Meal 120: Nauru

If you’ve heard of Nauru, it’s likely because of the refugee detention center that Australia operates there. It’s just about the only thing going on economically there, since the decline of the phosphate mines that briefly made the country the richest in the world per capita in the 70s. It’s a strange and sad story, in which a small population decides to turn over most of the island to mining bat guano, making everyone on the island instantly wealthy with no reason to […]

Meal 111: Micronesia

At 1 million square miles with only 100,000-ish people, the Federated States of Micronesia is both huge and tiny. (Obviously, almost all of that square mileage is ocean.) As with much of the rest of the Pacific islands, the traditional bland starches and simply cooked fish aren’t the most stimulating cuisine. Micronesians have swung the pendulum far to the other side, with some really intense and novel uses of imported flavors. (Read below for what they do with ramen and Kool-Aid.) There’s […]

Meal 89: Kiribati

Move over, Equatorial Guinea: Kiribati, a constellation of a few dozen atolls in the heart of the Pacific, now holds the title of Country the Least People Have Heard Of, judging from an unofficial tabulation of “huh?”s and “where’s that?”s as we told friends and family of this meal. Even if you’ve heard of it, you geography nerd you, you’re probably pronouncing it wrong. Say it “KEE-ree-boss,” because it’s really a Polynsianism for Gilberts, the British colonial term for the territory they arbitrarily […]

Meal 58: Fiji

We had been planning this meal with 18 Reasons, a warm and welcoming non-profit community food space in San Francisco, for almost a year. Taking the day off of work to prep and cook with my parents, the larger audience of friends new and old, and the gorgeous organic ingredients from Bi-Rite Market all contributed to a special and gratifying experience. But didn’t really hit me how this meal was operating on an atypical plane until one of the volunteers […]

Week 9: Australia

While Australia is the furthest country in the world from most of the US, my research made it clear that the cuisine there is quite similar to our own — a Western European base with plenty of influences from immigrants around the world. So it took a little asking around to figure out what I could make that would be an only-in-Australia sort of thing. And this is how I learned about the mad genius of the Aussie burger, with […]