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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Stir in the remaining 3 cups water, sugar and vanilla. Adjust sugar to taste and serve well chilled.
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.
The event that put Guyana on the map for a lot of people is the catastrophe that happend in 1978. Guyana was still a British colony back then. In the middle of jungle a cult called “Peoples Temple” settled and founded their own town “Jonestown” under the leadership of Jim Jones. A total of 909 Americans died in Jonestown, all but two from apparent cyanide poisoning, in an event termed “revolutionary suicide” by Jones and some members on an audio tape of the event and in prior discussions.
That is what put Guyana on the map nowadays there is much more to Guyana. Few places on the planet offer raw adventure as authentic as densely forested Guyana. Although the country has a troubled history of political instability and inter-ethnic tension, underneath the headlines of corruption and economic mismanagement is a joyful and motivated mix of people who are turning the country into the continent’s best-kept ecotourism destination secret. Georgetown, the country’s crumbling colonial capital, is distinctly Carinbbea with a rocking nightlife, great places to eat and an edgy market.
Things you didn’t know about Guyana:
- The official name of Guyana is the “Co-operative Republic of Guyana.
- The national motto of Guyana is “One People, One Nation, One Destiny
- The Omai Gold Mine in Guyana is one of the largest open-pit gold mines in South America.
- Slavery in the state was banned in 1834. There was a great demand for plantation workers after slavery in Guyana, which led to the immigration of the East Indians into the nation
Ingredients: 4 boiled eggs, 1/2 onion sliced, 2 cloves garlic sliced thin (or crushed), 1/2 tomato sliced, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 scallion, dash of black pepper, 1/4 hot pepper, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1/2 cup water, salt to taste (less than 1/4 teaspoon)
- Prepare the onion, hot pepper, garlic, scallion and tomato and set aside.
- Put the eggs to boil on a medium to high flame (cover eggs with cold water and bring to a boil), then as soon as it comes to a vigorous boil, turn off the heat, cover the pot and let it stand in there for 10-12 minutes.
- Heat the oil in a sauce pan on medium/high heat, then add the sliced onion and garlic and allow to cook for a few minutes. Until they go soft, release their aromatic oils and stars to brown on the edges. Then turn down the heat to medium /low and add the curry powder and slices of hot pepper (if you need some good madras curry powder, check out the store – where you can find tons of Caribbean goodies) and stir. Allow this to cook for about 3-4 minutes, so the curry won’t have a “raw” taste to it.
- The next step is to add the water and give it a good stir and bring it up to a gentle simmer. Then add the slices of tomato and scallion and top off with the eggs. Cut the eggs in half before adding and be very gentle at this point forward, since the eggs will fall apart easily. Add the salt and black pepper at this point as well.
- On low heat, cover the pot and allow to cook for abut 4-5 minutes, so the sauce thickens and all the flavors get a chance to marry together. If you find that the sauce is a bit runny, cook for an extra minute or two with the pot uncovered.
- Serve with Rice or Roti
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.
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.
Guatemala, home of the ancient civilization of the Mayans. Nowadays known for it’s stunning rural beauty; breathtaking highlands and volcanos of which some are still active. The highlands are populated by indigenous people or indians they represent about 55% of the entire population. The old Mayan temples are stunning to visit. But the beauty of a country doesn’t necessarily mean the country is rich, 1/8 people has to survive with less then 1 dollar a day! Guatemala has gone through a lot of trouble with coups. A lot of Guatemalans fled to Mexico for safety.
Things you didn’t know about Guatemala:
- A Guatemalan woman invented the Happy Meal. She came up with the idea in the mid-70s to make kid sized meals .She got the “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World” recognition in Paris, France. Now, ‘Happy Meal’ is part of McDonalds menu in over 35,000 restaurants and has sells about 100 million Happy Meals in one week.
- The ancient Mayan city of Chichicastenango retains a 95 percent indigenous population
- Comfortable travel including food, drink, accommodation and activities can be done for around $60 a day, while budget travelers can live for as little as $15.
- The colorful handpainted busses all over the country take you anywhere you want to go for a very cheap price!
I made this recipe for a group of very good friends they absolutely loved it! The sauce is so nice and sweet. You would expect food from Central America to be spicy but it’s this dish just gives you a very rich sweet flavor.