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 110: Mexico

Just like other great cuisines like Chinese and French, there’s plenty of regional variety in Mexico’s food. And just like rice with Chinese and bread with French food, there’s a ubiquitous starch tying it all together, in this case tortillas. This meal’s menu is an attempt at a sample of regional foods, all while trying to get good variety at the table. From the oven-baked, olivey-sauced huachinango a la veracruzana representing the Caribbean coast’s fish and heavy colonial influence, to the annatto-coated […]

Meal 90: Kuwait

When I asked my parents if we could host the Kuwait nosh at their house while visiting over Thanksgiving, I had no idea that their new neighbor across the street, Amira, had grown up in Kuwait! The happy coincidence made planning and cooking this meal a dream, especially because Amira’s father Al, now living in northern Wisconsin, was more than happy to dictate his family recipe for a chicken-and-rice dish with a great deal of precise advice. Amira taught me a […]

Meal 66: Greece

Greece has seen myriad civilizations, invaders, and influences over the millennia, and a climate in which most anything can grow, all of which have contributed to a cuisine that is both abundantly flavored and for the most part extremely healthy. It’s also built to be sampled in abundance, with a wide range of mezedes for nibbling and sharing. Fortunately, most of these dishes didn’t need to be served piping hot, which made it a little less insane to prepare ten dishes in […]

Meal 60: France

No single country has contributed more to the world of cuisine than France. For sure, folks around the world have figured out how to cook food and serve it, but it’s the French who codified the process and lent us words like chef, sauté, and restaurant. France enjoys a unique physical situation, with both the olive-oil-pressing Mediterranean and the butter-churning north, coastlines teeming with sea life as well as rich interior lands for grazing livestock, and a variety of soils and climates and […]

Meal 42: Croatia

Thanks to its unique location, Croatia straddles several opposing forces of history and geography, and of course this is reflected in the food. It features a unique shape, a comically long and thin Mediterranean coastline with a big bulb at the north stretching inland toward the heart of the Balkans. Parts or all of it have been subject in turn to Venetian, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, which have lent such influences as pasta, lamb, and strudel. And of course it’s […]

Meal 35: Chile

Chile has gone through a nutritional upheaval in the past half century. Whereas a few decades ago malnourishment was a worry, now their obesity levels are in the same league as the US. With flaky pastries and tasty breads, it’s easy to see where the temptation lies. For this long Memorial Day weekend, we shook things up by heading up to the Catskills. Our friend Sarah-Doe spent much of her childhood in this big, rambling structure, a former grain mill […]

Week 3: Algeria

Another “A” country, another meal with lamb and eggplant. But Algerian food does have a distinguishing aspect: couscous. My obsession for the week was figuring out how to go about finding a couscousière, the specialized two-part pot: a voluptuous lower chamber for the stew, and a upper chamber with perforations on the bottom to allow steam through. Apparently, this is an extremely fuel-efficient method of cooking, since the same fire cooks both the stew and the starch. I ended up […]