Comfort Food

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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111. Kosovo: Stuffed Peppers

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Kosovo, Europe’s newest country, in the heart of the Balkans. After years and years of war, it is finally perfectly safe to travel to this stunning underrated destination! With its charming mountain villages and 13th-century monasteries. While a lot of countries recognize Kosovo there are still some that don’t. The country has been the recipient of massive aid from the international community, particularly the EU and NATO, which effectively keeps the peace between the ethnic Albanian majority and the minority Serbs. Barbs of its past are impossible to miss, however: roads are dotted with memorials to those killed in 1999, while NATO forces stillguard Serbian monasteries.

Schermafbeelding 2017-09-05 om 13.29.56Things you didn’t know about Kosovo:

  • Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are local heroes. There are streets and children named after them, not to mention a Clinton statue. So if you’re looking for a different view on the world, Kosovo will spin new perspectives. The NATO support in the liberation of the Albanian population from the oppressive regime of Slobodan Milošević was regarded as the most successful example of western intervention in recent history. This means Brits, Americans and others are welcomed with open armed gratitude. Be prepared; it’s highly likely you’ll be thanked personally.
  • Because tourism in Kosovo is only just beginning, that means prices are seriously undervalued. Accommodations in Kosovo offer great value. You can stay in a massive suite at the nicest hotel in the entire country for less than the price of an average hotel in an American city. A cup of coffee costs between fifty cents to one euro depending on the café. A traditional meal can be had for as little as €1.50, while a bottle of beer is around €1.
  • The majority of the population of Kosova is under the age of 30.

This dish might not specifically be from Kosovo but rather from the region. But it’s got all the right flavors and spices that they use. For me ticks all the boxes of comfort food! I was a little worried about the rice not cooking inside the bell peppers, but it worked like a charm,the rice got perfectly cooked and the spice of the harissapaste gave it a lovely kick!!!

paprika kosovo

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110. South Korea: Korean Fried Chicken

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South Korea is a land of extremes! In some parts extremely traditional in others extremely outgoing and modern, but without a doubt in any case extremely beautiful! South Korea is also called the land of the Morning Calm, but the capital of Seoul tells a completely different story. Seoul is a city that never sleeps, nowhere else in the world does the phrase ‘work hard, play hard’ apply more than in Seoul. You can hardly turn a corner without stumbling across a tourist information booth, a subway station or a taxi in this metropolis where beautiful reconstructed palaces rub shoulders with teeming night markets and the latest technology.

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Things you didn’t know about South Korea:

  • South Koreans are obsessed with feces, and everything from turd-shaped cookies, phone charms, and an entire museum devoted to poop can be found in the country. Toilets across the country also feature pleasant flushing sounds, background music, and colored water.
  • South Korean men love makeup, spending close to US$900 million a year, or a quarter of the world’s men’s cosmetics. Up to 20% of the male Korean population is reported to use makeup regularly.
  • When a Korean’s name is written in red ink, this indicates that that person is about to die or is already dead.
  • South Korea is famous for its practice of “crime re-creation.” Citizens suspected of crimes such as rape or murder are led by the police in handcuffs to the scene of the crime and ordered to publically reenact the crime. To make the reenactment even more humiliating, the media is also invited to take pictures and publish details about the crime.
  • The microchips for Apple’s iPhones are made by the South Korean company Samsung,
  • South Koreans are automatically classified at birth according to their blood type, which is a custom that originated in Japan but has become very important in South Korean culture and may even determine who gets to marry whom.
  • On the South Korean island of Jeju, women traditionally go out to work while their husbands stay home. These women are called haenyeo (“sea women”), and they dive for sea urchins, abalone, and octopus, continuing a tradition that goes back 1,500 years and is passed down from mother to daughter.

I have been looking forward to this one! I know this is not a very traditional dish, but it is really really popular in South Korea! I heard so much about Korean fried chicken! The only Fried Chicken we have here in the Netherlands is KFC, and to be really honest I am not really a fan, little bland for my taste. But this fried chicken blew my mind!!!! Crunchy, spicy and sweet all at once!!!

