Tokyo, to me Tokyo represents the town where anything can happen, from the strangest food combinations like sushi kebab to the extremely traditional rules of some sushi chefs who elevate making sushi to a form of art! And not just food-wise also the fact that there is an entire neighborhood to dedicated to manga art! (it’s called Akihabara). Temples that several centuries old are next door to high tech robot restaurants. Geisha and Sumo wrestlers!!! There so many sides to Tokyo that it’s impossible to see all of them in one trip!
Things you didn’t know about Tokyo:
- Founded as Edo once upon a time (in the 12th century), Tokyo’s literal translation means “East(ern) capital.
- As the annual Cherry Blossom Festival nears, television and radio reports include information on the “cherry blossom front” (sakura zensen), or the advance of the cherry blossoms across the different regions of Japan.
- Capsule hotels (hotels that contain rooms roughly the size of a large refrigerator) can be found around Tokyo. Most rooms include televisions, wifi, and an electronic console.
- Despite its popularity as a worldwide landmark and part of Tokyo’s backdrop, Mount Fuji is actually visible fewer than 180 days per year due to clouds and Tokyo’s air dust concentration.
- Tokyo contains over 100 universities and colleges, giving it the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions. One-third of Japan’s university students attend school in Tokyo.
Tsukemen or dipping noodles as they are also called, are soo good and the perfect dish for a light hot summer meal! You can keep it simple or use as many condiments as you want. But it’s a lovely meal to share with friends or family passing around the little bowls. The sauce is what it’s all about, the best word to describe it is umami, it is sweet and spicy at the same time and just utterly delicious! I served it with leftover jerk chicken from the Jamaica recipe but you can use any left over meat you have, or roasted pork belly would be ideal!
For me when I think about Jamaica, Bob Marley is the first thing that comes to mind. And I’m gonna guess I’m not the only one. What you didn’t know is that Jamaica is a divided country and has been divided since the days of slavery, there is a small minority that controls almost everything, and then there is poor majority, less connected and left out. Jamaican cuisine is a reflection of the conflicted history. Bread fruit, salt fish this used to be slave food, cheap long lasting filling. Still all these years later the division between rich and poor is still very very clear.
Things you didn’t know about Jamaica:
- African slaves imported to Jamaica brought their own form of religion, Obeahism. Obeahism is a form of voodoo that is still practiced on the island. However, it is kept quiet, since the practice of Obeahism is punishable by death. People who practice this form of voodoo believe that the Obeah man can use evil spirits to bring good or bad luck to others.
- British writer, Ian Fleming is famous for his 007 James Bond character. After designing his dream home, Ian Fleming chooses to have it built in Jamaica and name it Goldeneye. In Jamaica, he wrote ten of his world renowned James Bond spy thrillers.
- In 1988, Jamaica became the first tropical country to enter a Winter Olympic event. It was the bobsled event. The movie, Cool Runnings, tells the story of the Jamaica’s first foray into the Winter Olympics. Only the United States has won more Olympic and World medals than Jamaica.
- Jamaica is one of only two countries in the world that has no colors in common with the flag of the United States of America. The other country is Mauritania
- The stunning Blue Mountains in Jamaica are named for the mist that covers them. From a distance, the mist appears blue. The second moon in a month is called a blue moon; however, there have been half a dozen sightings of sapphire colored moons in the past 40 years.(green and yellow). Libya used to have a solid green flag but has since changed it to include red and white. The Jamaican flag is green, yellow, and black.
I was so looking forward to finally trying out the real Jamaican Jerk Chicken, and it was everything I dreamed it would be! Perfectly balanced spice and sweetness! And no this chicken is NOT BURNED, people!!! That is simply the spice rub that is caramelizing, and the most delicious part of the entire dish
Guinea Bissau is one of Africa’s secret most breathtaking little corners. Rich with wildlife, rainforests and decaying towns from the colonial era. So Guinea and Guinea Bissau might be very close to one another but the difference is immense! Guinea Bissau is slowly transforming into a stable country with a stable government. While in Guinea there are still a lot of problems. In Guinea Bissau there has been peace and prosperity since the independence from Portugal in 1980. Guinea Bissau doesn’t just consist of mainland there is also an archipelago that is part of Guinea Bissau, with beautiful, peaceful islands.
Things you didn’t know about Guinea Bissau
- Contrary to what you might expect, residents here are called ‘Bissau-Guineans’, not ‘Guinea-Bissauans’!
- Guinea-Bissau’s flag draws its inspiration from the flag of the Republic of Ghana. It was the struggle of the Ghanaians for freedom that inspired the people of Guinea-Bissau to put up a fight for their very own.
- Former President Vieira and his rival Military Chief Wai were both assassinated in January 2009, though a stable interim government is currently in place.
