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Around the world without leaving my kitchen...

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
So, I create a weekly menu that we pretty much stick to. Since I'm still really just beginning to learn how to cook, most of the things I cook are recipes from books or from sites like tastespotting, or on here. When I see something I like, i bookmark it and it eventually makes it on the menu. Boring huh? Sometimes the recipes are "eh" sometimes they are great, but I'm not really learning (or at least I don't feel like I'm learning) much.

I'm a basics guy. I like understand the classics, etc. etc. etc. before I go mucking with things. I wanna make how a dish is supposed to be made and taste that, before I try variations, etc....you get the point.

Well, the next couple of weeks, I wanted to do something a little different than what I usually do. I want to make each week or each two weeks....a theme.

Each week I want to cook the "staple" dishes from a specific country or region within a country. In addition, since we do eat out once a week, I'll make the restaurant choice relative as well.

We shop on Saturday so Sunday starts our week. I haven't come up with a clever way to pick what country or region each week though. I'll need your guys help to come up with what you think the staple dishes would be. (6 + 1 eating out). From haute to street food.

I'll start a new post for each country/region, anyone have any suggestions for places?
post #2 of 17
I sorta dabbled in this a bit for our kids. I try to cook a culture's relevant food for holidays we don't celebrate.

Chinese new year, Passover, Ramadan, And that sort of thing. It gives us a chance to talk about other cultures, their foods, meaning and contributions. Easter has lots of interpretations in different cultures so you can revisit holidays in different ways. Also true for many other religious cultures as they spread through out the world. Surprising how much of this ritual calendar is based on a lunar calendar across widely divergent cultures.

I'll admit to having neglected Hinduism and Shintoism as major religions so far.

My inner pagan this year is looking for rabbit to roast the easter bunny for Easter for breaking and entering my house. My wife accused me of being horrible. It's actually been kind of hard to find. My specialty butcher isn't carrying any.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #3 of 17
Thread Starter 
One thing thats kind of tough for me, is I don't know "regions" very well, for instance, China, how many culinary regions could it be broken into. (sure, we can argue probably 1000000) and what are they. Even Italy.

There aren't enough weeks in the year to cover even a small amount, so I have to pick the best "regions" culinary-wise....which for someone who loves food, isn't easy haha.
post #4 of 17
RPMc have you looked at the Culinaria series of books? I have only glanced at them but my professional cook daughter likes them because they are about the various cuisines found in the topic country i.e Culinaria Spain, Culinaria Italy, Culinaria Greece etc.
post #5 of 17
China is usually divided into 4 or 8 regions depending on the view of the author. 4 is more common than 8 in my reading.

The 4

Sichuan (Western China)
Cantonese (Southern China)
Shandong (Northern China) What this includes can vary. Many ignore the Mongolian herder food and the Chinese Muslim contribution.
Huaiyang Cuisine (Eastern China)

The 8

Some more modern chefs view Beijing cuisine and Shanghai as separate creating 10 regions.

There are other divisions as well. You'll see Fukkien called out; the Han ethnic culture as it traveled outside of China more; Hong Kong as it cooks so much for outsiders has attracted many of the greatest chefs and so on.

The tibetan styles share more with Nepal and India and is often considered separate from Chinese Cuisine.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #6 of 17
Thread Starter 
phatch - Exactly the type of info I'm looking for!!!!!!!! Since I'm looking for the "staple" dishes, usually the staples have been around a long while before "modern" hip chefs.

btw - I think a region in china is going to be the first weeks theme. Just have to figure out if I have the right tools, and can get the right ingredients, etc. Asia is pretty easy as my Asian markets are very well stocked.

jbd - I'll look into it.
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
How about Thailand. How can/should that be broken up? I'm sure that will be NRatcheds first pick.
post #8 of 17

Love the idea, I believe I'll play along at my home as well. I think this could help me get more comfortable with setting up flavors.

