My Global Food Challenge

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Burkina Faso

burkina faso-flagGinger confit? Not having any formal training and learning as I go, I have heard about, but never made, duck confit. But ginger confit, was this a condiment or a method of cooking?

Confit comes from the French “confire” (to preserve), and was originally a way to slow cook foods like meats, fruits, and vegetables, and store in the sugary or fatty liquid to to form a barrier to bacterial growth. I recently learned that there is a big difference between barbecue and grilling (I probably watch a little too much “Chopped” on Food Network), and I believe the same analogy had been made between confit and deep frying, a matter of time and temperature. Low and slow, with the fat temperature between 190 and 200 degrees F.

So maybe it is just semantics, preparing a ginger “confit” to confit the chicken.

Additions/Omissions:  Always on the lookout for good substitutions for fish sauce (see link below for recipe)

Taste Test:  Very good

Zip Facts about Burkina Faso:

  • Formerly Upper Volta, named for the headwaters of three waterways, the Black, White, and Red Volta Rivers, Burkina Faso gained independence from France in 1960
  • Burkina Faso is second to South Africa in its production of GMO crops. As a landlocked country south of the Sahara Desert, drought is a major concern
  • In the Moore language, the country’s name means “Land of Incorruptible (or Honorable Men”)
  • Fertility rates in Burkina Faso are very high, Burkinake women average six children which has increased the population drastically in the last century
  • Africa’s most prominent film festival, the biennial Fespaco is held in Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso HarounaHarouna Ouédraogo

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benin-flagI found recipes for chicken, with peanuts and red palm oil.  This is the first time I have come across red palm oil in cooking, despite the fact that I have done scientific research on isolated and purified vitamin constituents, particularly vitamin E tocotrienols, like those found in red palm oil.  I wasn’t sure of the taste, but the health benefits are well documented.

I wanted to translate those ingredients and flavors into a pretty tasty meatball.  I generally come up with a meatball recipe whenever I am craving a pasta dinner, especially when I am searching for recipes from a country that does not normally cook or eat pasta.  The trick is to balance the taste and texture when adding different ingredients.   Sometimes with ground chicken it is a little more difficult than ground beef, pork, or lamb to maintain the proper consistency as meatballs.

Additions/Omissions:  My recipe

Taste Test:  Good flavor and texture

Zip Facts about Benin:

  • From 1960 to 1975, the Republic of Benin was known as Dahomey. The name Benin comes from the Bight of Benin, a bay in the Gulf of Guinea
  • The magical religion Voodoo, still practiced in parts of Benin, derives its name from the word “vodun” which, in the Fon language of the Beninese, means “god” or “spirit”
  • ‘A rose by any other name…’ the capital city of Benin is known as the “City with Three Names”: Porto-Novo, Adjatche, and Hogbonou
  • When greeting, men shake with their right hands, and deference is given to the eldest person
  • For the Beninese, the main economic activity was farming and because many hands were needed on the family farms, the incidences of polygamy increased

Benin RafiyRafiy Okefolahan, “Children At Play”

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Zip Facts about Chile:

  • Chile boasts the driest place, the Atacama Desert; the highest lake, the crater lake (Lake Chungara) of Ojos del Salado; and the highest historically active volcano, the Ojos del Salado volcano, on Earth
  • The Chinchorro mummies, considered the oldest mummies in the world, were discovered in Chile
  • Chile may have the lowest divorce rates in the world, possibly because divorce was not legalized there until 2005
  • It is also referred to as país de poetas (country of poets) by the people of Chile, mainly for their two Nobel Prize Laureates, Gabriela Mistral (1945) and Pablo Neruda (1971)
  • Easter Island, a Polynesian island and Chilean territory far off the west coast, is famous for its 887 giant moai figures carved from volcanic stone

Chile roberto-matta-bringing-the-light-without-painRoberto Matta – “Bringing Light without Pain” (1955)

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dominica-flagChicken and fruit? What could be bad about that? A prepared mango chutney was listed in the ingredients, but I had the time to make one from scratch (see the Caribbean chutney recipe). In one of my Food Network marathons, I watched Geoffrey Zakarian, one of my all-time favorite chefs, easily cut a mango from its pit, close to the pit on the flat sides and trim to the pit on the other sides. Obvious, until you are working with a slippery mango.