- In 2003, there were an estimated 8 mainline telephones for every 1,000 people. The same year, there was 1 mobile phone in use for every 1,000 people. In 2003, 15 of every 1,000 people had access to the Internet.
- Western-style clothing is typical attire for work and daily activities because it is inexpensive and readily available, shipped secondhand from Europe and North America. Adults value cleanliness and modesty. Locally made traditional clothing is more expensive and is reserved for special occasions.
Ingredients: 8 skinless boneless chicken thighs (cut into large pieces), 3 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil, 1 large onion (halved and sliced), 3 tbsp tomato purée, 1 chicken stock cube, 400g basmati rice, 1 red bell pepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 1 yellow bellpepper (deseeded and thickly sliced), 100g okra (halved), bunch coriander, (roughly chopped to serve
For ginger chili base: 2 garlic cloves, 2 x 400g cans plum tomatoes, thumb-size piece fresh root ginger, 1 scotch bonnet chilli (deseeded)
- Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large deep frying pan over a high heat then add the meat and fry for about 5 mins till golden all over. Lift out of the pan onto a plate.
- Add the rest of the oil to the pan and fry the onions until soft but not golden, about 5 mins. While the onions cook, make the ginger and chilli base. Put the garlic, tomatoes, ginger and chilli into a food processor or blender and whizz till smooth.
- Add the tomato purée to the onions, fry for another 2 mins then add the ginger and chilli mix. Crumble in the stock cube, stir then pour in 600ml boiling water. Add the chicken, bring to the boil then simmer for 15 mins.
- Put the rice into a large bowl, cover with cold water and use your hands to wash the grains. Tip the water out then repeat twice until the water runs clear. Add the rice to the pan, turn the heat down to a simmer then cover with foil and a lid (so no steam can escape) and cook for 20 mins.
- Take the lid off (the rice won’t be cooked yet) then scatter the peppers and okra over the rice. Re-cover and cook for 10 mins until the veg is softened and the rice tender. Just before serving, mix the veg through and scatter over coriander.
Dominica a tropical island in the sun, very often confused with Dominican Republic but that’s on the other side of the Caribbean. Dominica was discovered by Christopher Columbus on the 3th November 1493 on his second trip. He thought he had arrived in India. Oh boy was he of by just a few miles… When he discovered Dominica the Arawak people were living there. Soon after Dominica was colonized by Spain these Arawak people started dying of the flue and smallpox. Nowadays there are only 3000 Arawak people left on the island.
Things you didn’t know about Dominica:
- Dominica is the youngest island in the Lesser Antilles and was formed by geothermal volcanic activity.
- The main industry is tourism, however the locals are proud of how well preserved their island is and they’re doing everything they can to avoid deforestation. 40% of local power is generated through hydro-electricity thanks to all the waterfalls and rivers. Conservation and eco-tourism aren’t buzzwords on Dominica, they’re a way of life. Even if tourism increases to Dominica, it will never be a high-rise hotel island. (that’s the way to go guys well done!)
- Dominica is often described as ‘the anti-Caribbean’ and isn’t your average 2-week all-inclusive style island. Since there are now white sandy beaches to be found on Dominica.
This Caribbean Reef Chicken is Sweet and Spicy at the same time! So deliciously caramelized!
Ingredients: 1 roast chicken,, ½ tsp salt , ¼ tsp. pepper , ½ cup dark brown sugar , 4 tbs. dark rum (divided) , 1 tbs. lime juice, 2 tsp. lemon pepper , 1 tsp. ginger , ½ tsp ground cloves , ¼ tsp. cinnamon , ¼ tsp. garlic powder , 2 drops sriracha hot sauce , 4 tablespoons of mango chutney, lemon – sliced, lime – sliced
Sprinkle salt and pepper over washed and dried chicken. Set aside.
In a small bowl, make Caribbean paste by mixing together sugar, 2 tablespoons of the rum, lime juice, lemon pepper, ginger, cloves, cinnamon, garlic powder, and hot pepper sauce; set aside.
Place the chicken, skin side up, in a large shallow baking pan. Rub Caribbean paste evenly over the chicken. Bake in a 205 C oven for 75 minutes or until the chicken is fork tender. In a blender, place chutney and remaining 2 tablespoons of rum; process to blend. Spoon chutney mixture over chicken and bake about 10 minutes more or until chutney is warm.
Drugs, violence and kidnapping not very long this was a pretty accurate picture the papers painted for us of Colombia, but the sights, sounds and people tell a different kind of story these days. Colombians are taking back their country and are celebrating their culture, their traditions and food. In only 10 years the large drug cartels have quietly fade into the background. To say Colombia is multicultural is an understatement Caribbean, hispanic and native influences are to be found throughout the country.
