpopulation of cats that were brought into town to “fix” the rat infestation. Revelers toss stuffed toy cats off the rooftops to mimic the “fixing” of the cat problem
  • Among the very popular dishes in Belgium are the carbonades of beef stewed in Belgian beer. In addition to over 300 varieties of beer, Belgian specialties include chocolate and wafflesBelgium 3311_o_alfred_stevens

Alfred Stevens (1823-1906) – A Japanese from Paris (1872)

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belarus-flagIts been a great opportunity this year for holiday celebrations to look for a global recipe that might fit or enhance the festive meal. Well, Belarus coincided with Passover and I found one for a Byelorussian Kolduny Potato Pancake stuffed with ground meat. I did have some ground beef in the fridge

I followed the directions for the pancakes exactly, using a grinder to make the potato “batter” and, although it was smooth, I could not “form” the batter into pancakes with the amount of flour recommended. I was hesitant to add that much more flour so I altered the cooking method, finishing all the pancakes in the pan on one side, flipping them, and added the meat patties. I covered the patty with the cooked side of the second pancake, then flipped the whole stuffed pancake. They were finished off in the oven and kept in the warming drawer until the meal.

Additions/Omissions: did not use the ground chicken so doubled the beef, chicken would have added more moisture to the patty

Taste Test: I obviously had some difficulty with this recipe, using ground chicken might have helped with the juiciness of the patty, but the recipe was scaled down so it is possible that the consistency issues of the pancakes resulted from this adjustment. I do not think that the ratio of flour to potato batter worked well here. All in all, the overall taste wasn’t bad, but I would probably look for a different recipe, if I ever made this again.

Zip Facts about Belarus:

  • Called Belarus since the 12th C, Belarus has fought hard for its independence, from its Russian takeover in the 18th C, its 1918 independent Belarusan Democratic Republic declaration, overthrown again to become the Belarussian Soviet Socialist Republic, which joined the Soviet Union in 1922 and seceded in 1991
  • In Belarus, rites of passage into adulthood include graduations from high school and from college and entry into military service and are grandly celebrated
  • Many popular Belarusan dishes are made with potatoes, which are plentiful and can be prepared in a great variety of ways. Hot borscht (originally from Ukraine) which is a traditional soup of beetroot and cabbage, is served as a first course in the winter months, and a cold dish in warmer weather
  • Both Christmas and Easter are very important holidays in Belarus and are celebrated traditionally with food, performances, and religious services. Christmas (Kolady) starts with a special meal on Christmas Eve (Kootia) with a dozen or more Lenten dishes served in order, a portion of which is set aside for familial ancestors
  • Belarusian straw weaving, an art form from the 17th and 18th C which created intricate figures and traditional animals presumably for nature worship, was revived in the mid 20th C by contemporary artists for more abstract expressions

belarus - savitskyMikhail Savitsky ‘Partisan Madonna (of Minsk)’. 1978. Oil on canvas. National Art Museum of the Republic of Belarus

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Bosnia and Herzegovina

bosnia-flagI have learned a few things about cooking with wine and other alcohols by exploring these global recipes and by watching some of my favorite chefs on the Food Network, the Cooking Channel, or Create.   I have known for many years that the first rule in cooking with wine is to choose one that you like to drink and not a “cooking wine,” although I have to admit that I do have a bottle or two of “good” cooking wines in my pantry for “emergency” situations.   You need to consider the extra salts and additives, if you elect to use them and certainly do so sparingly.  A few more tips:  use wine for marinating vegetables and meats (or use at room temperature to tenderize), use for basting with melted butter or oil, and make sure to reduce wine slowly over low heat in pan or pot to evaporate alcohol (1/2 cup of wine down to 2 tablespoons reduction).

Additions/Omissions: used beef and veal and a really good Sauvignon Blanc for stew.  I did change the cooking method, as I sometimes do, either using a crock pot or Dutch oven for soups and stews.  For this stew, which requires layering of flavors, I used a Dutch oven which I started on medium heat on the stovetop and finished in a preheated 350oC oven for about an hour.

