Meal 115: Montenegro

While the language, culture, and some of the food of this little seaside country are definitely Slavic, the food of Montenegro evinces a strong Italian influence. It’s the consequence of centuries under Venetian rule and influence, plus the lingering effect of being a hop across the Adriatic from the boot of Italy. The result is a cuisine that is both high in milkfat but that also has a place for delicate flavors. Really, it was quite delicious. Ellenby Ellenby Ellenby […]

Meal 112: Monaco

Another beachside birthday party, another meal from a tiny, rich European country! The principality of Monaco is a Central Park–sized nugget on the French Riviera, whose Italian-sounding name is a giveaway of a linguistic, cultural, and culinary heritage that’s more closely connected to northern Italy than southern France. For such a small place, there’s a surprisingly thorough culinary heritage, which is far better documented online than those of countries several orders of magnitude larger. Of course, it’s squarely within the […]

Meal 106: Malta

Situated between Sicily and Tunisia, this tiny cluster of three islands blends Italian and Arab influences with smatterings of the legacies of the empires that ruled over the centuries. As a linguist I’m fascinated by the Maltese language, which derives its structure and pronunciation from Arabic, yet takes plenty of vocabulary from Italo-Romance and other languages. With food, it’s the opposite: the structure comes from the north, with breads, stews, and pies reminiscent of the cuisine of southern Italy, but with spices and […]

Meal 100: Luxembourg

Food from this little Grand Duchy bordering Belgium, France, and Germany is for sure Germanic, with pork and potatoes, but also with a surprisingly strong showing from fresh beans. It’s also one of the most northerly wine-growing areas in Europe — just about all of which is white — and we Noshers bring our A-game when wine is culturally appropriate. Or preserved meats. For a relatively simple meal from a little country, Luxembourg turned out to be a big occasion! It […]

Meal 99: Lithuania

Bye-bye, Baltics! Lithuania is the southernmost, and alphabetically last, of these three little countries across the sea from Finland. While they do indeed have the roasts and fish and rye breads and casseroles common to this part of the world, happily there were enough local variations that I managed to do a rather different meal from the other two. (Note, no herring!) This meal was also a first in that we had a guest brewer — more on that below! Just […]

Meal 98: Liechtenstein

Liechtenstein is one of two doubly-landlocked countries, meaning that every country it borders is also landlocked. So it was entirely unfitting, then, that we held this meal at a party house on the Oregon coast, as part of the celebrations of Laura’s 30th birthday. Sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, the cuisine is emphatically Alpine Germanic, with dairy products dominating. While this meal wasn’t as grand or as eagerly anticipated as Laura’s previous birthday feasts of Canada, France, and Italy, it was […]

Meal 94: Latvia

Thanks to my grandfather’s Latvian physical therapist, I got plenty of on-the-ground advice. She connected me to folks from back home, so huge thanks to my new Latvian buddies Mara, and particularly Zane, for the help — I’m sure what I ended up cooking was tastier and more authentic because of your suggestions. The heart of Latvian food is similar to its Balkan neighbors’ — fish, preserved and roasted meats, root vegetables, some dairy — though with even more of an emphasis on rye […]

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 76: Iceland

It’s kind of astonishing that people have managed to live in Iceland for over a millennium. Trees don’t grow there — for hundreds of years they could only make boats of driftwood — let alone much else, so its natural cuisine is quite sparse and based mostly on eating things that can survive on what’s around, namely sheep, fish, and whatever random birds can be scrounged up. While there’s plenty of influence from outside these days, the traditional Nordic month […]

Meal 75: Honduras + Holy See

Our first, and only, two-state meal! Here’s why: the Holy See, as the “legal personality” of the Vatican City, is one of two non-member permanent observing states at the UN. The other, Palestine, has a cuisine well worth exploring, but setting aside quips about wine and wafers, there’s nothing distinctive about Vatican cuisine, at least compared to the city of Rome that surrounds it. That said, the next UN country alphabetically happens to be a Catholic one — Honduras — […]