My Global Food Challenge

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brazil-flagInspired by the ingredients in Brazilian salads, my dislike of mayonnaise, and my fondness for German potato salad, I decided to make a Brazilian potato salad, using a German hot salad as a base.  Because green olives were an important component, I thought I would substitute olive brine for the vinegar in the dressing.  I regularly use olive brine in my cold tuna salads, and tend to use vinegars very sparingly.  I really got excited about the idea and was anticipating the unique flavors but, unfortunately, I did not have a bottle of olives on hand for this recipe.  I had to forgo the olives and the olive brine and resort to white wine vinegar.

Additions/Omissions:  I made the full 2 cups of marinade, but used about 1 1/2 cups.  If using the marinade for this recipe only, you could half the ingredients.  It could be used for leg of lamb or lamb shanks, I used the marinade for cooking only, as I described in my recipe for lamb shanks.

Taste Test:  The marinade was excellent, and the salad was good, but I am looking forward to trying it again with brine.

Zip Facts about Brazil:

  • Formerly known as Ilha de Vera Cruz (Island of the Real Cross) and Terra de Santa Cruz (Land of the Holy Cross), Brazil gets its current name from the Pau Brasil tree or Brazilwood
  • Brazil is the longest and the fifth largest country in the world (by area), and it is the largest country in South America. Sao Paulo is the largest Japanese city outside of Japan
  • The Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the seven wonders of the modern world along with the Great Wall of China, Petra in Jordan, the Pyramid at Chichen Itza, Machu Picchu in Peru, the Taj Mahal in Agra India, and the Roman Colosseum in Rome Italy
  • Brazil is definitely soccer crazy, winner the World Cup more than any other nation and a soccer stadium can be found in every Brazilian city
  • In Brazilian society, gender differences are clearly delineated, female beauty is highly prized and male machismo is expected

Brazil volpiAlfredo Volpi (1896-1988) – “Fachada”

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cyprus-flagThere are many things to consider when exploring the world’s cuisine, especially the conversions of ingredient quantities and oven temperatures, as well as the vocabularies of many different languages.  Despite my years of French, I still had to look up courgettes (zucchini), but recognized aubergines (eggplant) from a previous recipe.

Additions/Omissions: used eggplant but left out zucchini, would have been wonderful with both; used bay leaf and ground lamb.  Once all of the ingredients were cooked, the assembly was quite simple and fun to do.

Taste Test:  the moussaka was very good, but I don’t think the bechamel worked out as well as it should have.  I would definitely check out other bechamel recipes in the future and adjust for the change.  The salad was excellent.

Zip Facts about Cyprus:

  • Cyprus is the home of Mount Olympus and the birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, who rose from the sea at Petra tou Romiou in Pafo
  • Cyprus once belonged to Cleopatra as a gift from Mark Antony
  • Perfume most probably originated in Cyprus, alabaster bottles with traces of perfume scented with aromatics such as coriander, rosemary, bay, and lavender were discovered in a large underground cave in Pyrgos
  • The Cyprus Mufflon is a wild sheep that roams the mountainsides only in Cyprus
  • It is believed that Cyprus produced the oldest wine in the world, Commandaria, a sweet red wine

cyprus ruzen1Ruzen Atakan – “Silent”

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djibouti-flagI am not sure why bananas and plantains give me such a hard time. I do eat bananas occasionally, but I really don’t care for plantains.  Either way, with the exception of peeling plantains, they should be easy to work with in both savory and sweet dishes.  I did not make the Banana Fritters from Djibouti, but left the recipe here anyway.  The only bananas available were still quite green. Being curious to see if they still could be used for this dish,  I peeled one and tasted it.  I was surprised to find it was more like peeling a plantain than an unripened banana.  And the taste..

Additions/Omissions:   used red chili paste for fresh chilis

Taste Test: the rice dish was very good, but I do want to discourage anyone from tasting a really green banana, although I don’t think I could put the flavor into words.  Chalk comes to mind, and definitely not sweet chalk, it is probably one of the worst things I have tasted in a long time.  Which is surely a good thing, since I am very far into this challenge.

