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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
The North of Italy is completely different from what most people would expect when they hear Italy. I have been there twice, once on a skiing trip when I was 17 to Selva val Gardena which is in the Trentino South Tyrol region. And the second time was last summer on a surprise city trip to Milano with my best friend. Food wise the dishes are heavier then in the rest of the country and have more of German/Swiss/Austrian influence, which is not that strange since the Northern part of Italy shares a border with Switzerland and Austria.
Things you didn’t know about the North of Italy:
- There is no legal drinking age in Italy, in the sense that a young person of any age can legally consume alcohol, but a person must be 16 years old in order to be served alcohol in a restaurant or a bar.
- The world record truffle weighing 3.3 pounds was discovered in Tuscany by a dog named Rocco and it was sold at an auction to Macau casino mogul and billionaire Stanley Ho for $330,000.
- The United States banned Prosciutto from being imported until 1989, and Mortadella and Speck until 2000. Other meats like Cotechino and Zampone are still banned at present. Some say it is to protect the American livestock from disease but most speculate that it is to protect US meat producers from competition.
- The Italian Wedding Soup or Minestra Maritata is not traditionally served at Italian weddings. “Maritata” means “married” but in the context of the dish, it pertains to the soup’s ingredients — meats and green vegetables — going well together, therefore “married” in a sense
- The origins of Italian surnames are either patronymic, occupational, descriptive or geographical. Surnames ending in “o” usually come from Southern Italy, while surnames ending with “i” are often from Northern Italy.
The pesto on top of this dish really really brings it to another level! I have had osso bucco many times! but this one is really really traditional and my favorite version. I ate the whole lot with pasta. But you can make
The amazing country of Ireland, I love Ireland went to Dublin with a couple of friends last year! A country with such a turbulent history, meanwhile the people are among the jolliest I have ever met! Always in for a beer or a great party! Yes these people know how to live and laugh! Apart from that the Irish have had sort of a rough history. The potato famine, their struggle for independence from The United Kingdom wasn’t very smoothly either. Ireland is also famous for it’s many legends and myths. Ireland’s long history is riddled with ancient mythology and folklore. Ireland’s ancient societies, the Druids and the Celtics, believed in the power of magic and many of these beliefs spread to modern day legends told again and again across the country. Stories of warriors with all the knowledge of the world, fairies playing pranks on farm owners and leprechauns hiding their gold at the end of a rainbow add to the mysterious appeal of Ireland.
Things you probably didn’t know about Ireland
- The Irish report the lowest annual number of UFO sightings in Europe.
- 70% of married Irish women would consider having an affair while on a foreign holiday without their spouse or children. 90% of all Irish men would do the same…
- Irish marriages last an average of 13 years, although the majority do not end in divorce. Irish couples prefer to separate and live in sin with their new partners rather than go through costly legal process.
- Dublin boasts one pub for every 100 head of population. (as I said they know how to party!!)
- A song only needs to sell 5,000 copies to top the Irish music charts. A book only needs to sell 3,000 copies to top the Irish bestseller list.
I think Irish food is largely underrated! Yes it might not be 5 star cuisine but comfort food! And I love comfort food, the kind of food you have after coming home from hockey practice after you faced a rain storm, and you’re completely soaked. You take a nice hot shower and then your mom puts a steaming plate a stew in front of you with a side of mashed potatoes. To that is the perfect way to describe Irish food!!!
Goa is the smallest state in India, but I chose to write a separate piece about it anyway because it has very particular past and food culture since Goa was ruled by the Portuguese for 4 centuries, and they left certainly left their mark on the food!
Things you didn’t know about Goa:
- Not many people know this but Goan people can apply and avail a Portuguese passport along with the Indian one.
- Goa is the only place in India where you can hire a two wheeler taxi commonly known as “Pilots”. It’s basically a motorcycle and the driver will charge you and drop you to your destination.
- It might be the smallest state in India but nonetheless it’s also the richest state in India
- 26.6 percent of Goans practice Christianity and 6.8 percent practice Islam. The remaining one percent are Sikh, Buddhists and Jain.
The term Vindaloo, derivative of the Portuguese “vinho de alho” (wine with garlic) was first brought to Goa by the Portuguese some 400 years ago. The original traditional Portuguese dish was made with pork preserved in red wine or red wine vinegar,chili pepper, and stewed with garlic. The Goans modified it by adding plenty of spices. You can make this with chicken or lamb or pork.
I’ve had vindaloo curry before, but this one is soooo good, the spice hits just the right spot! This recipe is one the greats people so pleas please please try to make it!!! Again if you have all the dry spices it’s soooo cheap!
