Haiti, it’s impossible for anything you’ve seen on tv to prepare you for what Port-au-Prince (capital of Haiti) looks like after the earthquake in 2010 that killed about 300.000 people in a day in 2010. And it’s cliche the worst kind of cliche to say life goes on, but of course it does. This is a city of 2.000.000 people as in so many places in the world you do what you need to do get by, you fight to live. Six years after the earthquake many of the damage that the earthquake caused is still there. The main religion in Haiti is Voodoo, on of their gods in Baron Samedi he is the keeper of the gateway between this world and the next, to the believers certainly a creepy guy. Would it help you if I told you his also the saint of procreation and humor? On the day of Baron Samedi, parades are organized with the cemetery as a destination. Although I can’t imagine going to cemetery is a happy occasion, the Haitians see this differently. On the day of Baron Samedi they celebrate life and bring offers to their ancestors. Offers like food and coffee.
- Haiti produces Rhum Barbancourt, an award winning brand of rum that is referred to as “the rum of connoisseurs”.
- Haiti issued free visas and passports to 70 Jewish families during the Holocaust, about 300 lives saved. It has been speculated that one of the reason they couldn’t give more was the debt Haiti was paying to France, which was basically money the French decided Haiti owed them for freeing themselves from slavery. Haiti’s debt was “forgiven” after the devastating earthquake that hit the country in 2010.
- In 1791, Haitians began what became the only successful slave revolt in the history of the world. Yes, the only one.
- The English word barbecue is that it’s a derivation from the Haitian word barbacoa. The Haitians were referring to the framework of sticks used to cook meat over fire, but Spanish explorers who encountered this cooking method also referred to the results – the cooked meat – as barbacoa.
- Colorful busses called taptaps take you from place to place named after the tap a passenger makes on the bus when they would like to get on or off.
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty. After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!
Ingredients: 2 cup of all-purpose flour,, 1 and ½ cup of warm water, 1 tbsp of dry yeast, ½ cup of sugar, 1 tsp of salt, ½ tsp of vanilla extract, 1 tbsp of finely grated onion (optional)
- Dissolve the yeast in the water and pour on the flour. Mix it really well .
- Add the sugar, salt, vanilla extract and onion. Cover with a napkin and let it rise for at least 2 hours
- Heat the oil and use your hand or a spoon to drop the mixture in the oil, fry until each side is brown.
- Tips: To get the puff puff right make sure that the batter is not too thick nor too thin. And the also the temperature of the oil is important. The oil should be hot enough but not too hot.
The Gambia, tiny English speaking country surrounded by French speaking countries. It was the first British colony in Africa. For many, The Gambia is a country with beaches that invite visitors to laze and linger on package tours. But there’s more than sun and surf. Small fishing villages, nature reserves and historic slaving stations are all within easy reach of the clamorous Atlantic resorts. Star-studded eco-lodges and small wildlife parks dot the inland like a green belt around the coast and The Gambia is a bird lovers’ utopia: on a leisurely river cruise, you’ll easily spot more than 100 species.
Things you didn’t know about Gambia:
- Punctuality is not often observed in The Gambia and the business concept of ‘time is money’ is approached in a very relaxed and flexible manner. People can arrive for a meeting up to four hours later than originally scheduled.
- Gambia was the first nation conquered by the British in West Africa. It was 300 years before independence would be granted on Feb. 18, 1965. When it became independent, The Gambia became the 37th sovereign African state.
- Gambia is the smallest country on mainland Africa and is slightly smaller than Yorkshire.
- The official title of The Gambian president is Sheikh Professor Doctor President.
- People cast their votes in elections in The Gambia by dropping stones in holes.This vegan stew is a delicious healthy weeknight meal. I can guarantee kids will love it (peanut butter duh)Ingredients: 1 tbsp vegetable oil, 1 onion chopped, 1 garlic clove minced, 1 chili finely diced (seeds in for an extra kick!), pinch of kaloniji black onion seeds (optional), 250ml Maggi vegetable stock, ⅓ jar peanut butter (about 110g), 1 tin chopped tomatoes (400g), ½ small butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes, 4 medium mushrooms quartered, 1 red or green pepper deseeded and chopped, 2 small carrots peeled and chopped into 1cm cubes, 150g rice, to serve, 1 star anise
- Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the onion and soften. Add the chilli and garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes.
- Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
- Stir in the peanut butter until creamy. Add the chopped tomatoes.
- Add all the vegetables and simmer for 25-35 minutes until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has reduced to a thicker consistency. Some of the peanut butter oil may rise to the surface; this can be skimmed off if desired. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
- While the stew is cooking, boil the rice according to pack instructions. When the rice is al dente, drain the rice with a sieve, saving the water into a separate bowl. Pour the water back into the pan the rice was cooked in (this saves you re-heating more water) and place the sieve over the top. Add the star anise to the sieve of rice and place a lid over the top. Steam for 5 minutes.
- When cooked, spoon the rice into a small, round bowl and tip onto the serving plate to form a ‘rice dome.’ Serve with the cooked peanut stew.
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.
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.
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!
Compared to the rest of Africa Ethiopia is a bit of an exception, because has never been colonized by a European power, except for a small period of time by the Italians. during the Second World War. For 44 years Ethiopia was peacefully ruled by one man Emperor Haile Selassie. He did a lot of good things for the country in terms of modernization and making them part of the UN. Unfortunately border conflicts and famine got the better of him. After the coup Ethiopia was ruled by dictators for 22 years. There are more then 70 different tribes in Ethiopia which makes it very difficult to please them all.
Things you didn’t know about Ethiopia:
- Ethiopia is about 7.5 years behind the United Kingdom. This is because Ethiopia is the only country in the world to have 13 months in a year. Ethiopians also celebrate New Year in September.
- The legendary Ark of the Covenant, the relic said to hold the 10 Commandments, is claimed to be housed in a church in Ethiopia. Only one man, the guardian, is actually allowed to see the ark, so whether or not it is actually there remains a mystery.
- Ever heard Rastafarians talking about Haile Selassie? He was an Ethiopian Emperor, born in 1892 and is worshipped by followers of the Rastafarian movement. He is not to be confused with legendary distance runner Haile Gebre Selassie!
- Clocks are set differently! Many Ethiopians measure time from when the sun rises and count time based on dawn. So when the sun rises, it can already be 12:00. Don’t worry, you’ll get used to it pretty quick.
If their is one expert in Ethiopian cuisine, it’s celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, that’s why I chose to make one of his recipes. I knew it would be good because it came from him, but in general I don’t really like lentils, to my surprise I loved these. Perhaps it’s combination of the spices or the bite of edamame beans. But this is an amazing recipe and so quick!
Ingredients :1 c. dried lentils, 3/4 c. frozen shelled edamame (green soybeans)
2 T. olive oil, 1 1/2 c. red onion, minced, 3 garlic cloves, minced, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained, 6 T. fresh lemon juice, 1 T. chopped fresh parsley, 1 T. chopped fresh mint, 1/2 t. salt, 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1/8 t. ground red pepper, 1/8 t. ground cinnamon, Dash of ground cloves
- Place lentils in a large saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above lentils. Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until tender. Drain well, and set aside.
- Place edamame in a small saucepan; cover with water to 2 inches above edamame. Bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes or until edamame are tender. Remove from heat; drain well.
- Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, garlic, and tomatoes to pan; sauté 6 minutes or until onion is translucent, stirring often. Stir in lentils, edamame, juice, and remaining ingredients. Cook 2 minutes or until thoroughly heated, stirring often. Serve with flat bread.
So Egypt, land of mummys, pyramids, pharaos and old legends. I have been to Egypt twice. Once with my parents and once with my entire family when my grandfather turned 80. Both times were very memorabele vacations, eventhough we spent most of oud time inside a resort. However we did take a daytrip to Luxor! I still was very young back then and i couldn’t understand everything the guide was talking about, but i remember thinking: How did they make al this by hand without machines, how did het those massive stones all the way up those pyramids? I was so impressed that when a few weeks after we tot back home and my teacher asked me to write an essay about a subject we would like to learn more about. I write a 10 page essay about my fascination with Egypt, pretty remarkable for a 10-year-old! My teacher gave me a bad grade because she thought I didn’t write all of it myself (really unfair because i really did).
- The title of longest ruling pharaoh goes to Pepi II (2246-2152 B.C.) After becoming king at only 6-years-old, he commanded the longest reign in history—94 years! Pepi II was also known to be flanked by naked slaves smeared in honey to attract flies away from him.
