I’m starting a new series on this blog: Around the World in who knows how many days. (Originality is really my thing, as you see). Don’t worry, I’ll continue to post my not-so-deep thoughts and all the stories about how I humiliate myself on a regular basis.
The idea to do this series occurred today when I came across a list of “100 Vietnamese recipes you have to try.” I started thinking about maybe doing a counterpart, “100 Turkish recipes you have to try,” and while I still want to, I ordered the same dish every time I visited a restaurant from ages birth-present, so my knowledge of Turkish cuisine is really limited to the glories of a little dish called manti. And while I would gladly do 100 days of manti (it really is that good!), people might stop reading after day 68 or so.
So then I decided to get really crazy: What would it look like to cook a traditional dish from every country of the world? I downloaded an alphabetical list said countries/principalities/territories to find out.
The answer, thus far, is “impossible.” None of my desperate web searches have provided any recipes in the way of Akrotirian food (located on the island of Cyprus, I believe. Second place on the list). And then there are the countries in whose cuisine I have never dabbled.
The first Swedish dish I saw was “Jansson’s Temptation.” I would very much like to tempt Jansson, but find myself unable to do so, because he (she?) is apparently impervious to any temptation that does not come in the form of anchovy fillets. Color me pessimistic, but I don’t think there’s much of a market for anchovy fillets in the Southern US of A.
Then there was the Icelandic recipe for blood sausage—the first ingredient called for is 2 litres of sheep blood. I’ve actually eaten pig blood before, back in the day when I lived with a family of 14 in a 2 bedroom house (‘nother story, ‘nother time), but I’m not sure how comfortable I would be actually carting 2 liters of blood around; nor am I sure where I would find 2 liters of blood, outside of my local Red Cross, and I’m pretty sure that’s unethical. I’m awfully tempted to walk into Publix one day and ask the manager to direct me to the sheep blood section. Just to see what he says.
I did find a Swedish potato recipe I could find the ingredients for. . .but it calls for a decilitre of milk. I can’t measure a decilitre of milk. I didn’t make the decilitre-converting team in high school. Google helpfully told me that a decilitre is “3.381402” fluid ounces, or “8.107132 x 10 to the -8th power” acre foots. Unfortunately I stopped thinking in universally useful ‘acre foots’ measurement many years ago, so Swedish potato deliciousness may be interesting.
Then there’s the South. Technically not a country, but it thinks it is, so I’ll humor it. I was recently given the opportunity to try fatbacks. The name should have clued me in, but I was still surprised when someone told me the other day that fatbacks are fried back fat. Amazing what a little word order will do to change the appeal of a dish, eh?
Has this deterred me? Not at all, my friends. I forge ahead, boldly. I will skip only countries that offer absolutely no recipes online, but in a pathetic attempt to make up for said oversight, I will try to substitute a recipe from a people group or interesting region for each place I can’t pull off. Otherwise, I’m pulling all the stops. I’ll even tempt Jansson, if I have to. And I will, oh, will I ever, conquer the decilitre. Just you wait, ‘enry ‘iggins.
So there you have it, friends! First up: Afghanistan. Stay tuned.
PS: And if you have ideas, particularly dealing with the more obscure areas of the world (Svalbard, anyone?), let me know!