Lunch

109: North Korea: Naengmyeon (Cold Soba Noodles in Cold Beef Stock)

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North Korea, by far the most isolated country on earth! North Korea has been the subject of speculation for years. And I really don’t want to get into it too deeply since we all know the North Korean regime is horrifyingly cruel. A leader starving his own population to prove a point is among the evilest things someone can do in my opinion. Over the past few weeks, they have been in the news negatively for trying to poke the bear (The US and Europe)… with several threats of nuclear war. Let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that! But how did North Korea become like this? And why is it that South Korea is far more prosperous? How did the rest of the world let it get this far? Should we intervene or should we call their bluff? These are all questions that keep a lot of people up at night…

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Things you didn’t know about North Korea:

  • Taedonggang is now the most well-known beer in North Korea, named after a river that runs through Pyongyang. There’s a beer ration—men get vouchers every month. This is not necessarily a nationwide policy but is the case in Pyongyang. But you can buy more; the ‘ration’ just means you get given vouchers, rather than your consumption is limited. The Taedonggang beers have numbers for names: One is made of barley, water, and hops, and tastes good. Two is the most common, with barley, water, hops, and a bit of rice. There is a 50-50 barley-rice mix. Four is more rice, and Five is rice beer. Five is repulsive.
  • Marijuana in North Korea is not illegal and can be bought at markets.
  • During the 1990s, all teachers were required to learn the accordion.
  • North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. The year is 105, not 2017.
  • Blue Denim Jeans are illegal in North Korea as denim represents capitalist America.
  • According to his official biography, Kim Jong Il allegedly learned to walk aged 3 weeks.

That’s the classic North Korean dish, called naengmyeon in Korean. So classic there’s a song about it: “Naengmyeon, naengmyeon, Pyongyang naengmyeon!” Music is a form of propaganda, so to mention food gives people a sense of national pride and also shows security in food. “Long noodles refer to long life, or a long time being married. Everyone at a wedding gets served cold noodles, and the idea that you would say, ‘No noodles, thanks’ would be exceedingly rude.” However, I have to say it was not my favorite dish.

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103. Japan: Hiroshima: Okonomiyaki (Savory Cabbage Pancakes)

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Hiroshima has been through a lot, recovering from the atomic bomb as I hope everyone knows, and if you don’t please read up on your history!!! But really that’s really not what I want to talk about!  Hiroshima is located on the island of Honshu. Nowadays Hiroshima is known as the street food paradise of Japan, especially the tiny island of Miyajima that is a 10-minute ferry trip from the city center. Miyajima is also known for the deer that just roam the village freely, not scared of humans. If you’re lucky you can even pet them!

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Things you didn’t know about Hiroshima:

  • Hiroshima has been farming oysters since the 1500s. Today it produces 25,000 to 30,000 tons of oysters a year, 60 to 70 per cent of Japan’s total production. Known locally as sea milk for their nutritional value, they are eaten boiled, fried, grilled, with rice, in stews, or raw.
  • After the war, Hiroshima needed to get its transport system up and running fast. Tram cars were donated from cities all over Japan and even abroad, earning them the nickname Mobile Museum. Today the tram fleet ranges from pre-war clunkers to the futuristic Green Mover Max. It’s the cheapest, easiest and most eco-friendly way to get around town.
  • Kumano, a village 20 kilometers east of Hiroshima, produces 15 million calligraphy, makeup and artist’s brushes a year. That’s 80 per cent of Japan’s production. Of the town’s 27,000 inhabitants, 1,500 are brush craftsmen, hand-making brushes the traditional way. Visit on September 23 when 10,000 brushes festoon the streets for Kumano’s spectacular Brush Festival.

Okonomiyaki is a very popular takeaway dish in Hiroshima, you can add any ingredients you want so great for using up veggie leftovers! It would also be the perfect drunk food!!!! However, let someone sober make it for you because the transferring from pan to pan will be pretty hard once you had a few drinks.

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97. Israel: Fatteh (Pita with chickpeas and yoghurt)

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Israel, it’s easily the most fought over piece of land in the world. To talk about it without pissing somebody if not everybody off is sort of an impossible task. So here goes nothing…

The people of modern day Israel share the same language and culture shaped by the Jewish heritage and religion passed through generations starting with the founding father Abraham (ca. 1800 BC). Jews have had continuous presence in the land of Israel for the past 3,300 years. After the exile by the Romans at 70 CE, the Jewish people migrated to Europe and North Africa. In the Diaspora (scattered outside of the Land of Israel), they established rich cultural and economic lives, and contributed greatly to the societies where they lived. Yet, they continued their national culture and prayed to return to Israel through centuries. In the first half of the 20th century there were major waves of immigration of Jews back to Israel from Arab countries and from Europe. During the British rule in Palestine, the Jewish people were subject to great violence and massacres directed by Arab civilians or forces of the neighboring Arab states. During World War II, the Nazi regime in Germany decimated about 6 million Jews creating the great tragedy of The Holocaust. In 1948, Jewish Community in Israel under the leadership of David Ben-Gurion reestablished sovereignty over their ancient homeland. Declaration of independence of the modern State of Israel was announced on the day that the last British forces left Israel (May 14, 1948). (I did not write this by myself but this is the briefest history that I could find of the history of the Israel http://www.science.co.il/israel-history/)