- Dry red chillies(or fresh) ,6 – 8
- Black mustard seeds 1tbsp
- White vinegar 1/2 cup (about 100 ml)
- Onions ,2 diced and pureed
- Ginger paste 1 tbsp
- Garlic paste 1 tbsp
- Brown sugar 1 tbsp
- Cinnamon powder ½ tsp
- Cardamom powder ½ tsp
- Cumin powder 1 tsp
- Black pepper powder ½ tsp
- Oil 4 tbsp
- Salt,to taste
- Soak mustard seeds and chillies in vinegar for about 2-4 hours (preferably overnight) and grind to a coarse paste.
- Marinate the prawns with the vinegar mixture, ginger-garlic paste and the ground spices,
- Heat oil in a large wok, add onion puree and sauté well. Add the prawns pieces and mix well till meat appears sealed and glossy.
- Take shrimp out, do they don’t overcook
- Add ½ cup water, cover and simmer gently for 15 minutes so the sauce is reduced Stir occasionally. Add the prawns back in.
- Add brown sugar and salt to taste. Serve hot with rice.
Hungary is one of the oldest countries in Europe, older then France and Germany. Strange enough we don’t hear a lot about it in our history books. Nowadays Budapest is beyond doubt the most visited city in Hungary maybe even in Eastern Europe! It’s known to be a party city, cheap booze and lots of clubs and also to be be culture city: They belonged to the Roman empire, Greek empire and the Sovjet empire so basically Hungary is every history freaks wet dream! Despite all that Budapest is just hauntingly beautiful in every way! A riot of gorgeous architectural palaces, grand public spaces, former mansions of various princes. And then I haven’t either started talking about Dracula of course!
Things you didn’t know about Hungary:
- Don’t be surprised if you don’t get the name of the person you just met – just try to reverse the order. Hungarians give (and write) their family name first, and their first name after. And sometimes, there might be a middle name in there too!
- Hungarians are addicted to paprika spice!!! It’s so important it was national news when spice and sauce maker Univer announced in late October that its paprika-based condiments would continue to be made from 100% Hungarian produce, despite a poor harvest.
- 20% of Hungary’s population lives in Budapest. So, every 5th person in Hungary is a ‘Budapester’.
- Hungary was formerly a part of the Roman Empire, after the fall of which, ‘the Huns’ – people of the country at that time gave the country their name Hungary!
- You cannot name your child in Hungary unless it is approved by the government. They have an extensive list of names, and if the name of your choice is missing from the list, fill the form for approval with the Research Institute for Linguistics of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences.
Ingredients: 950ml chicken stock, 30g powdered unflavored gelatin, 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, 1.25kg whole boneless beef chuck roast, kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, 4 medium carrots (2 split lengthwise, 2 cut into bite-size pieces), 2 small stalks celery, 1 large yellow onion (thinly sliced), 2 red bell peppers ( thinly sliced), 4 cloves garlic (thinly sliced), 1/2 cup sweet Hungarian paprika powder, 2 bay leaves, 4 sprigs thyme, 2 tablespoons flour, 450g Yukon Gold potatoes (peeled and cubed), 1 to 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar, chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving
- Sprinkle gelatin over chicken stock and set aside. Adjust oven rack to lower position and preheat oven to 300°F. In a large Dutch oven, heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season beef all over with salt and pepper and add to Dutch oven. Cook, turning occasionally, until beef is well browned on 2 sides, about 10 minutes. Transfer beef to a rimmed baking sheet or large plate and set aside.
- Add diced carrots to Dutch oven and cook, stirring, until well browned on all sides, about 4 minutes, lowering heat as necessary to prevent scorching. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to a bowl and set aside. Add split carrot, celery stalks, onion, peppers, and garlic and cook until onion and peppers are softened and lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
- Add paprika and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add chicken stock/gelatin mixture, followed by soy sauce, fish sauce, bay leaves, and thyme.
- Cut seared steaks into 1 1/2- to 2-inch chunks and transfer to a large bowl. Toss with flour. Add beef and any juices accumulated in the tray or plate to the Dutch oven. Stir to combine and return to a simmer over medium heat. Transfer to oven, cover with lid partially open, and cook until beef is starting to become tender, about 1 1/2 hours. Liquid should remain at a slow, steady simmer throughout. Adjust oven temperature if necessary during cooking.
- Remove stew from oven. Using tongs, fish out and discard carrot, celery, thyme, and bay leaves. Add potatoes and reserved sautéed carrots to stew, return to oven, and continue to cook, partially covered, until beef, potatoes, and carrots are tender and broth has thickened, 45 minutes to 1 hour. Using a ladle, skim off any excess fat from the surface of the stew and discard.
- Remove stew from oven. If necessary, place over a burner and simmer for up to 15 minutes to reduce to desired consistency. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons vinegar (to taste). Season to taste with salt and pepper if necessary. Serve immediately, sprinkled with parsley. Alternatively, let cool overnight or refrigerate for up to 5 days and reheat to serve.