Here are some things you didn’t know about Colombia
- Colombia is one of seven countries that the United Nations indentified as major food exporters. Just about anything will grow there from kale to mangoes to potatoes.
- Colombians get 70% of their electric power from hydro. Their country’s rivers and winds are able to supply double the amount of energy they need.
- Colombia has more freshwater than the US and Canada put together.
- Medellin, home of the legendary late cocaine trafficker Pablo Escobar is today one of the safest cities in South America.
- Corinto in the department of Cauca, is the only place in the world where chickens learned how to swim, which the do in order to mate with the ducks that live on an island in the local river.
So this recipe was epic! Wow I was sooo impressed! And so was my family, my brother was so dissapointed when het came back from school and there were no leftovers the next day, even though I made extra. The chicken tasted sooo rich.
Sichuan is a province in the West of China, known for its spicy kitchen (chili heaven!), fertile land and off course giant panda’s. The landscape is very diverse, with Qinghai-Tibetan plateau in the West, Sichuan Basin in the middle (basically farm land), and Hilly Region in the East. Large mountains with turbulent rivers and deep valley’s crossing through.
Things you didn’t know about Sichuan
- It is also known as land of abundance since ancient times.
- The population is 90 million, which makes it the fourth most populated province in China. (90 million!!! That is like quadruple the people who live in the Netherlands, and that in 1 province!!!)
- Have I mentioned the GIGANTIC SIZE of the province you can compare it to 12x Switzerland!
- Wildlife to be found in Sichuan: Giant Panda’s, Sichuan Golden Monkey’s, Takin (I never heard of a Takin I actually had to google it!)
I love spicy food, the Sichuan pepper I only discovered a few year ago. It has a really distinctive taste, it sort of numbs your tongue or something it is really hard to explain. I think it tastes great though. Seriously go easy on the salt in this recipe!
The Cayman Islands are know for 2 things tax haven and beach holiday destination. With it’s white beaches, clear waters and colorful marine life it’s the perfect relaxing holiday. The most famous beach is called Seven Mile Beach, it is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Diving is a very popular activity around the Cayman Islands just like all the other watersports. The biggest income for the Cayman Islands is the financial market. There are about 70.000 international enterprises, just because of the low taxes, this is also the reason why there are so many luxurious hotels, shops and restaurants to be found.
So here are a few things you probably didn’t know about the Cayman Islands
- Cayman Islands Law prohibits topless sunbathing.
- The Cayman Island Turtle Farm is home to 16,000 green sea turtles at any given time
- The Pirates Week Festival, the island’s largest festival, held each fall is a reminder of Islands’ legendary pirate occupation in the 18th Century which the tales of treasure caches left behind by Edward Blackbeard, Neal Walker, and Henry Morgan. (Blackbeard actually existed!!! WOW)
- The world-famous ‘Seven Mile Beach’ is actually only 5.2 miles long (Why is called 7 mile beach? Anyone?)
- The Batabano Carnival held each spring offers a Caribbean flavor with costumed bands taking to the streets to the sound of steelpan music
This recipe is fantastic, it’s one of the best dishes I have cooked until now! It is a great family style dish! My family suggested to add starts to my recipes: so here we go
– Difficulty: **
– Taste: *****
– Time: 1 1/2 hour
– This recipe is for 6 people
Ingredients: small bunch of spring onions (chopped), thumb-sized piece of ginger (chopped), 4 cloves of garlic, 1 red chili (chopped and seeds removed if you don’t want it to spicy), handful of cilantro stalks (chopped), tbsp of thyme, zest and juice of 1 lime (+extra lime wedges to serve), 2 tbsp of all spice, 2 tbsp of sunflower oil, 12 drumsticks (2 per person), 400 gram long grain rice, can of kidney beans (400 gr), 1l of chicken stock, 1 ripe mango peeled stone cut out and cut in to bit size chunks, 300 grams of mango chutney
Put the spring onions, ginger, garlic, chilli, coriander stalks, thyme, lime zest and juice, allspice and oil in a food processor, then blend to a paste. Pour over the chicken drumsticks and leave to marinate for at least 1 hr, or preferably up to 1 day. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Tip the rice and beans into a large roasting tin with deep sides. Remove the chicken from the marinade and set aside. Mix the stock into the marinade in the bowl and stir well. Pour the stock over the rice and beans, then put the chicken drumsticks and the mango pieces on top. Cover the tray tightly with foil and bake for 30 mins. Take the tray out of the oven and remove the foil. Increase the temperature to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Spoon the mango chutney over the drumsticks and return to the oven, uncovered, for 50-60 mins, to brown the chicken pieces and allow the rice to absorb all the liquid. Before serving, fluff up the rice a little with a fork and scatter with the coriander leaves. Serve with lime wedges and extra mango chutney, if you like.