118. Liberia: Okra Plantain stew

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Liberia it was supposed to be a sort of Utopia. The American Colonization Society founded Liberia in 1821 as a place for free African Americans to migrate to. More than 10,000 made the journey across the Atlantic. Of course, there were already 500.000 living there. Which wasn’t the best mix, to say the least. Liberia has a history of bloody civil wars involving child soldiers and other gruesome acts. Fortunately ever since the previous President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came in office things have been relatively peaceful. Unfortunately just when things seemed to have calmed down politically the EBOLA virus hit Liberia hard in 2014! Now the nation is officially Ebola-free per the WHO, and it’s struggling economically to recover. With travel restrictions lifted, tourism can play a huge role in this. So here is a peace I 100% copied from the lonely planet website “Liberia, a lush, green, friendly and vibrant land, offers everything from excellent surf spots and shops selling wares by edgy local designers to days spent lolling in a comfy hammock on the edge of the rainforest while listening to tropical birds sing. It’s home to one of West Africa’s best national parks and still hangs on to a confident American spirit mixed with West African roots. And despite the ravages of the past, it is a fantastic place to travel, full of hope and energy.” Soooo everybody go to Liberia! It’s beautiful and they could really use your money 😛 .

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Things you didn’t know about Liberia:

  • The vast majority of African countries have never had a female leader. But Liberia has one right now. Introducing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president since 2006 and known as Africa’s Iron Lady.
  • Liberia is among the 20 countries on Earth that smoke the fewest cigarettes per capita – just 104 per adult per year. Montenegro, where 4,124.53 cigarettes are smoked per adult per year, according to 2014 figures from the WHO, is top of the pile, while Belarus, Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia and Bosnia also make the top 10
  • The second largest tropical rainforest in West Africa, the Sapo National park is located here. It has around 125 species of mammals. It is home to the rare pygmy hippopotamus.
  • Oprah Winfrey had traced her ancestors back to the Liberian region of Kpelle.

okrastew

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117. Lesotho: Spinach and Tangerine Soup

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Lesotho, a tiny tiny tiny country completely surrounded by South-Africa. Lesotho is a very mountainous country, hence it is often called The Mountain Kingdom. The entire country is at least 1000 meters above sea level. Which makes it the highest country in Africa. And don’t think just because it’s Africa it’s hot. No way!! Up in the mountains, it gets pretty cold, but don’t worry you can buy traditional beanies everywhere! That’s not the only thing you can do up in those mountains. This might be is very touristy but they have donkey pub crawls!!! Imagine being completely wasted going from pub to pub on a freaking donkey!! That just sounds hilarious and totally something I would do with some friends!

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Things you didn’t know about Lesotho:

  • Lesotho is ruled by a constitutional monarchy and is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms in Africa. (The other are Morocco and Swaziland). King Letsi III is the reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
  • Not many countries can say that their traditional dress is a blanket. The Basotho blanket is a very common sight in the kingdom of Lesotho, often with colorful patterns. The blanket is not only used to protect the Basotho against the cold but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification. Almost entirely made of wool, they protect very well against the harsh cold winter. Another typical feature is the woolen balaclava (which only leaves their eyes free) and the gumboots
  • Lesotho is home to the highest altitude pub in Africa in 2874 meters above sea level. It’s located right at the border with South Africa, and the end of the iconic Sani Pass (or the beginning if you come from Lesotho). A cold beer is very welcome when driving this scenic pass starting in South Africa and to top it all off, you’ll have an amazing view from the top (while sipping that cold beer).
  • You would not immediately associate Africa with snow, but Lesotho is home to the highest ski resort in Africa. Afriski is situated at 3050 meters above sea level.
    Lesotho has 28 airports. Only three of them have properly paved runways. Hold on tight…

Well, this was surprisingly good I never knew putting tangerine in a soup would be so amazing! A great meal for a healthy quick mid-week meal!!!

spinach tangerinesoup

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116. Lebanon: Pearl Barley Salad with Caramelized Grilled Figs and Feta

