Meal 123: Nicaragua

I try not to knock the countries whose food we cook, but I have to admit I’ve generally found Central American food to be pretty boring. The Nicaraguan food we cooked mostly fits the pattern, with one huge exception: enormous, overloaded, rich nacatamales. The variety of ingredients, from raisins to olives to rice to pork, is so enshrined in each family’s recipe that it’s like canon; as one fourth-generation nacatamal vendor put it, “We don’t innovate. We make everything step-by-step the way […]

Meal 102: Malawi

Malawi’s a landlocked country in southern Africa, hugging the lake with which it shares a name. And Laura’s sister’s husband just so happened to do Peace Corps there, so Scott provided some enthusiastic and thorough advice on what to cook. Joining us for the meal were Brett, Kaely, Lisa, Audrey, Elizabeth, Amy, and Jérémy and his French companions. Nali sauce Probably the single food item that other Africans will recognize from Malawi is this notoriously spicy chili sauce. While there’s a site in […]

Meal 80: Ireland

I thought this was going to be a meal of corned beef and raisin-studded soda bread. I quickly learned that that would be perhaps the meal of an Irish immigrant in America, but not really one to be found on the Emerald Isle. You’ll see why! The diet of Ireland is a very economical one, based on its damp, gray climate. Potatoes, of course, are the main starch, carrots and cabbage the primary vegetables, and protein coming from milk and […]

Meal 72: Haiti

Have you ever pondered what would have happened if something went differently at a given point in history? Compared with the rest of the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is sort of a real-life example of contrarian history. The crux is a slave revolt against French colonial masters that, incredibly, led to independence in 1804. The slave system was ruthless and required a constant influx of slaves, which had the silver-lining consequence of a strong syncretic culture quickly developing that combined French […]

Meal 65: Germany

What a convergence — my 30th birthday, the one-third point for United Noshes, a gorgeous day, an apartment with a backyard…and a cuisine and culture renowned for good cheer around food. While German food rarely makes the rounds of haute cuisine, for those who enjoy meat and beer it’s a wonderful, homey way to get a lot of calories. New York City used to have a distinct German immigrant population. Much like Chinatown today, Kleindeutschland in the Lower East Side and […]

Meal 57: Estonia

Vikings, Russians, Swedes, Poles, Russians, Germans, Soviets… pretty much, if you were an empire within a few hundred kilometers of Estonia, you probably had dominion over this small country at some point. But things are now going well for the Estonians, who emerged from the USSR with a bang, and now enjoy a strong economy, EU membership, strong civil liberties, and Internet access so pervasive they have online voting. (Thankfully this made finding recipes a lot easier than expected!) Estonia’s […]

Meal 55: Eritrea

This wedge-shaped country on the Red Sea has seen a tumultuous history, especially in the past decade and a half: colonization by Italy after the opening of the Suez Canal, being stapled to its larger neighbor Ethiopia in the 1930s when the Italians invaded there too; a thirty-year war for independence that finally ended in 1991; and since then a highly autocratic government that is intolerant of any dissent. (Oh, and a border war with Ethiopia for good measure in […]

Meal 54: El Salvador

After a three-week trip to India, where our senses were entranced with spices, I was afraid that Salvadorean food would prove mild and uninteresting. While it’s true that pupusas are a pretty straightforward food, I was surprised by the creative combination of ingredients, such as aged cheese in dessert, cloves in a soup, and coriander seed in a drink. While the food of this small, dense, Pacific-facing nation shares most of its base ingredients with its Latin American neighbors, a […]

Meal 43: DPR Korea

Nothing about making a North Korean meal is easy. First of all, it’s even hard to find someone from North Korea to talk to: estimates say that only 14,000 people have managed to escape the totalitarian state in the 59 years since the end of the Korean War, and there’s virtually zero Internet access within the country. Secondly, except for a particular noodle dish, most (South) Koreans aren’t really aware of which of the foods they eat originated across the DMZ. […]

Meal 23: Botswana

We were super fortunate to have a Botswanan on hand! Ssebbaale, from the north of this large but sparsely populated country in southern Africa,  is a colleague of previous nosher Jessica. Not only did he share recipes before coming — which was very helpful since there’s precious little online in the way of Botswanan recipes — but he also brought spices he’d recently picked up back home. And those spices made all the difference in giving the dishes a lovely, […]