Meal 88: Kenya

We’ve already enjoyed three meals from the Horn of Africa, but it’s taken us until the K’s to start into East Africa proper. It looks a whole lot more like Central African, though I’m happy and relieved to report that we found it quite a bit tastier. As with so many former colonial countries, the borders of Kenya arbitrarily threw a bunch of tribes together. Accordingly, there’s not exactly a national cuisine as such, but there are a few dishes that […]

Meal 84: Jamaica

I was surprised to read in my research for this meal that a lot of Jamaicans wish they’d never gone independent from the United Kingdom, missing the economic stability and lower crime of that bygone era. It turns out that this tropical island, which on the surface is about as different as possible from that European one, has a fair amount more in common with it than you would think, at least through the lens of food. The patty, for […]

Meal 81: Italy

In the estimation of many, Italy is the true heart of Western gastronomy. France gets so much of the glory, but it wasn’t until Catherine de’ Medici of Florence married French King Henry II and brought her chefs with her that their cuisine set on the road to such lofty achievements. A major flaw of going one-meal-per-country is that even the most culinarily interesting and diverse countries only show up once. Well, except for Italian food — thanks to the Holy […]

Meal 79: Iran

We say that with a Nosh we aim to cook a meal appropriate for a special moment or celebration, so it’s great fortune when the calendar aligns with a festival — and even greater when it’s the biggest of the year in the country. Persians have been celebrating Nowruz, the festival of the spring equinox, for millennia, and specific foods play a central (and delicious!) part of the rituals. Nowruz felt to me somewhere between Passover and Thanksgiving, a holiday tightly […]

Meal 78: Indonesia

Indonesia’s all about the islands. It’s got over 17,000 of them, including large parts second- (New Guinea) and third-largest (Borneo) islands in the world. It also has the most populous island — at 141 million people, Java’s population is about the same as Russia’s, in 133 times less area! While it’s generally not much on our radar from a geopolitical or cultural standpoint, it’s played an important role in world, and culinary, history. For millennia traders from the West have […]

Meal 77: India

It’s absurd to squeeze a survey of Indian cuisine into one meal. From Kashmir to Kerala to Kolkata, there’s just a bewildering diversity of flavors, ingredients, and techniques that very well merit a 35-meal tour of all the states and territories. (Ooh, wow, that does sound fun.) I did my best to incorporate as much regional diversity as possible into a single meal, while also creating a cohesive whole that collectively surveys a representative expanse of what’s to be found […]

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 71: Grenada

Until Hurricane Ivan wiped out most of the nutmeg trees, this little speck of a 133-square-mile Caribbean island country was the world’s number two producer of the spice. It’s become so important to the culture and economy of Grenada that there’s a nutmeg on the flag. Beyond the focus on this spice, Grenadian food is closely related to that of its neighbors, with a strong focus on root vegetables and the greens that they produce. Our guests were Rachna, Lisa, […]

Meal 69: Guinea-Bissau

If you know anything about Guinea-Bissau, chances are it’s the dubious media-granted title of “the world’s first narco-state” and the ensuing coup. Conveniently located just a few days’ boating from South America, the small former Portuguese colony has become a waystation for drugs en route to Europe. The army not only consents but participates, increasingly so since last year’s coup. Not surprisingly, the money hasn’t reached the people; Guinea-Bissau is among the least-developed countries in the world. While the country is […]

Meal 52: Ecuador

Ecuador is kind of on the small side — a bit larger than the UK, a bit smaller than Nevada — but its borders contain three distinct zones: seaside, Andes, and Amazon. Hence, there’s quite a lot of variety in the foods available. (There’s also Galápagos way out in the Pacific, but we’re not eating any of their rare wildlife.) Some of the major themes are shared with its Andean neighbors: abundant potatoes, warming foods, and the ubiquitous Inca Kola, […]