Meal 118: Namibia

Namibia is a dry place. Most of it is desert, the best-known of which being the Kalahari, with a little strip classified as “semi-arid.” In such an environment, few vegetables grow, so for thousands of years people living in this part of the world have relied on animals to turn meager grasses and shrubs into edible food. Accordingly, everyone, including the poor, makes meat a large portion of their diet, so naturally this meal featured meat in several forms.  It was hard […]

Meal 114: Mozambique

Wherever the Portuguese colonized, the exchange of ingredients and dishes was intense. Mozambique’s spicy grilled chicken spread throughout the empire, becoming beloved from Lisbon to Goa, while bread is still baked everywhere throughout the Southern African country. I was also struck by how, even though the country is halfway around the world, this was one of the easiest meals to shop for, as every ingredient is available at a standard American supermarket. This was our second Nosh at Laura’s parents’ place on Anderson Island […]

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 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 85: Japan

Japanese cuisine is a real delight of variety of cooking technique, flavor balance, textures and seasonal sensitivity, which is why it’s a shame that most Westerners only know it through the narrow (though tasty!) lens of sushi. Accordingly, for this meal, the last at our Brooklyn apartment, I resolved to get nowhere near the stuff, and instead showcase an admittedly small fraction of the rest of what’s on offer, with an inclination toward traditional summertime foods. Having come of age […]

Meal 83: Israel

One way to look at cuisine is the interface between what foods are available and the cultures of the people who live there. We get a fascinating case study in the foods of Israel, a young country in an ancient land, with most of its population zero to two generations removed from some other place, whether near or very far. Israeli food is very much not what we think of in the U.S. as “Jewish food,” for a few good reasons. I […]

Meal 82: Iraq

Look beyond the horrible news coming out of the country these days, or the past few decades — way, way beyond, because agriculture and civilization in the lands that now comprise Iraq goes back at least ten thousand years. The soils along the Tigris and Euphrates river are fertile and relatively moist, and the surrounding lands held forth wild grasses that became such staple grains as wheat and barley, and soon after domesticated animals, and writing, and even beer. The cuisine of Iraq has […]

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 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 64: Georgia

“In the center of Tbilisi, the capital, there is a statue of a woman with a sword in one hand, and wine in the other. It shows how, if you come in war, the Georgians are so fierce the women as well as the men will fight you. But if you come in peace, you’re invited to feast.” Throughout the evening, on our friend Mark’s rooftop in Williamsburg, was punctuated by two periodic events: the rumbling of the elevated J […]