Zip Facts about Djibouti:

  • At 52 feet below sea level, Lac (Lake) Assal is the lowest point in Djibouti and the lowest point in Africa. The heavy salinity of the lake (greater than the Dead Sea) allows for salt mining used personally and commercially
  • Djibouti, from the word “gabouti” (a palm fiber doormat), was named after the bottom of the Gulf of Tadjoura
  • Djibouti is the third smallest country in Africa (after Gambia and Swaziland) with the least number of inhabitants
  • A favorite national pastime is qat chewing, a medicinal plant with mildly narcotic properties
  • Young Djibouti poets follow the long tradition of composing and memorizing 100 line Somali forms of epic poetry called gabay

djibouti arts21-300x239Abdul-Wahab Youssouf

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Zip Facts about Iceland:

  • There are no military forces in Iceland. The unemployment rate is very low, and crime here is minimal
  • Iceland exhibits better gender equality than many other countries, women are welcomed into the workforce, politics, and the clergy
  • There is long-standing support for the arts with several artists attaining “state artist” status with government funded studios, which will eventually revert to public museums
  • Iceland has full 24 hours of sunlight during June and July and many Icelanders enjoy midnight sun outdoor activities
  • One of the most popular foods in Iceland is Skyr, a very soft cheese with the consistency of yogurt, high in protein with almost no fat

Iceland Matthiasdottir_Woman_in_Street2

Louisa Matthíasdóttir, “Woman in Street” (c. 1980)

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Zip Facts about Iraq:

  • Arabs in Iraq have names which start with their first name, followed by their father’s name, their paternal grandfather’s name, and lastly their family name. Women normally do not take their husband’s name
  • “The Thousand and One Nights”, a collection of Arab folk tales from Iraq which includes the famous stories of “The Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor”, “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves”, and Aladdin and the Magic Lamp”. tells of Scheherazade who marries a king who had disposed of his previous wives. To stay alive, she tells him a story each night for 1001 nights, leaving the ends as cliffhangers
  • The meat in an Iraqi meal is commonly sheep or goat, and includes organ meat, along with the feet, eyes, and ears.   The main meal may start with an appetizer, such as kebabs, and end with a salad and khubaz (a buttered flat wheat bread)
  • Iraq is the purported birthplace of Abraham and Isaac’s wife Rebekah and the site of the biblical Garden of Eden
  • Traditional marriages are still arranged, although urban couples prefer to find their own spouse. In about half of the cases, preference is given to first and second cousins

Iraq wasimaWasima Al-Agha (a thought-provoking depiction of Iraqi women)

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Zip Facts about Morocco:
  • Every Friday in Morocco (‘Al-Mamlaka al-Maghribiya’ or “The Western Kingdom”), everyone eats couscous, the national dish
  • In Morocco, it is considered as impolite to refuse “meat” as it is to handle food with the left hand. Meals are served when seated on cushions around a low table
  • John the Baptist is said to be buried in the tomb of the Shrine of Sidi Yahya in Oujda city
  • The oldest degree-granting university in the world, Al Karaouine (al-Qarawiyyin) University was founded in 859 in Fez, Morocco by Fatima al-Fihri as a mosque for her community
  • Marrakech (“Land of God”) has traditionally served as a base for resting and supply of camel caravans. In the sixties, it became a key stop on the “hippy trail”

Morocco Image_050-2-410x410Ahlam Lemseffer – mixed media on board



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Zip Facts about Oman:

  • Oman is an inherited absolute monarchy, the sultan and prime minister is the chief of state and the head of government
  • The Omani deserts seem to be a magnet for meteorites falling to earth, especially from Mars
  • Even though the Sultanate of Oman joined the United Nations in 1971, the government did not allow tourists to enter the country until the 1900s
  • Oman is famous for the shrub, Myrtus communis (yas), the leaves of which are often used to create perfume.
  • The hirz is a necklace worn by Omani women for protection and for holding verses from the Koran

Oman work-in-the-beauty-of-civilization-p1-mask9Raya Saleh Al Manji

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