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When I told my dad that next up was Lebanon he got excited. He said The food there is amazing!! Lebanon I have been waiting for that one, please make this when you are visiting us! Lebanon is a sophisticated, tolerant and beautiful country, but it has had some issues in the past, I distinctly remember an episode of Anthony Bourdain when he visited Beirut (the capital of Lebanon) at the wrong time when all hell broke loose when the Israeli’s bombed the city because of a kidnapping. The Lebanese are a proud nation proud of their music, dancing, their way of living but above all their food. There is a reason why the food in Lebanon is so good, so many cultures passed through Lebanon; the Greeks, the Romans, the French. So if even if you are not a museum buff it is still a great place to stuff yourself with all sorts of delicaciesSchermafbeelding 2017-12-16 om 18.05.31

Things you didn’t know about Lebanon:

  1. Lebanon is the only Arab country that has absolutely no dessert
  2. In springtime, and on the same day, you can ski in the mountains and/or swim in the sea.
  3.  There’s 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon. (In Europe and America, there’s around 1 doctor per 100 people).
  4. There are 4.5 Million Lebanese in Lebanon. There are around 18 Million Lebanese outside Lebanon.
  5. Byblos (a city in Lebanon) is the oldest continuously living city in the world.  The country’s name is known to be the oldest in the world and has remained unchanged for over 4000 years.
  6.  The Phoenicians (Original People of Lebanon) built the 1st boat, and they were the first to sail ever.

This salad is legendary, it wanted to make it with freekeh but I went to 3 stores and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I bought some pearl barley which turned out great!!!

vijgensalade

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115. Latvia: Potato Pancakes with kotletes (meatballs)

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When I think of Latvia I think cold and woods full of pine trees. Which is not wrong, but not the only things identifying Latvia. First of all it one of the least densely populated countries in the European Union with only 2 million inhabitants. (compared to where I live in the Netherlands, 18 million people!!!) Nearly half of the entire population lives in the capital Riga. The capital is an interesting mixture of somber Sojvet and ancient medieval buildings. Apart from the large forests, there are also beautiful beaches,  During Soviet times they were zoned off as a high-security military base, strictly out of bounds to civilians. The region’s development was stunted and today the desolate coastal villages feel as though they’ve been locked away in a time capsule.

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Things you didn’t know about Latvia:

  1. Over 50% of Latvia is covered by forest, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet.
  2. Latvia has the highest rate of fashion models per capita in the world.
  3. A Latvian-Jewish tailor invented jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially)
  4. The Latvian culture still retains many Baltic pagan traditions, such as the celebration of the summer solstice (sees picture above), when Latvians go to the countryside to get drunk, to dance, light huge bonfires and do something called seeking the fern flower (having sex in the forest)
  5. When Swedish Vikings were at the height of their power around 1187, ancient Latvian chiefdoms not only stopped them from conquering their country but sent a fleet of ships to the then Swedish capital Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.

This recipe was kind of a bummer to be really honest, i didn’t really like the potato pancakes, they were a bit boring for my taste. The kotletes on the other hand were perfect quick easy meal!

Latvia
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114. Laos: Khao Soi (Yellow Curry Noodle Soup)

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Laos a country very very high on my list to go to! A sleepy mountainous country of barely over 2 million people, mostly rice farmers. To my surprise, Laos hasn’t always been so peaceful. Though never truly at war with Laos, the Americans were at war with Vietnam, and they flew more than half a million missions over this tiny country. Dropping more bombs here than on Germany and Japan in all of World War II combined. This is a conflict known nowadays as The Secret War. I don’t want to get into it too much because that is not what this blog is about, but what happened was horrific. Nowadays Laos is a very popular destination for backpackers because it’s cheap and the crime rate is very low.

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Things you didn’t know about Laos:

