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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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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bhutan-flagKewa Datshi (potatoes with chillies and cheese) is a favorite Bhutanese dish, made with sun dried red and green chillies and local semi-dry cottage cheese.  The recipe I chose called for chili powder, which I used, but I am sure it would even be better with red and green chillies. There are other “Datshi” dishes you might also like to try: Ema Datshi, which are just the chilies with cheese, or add mushrooms to the basic recipe for Shamu Datshi.

Additions/Omissions:   I used equal parts of swiss and gruyere for the Kewa Datshi.

Taste Test: The chicken and cucumber dishes were also good.

Zip Facts about Bhutan:

  • Bhutan is a landlocked country and is considered one of the most isolated nations in the world, not only because of its geography but also intentionally to preserve its identity, traditional culture, and its environment
  • Business Week named Bhutan the happiest country in Asia and eight on the list of the happiest nations in the world
  • Bhutan is the only country in the world where tobacco sales are banned. Television and internet access were also banned until 1999
  • Colors denote social class and status in Bhutan’s mandatory dress code, traditional dress is knee-length for men and ankle-length for women
  • Polygamy is legal in Bhutan, but not very common. Marrying foreigners is not permissible

Bhutan IMG_1483Phurba Namgay, “Dragon Has Nice Tail”

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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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Zip Facts about Croatia:

  • The island of Brac supplied the Croatian stone that built the White House in Washington, DC
  • The Croats of Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina say “Bog” for both hello and good-bye, the literal translation of which is “God”
  • The necktie, or cravat (which is derived from the word “Croat”, was invented in Croatia
  • Dalmatians, also known as the Dubrovnik hunter dog, originally came from the Dalmatian coast in Croatia
  • The voting age in Croatia is 16 for the employed and 18 for those without a job

Croatia 0449Milivoj Uzelac, “The Girl in the Boat” (1926/1927)

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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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