Meal 113: Mongolia

To get one thing out of the way: Mongolian barbecue isn’t Mongolian. It was invented in Taiwan. So we didn’t make that. Mongolia isn’t a good place for growing produce, so the cuisine barely has fruits or vegetables. For a bit of perspective, Mongolians following a traditional diet get their Vitamin C from organ meat, and at least one guidebook recommends that vegetarians bring whatever food they may need into the country. Instead, animals, especially sheep but also camels, yaks, […]

Meal 103: Malaysia

It turns out there’s a subtle but important distinction between “Malaysian” and “Malay.” The latter refers to an ethnic group and their language; the former is the name of a country composed of many ethnicities of whom the Malay are but the largest. There are large populations of both Chinese and South Asian origin, as well as indigenous groups. And naturally, all of them, plus the English and Dutch colonizers, have sprinkled their spices and poured their sauces into an […]

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 99: Lithuania

Bye-bye, Baltics! Lithuania is the southernmost, and alphabetically last, of these three little countries across the sea from Finland. While they do indeed have the roasts and fish and rye breads and casseroles common to this part of the world, happily there were enough local variations that I managed to do a rather different meal from the other two. (Note, no herring!) This meal was also a first in that we had a guest brewer — more on that below! Just […]

Meal 97: Libya

After nearly four years, we’ve finally hit halfway! And how fitting to celebrate with a cuisine that’s a synthesis of several influences. Libya is a real culinary interface between Africa and the Mediterranean: stews over a ball of pounded dough definitely evoke many of the sub-Saharan meals we’ve had so far, while spice-heavy preparations of lamb have the influence of the Ottoman Empire all over them. There’s even a little legacy of the Italian occupation. For being a cuisine you hear […]

Meal 94: Latvia

Thanks to my grandfather’s Latvian physical therapist, I got plenty of on-the-ground advice. She connected me to folks from back home, so huge thanks to my new Latvian buddies Mara, and particularly Zane, for the help — I’m sure what I ended up cooking was tastier and more authentic because of your suggestions. The heart of Latvian food is similar to its Balkan neighbors’ — fish, preserved and roasted meats, root vegetables, some dairy — though with even more of an emphasis on rye […]

Meal 80: Ireland

I thought this was going to be a meal of corned beef and raisin-studded soda bread. I quickly learned that that would be perhaps the meal of an Irish immigrant in America, but not really one to be found on the Emerald Isle. You’ll see why! The diet of Ireland is a very economical one, based on its damp, gray climate. Potatoes, of course, are the main starch, carrots and cabbage the primary vegetables, and protein coming from milk and […]

Meal 77: India

It’s absurd to squeeze a survey of Indian cuisine into one meal. From Kashmir to Kerala to Kolkata, there’s just a bewildering diversity of flavors, ingredients, and techniques that very well merit a 35-meal tour of all the states and territories. (Ooh, wow, that does sound fun.) I did my best to incorporate as much regional diversity as possible into a single meal, while also creating a cohesive whole that collectively surveys a representative expanse of what’s to be found […]

Meal 76: Iceland

It’s kind of astonishing that people have managed to live in Iceland for over a millennium. Trees don’t grow there — for hundreds of years they could only make boats of driftwood — let alone much else, so its natural cuisine is quite sparse and based mostly on eating things that can survive on what’s around, namely sheep, fish, and whatever random birds can be scrounged up. While there’s plenty of influence from outside these days, the traditional Nordic month […]

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 […]