Meal 115: Montenegro

While the language, culture, and some of the food of this little seaside country are definitely Slavic, the food of Montenegro evinces a strong Italian influence. It's the consequence of centuries under Venetian rule and influence, plus the lingering effect of being a hop across the Adriatic from the boot of Italy. The result is a cuisine that is both high in milkfat but that also has a place for delicate flavors. Really, it was quite delicious. Ellenby Ellenby Ellenby Ellenby Elizabeth Elizabeth +1 Tink Tink +1 Kristin Winslow Ana DLR Ana DLR +1 Anna Marti Anna Marti +1 Anna Sagatelova

Our guests were the Ellenby family, Elizabeth, Tink, Kristin, Miguel, Ana, Anna, Anna, and friends.

Sok od Šipka | Pomegranate juice

Across much of Montenegro, wild pomegranates grow abundantly, and families press the juice and boil it down to syrup for use all year long.

Pomegranate juice is a fantastic example of the huge price differential you can find when shopping at an ethnic market. I found a three liter jar of the pure juice for $9 at the Russian market; you’d be lucky to buy a liter for that price at your local supermarket. Since it was already at drinking strength, it seemed silly to boil it down just to reconstitute it, so we enjoyed it straight.

Appetizer spread

In browsing various descriptions of Montenegrin food, just about all of them talked of a good meal starting with preserved meats and various cheeses. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t find the specific meat items they called for (in particular, a local variation of prosciutto), and the descriptions of the cheeses were quite vague. So I did my best and bought some stuff that looked good from the counter of the Russian market. Surprisingly, the most popular component was a generic-looking cheese that was sliced as a wedge from a hefty round; it was kind of in the direction of a queso fresco, but a bit firmer, and a bit squeaky on the tongue.

Pogača | Rustic bread | Recipe

A rich bread for a rich meal! Note how all the liquid comes from animal products, there’s not a drop of water in the dough. With all that lactose, it’s a quick riser, so there’s not a ton of flavor development from the yeast. But this bread has a solid crumb that’s equally good with cold cuts as well as soup.

Raštan | Collards | Recipe

With all the heavy meat and dairy in the rest of the meal, thank goodness there's a common dish of greens to provide a bit of balance. I made them without the pork because we had some non-red-meat eaters, but it was still nice. I like the bit of flour in there to make it a bit saucy, too.

Brav u Mlijeku | Lamb in milk | Recipe

What a happy accident! Since I ran out of stovetop space, I put the pot of lamb chunks in a milk bath into a low oven, left it uncovered, and then kinda forgot about it until the smell was irresistible. The milk got really thick, and the lamb got really soft, so it was all one great, smooth mess of a really dense and spectacularly tasty dish. Delicious as it was, I'm not confident I actually made it Montenegrin-style — while I heard many mentions of lamb in milk, details on the preparation were few, so I turned to this recipe from nearby Italy instead. Any leads, my friends?

Riblja čorba | Fish soup | Recipe

So simple, so tasty. It hardly requires a recipe: simmer fish with some vegetables and garlic, strain it and remove fish, cook rice with olive oil in the broth, put fish back in. Despite the lack of any exotic ingredients or flavor combinations, as long as you’ve got good fish (in this case, rockfish and black cod from the farmers market), you’ve got a great soup.

Smočani kačamak | Fatty porridge | Recipe

Can’t decide between polenta and mashed potatoes? Well, how about both, mixed with a hefty dose of sour cream plus some cheese! It was really tasty and extremely unnecessary given how much other rich food we had. Everyone ate it anyway, because it’s as yummy as it sounds.

Pomegranate sorbet | Recipe

Probably the most appropriate way to enjoy Montenegro’s most representative fruit would have been to simply peel and eat, but they were out of season. Given the Italian culinary influence, I figured a sorbet would be appropriate. It’s hard to tell if this is something they’d actually eat in Montenegro, but it was a delicious and light conclusion to an otherwise heavy meal.

Meal 43: DPR Korea

Nothing about making a North Korean meal is easy. First of all, it's even hard to find someone from North Korea to talk to: estimates say that only 14,000 people have managed to escape the totalitarian state in the 59 years since the end of the Korean War, and there's virtually zero Internet access within the country. Secondly, except for a particular noodle dish, most (South) Koreans aren't really aware of which of the foods they eat originated across the DMZ. And thirdly, when you search for "North Korean food," you tend to find information about famine and international relations, not recipes. Needless to say, this meal is a feast of an abundance that probably only a privileged few would ever enjoy in North Korea.

