Meal 116: Morocco

I love spices. I love meats cooked with sweet flavors. I love Moroccan food. This was one of our very most anticipated meals, and I went pretty overboard with all the dishes and condiments. But with all the meats and flavors, how could I have cut back? The house smelled fantastic, we all got super full, and there was so much food going on that I even left one whole dish uncooked to be enjoyed later. Thank goodness for mint […]

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 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 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 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 74: Hungary

Though it’s common to think of Europe as being a jigsaw puzzle of peoples who’ve been there since before recorded history, the people who now populate the land known as Hungary didn’t show up until a mere millennium ago. Known as the Magyars, they brought a herding tradition — and a non-Indo-European language most closely related to Finnish — from Siberia. Over the centuries, they settled into an intensely agricultural society that blended new foods such as paprika from the […]

Meal 68: Guinea

Teeny dried shrimp. Pre-cooked fonio grain. Okra powder. Unlike shopping for Ghana, this time Diaby had everything I needed. As I got to talking with the man behind the counter — finally, for the first time in a half-dozen trips, we broke the ice! — it turns out he’s from Guinea. (I was startled to hear the name of his city, Mamou. That’s pronounced the same as the family name for my grandmother who passed away last month. I suspect […]

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 61: Finland

Note: this post is a few weeks delayed, because in the meantime we’ve moved! Thanks for your patience, and for keeping the faith. We promised we’d continue Noshing! Midsummer is a big deal in Nordic countries. The nearly endless sun that the Solstice brings not only cheers the soul and makes the air warmer, but it also brings forth a variety of fresh foods that provide welcome respite from the over-wintered larder. So for this Finnish meal, despite being technically […]

Meal 53: Egypt

For 12 millennia, people in what’s now Egypt have successfully built civilizations around agriculture in a virtually rain-free desert environment. While there’s plenty of evidence that they grew fruits and vegetables, the annual cycle of the Nile’s flooding made it much easier to grow plants that could thrive on their own in properly inundated soil — which means grains and legumes were much easier than relatively more fickle fruits and vegetables. So, it should be no surprise that our meal was […]