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Things you didn’t know about Israel:

  • Israel led the world by banning size Zero models before any other country.
  • More Israelis graduate from college than any other country (per capita)
  • Israel is the only country to revive an unspoken language, making Hebrew one of its two national languages (the other official language is Arabic).
  • Israeli cows are milkier than any other cows in the world – producing nearly twice the yield of European cows.
  • Starbucks succeeded in every country in the world…except for Israel.

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91. South India: Egg Drop Curry

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The south of India is stunning! Cities like Kerala, Cochin, and Senai are known for their epic beaches, over abundant spices, some of the worlds richest temples. schermafbeelding-2017-01-08-om-22-42-02Things you didn’t know about South India:

  • Sree Ananthapadmanabha Swamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala is known as the ‘Richest Temple in the World’ and is valued at a staggering $22.3 billion in all.
  • Unlike many North Indian states which usually see a concentration of one religion or the other; the religious demographics of South India is more balanced.
  • India is the worlds largest democracy
  • It’s illegal for foreigners to take currency (rupees) out of India
  • The world’s biggest family lives together in India: a man with 39 wives and 94 children.

This egg drop curry is so good I didn’t miss the meat and trust me I LOVVVVVEEE meat! But this I would happily have for lunch every single day!

egg-drop-curry

Ingredients: 

  • Oil – 3 tblspn
  • Cumin Seeds / Jeerakam – 1 tsp
  • Onion – 1 large chopped finely
  • Green Chillies – 2 slit
  • Tomatoes – 3 medium size pureed
  • 1/2 cup of frozen peas
  • Chilli Powder – 2 tsp
  • Coriander Powder – 1 tblspn
  • Turmeric Powder / Manjal Podi – 1 tsp
  • Garam Masala Powder – 1 tsp
  • Salt to taste
  • Eggs – 2 or 4
  • Sugar – 1/2 tsp
  • Coriander leaves – 3 tblspn finely chopped
  • Water – 1.5 cup to 2 cup
Heat oil in a pan. Add in cumin seeds and let them splatter.
Add in onions and chillies cook till golden. Add in the spice powders and salt, cook for few sec.
Add in tomato puree and cook till it is dried and oil separates from it. Stir in the peas.
Add in water and sugar and bring it to a boil.
Crack open eggs in the curry. Cover and cook on a low heat for 5 mins.
Add in coriander leaves.
Serve.

88. Honduras: Horchata de Arroz

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Honduras, for thousands of years the Mayans created a briljant civilization, while the Roman Empire crumbled into little pieces the Mayans were only just reaching their peak. They probably were the most sophisticated civilization of the America’s in many aspects. Their remarkable advancement in science and astronomy was completely revolutionary for their time. In the meanwhile Europe was entering their Middle Ages. Copan a city in Honduras was one of the main centers of the Mayans.

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Things you didn’t know about Honduras:

  • “Come back tomorrow/next week/next month” doesn’t really mean that.
    It means, “I don’t know”, “I don’t feel like doing that today”, “I don’t know who to ask but it definitely isn’t me” or “I’m eating lunch right now
  • Christopher Columbus discovered Honduras. And when he set foot on ground his first words were: “Thank God we got out these great depths!” Honduras’ literal meaning is: Great Depths.
  • It’s completely normal to find blonde haired, blue eyed Hondurans on the bay islands. They are direct descendents of the British Pirates that came here over 500 years ago
  •  Hondurans are called Catrachos/Catrachas in Central America and within their own country. It is not a negative nickname.

Ingredients: 2 cups of rice, 6 cups of water, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/3 cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla

  1. Soak the rice overnight in 3 cups of the water. Add the rice, soaking water and cinnamon to a blender and puree until smooth, 2 or 3 minutes.
  2. Strain into a pitcher through a fine-mesh sieve or several layers of cheesecloth. There should be no grit or large particles in the liquid.
  3. Stir in the remaining 3 cups water, sugar and vanilla. Adjust sugar to taste and serve well chilled.

78. Ghana: Meat Pie

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Ghana has existed since medieval times. Its name comes from the former Ghana Empire of West Africa: “Ghana” was the title given to ruling kings. The Portuguese arrived in 1471 to the land they called the Gold Coast (for its abundance of the stuff), and mercantile trade of African products to Europe commenced. Because of geography, Ghana became the center for the brutal trans-Atlantic slave trade on land subsequently colonized by the British and the Dutch (of course we had a part in it). Now Ghana has one of the fastest growing economies in the world, and political stability. It’s considered to be Africa’s success story. The Ghanese are very superstitious they are very firm believers in black magic and witchcraft, when you go to church on Sundays the services will be very loud with a lot of music to drive out the evil spirits.