With help and research from my officemate Soo Young, whose grandfather hailed from the north of Korea, and some clutch advice from my Korean foodie friend Monica, I managed to cobble together a menu. But that's not to make the darn meal! I made the kim chi the week before, and the beef broth a few days before. We took a trip all the way to the H-Mart in Flushing, Queens on Saturday for ingredients, I spent most of Sunday afternoon prepping, and then Soo Young and I spent the evening frying, folding, steaming, and cooling. I've never seen so many prep bowls used in one meal!

Before we continue, a note on the meal order. You may be wondering, "North Korea? But you just cooked Croatia, how's that alphabetical?" Well, we go by the strict alphabetical order of this UN member list, and the official name is Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Yes, we have three more C's to go, but for a variety of reasons we have to do those later.

Along with Soo Young, we had Lauren, Padraig, Jens, Melanie, Angad, Michele, and Rachel — she's the one with the headphones and microphone, recording for an upcoming radio segment!

Bindaetteok | Mung bean pancakes | Recipe

If you'd handed me a bunch of yellow split mung beans, I'd never have thought to soak them in cold water with a bit of rice for a few hours, then puree it, add some preserved fiddlehead ferns, onions, pork, and seasoning, and then fry it like pancakes. But Koreans have been doing exactly that for at least three hundred and fifty years. And I can see why! (And not just because it's fun to mix.) From these basic ingredients a wonderful richness emerges. The crisp outside contrasts with the soft inside, too, which makes it all the more fun to eat.

Mandu | Dumplings | Recipe

So many cultures wrap things in dough that you'd think everyone figured it out on their own. But apparently everyone from the Turks to the Koreans learned to make them from the Mongols many centuries ago — and they have virtually the same name in Turkish and Korean! These ones are made primarily of ground meat and chives, kept separate in the bowl to preserve texture and flavor until being stuffed, which Soo Young did so beautifully. You can pan-fry them, make them into a soup, or steam them as we did.

Pyongyang naengmyeon | Noodles in cold broth | Recipes: Kim chi, beef broth, noodle dish

Apparently, if you ask a South Korean to name the most distinctive dish from across the DMZ, most will mention these chewy noodles in a cold broth. From their unassuming appearance, would you have guessed that this probably took more prep work than any other single United Noshes dish? I mean, I could have used the broth packet included in the package, but that's just cheating.

A week ago I made the mul kim chi, which unlike the red-slathered stuff you're probably more familiar with, is only moderately spiced and is fermented gently in a brine. (Mul means "water.") It was actually not as hard as I'd expected, you pretty much chop up a bunch of stuff, throw it in the brine, let it sit for two days, and it magically ferments on its own. Perhaps the hardest part was clearing out enough space in the fridge for the big pot.

Then a few days ago I made the beef broth. Unlike in the Western tradition, where the bones are first roasted and thus the broth has a rich color, the Korean way is to do an initial boil to get off the gunk, dump that water and scrub the pot, and then do a second boil for several hours. The broth ended up almost clear, and Emmylou has been very happy to have some bones to chew on.

Finally to make the noodles, made of a combination of buckwheat, sweet potato and wheat. After just a few minutes they get chewy, and you immediately strain them and run cold water through them to prevent overcooking. Cop them with Asian pear and marinated cucumber, gently place half a hard-boiled egg, pour in a mix of beef broth and kim chi water, and serve this labor-intensive bowl of pure cold refreshment.

Oh, and I made a hot sauce to put on top of it too! Red pepper paste, Asian pear, and lots of other yummy stuff.

Bulgogi | Marinated grilled beef | Recipe below

According to Soo Young, a survey or study showed that this is the dish North Koreans most wish they could eat. Thinly sliced beef is marinated in soy sauce, sesame oil, etc., and then grilled, or in this case quickly pan-fried. We enjoyed it ssam style, wrapped in a lettuce leaf and spread with a particular sauce. Really tasty.

