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 111: Micronesia

At 1 million square miles with only 100,000-ish people, the Federated States of Micronesia is both huge and tiny. (Obviously, almost all of that square mileage is ocean.) As with much of the rest of the Pacific islands, the traditional bland starches and simply cooked fish aren’t the most stimulating cuisine. Micronesians have swung the pendulum far to the other side, with some really intense and novel uses of imported flavors. (Read below for what they do with ramen and Kool-Aid.) There’s […]

Meal 107: Marshall Islands

For centuries, the fate of this Micronesian island group has been entirely subject to the machinations of much greater powers. Its very name, after an English explorer, was consecrated in maps by French and Russian explorers. It’s been a territory of Spain, Germany, Japan, and the US. It saw major battle and deprivation in World War II, and was the site of enormous nuclear tests with all the destruction and long-term consequences you’d expect, and many displaced Marshallese who haven’t moved to […]

Meal 71: Grenada

Until Hurricane Ivan wiped out most of the nutmeg trees, this little speck of a 133-square-mile Caribbean island country was the world’s number two producer of the spice. It’s become so important to the culture and economy of Grenada that there’s a nutmeg on the flag. Beyond the focus on this spice, Grenadian food is closely related to that of its neighbors, with a strong focus on root vegetables and the greens that they produce. Our guests were Rachna, Lisa, […]

Meal 56: Equatorial Guinea

Despite its name, none of the country lies on the Equator. Most of its land mass is on the African mainland, but the capital’s on an island. Its colonial language is Spanish, but French and Portuguese are official languages too. It’s the richest country per capita in the continent, thanks to a recent oil discovery, but most of the population lives in poverty. That’s a lot of contradiction for a very small country — its population is barely 700,000. But […]

Meal 50: Dominica

Dominica is a tiny little island country, in the middle of that north-south string of Caribbean islands. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s the Spanish-speaking half of Hispaniola, but no, that’s the Dominican Republic. They both use the adjective Dominican; to assert that you mean this beautiful, actively volcanic, lush-in-parts island, place the stress on the third syllable, domiNIcan. The national Dominican dish is the so-called Mountain Chicken, which is actually a species of giant frog, so tasty and easy to […]

Week 6: Antigua and Barbuda

Our first Caribbean country! With so many little islands with a lot of culinary and cultural overlap, I’m trying to pick out what’s really distinctive about the cuisine of each. My prep-work was made really easy this time: I found the recipes for the entire meal on just one page! Big thanks to Cordy for that, especially the photos which helped me make sure I did it right. This was our first meal on a weeknight, thanks to Irene. Our […]

Week 4: Andorra

Andorra’s cuisine is built around the sorts of things that go well in its high mountainous environment: meat and winter-hardy vegetables in stews. In other words, exactly the wrong thing for a humid New York summer. But the weather tried its best to comply: it’s been raining sheets all day. Precious little of neighboring France or Spain’s spectacular culinary traditions rubbed off on mountain-ringed Andorra over the centuries. The food is, dare I say it, pretty bland: you won’t find […]