Additions/Omissions:   Considering my family’s palates, I tend to go easy on the peppers, so half of a Habañero pepper was plenty for the chutney, and I omitted the mustard seed. I also used ripe ginger, since I had it on hand.

Taste Test: The chicken and mango salad were excellent, and despite the substitutions and omissions, so was the chutney.

Zip Facts about the Dominica:

  • Major scenes from both “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” and “POTC: At World’s End” were filmed in Dominica
  • The economy of Dominica relies heavily on banana production and exportation. Tourism serves as a needed boost when banana values drop.  Watch out for the many inhabitants that carry cutlasses (machetes) around town
  • Dominica comes from the Latin word meaning “Sunday”, the country’s original name is Wai’tukubuli, which translates as “tall is her body”
  • Since 1978, Ross University (associated with DeVry USA) has been successfully educating the world’s doctors
  • “Boiling Lake”, in Dominica, is the world’s second largest hot spring

Dominica MarcellePauline Marcelle, “Bend Down Boutique 61” (2012)

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Dominican Republic

dominican republic-flagAdditions/Omissions:  

Taste Test:                                                                                                  

Zip Facts about the Dominican Republic:

  • Dominican Republic (DR) is considered the oldest country of the Americas, reached first in 1492 by Christopher Columbus. It is the second largest Caribbean island (after Cuba)
  • The Amber Museum in Puerto Plata holds the amber with the trapped mosquito that appeared in the movie, “Jurassic Park”
  • Baseball, golf, and big game fishing are very popular in the Dominican Republic which sport some of the best golf courses in the world and has nurtured some of the best baseball players
  • Because DR grows, farms, or catches almost all foods served for meals there, it is considered the “breadbasket of the Caribbean”
  • Mamajuana, a DR drink similar to port wine and considered an aphrodisiac, contains rum, red wine, tree bark, herbs, and honey

Domican Rep Olivia Peguero Life SeasonsOlivia Peguero – “Life Seasons” (2003)

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Taste Test:                                                                                                  

Zip Facts about Ethiopia:

  • Ethiopia is the only country in Africa with its own alphabet which consists of 209 symbols and 25 letter variants
  • Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent country. Its capital, Addis Ababa, means “new flower” in Amharic
  • Ethiopians mark time in a slightly different way than most of the world, they are the only country that follow the Julian calendar, 12 months of 30 days and a 13th month of 5 or 6 days, and roughly 7.5 years behind the Gregorian calendar. Time is measured from when the sun rises, so 6 am would be 12 o’clock, and noon and midnight are 6:00 in Ethiopia
  • Only two nations in the world have never been colonized, Russia and Ethiopia. Ethiopia was briefly occupied by Italy from 1936 to 1941
  • Coffee was discovered in the Kaffa region of Ethiopia

Ethiopia desta2

Desta Hagos, the first Ethiopian woman to have a solo art exhibition

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Equatorial Guinea

equatorial guinea-flagAdditions/Omissions:  

Taste Test:                                                                                                  

Zip Facts about Equatorial Guinea:

  • Equatorial Guinea is the smallest country in Africa that is also a member of the United Nations, the country actually straddles the equator with the mainland to the north
  • The national symbol is the silk cotton tree, featured on the coat of arms of Equatorial Guinea, under which Spanish settlers and a native leader signed the first treaty
  • The coat of arms also contains six stars which represent the six major land areas, including Río Muni (or Mbini) on the mainland, and five islands: Bioko, Corisco, Great Elobey, Little Elobey, and Annobón.
  • To cleanse the community of evil, Bubi farmers still celebrate the ancient tradition of the abira, which includes music and dance, a pot of water at the entrance to the village and amulets placed outside the village for protection
  • The bride becomes part of the husband’s family after marriage, and a dowry is still given to the family of the bride

EG Leandro Mbomio Nsue - Oeuvre 1Don Leandro Mbomio Nsue (1938-2010), “Elat Ayong (Union del Pueblo)”

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