- Fashion now is, understandably, light-years away from fashion in ancient Egypt. Fly swatters made from giraffe tails, for example, were very popular back then. There’s not much chance of them appearing in Vogue, though. (Yeah I guess animal rights organisations would have a probleem with that nowadays!)
- Women had rights – Women in ancient Egypt had more rights and privileges than most other women in the ancient world and, in some cases, even more than in the modern world. Among their rights were the right to own property, the right to initiate business deals and the right to divorce. Some women – usually from wealthy families – could also become doctors or priestesses.
- They invented the calender – The ancient Egyptians were also exceedingly smart. They first people to have a year consisting of 365 days divided into 12 months – it helped them predict the annual flooding of the Nile. They also invented clocks
- The oldest known pregnancy test can also claim Egypt as its home. The Berlin Papyrus (c. 1800 B.C.) contains directions for a test involving wetting cereals with urine. If the cereals grew barley, it meant the woman was pregnant with a boy. If they grew wheat, she was pregnant with a girl. And if neither grew, the woman wouldn’t give birth.
Falafel the only time it comes in my mind to dat falafel is when i am hungry after a good night out! Such a shame because it’s delicious!
Ingredients: 1 cup or tin of white broad beans, 1 tin of chickpeas, 1 small onion, 3 garlic cloves, 1 leek stalk, 1 tea spoon of baking soda, 1 tea spoon of flour, 1 tea spoon of cumin, 1 tea spoon of cayenne pepper, 3 table spoons of sesame seeds, 5 sprigs of fresh coriander , 5 sprigs of fresh dill, 5 sprigs of fresh parsley, olive oil, 1 tea spoon of salt to taste
1. If using fresh beans, soak overnight in cold water. If using tinned beans, empty into a sieve and rinse thoroughly.
2. Chop the onions, garlic and leek and place in a mixing bowl.
3. Pull the leaves from the sprigs of dill, coriander and parsley and add to mixing bowl.
4. Add the flour, baking soda, cayenne pepper, cumin and salt to the bowl. Please note that if using tinned beans you will need to add less salt than if using fresh beans.
Recommend you add ½ a tea spoon initially and then add more as required to taste after blending.
5. Add the beans to the mixing bowl and blend into a green paste. Then gentle kneed. If two moist add a little flour, if too dry add a couple of spoons of water.
6. Heath the oil until it is bubbling.
7. With a wet spoon shape the mix into flat discs 4cm x 2 cm. Sprinkle lightly with sesame seeds and add to the hot oil. The falafel is ready when it has turned brown on the outside. If you find your falafel is breaking apart upon contact with the oil it is too moist. Add some flower and roll it in flower before placing in the oil.
8. Serve with hot pita bread, salad and hummus.
What I love about this dish is hard to describe I guess it’s the combination since I’m not a big mango lover. I know really really odd but as a kid I couldn’t stand them. I was quite the fussy eater, I am forever grateful to my mum for forcing me to try everything, and making my eat those dreadful mango’s kiwi’s and drink glasses of fresh orange juice she pressed herself every single morning. Yes I did not make mornings easy for my parents, breakfast was always a struggle, since I didn’t like bread or fruit or milk. If it had been up to 4-year-old me I would have eaten dry cereal without yoghurt or milk (yoghurt or milk made my cereal soggy and I hated soggy cereal) or even better nothing at all! I even would have skipped lunch. Luckily I had a strong mom who refused to give in to my tantrums. So mom’s with fussy eaters as children, make them try everything, they will thank you one day! Dinner however was and is the happiest time of day for me, since my mom is an amazing cook! I ate everything I could get my hands to, from oysters to lobster to foie gras to brussels sprouts. But back to the mango salsa, since a few years I love mango. I was looking for a refreshing, colorful salad and stumbled upon a great mango salsa and I found it. It’s quite spicy because of chili but you could always adapt the chili to your own taste. I like a little kick so I added an entire green chili! I served salsa with a nice piece of grilled salmon, but I bet it tastes epic on a taco! This recipe makes enough for 4 people as a side dish Ingredients: 1 fresh mango cut into cubes (learn how to do this the easy way right here), 1 red bell pepper seeded and chopped small, 1 green chili deseeded and finely chopped, 1 red onion, 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro, juice of 1 lime, salt to taste Place all ingredients in a medium bowl and let stand at room temperature for 15-20 minutes in order for the flavors to marry. That’s it! No oil nothing else! Finito! DONE!