  • Laos may be landlocked – or ‘landlinked’ if you prefer – but that doesn’t mean a beach holiday is completely off the cards. If you head to Si Phan Don (literally “4,000 islands”) in Southern Laos, you’ll find serene sandy shores – and adventure – aplenty.
  • Nong Fa Lake – a crater lake high in the mountains of southeastern Laos – is feared and respected by locals, who refuse to swim in it. Legend has it, a man-eating monster lives at the bottom. Nong Fa (which translates to ‘blue lake’ or ‘sky lake’) is quite remote and can be reached by only the most intrepid explorers.
  • Lao silk stands apart from that of neighboring countries in that is it 100% hand woven. The exact weaving process differs from family to family as do the patterns, making them truly unique. The average rate of production is around a meter a day – or a few centimeters for an elaborate weave. Handwoven silk has a more ‘natural’, unrefined texture than silk produced on an industrial loom.
  • While Laos is more than 50% populated by ethnic Lao (Lao Lum), there are more than 60 – some say more than 100 – different ethnic groups living within its borders. Lao’s people are categorized by altitude: 50 percent are lowland peoples, living around the Mekong; 20 percent live in the Midlands and highlands, and 15 percent live above 1,000 meters. The remaining 15 percent are Thai.
  • Laos has the unenviable status of being the most bombed nation in the world. There are estimated to be 270 million unexploded bombs in the country.

This noodle soup has a lot of ingredients but it’s totally worth taking the time to make your own curry paste! It takes a little time but it makes they dish infinitely better! And most of the ingredients I had in my freezer; lemongrass, ginger, and galanga (Thai ginger) I always make sure I have in stock. I make a lot of curries and they keep forever in the freezer!

laos

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113. Kyrgyzstan: Lagman

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Kyrgyzstan is an old country it’s recorded history spans over 2,000 years, they have seen a lot of cultures and empires come and go. Although geographically isolated by its high mountains, which has helped protect its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained independence as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But they have been around longer.

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Things you didn’t know about Kyrgyzstan:

  • Manas, a warrior who united Kyrgyzstan, is undoubtedly the most popular folk hero in the country. You see this name everywhere. There are streets, statues, universities, radio stations, national parks, and many other things that are named after him. Even Kyrgyzstan’s main airport is Manas International Airport.
  • The vast majority of people in Kyrgyzstan are Sunni Muslims. However, you don’t see obvious signs of Islam while walking down the streets of Bishkek, partly due to its Soviet history. After the collapse of communism, the influence of Islam has slowly been coming back into Kyrgyz society. A lot of my Kyrgyz friends don’t drink alcohol or eat pork, and some even skip lunch on Friday to attend prayers in the mosque.
  • The city of Osh was an important commercial center in the 10th century as part of the Silk Road, the trade route between China and Europe.
  • The name Kyrgyz is derived from the Kyrgyz word for “forty.” It is a possibility that the people of Kyrgyzstan came from forty families or clans.
  • Tourists can negotiate with any car on the road; they’re all potential taxis – if the price is right.
  • The Kyrgyz were one of the groups who raided the borders of China and created the need for the construction of the Great Wall.

Truth be told normally they make their own noodles, but since my kitchen is really really tiny and I don’t have nearly enough space to make noodles and the noodles are soooo similar to tagliatelle I just bought tagliatelle

Lagman
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112. Kuwait: Ranginak (Date and Walnut Dessert)

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Kuwait is quite different from the other countries in the Gulf region. It is just as oil-rich as the other Arab countries but they choose not to express their wealth in the same way. Where the others are all about glitter and glamour, in Kuwait they made conscious decision not to sell its soul to the gods of commercialism. And Kuwait lies just far enough away from those Gulf mass tourism places to the south to mean that tourists and expats are fewer here. So it feels more authentic and less fake. That doesn’t mean that Kuwait is boring because it is most definitely not! Kuwait remains an oasis in a land of desert plains and has excellent museums, a fine souq,  beaches and lively restaurants.

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Things you didn’t know about Kuwait:

  • Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament and a constitution.
  • Kuwait National Day was celebrated on June 19th until 1962. In 1963, it was changed to February 25th in order to avoid the hot summer weather.
  • Gas is cheaper than water. Petroleum and petroleum products make up nearly 85% of export revenues.
  • The flag of Kuwait contains four colors: green, white, red, and black. They symbolize “our lands”, “our deeds”, “our swords”, and “our battles” respectively.
  • Wives do not take on their husband’s name upon marriage. The name you are born with is your name from birth until death.
  • They only make up a third of the population, a minority within their own country. The other 2/3 are composed of expats from all around the world. Kuwait has an interesting societal structure and the international community.

The ingredients sound a bit bland for someone who hasn’t tried the dish. But the overly sweet flavor of the fresh dates paired with the nutty earthy flavor of the flour mixture topped with cinnamon and walnuts is divine.

koeweit2
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