healthy

100. Italy: Sicily: Egg Plant, Pine nut & Raisin Fusilli

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Every time I hear Sicily The Godfather theme song starts playing in my head! Sorry for the stereotyping… but after the research I did I am apparently not that far off. Sicily is still largely ruled by the Mafia, and I don’t think it’s as romantic and exciting as it sounds… It just means lots and lots of corruption. The Mafia is an everyday part of life in Sicily, I mean over 80% of businesses in Palermo pay pizzo (protection money). The strangest thing is the government only recently (1992) started fighting back against the mafia, before that no one really cared… Imagine having your country been taken over by organized crime and no one actually giving a damn about it. Nonetheless, the island of Sicily is supposed to be extraordinary, and I really really really wanna go there especially since Palermo the capital has been awarded the title of best street food capital of the world!!!

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Things you didn’t know about Sicily:

  • According to Greek mythology, ships that pass to the Messina strait between Sicily and Calabria are in danger of being attacked by Scylla and Charibdys, the monsters that guard either side of the narrow passage. This myth gave rise to the expression “between Scylla and Charybdis,” a local equivalent to “between a rock and a hard place.”
  • The Sonnet! The most famous of all traditional poetic forms, consisting of fourteen lines written in iambic pentameter with an elaborate rhyme pattern, was originally invented by a poet from the Sicilian school, Giacomo da Lentini. From Italy, the sonnet was taken to France and England, where writers such as William Shakespeare made extensive use of the form.
  • The hilltop town of Corleone has become synonymous with the Mafia: the place where bosses Salvatore Riina and Bernardo Provenzano were raised was also chosen by Mario Puzo as the home town of his characters in The Godfather.
  • While the Invasion of Normandy, or D-Day, is celebrated as the great turning point of World War II, it is also true that the invasion of Sicily by the Allies in 1943 was an earlier victory that began turning the tables on the Axis powers. Codenamed Operation Husky, the battle lasted for 38 days and culminated with a decisive victory for the invading Allied forces.
  • Sicily is rich in ancient Greek ruins, and many say that they surpass in beauty those found in modern-day Greece. For a long time, the ancient Greeks controlled a large part of the island, mostly in the eastern region around Syracuse, where the famous mathematician Archimedes was born. Well-preserved Greek ruins still remain in Syracuse, Taormina, and near Agrigento. The latter is the location of the famous “Valley of the temples,” a collection of seven different temples dedicated to different Greek deities.

This is basically my twist on Pasta a la Norma/caponata, Sicilians love eggplants any way they can get them so almost every Sicilian dish contains them. No problem for me since I really like eggplants. This is pasta I have been making for years, one of the first recipes I came up with myself, by simply being broke and working with what I had laying around… Back then I used canned roasted eggplant and canned tomatoes and all the spices were dried and that works fine as well but fresh veggies are just so much better believe me. And on the plus side, it is really quick and easy.

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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!

56. Dominican Republic: Asopao de Mariscos

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Dominican Republic, we know it’s in the Caribbean somewhere and they speak Spanish right? Sharing an island with Haïti, the Dominican Republic has seen it’s fair share of good times and bad times. Most vacationers know the Dominican Republic simply as an island of pristine white beaches, all-inclusive resorts, tropical cocktails and ice cold beers. The capital Santo Domingo is the oldest European style city in the America’, with grand cathedrals and old fort walls. But know T-shirt shops or fast food restaurants in sight. No, the Dominicans know what’s good for them, they have their own food.

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Things you don’t know about Dominican Republic:

  • Dominicans love baseball, it’s their number 1 sport! Almost 40% of US baseball players are actually Dominican.
  • The Dominican Republic is the only place in the world where the blue, semi-precious stone called larimar is found. It most closely resembles turquoise.
  • The capital city, Santo Domingo, has a rich history. Founded in 1496, it’s the oldest European settlement in the Americas.
  • The Dominican Republic is the only country in the world to have a bible simble on it’s flag
  • The only place where 5000 humpback whales travel each year to mate

This dish is so delicious, it’s a little bit like a caribbean style paella. And I love paella! Definitely one I will make again to impress someone :D. It’s so easy and has just the right amount of spice! And the fact that you can eat it out of bowl makes me happy. I don’t know what it is with food in bowl but somehow it always gives me a very warm feeling when I eat food out of a bowl.

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Asopao De Mariscos

Ingredients: 2 lbs of shrimp, 1 1/2 cups of rice, 500 ml of fish stock,  2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons tomato paste,  1/2 green bell pepper, 1 red chili pepper, pinch oregano, 1 crushed clove of garlic, 1 pinch black pepper, 1/4 cup chopped seedless black olives,  1/4 cup chopped celery,  1 spoon finely chopped parsley, 1 spoon finely chopped coriander,  1/2 spoon of thyme leaves, salt

  1. In an iron pot heat the oil (reserve 2 spoons of oil).
  2. Add the herbs, olives, spices, tomato paste, peppers, garlic and salt.
  3. Add the shrimps and stir (be careful with hot oil splattering)
  4. Cover and wait two minutes, then stir again.
  5. Add the fishstock and bring to a boil.
  6. Add all remaining ingredients (including the rice)
  7. Stir regularly to avoid excessive sticking. Let 3/4 of the water evaporate, by then a grain of rice should be about 3 times its original size.
  8. Adjust salt to taste. Serve while hot, with a slice of lemon.