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Things you didn’t know about Ghana:

  • The name Ghana means warrior king and dates back to the days of the Ghanian empire during the 9th and 13th centuries.
  • The trade in Ghana was built on salt and gold, that’s why British merchants later referred to it as the Gold Coast
  • Ghana was ranked as Africa’s most peaceful country by the Global Peace Index.
  • Ghana was the first country in sub-Saharan Africa to gain independence post-colonialism. It gained its independence on March 6, 1957.
  • Ghana has the largest market in West Africa. It’s called Kejetia market and it’s located in Kumasi, the Ashanti region’s capital. There you can find everything under the hot Ghanaian sun, from local crafts, beads, cloth and sandals  to second-hand jeans and clothing, and meats, fruit and vegetables.
  • Water is not drank from bottles but from little plastic bags.

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Ingredients: 1 tablespoon sunflower oil, 300g minced meat, 1 medium onion, 1/2 teaspoon tomato puree, 2 teaspoon all purpose seasoning, 1 small maggi (stock) cube, salt to taste, 1 large green pepper, chopped in little cubes

For Pastry: 400g (3 1/3 cups) self raising flour,  255g  butter cold, pinch of salt, 60ml (1/4 cup) cold water, 1 egg, whisked
For filling

Add a little oil to a large frying pan and heat up. Add the mince and onions and cook on medium heat until it browns, stirring in between.

Mix in tomato puree and cook for 2 minutes. Stir into mince with all purpose spice, maggi (stock) cube and salt. Remove from heat and leave to cool, then stir in chopped green peppers.

For Pastry

Sift flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.

Add butter to the flour. Rub in using your fingertips. Add all the cold water at once and use your fingers to bring the pastry together.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured work surface and knead very lightly.

To assemble

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees celcius.

Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured work surface. Rolling should be be carried out in short, sharp strokes, with light, even pressure in a forward movement only. Turn the pastry as you roll.

Cut circles in the dough and place a quarter cup of mincemeat in the centre of the circle.

Fold dough over making it into a semicircle. Take a pastry brush and dip in water and moisten edges of dough circle then pinch sides together with a fork. Use a fork and poke holes on the top of the meat pies.

Place pies on baking tray.

Brush the tops of meat pies with egg wash and bake in oven for 25 – 30 minutes or until the pies are golden brown.

67. Faroe Islands: Rhubarb Porridge (Rabarbergrød)

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This week another isolated archipelago, The Faroe Islands. They are autonomous islands under the protection of Denmark. They are not part of the European Union and they speak their own language. A lot of  Faroese would like to be independent. Half of the Faroese population lives in the capital Torshavn. The problem with the Faroe islands is that the young people all go to college in Denmark, most of them stay there. Despite being so far away from the rest of the world, the music, art and culture scene in the Faroe Islands is booming! They have a lot of music festivals.

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Things you didn’t know about the Faroe Islands:

  • Soccer is really popular the 1 in 20 men is semi soccer pro! The country’s football team won their first competitive match against Austria in September 1990, which prompted a massive Faroese party.
  • The Faroe Islands are one of very few countries in Europe to have no McDonalds. You can, however, find a Burger King, in Torshavn if you’re in need of  fast food.
  • There are three traffic lights on the Faroe Islands. All are in the capital Torshavn and are very close to each other.
  • The weather in the islands changes so quickly and frequently that a well-known Faroese saying is ‘If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes’.
  • The Faroese drink in sheebeens, known as key clubs – set up in secret when alcohol was banned on the islands. These dens were so popular they stayed open when prohibition ended. There is an Irish pub called, imaginatively, ‘Irish Pub’. It is said to serve the best beer on the islands.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Ingredients: 4 cups of rhubarb, 1 cup of water, a stick of cinnamon , 1/2 a cup of sugar , 2-3 tablespoons of cornstarch, 1/4 cup of cold water, milk or heavy cream

Wash and cut the washed rhubarb into fine slices. Cut about 1/2 inch cubes.
In a large pot add the rhubarb, water, sugar and a stick of cinnamon. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Reduce heat, put the lid on the pot and cook the mixture for about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the rhubarb because you want the rhubarb tender but not mushy.
Next, combine the cornstarch with 1/4 water in a small bowl. This will be used to thicken the rhubarb porridge
After the rhubarb has cooked for 5 minutes, turn off the stove. Remove the cinnamon stick out of the rhubarb mixture.
Add and stir in the corn starch mixture. Add a little at a time and the rhubarb mixture will start to thicken.
Taste to see if it is sweet enough. If not, stir in a little more sugar.
Pour into a heatproof glass bowl to cool down. Sprinkle sugar to prevent a skin from forming. Cover and chill in the refrigerator.
Once ready to serve ladle into bowls and garnish with either milk or cream. Enjoy!