Meal 92: Laos

If a lot of this food looks like what you’ve eaten at a Thai restaurant, it’s no mistake. Much of the population of northern Thailand is ethnically Lao, and many “Thai” restaurants in the US are actually run by Lao families, or Isan, which is a term for people in northern Thailand whose language and culture have Lao roots. In fact, the Center for Lao Studies is encouraging “Lao people laying claim to the food that is rightfully theirs.” So if you […]

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 65: Germany

What a convergence — my 30th birthday, the one-third point for United Noshes, a gorgeous day, an apartment with a backyard…and a cuisine and culture renowned for good cheer around food. While German food rarely makes the rounds of haute cuisine, for those who enjoy meat and beer it’s a wonderful, homey way to get a lot of calories. New York City used to have a distinct German immigrant population. Much like Chinatown today, Kleindeutschland in the Lower East Side and […]

Meal 32: Cape Verde

Note: In 2013, the year after we cooked this meal, this country changed its official name in English to Cabo Verde. For some countries it’s tough to nail down which dishes to cook, but Cape Verde, a cluster of islands off the coast of Senegal, offers an unmistakable national dish. The cachupa is a stew based on dried corn and beans, and what goes in beyond that depends on your family history, socioeconomic status, and whether the rains came. To […]

Week 7: Argentina

It’s been said that there’s no cuisine in Argentina, only beef. So this week, I did my best to throw together an Argentinean asado, the classic communal barbecue whose tradition began from the gaucho days out on the vast grassy pampas. Accordingly, I felt it imperative to find grass-fed beef, so I schlepped up to the Meat Hook in Williamsburg for the biggest single meat purchase of my life. Thankfully, the rain threatened in the forecast never materialized, so not […]

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 […]