Sujeonggwa | Cinnamon-ginger drink | Recipe

If most of the rest of this stuff was really complicated, this was shockingly and deliciously simple. Just simmer cinnamon and ginger (separately), add sugar, chill together, sprinkle with pine nuts and dried persimmon if you can find it, and you've got summertime refreshment that tastes like Christmas. Just for fun I turned half of it into sorbet, which was really refreshing too. What a pleasure to have a light dessert after four different tasty and filling dishes.

It will likely not surprise you that it's extremely difficult to find North Korean music online, so alas our soundtrack was lacking — but given that we were recording for radio that's probably for the better. Next week we turn to the only other country in the world where you can't buy a Coke: Cuba.

Photos by Laura Hadden, who regrettably forgot to sip Hennessy in honor of the late Dear Leader. 


Soo Young's guide to Korean beef

For Bulgogi, get bulgogi sliced meat at the Korean grocer, or thinly sliced tenderloin or sirloin works best
- For Kalbi, use sliced short ribs (with or without the bone), typically double the thickness of bulgogi
- For LA Kalbi - LA stands for "lateral axis" cut, bone-in cut, which you can find at the Korean grocer
- Other - you can use this marinade for chicken (but I'd probably include some ginger and pepper for the chicken marinade). i do not recommend this marinade for pork. there is a spicy pork recipe that is better for pork.
marinade essentials:
There is nothing EXACT in Korean food, so approximate and adjust to taste;
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup sugar/brown sugar, or substitute some of the sugar with natural sugars like a fuji apple pureed. I'd choose a fuji apple or asian pear.
1/2 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons fresh ground pepper
4 minced garlic cloves
optional, but in order of recommendation:
2 chopped scallions - personally, I like to chop them longways at an angle (optional)
1 tablespoon ground roasted sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 onion chopped - personally, I like to cut the onion in half from top to bottom, and then chop longways, but you often see restaurants also slice the onions down the middle - good for grilling
king oyster mushrooms, sliced - especially great when you're grilling
Make the marinade in one bowl. Dip each slice into the marinade and then put into a container for storage. That way, no matter how much meat you have, you get an even distribution of marinade. Let the marinade do its magic for at least 1-2 hours for bulgogi, and longer for kalbi since it's a thicker cut of meat. I like to often put my marinaded meat in a large ziploc bag, marinade overnight (and even freeze it if I'm headed to a barbecue the next day).

how to cook your bulgogi:
stovetop on a pan (gets you a juicy version)
- charcoal grill
- gas grill
the meat is served well done.
how to serve:
- Bulgogi dup bap - You can serve it over rice (bulgogi dup bap). Typically you serve the stovetop version, so you've got some juice for the rice.
- Ssam - Serve with red leaf lettuce and red bean paste, soy bean paste, or my favorite: ssam jang, which is a combination of the two. Sometimes restaurants serve other types of lettuce/leaves and vegetables and a scallion salad to go with the ssam.
- Main Dish with ban chan - Korean food is typically served family style, so this could be your main protein dish, and you'd serve it with other banchan (side dishes) including kimchi
- Other: I've seen people get really creative and use bulgogi in fusion food, including bulgogi burritos, bulgogi hamburgers, bulgogi topping on pizza. The bulgogi burritos were my favorite of the three

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, both because they eat similar things and also because the similar name makes it hard to search precisely. But I managed! While this is hardly the first time we've encountered cassava leaves, this preparation takes advantage of Congo's coast and throws in fish. And for the first time we're approaching bush meat! Read on for the tasty details.

The threatened thunderstorms never arrived, and it was just a perfect evening on the deck. It was a really fun crowd, with Melvin, Pegi, Alex, Barrak, Hillary, Dan, Jessica, Beni, and Barmey trading stories for hours.

Cailles grillées au piment et au gingembre | Grilled quail with chili-ginger marinade | Recipe: French, English translation

All manner of animals are either hunted or raised in Congo, of which quail is a good example. And this marinade is a good example of the simple, straightforward, and tasty approach that so much African food shows: mash up some onions, garlic, ginger and chilies, toss in some salt and oil, and you've got yourself a marinade. By cutting slits in the meat, more flavor can get in. Then just throw them whole on the grill, turn 'em a few times, and they're really tasty. Don't be scared by the amount of chili pepper in the recipe, since it's a marinade you're only really eating a fraction of what you put in. I would definitely recommend this for even less adventurous meats like chicken; if you don't want to mash it by hand you could make a fine marinade in the blender. If you're making it with quail, just remember that each one weighs barely a quarter-pound, so think of it more as an appetizer at one apiece.