52. Denmark: Surbrød with Danish Shrimp Salad

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WELCOME D!!! My first country with a D! Of all the countries in the world, I think Denmark is the one with a culture most similar to my own. Just like the dutch they are known to be very openminded, direct, both of us prefer going by bike everywhere, tolerant. And just like the Dutch they will never say no to a good party!  A lot of people are confused with the difference between Dutch and Danish. Let me clear that up for you. The Danish are from Denmark and the Dutch are from the Netherlands not Holland (Holland is just a small part of the Netherlands). What are the Danish know for: Vikings, Legoland (definitely worth visiting I went there as a kid and it is still one of my favorite amusement parks of all time), the Little Mermaid. Pretty awesome stuff.

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Here are some things you probably didn’t know about Denmark:

  • ‘Please’ and ‘Thank You’ are Not in the Danish Vocabulary
  • Three out of four of the band’s members of AQUA are Danish (AQUA had a huge hit in the ninties with Barbie Girl.
  • The best restaurant in the world is a Danish restaurant called  “Noma” and the kitchen is run by a Danish chef called René Redzepi.
  • The Danish pay 50-60% in tax and they don’t mind. That’s because they get free healthcare, free good schools -through universities and even education abroad, unemployment security, 1-year-paid maternity leave.
  • The Danish are very innovative . Denmark is as famous for its toy building bricks (LEGO was created in Denmark) as it is for its real life buildings (Danish architects have built everything from the world renowned Sydney Opera House to the iconic Great Belt Bridge) but there are plenty of other famous inventions to add to Denmark’s vast portfolio. The loudspeaker, the battery and more recently, Skype, were all created on Danish soil.

So you might have seen on snapchat that I made tried to photograph or film every single. I am going to use snapchat more I promise. My snapchatname is: margootjevg. So start following me!

This is a great lunch recipe! I baked my own bread because it has a very particular taste. The caraway seeds really make it something special. The shrimp salad is as Scandinavian as it gets probably because of the dill and tarragon 2 herbs I love.

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Ingredients Shrimpsalad: 3/4 cups creme fraiche or sour cream, 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard. 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice (remove seeds from dressing), 3 Tbsp fresh tarragon leaves a nddill leaves, finely chopped (plus extra for garnish), 1/2 tsp salt, Freshly ground black pepper, to taste, small pre-cooked shrimps in brine, drained weight 180g,  100g cucumber, deseeded and finely diced

  1. In a bowl, combine all the dressing ingredients and mix well.
  2. Finely dice the deseeded cucumber and add it to the dressing. Stir until evenly distributed.
  3. Drain the shrimps and rinse them in a colander under cold water. Shake off the excess water and quickly dab them with a kitchen towel so that they are not too wet.
  4. Toss the shrimps into the dressing until they are evenly coated.
  5. Refrigerate and serve cold on a piece of lightly toasted bread or some lettuce leaves. Garnish with tarragon or dill leaves, if desired.

Ingredients Surbrød: 1 tbsp bread yeast, 1 tsp sugar, 200 ml buttermilk or yoghurt, 400 ml warm water (about 95F), 2 tbsp honey (or malt syrup), 2 tbsp coarse salt, 1 tbsp cracked caraway seed, 300 g rye flour, 700 g unbleached wheat flour

  1. Dissolve the yeast in about 150ml of the warm water and about 1 tsp sugar. Let sit until yeast is very frothy.
  2. Combine yeast mixture and other ingredients, then knead until the dough is elastic and no longer sticky.
  3. Place dough in a large bowl, cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in size – 1 to 2 hours.
  4. Punch dough down and form into two oval loafs and place on large cookie tray covered with parchment paper. You can also use a bread form if you prefer your bread with straight edges.
  5. Score the top of each loaf with diagonal cuts from a sharp knife. This helps with rising.
  6. Dust the top of each loaf with flour, cover with plastic wrap and allow bread to rise for about 2 hours.
  7. Preheat over to 225C and bake bread for about 25-35 minutes, until the bread is done.
  8. Cool thoroughly before serving.

47. Cook Islands: Ika Mata

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You know the places you used to dream of as a kid. Blue lagoons, white beaches, girls with flowers in their hair etc etc? What if I told you a place like this still exists. On 15 tiny islands in the South Pacific you’ll find a thousand years of Polynesian culture sitting side by side with some of the most spectacular natural scenery in the world. And the best thing is, the Cook Islands are not overrun by mass tourism yet. Probably because it’s very very expensive to go there. The Cook Islands is a  representative democracy  with a parliamentary system in an associated state relationship with New Zealand. Their currency is New Zealand Dollar.

