Meal 124: Nigeria

For our first ever Nosh in LA, a very Portland thing happened: it started raining while we were barbecuing. It wasn’t too hard, and it actually made standing near the glowing coals really pleasant. And who knows, maybe that extra bit of moisture helped the beef suya skewers turn out as well as they did. Nigeria is by far Africa’s most populous country, ranked #7 in the world at 192 million — with a median age of eighteen and the highest growth […]

Meal 123: Nicaragua

I try not to knock the countries whose food we cook, but I have to admit I’ve generally found Central American food to be pretty boring. The Nicaraguan food we cooked mostly fits the pattern, with one huge exception: enormous, overloaded, rich nacatamales. The variety of ingredients, from raisins to olives to rice to pork, is so enshrined in each family’s recipe that it’s like canon; as one fourth-generation nacatamal vendor put it, “We don’t innovate. We make everything step-by-step the way […]

Meal 105: Mali

Mali sits squarely in the Sahel, the semi-arid band between the Sahara Desert and the more tropical West African coast. It’s the original home of the peanut sauce stew found all over West Africa, while in the north you’ll find influences from across the desert. Our guests were Linda, David, Caitlin, Zoie, Amy, Nicole, David, Stephanie, and friend. Nicole and Stephanie did Peace Corps in Mali, as well as my friend Emily who was a huge help with the menu. Salade […]

Meal 72: Haiti

Have you ever pondered what would have happened if something went differently at a given point in history? Compared with the rest of the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is sort of a real-life example of contrarian history. The crux is a slave revolt against French colonial masters that, incredibly, led to independence in 1804. The slave system was ruthless and required a constant influx of slaves, which had the silver-lining consequence of a strong syncretic culture quickly developing that combined French […]

Meal 67: Ghana

When I asked for fermented cornflour at Owa Afrikan Market, the kindly shopkeeper replied, “Kenkey? Oh, that’s from Ghana. We’re a Nigerian store!” I didn’t have much better luck at Diaby African Market, which is run by shopkeepers from Cote d’Ivoire who are equally friendly but equally devoid of kenkey. Just as I’d begun to grow a bit fatigued of what seem to be a limited range of very common African staples — smoked fish, palm oil, cassava, yam, plantain, […]

Meal 51: Dominican Republic

Another Thanksgiving weekend, another nosh in San Francisco!  To go with the gorgeous weather, the calendar aligned on Dominican Republic, the second-largest country of the Caribbean. While the Bay Area is no stranger to foods from Spanish-speaking lands, there’s few Caribbeans around, so these dishes made for something more of a novelty here than they would have been in Dominican-immigrant-heavy New York. Thanks to the kind folks at Hattery, I had a big kitchen to discover the intriguing Dominican way […]

Meal 47: Democratic Republic of the Congo

What a special night! 75 guests, most of whom had never been to a Nosh before, gathered in the beautiful ballroom at Hostelling International on the Upper West Side, for a meal of classic Congolese dishes. The idea came from Ari, the community engagement manager at the hostel, who saw our email on The Listserve and reached out to see if we might want to do a Nosh with them. With a big venue and kitchen, we decided to align […]

Meal 41: Côte D’Ivoire

Am I getting better at cooking African food, or is Ivorian cuisine just that good? Probably more the latter, but still, this was probably our best sub-Saharan meal yet. The flavors were so well-balanced, the spice delightful and not overwhelming, and the textures pleasant. What’s more, with the exception of a few ingredients that you could probably cleverly work your way around, you can find these ingredients in a standard Western supermarket, so if you’ve been looking to try cooking […]

Meal 40: Congo

The larger better-known of the two countries named after the Congo River is the Democratic Republic of Congo, the former Zaire and previously a Belgian colony, but that shows up in the D’s. This meal is from the north side of the river, the Republic of Congo, the former French colony, sometimes known as Congo-Brazzaville after its capital. Anyway, as you might imagine, it’s a bit tricky to find what’s distinctively from this country as opposed to its cross-river sibling, […]

Meal 39: Costa Rica

Our travels have taken us to Laura’s parents’ place on the shores of beautiful Lake Josephine on Anderson Island, Washington. How lovely to hit our one-year mark of Noshing, and make it 20% of the way through the nations, amongst the pine trees, outdoor, during a break in the rain! Costa Rican food, as I remember it from visiting there in eighth grade, is very simple and straightforward, with one distinctive aspect: Salsa Lizano. For a Tico, the colloquial name […]