Saka-saka | Cassava leaf stew with mackerel | Recipe: French, English translation

One hazard when cooking the most "authentic" recipes is that they assume you're cooking from the same type of ingredients that you'd find on the ground. But it turns out there's a pretty big difference in cooking fresh and frozen cassava leaves, which I only realized when I found this recipe that was specifically developed for the frozen kind. Turns out you gotta cook it a heck of a lot longer!

Another great improvement over the Burundian and Central African versions of this dish is the addition of fish. These two whole mackerel did a lot for both the flavor and the texture. I also learned a novel technique for removing the bones: put the fish on top of the stew for about ten minutes to heat it up, remove it, and the meat just slides off the spine. Genius!

I did make a few variations on the recipe. The "whole bottle" of red palm oil was ambiguous, I ended up using about half the one-liter bottle I had. I also took two bits from another recipe: I sauteed the onion and garlic in the oil before adding it to the dish, and I crumbled in two little bouillon cubes (equivalent of one American-sized cube) rather than just adding salt. I left out any chilies, and instead passed around some Peri-Peri hot sauce.

Bananes plantains | Green plantains

We're cooking green plantains as starch so often that, just like the rice I also served with the meal, I'm probably going to stop calling them out at some point. But one thing I wanted to point out was advice from my mother: it's so much faster and easier to cook them in the microwave! Give it about two minutes apiece, and they're done.

Mango-ginger-lime sorbet | Recipe

A real Congolese meal would probably end in cut fruit, if anything. But I was itching to make a frozen delight, and had the ingredients on hand, so I made this sorbet. I only had two mangoes rather than the five the recipe calls for, and I tripled the ginger, added an extra lime's worth of zest, and put in some sugar water to compensate. All told, the original recipe is probably more of a crowd-pleaser, but if you like ginger and aren't afraid of bitter, try it my way! Oh, and those red things are pieces of papaya bathed in lime juice.

We're heading around the Gulf of Guinea up to Côte D'Ivoire for our next meal. Joining us for the rest of our journey is our sweet new dog Emmylou, a border collie mix who just joined our family on Friday!

Photos by Laura Hadden, who's looking forward to Emmylou's help eating table scraps.

Meal 24: Brazil

Brazil is a hugely diverse country both geographically and demographically. Well, first, it's just huge, ranking #5 for both land area and population. The geography spans from the depths of the Amazon jungle to tropical shores (over 4,500 miles' worth!) to temperate cattle-grazing lands. Its people come from all over, and of course brought their foods with them: Africans brought palm oil and okra, Europeans contributed pastry and cattle, the local lands provide manioc and all manner of fruit. (Also, did you know that São Paulo has the largest Japanese population of any city outside of Japan?) To that end, I did my best to choose a menu incorporating this diversity.

To bring a flavor of the tropics to this cold February weekend, I trundled up to Astoria again, where the Rio Supermarket had every last Brazilian specialty item on my shopping list. At the buffet here, rather than at home, is where I enjoyed feijoada — while it is the favorite for being Brazil's national dish, it didn't fit with my regional-specialties ambition. It wasn't until I was done shopping that I realized this is an entirely gluten-free menu: celiacs take note! Manioc/cassava/tapioca is your friend.

We had quite the media-inclined group around the table. From Laura's MFA IMA program were Cassie (with friend Marian), Nathan (with friend Sophia) and Esy; Andi from UN News and Media, Lisa, and Sophie. Cassie spent a year as a high schooler in Brazil and regaled us with tales, especially of some of the courtship rituals around Carnaval; Lisa has some Brazilian family too.

Caipirinhas and caipiroshkas

Lisa came prepared to tend bar, with a sack of limes and all the necessary equipment to make the classic Brazilian cocktail of cachaça, sugar, and muddled lime. (Cachaça is pronounced kuh-SHAW-suh; while rum is made from molasses, cachaça comes from pure sugar cane juice.) "Caipirinha" apparently is the diminutive of the word for "hillbilly." We also had caipiroshkas, the same drink made from vodka. Thank you Lisa!