Korean Fried Chicken.jpg

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108: Kiribati: Crab and Tuna Curry

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I’ll be honest… I had never heard of Kiribati! Kiribati is an island nation and consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert Islands, The Phoenix Islands, The Line Islands. Unfortunately, due to climate change, two small uninhabited islands disappeared underwater in 1999, because of the rising sea levels. I always try to be positive about countries… but this has got to stop people! The sea level will have risen 50 cm by 2100 and then it won’t be just the uninhabited islands that will disappear in the ocean, most of Kiribati will be largely be submerged! So we really really have to change our lifestyle…Or this vacation paradise won’t be there for long.

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Things you didn’t know about Kiribati:

  • Kiribati is the only country in the world to straddle all four hemispheres. The islands spread across both the equator and the International Date Line. In 1995, Kiribati changed the date for the easternmost islands, effectively creating an indentation in the dateline. This was done so that it would be the same date and day of the week across the whole country.
  • Dancing in Kiribati is more than a form of entertainment. It is used to tell stories and as a demonstration of endurance and skill. Therefore, smiling while dancing is considered vulgar.
  • Kiribati is known for a number of traditional martial arts, which were kept a secret within families for many generations. All of them are believed to have been given to humanity by an ancestral spirit. For example, Nabakai was given to a warrior of that name by three female spirits who would manifest in the form of a crab. Another is Tabiang, named after the village in which it originated. It uses speed and accuracy and its principle is “you give me one punch I give you four punches”. The spirit who taught it was called “Teraka”, and legend has it that this spirit also traveled to Asia and taught it to the people there, who gave it a variant of the name – “karate”

This recipe I honestly really went with my gut and sort of made up by myself, I read a lot online about the eating habits in Kiribati and read they use a lot of soy sauce, curry powder, coconut, fish and crabs, and lobsters but really no specific dish. So I heated up my pan and the dish came together, and let me tell you this is one of the best curries I ever made! Since crab is quite expensive (at least where I live) this is more of a weekend thing but it definitely qualifies as comfort food to me! I don’t know what it is about curries but they always have a tendency to make me instantly happy

crabcurry.jpg

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107. Kenya: Lentil Curry with Peanut butter

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Kenya, the vibrant beating heart of East Africa! The original ‘sun, sand and safari’ destination.  Kenya was always the go to destination if you were going to Africa, until December 2007. In December 2007 there was an election the top candidates were the current president Kibaki and his ex-secretary Odinga. Kibaki won the election but Odinga accused Kibaki of election fraud. A thorough investigation proved Odinga was right, which of course led to rebellions. These rebellions had massive consequences, for instance, travel agencies stopped sending their clients to Kenya, and canceled the trips that were already booked… Since a lot of Kenyans work in the tourism sector was this a devasting result, which led to even more poverty… Eventually, Odinga and Kibaki made a compromise to let Kibaki stay on as president and Odinga serve as prime minister.

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Things you didn’t know about Kenya:

  • Scientists have estimated that the Great Rift Valley found in Kenya was formed over 20 million years ago when the Earth’s crust began to split.
  • Dowries are still traditional in Kenya. The groom’s parents must pay a dowry to the bride’s family otherwise their son will not be able to wed his bride. Dowries start at 10 cows.
  • Coffee is a huge export in Kenya, but it is not consumed in the country. Kenyans believe that all of the coffee they produce should be sold outside of their country, so they drink tea or beer.
  • Scientists believe that Kenya may have been the birthplace of human beings. Bones of early ancestors were found in the Turkana Basin.
  • It is free for children to attend school in Kenya, but many children do not go, they are too busy helping their families work the land, fetch water and other necessary tasks.

The yogurt gives acidity in this curry which it really needs because of a number of spices, so the freshness of yogurt is a good move! In the original recipe they use okra, but I couldn’t find any at the supermarket, so I just left it out.

linzencurry

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