Taste Test: very good

Zip Facts about Bosnia and Herzegovina:

  • When the XIV Olympic Winter Games were held in 1984 in Sarajevo, the capital city, it was the first Winter Olympics to be held in a communist country, then Yugoslavia. Bosnia and Herzegovina gained their independence from Yugoslavia in 1992
  • The official currency, the Bosnian Convertible Mark (BAM), cannot be bought or exchanged outside of the country
  • The difference between a Bosnian and a Herzegovinian is not an ethnic distinction, but a regional one
  • “Celebratory gunfire” is still shot into the air before and after big events such as weddings and birth receptions
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina boasts the world’s tenth highest coffee consumption per capital. Rakija, Bosnian plum brandy, generally thought to have “health” benefits, is consumed and offered to guests with abandon

Bosnia MicaMica Todorović (1900-1984) – called “the first lady of Bosnian and Herzegovinian painting”

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Taste Test:                                                                                                    

Zip Facts about Colombia:

  • Colombia is not only known for its coffee, but also for its emeralds, and produces over 90% of the world’s supply. It is the second largest exporter of fresh cut flowers, and the third largest producer of women’s lingerie
  • The national tree of Colombia is the Quindio Wax palm, which is the tallest palm tree on Earth
  • The right to vote was given to the women of Colombia in 1975
  • Colombia is second only to Brazil in its mega biodiversity, and has more endemic species than any other country
  • Colombia is also known for its infamous son, Pablo Escobar, whose Medellín Cartel drug empire reigned supreme during the 80s and 90s

Colombia omar2_fullOmar Rayo Reyes (1928–2010) – geometric optic art

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Here it is again, bitter orange juice (Naranja agria), a sour citrus fruit used as a meat marinade and a great flavor addition to many Caribbean dishes.  The last time a recipe called for naranja agria, I used a 1:1 orange/lime juice mix and the flavors were definitely there.  But this time I was fortunate to find it in a local supermarket

Additions/Omissions:  For the steaks, I used rib-eye and used tam-tam onion crackers that I had on hand for the crust.  While it was more coarsely ground and had a bit of a sticking issue, it had a great mouth feel and taste on the steak.  For the potatoes, I wasn’t sure if the skin needed to be on or off, so I left them on as very good way to change up a baked potato.  Fifteen minutes did not seem like enough time to adequately crush the potatoes, so into the microwave it went.

Taste Test:  Steak and potatoes excellent

Zip Facts about the Cuba:

  • In the indigenous Taino, Cuba’s capital “Havana” is translated as “great place” which seems fitting for the largest city, not only in Cuba, but in the entire Caribbean
  • Cuba is known for its music. Son, the main musical form, combines upbeat rhythms with classical guitar.  Fidel Castro unveiled a John Lennon Statue in John Lennon Park in 2000
  • Baseball and dominoes are extremely popular in Cuba
  • Education, food and healthcare are free and readily available in Cuba. Students need to pass three core exams (Math, Spanish, and the history of Cuba) to enter their university of choice.  The highest doctor-to-population ratio in the world exists here
  • Cuba is home to the world’s smallest bird, the Bee Hummingbird, the adult only growing to approximately 2 inches in length. Cuba boasts the smallest frog as well

cuba Amelia-Pelaez-Las-Hermanas-1943Amelia Pelaez – “Las Hermanas” (1943)

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Czech Republic

czech republic-flagWhile I really haven’t taken many short cuts so far, there are some days when I have more time constraints than others.  I wanted to make the pierogis, but hesitated because of the homemade pastry aspect, until I found this “Cheater Pierogi” recipe from Chef John using wonton wrappers.

Additions/Omissions: For the stuffed peppers, I left out the sour cream as usual and for the pierogis, I used beef bacon and different cheese blends, but did not use the sour cream and chives.

Taste Test: While the sauce was obviously redder and less creamy, it still worked out well, and was wonderful with the stuffed peppers.  

Zip Facts about Czech Republic:

  • Austrians Gregor Mendel, the Father of Genetics, and Sigmund Freud, the Father of Psychoanalysis, were both born in the Czech Republic
  • According to Czech etiquette on entering a building, a man is required to let his female companion enter first unless it is a restaurant
  • On St. Václav Day, during the last weekend of September, Czech families participate in the national passion of competitive mushroom hunting
  • The Czech Republic boasts the world’s largest per capita beer drinkers
  • After Slovenia, Czech Republic is the second richest country in Eastern Europe

Czech Andre Dluhos Tutt'Art@ (50)Andre Dluhos

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