Some of us also poured in cashew juice, made from the fruit from which the cashew nut emerges. (Pictures are crazy!) It's a lovely flavor, surprised it hasn't caught on here.

Pão de queijo | Cheese breads | Recipe

These must be extremely popular in Brazil if only judging from how many different types of mixes and frozen packages I saw in the store. Also, as you'll see on the recipe, some serious study has been applied to the chemical interaction between the ingredients.  These pão deserve the love and attention since they're pretty great: a bit crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, cheesy and salty, a consummate snack.

When making them I think I messed up by putting in too much milk, so if you're inclined to make them, please follow the metric weights on the recipe and not the vaguely estimated volume equivalents. I used up all my manioc flour, so I put in some soft wheat flour to make up the difference (left over from Bosnia!). I still couldn't manage to roll it by hand, so I treated them like drop cookies, leading to some silly shapes such as above. But no matter: they tasted great.

Couve refogada | Sautéed collard greens | Recipe

Southern US cuisine cooks its collards nice and slow, with fat and salt, for up to a few hours until the big leaves turn pale and soften up. The Brazilians do just about the opposite: cut into a chiffonade, sautéed for just a few minutes on high heat, preserving their texture and color. Apparently this is such a common approach that you can buy your collards pre-cut in your typical grocery in Brazil.

Moqueca | Fish stew | Recipe

Bahia, in the northeast, would snuggle up against Angola if Africa and South America were smushed back together (see?). And it was when we cooked Angolan food that we first encountered the richly flavored and, uh, gut-lubricating red palm oil. This Bahian fish stew features some of this oil, known as aceite de dendê, but in much more moderate quantities. With an hours-long marinade, tilapia and shrimp, coconut milk and more, I expected that this would be richly flavored and tasty, but while it was totally fine to eat it wasn't a knockout. Maybe it'd be better if I'd made my own fish stock or found more exciting fish than tilapia — so keep this in mind if you plan to make it.

Feijão tropeiro | Cattleman's beans | Recipe

One could say that feijão tropeiro is to the Brazilian cerrado what chile con carne is to the American southwest: a staple of settlers traversing an unreliable land that's now a comfort food with infinite variations. This recipe is from Minas Gerais, the state that occupies a France-sized swathe of the interior north of São Paulo and Rio. My one variation from the recipe is that instead of the fried pork rind, I substituted dried beef since that's what they had at the store. I also used carioca beans, which I just learned were specifically developed in Brazil for high yield and nutrition. (They also taste quite good!) Sprinkled with toasted manioc for texture and starch, this makes for a substantial core of a meal, and I was happy to see a few guests eagerly take home the leftovers.

Sorvete de graviola | Soursop frozen yogurt | Recipe

Brazil has a wide variety of fruits that either have no translation into English (see below) or have English names that sound so weird I wonder why we have one. Soursop just sounds really unappealing. But get past the name, and it's pretty tasty, definitely tangy, with a bit of a bready texture. I ended up making this sorvete with nonfat yogurt, since it's the only non-flavored, non-Greek yogurt I could find at the two markets around the corner. (The challenges of a yuppie neighborhood!)

Pudim de cupuaçu | Cupuaçu flan | Recipe

If only this flan tasted as good as it looks! The caramel was fine, and also insanely tedious, taking about 40 minutes of careful stirring. The texture was marvelous. But despite my hopes and expectations for cooking with this close relative of cacao, it just tasted weird and not in a good way. Good thing I made two desserts!

All in all, I was a bit disappointed in Brazilian food. Maybe it was my technique, but the only dish that I knowingly messed up turned out really nicely anyway. But the company was fantastic, we shared plenty of stories and laughs.

Next week we're taking off, and after that we're heading over to Brunei Darussalam for a very different angle on what tropical cooking can be!

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 buying a couscousière, for far cheaper than what's on offer on Amazon, at a middle eastern supply store on Atlantic Avenue, and strapping it on the bike to take it home, filled with olives and couscous.

Thanks to Amine, an Algerian friend of a friend, I came upon Chef Zadi, who provided not only recipes but also plenty of background and even philosophy about Algerian cuisine.

I cooked a big one since I kind of turned it into a birthday party too! I overestimated, and now there's a ton of leftovers. Hopefully I'll get the hang of the quantity soon. Now, to the food, in the order in which I cooked it. I made the first two the night before.