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Here are some fun facts about the Cook Islands:

  • The Cook Islands are the world’s second largest producer of black pearls.
  • It is summer year-round in the Cook Islands. The drier months are from April to November with average temperatures between 20 to 26 degrees Celsius. The hotter, more humid months are from December to March with an average maximum temperature of 28 degrees Celsius. (Seriously??!). Oh yeah the ocean is also 29 degrees Celsius so swimming pool temperature! (Is this the actual paradise?)
  • The official language on the Cook Islands is English, but many people speak Maori. Still there is concern of the youth thinking that learning Maori language is irrelevant.
  • Cook Islanders are very religious (catholic) they have strong sentimental feelings towards their past, traditions and culture.
  • Dancing and music is a very important part of the Cook Island culture.

Ika Mata is sort of a ceviche like salad. I absolutely loved it! I felt like I a wizard when the fish sort of cooked in the lemon juice :P. I put in the fridge raw and took it out cooked! TADAAA!! And it was yummy, tasted so summery and tropical. It would be perfect starter or side dish on hot summer day. Really something to impress people with and believe me it is so easy that you could train a monkey to make it! 😀

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Ingredients: salt to taste, 1 cup of coconut cream, 1 cup of lemon juice, 1 kg firm fish (I used monk fish), tabasco to taste, 1 red onion, 1 red bell pepper, 1 yellow bell pepper, 1 spring onion, 1 cup of chopped coriander, 1 cup of chopped mint leaves, 1 cup of parsley.

  1. Cut the fish into small dice and put into a bowl. Tip over the lemon juice and stir. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. Pour the fish and the juice into a colander and drain.
  3. Return the fish to a clean bowl and add the coconut cream, salt and Tabasco. Taste and add more salt and Tabasco if desired.
  4. Stir through the onion, capsicum and spring onion while reserving a little of each to garnish. Refrigerate before serving in small bowls. Garnish, adding optional torn fresh coriander leaves

38. Chad: Kachumbari Salad

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You could consider Chad as Africa for the advanced. Chad is no place to travel to for the weak. Chad is as real as it gets. Bribing the police is not the exception but the rule. Added to that, the summer heat is mind-melting, travel costs can be astronomical and the security situation remains unpredictable. So why bother going to Chad right? There are plenty of reasons to go Chad, frankly I don’t even know where to start! There are the sublime oases hidden in the northern dessert, the exquisite wild life in the National Parks, and the unforgettable boat trips on Lake Chad.

oase in chad

So here are some fun facts about Chad:

  • The average Chadian woman gives birth to six children.
  • The flag of Chad has vertical blue, yellow and red stripes. The blue strip symbolizes hope , the yellow stripe symbolizes the sun, the red stripe symbolizes fire and unity.
  • Chad is sometimes referred to as ‘The Death Heart of Africa’ due to the desert climate.
  • Chad it is about the size of Spain, France and Kansas combined
  • Did you know Chad is home to up to 200,000 Sudanese refugees.

It was a real challenge to find a recipe from Chad, they mostly eat tomatoes and onions apparently. So I made a salad. It was good but just so a little too basic for my taste.

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Ingredients: 5 tomatoes (thinly sliced), 2 small onions (thinly sliced), 1 red or green chili (de-seeded and lengthways into fine slivers, handful of coriander (finely chopped), juice of 1 lime, 3 tbsp olive oil, black pepper to taste.

Place the tomatoes, sliced onions, chilli and coriander into a large serving bowl. Mix together the limejuice and olive oil and toss this mixture through the salad. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper and serve immediately. This is the traditional version, but shredded cabbage or carrot can be added.

37. Central African Republic: Peanut and Sweet Potato Soup

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During my research for the Central African Republic I could find nothing but misery. So I started thinking what do I know about this misery in this miserable country. My answer: next to nothing. The only thing I know is that Kony has a lot of influence there. If you haven’t heard about Kony, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE FEW PAST YEARS?

Despite being full of natural resources like gold, diamonds and uranium it’s one of the poorest countries in the world. Frankly there was not much positive to be found in the Central African Republic, it is a country torn by war. The conflict is way to complicated to explain. So I will just give you the recipe

This recipe is so delicious and healthy! Perfect for a cold winter night! And yes I added a little leftover focaccia bread. Too completely different continents but strange enough it worked!

sweetpotato soup

Ingredients: 1½ tsp olive oil,  2 cloves garlic, minced, 1 yellow onion, diced, 1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger, 4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium, 4 cups diced tomatoes ( canned or boxed with juices), 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced, ½ cup natural peanut butter, 2 tsp ground cumin, 2 tsp ground coriander, ¼ tsp sea salt, ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper¼ tsp cinnamon, chopped fresh cilantro

 Heat olive oil in a large sauce pan or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add garlic, onion and ginger and stir frequently until the onions are softened (approx. 3 min.). Add 1 cup of water, vegetable broth, tomatoes, peanut butter, cumin, coriander, salt, cayenne and cinnamon. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and cover the pot. Let simmer until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally (approx. 12 min.) To serve sprinkle over the chopped cilantro