Badhinjan Misharmla | Griddled eggplants with caraway and green peppercorns | Recipe

The recipe explicitly called to cook this on a flat griddle rather than the barbecue, and I dutifully salted, dried, marinated, and grilled close to fifteen little eggplants. I was also glad to have an excuse to finally use my caraway seeds, which I wouldn't have expected to see in North African food. I cooked the dish the night before as specified, and indeed the flavors were quite something after nearly a day of marinating. The raw garlic and caraway and green peppercorns combine for quite the pungent punch.

Mslalla | Marinated oil-cured black olives | Recipe

I am a big fan of Sahadi's on Atlantic Avenue, especially their abundant and shockingly cheap olive selection. Who'd ever imagine olives for $3 a pound? And they're good. Anyway, I marinated them with orange and lemon zest, orange juice, olive oil and some spices. Turns out I bought double the amount of olives called for and only made a single recipe of marinade, but it seems to me that it worked out quite flavorful enough. Sure have a lot of olives left!

Lemon sorbet

I couldn't find any recipes for frozen Algerian desserts, but I figured if they made anything there, there's a good chance it could include lemon. So I found this recipe from David Lebovitz's bible of frozen desserts, The Perfect Scoop. It's so simple: make a sugar-water with zest of two lemons, a half-cup of water and a cup of sugar, dissolve the sugar and then add two cups of water, cool it down, add a cup of lemon juice, and churn it. The recipe makes the audacious claim that it's better than most italian ices you can find in New York, and it's true.

Ghribia | Semolina cookies | Recipe

If you find sugar cookies wimpy, you might like these. The semolina imparts a deeper flavor and crumblier texture than plain flour. The dough was really heavy and sticky and kind of tough to work with, but led to a great result. (Also, this was my first time baking with Silpat sheets, which really did make for nice even browning on the bottom.)

Kaskasu bi'l-Lahm | Couscous with Lamb | Recipe

This is the dish for which I bought the big new piece of cooking equipment, along with five pounds of couscous and a whole lamb shoulder. It took about five hours to make, all in the interest of fluffy, not-clumpy little grains, starting with the tedious but really fun process of sprinkling the couscous with salted warm water and raking it to break up clumps. By the end of even the first step my hands felt smooth and exfoliated, which is kind of gross so don't think too hard about what that implies. Anyway, after several hours of stewing and steaming, with an amusing interlude of grating onions while wearing goggles, we had a ton. It was pretty good although I guess I was hoping it would have a little more zip or spice. Really wish I'd remembered to pick up harissa at Sahadi's! Anyway, now I have a couscousière for when we do Morocco and Tunisia in a few years.

Cooked carrot salad | Recipe

A nice, simpler dish that I will likely make again. Chilled, garlicky carrot spears with lemon juice and some spices made for a nice contrast to the rich lamb and pungent eggplant.

Merguez | Lamb sausage

I researched what it would take to make sausage myself, but it seems like it would be several hours, take specialized grinding and stuffing equipment (even the Kitchen-Aid attachment, which would have been convenient, got poor reviews), and apparently be pretty difficult. So, at least for now, I'll buy sausage. Los Paisanos on Smith Street sells merguez, which is probably Algeria's second best known culinary export after couscous, and it was surprisingly complex: not just spicy-hot, but also spicy-flavorful, with cinnamon and who knows what else. The darn thing made the grill go up in flames once I flipped it over, which was a bit scary but did end up making it succulently char-grilled.

Whole wheat khobz | Flatbread | Recipe

To go with the merguez, I asked Dan and Raven to whip up some unleavened flatbread. We used some half-white bread flour I picked up today at the farmers market, and it was great, definitely hearty enough for sopping up the juices of the various dishes running around the plate.

We enjoyed the main course outside, but it was too muggy and hot to linger, so we migrated inside to enjoy dessert and enjoy some Algerian music piped through Spotify.  We also enjoyed for the first time what's sure to become a tradition, when Laura marks the evening's country on our scrach-off map.

Taking a break for two weeks, due to travel on both weekends, but we'll be back atcha with Andorra, followed by Angola and Antigua & Barbuda. Any suggestions for any of those three would be most welcome!