This could turn into a nice learning experience, not only for cooking within region...but eating within a region as well.

I'll try to stay out of the thread...but I'll be cooking along!

post #9 of 17
Thread Starter 
so Gonefishin' do you have any ideas or preferences for a good first and second week? I figure i'll try to plan the weeks out well in advance in case I have trouble sourcing ingredients, etc. etc. I'm pretty open to most foods, but....unfortunately I'm not the biggest of seafood eaters, (I can eat it once or twice a week)

I'd also like to jump around a bit from week to week.
post #10 of 17
You could point blindfolded at a world map. :lol:
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
"The pressure's on...let's cook something!"
post #11 of 17
You should look at the books of Diane Kochilas for Greek regional cuisine and discussion.

The Splendid Table: Recipes from Emilia-Romagna, the Heartland of Northern Italian Food
by Lynne Rossetto Kasper At least I think this is the book, was one I really enjoyed on this region of Italian food. Enough for me to be able to pull it up on Amazon after probably 10 years?

Most chinese cookbooks aren't really that regionally broken up. Martin Yan's latest is fairly regional, Martin Yan's China. Kenneth Lo has a 1979 book, Chinese Regional Cooking you can buy used off the internet quite reasonably. Full of recipes I've never seen anywhere else. He gives restaurant or Chinese book references for most of the recipes. I quite enjoy my copy though I've not cooked much from it yet. Only had it a few months. Another aspect of this book that is interesting is that it was written at the changeover to current standard Chinese spelling such as Beijing instead of Peking. Mr. Lo chose to use the then more familar older names. So it's also a product of it's time in a fun way.

For Cantonese, Grace Young and Eileen Yin Fei Lo have written some good childhood retrospective cookbooks. Eilieen's actualy from within China and Grace from San Francisco, but both are very good and give contrasting views into different aspects of the same cuisine.
My Grandmother's Chinese Kitchen: 100 Family Recipes and Life Lessons by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo

The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen: Classic Family Recipes for Celebration and Healing by Grace Young

I thought both of those books were as good for the life story vignettes as for the cooking.

About.com is usually reasonable for starting information on regional cuisines. I don't consider it authoritative or deep, but will usually help you refine your searches.
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
post #12 of 17
You can start with countries, go around the world, then come back around go regional.

You guys should just go live in a shack for a couple years, quit your jobs, travel the world for two years.
post #13 of 17
Were it me, I think I'd take a slightly different tack. I'd find a unifying influence that causes the foodstuffs of a vast region to be similar, but which change in the specifics country to country.

For instance, you could explore the Med, country by country, starting in Iberia, and swinging east through France, Italy, Greece, etc., until finishing up in Moracco.

Or you could choose the Indian Ocean as your unifying force, and see how the cultures of the nations bordering it influence their cuisines. For one reference here, see Where Flavor Was Born

Or follow any of the great rivers of the world, exploring how cuisine changes as the river flows. The Nile would certainly be a great unifying theme. Or the Mekong. Or even the Mississippi.

Another possibility is to pick a food product and see how it's influenced and been used by various cultures and countries. The sort of thing Mark Kurlansky has done with salt and cod.

Or still another approach: Pick a conqueror from history, and trace the cuisines of the countries he conquered or passed through. Alexander of Macedon comes immediately to mind. But there are many others.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
post #14 of 17
Boy, geographical based cuisine travels can certainly cover a lot of territory and time. It wasn't that long ago that some slaves on the Atlantic coast, I forget the exact details, petitioned that they not be forced to eat lobster more than three times a week. How many of us here eat lobster even once a week?

You could go for weeks without even leaving the United States. A bowl of Texas Red, a bowl of Cincinatti chili. What, exactly, is "Southern Fried Chicken?" And how does creamed spinach in South Dakota compare to the Sudanese version from Africa with onions and couscous?

One cookbook I have is called 'Please to the Table" by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman. It contains hundreds of recipes from various areas of Russia, sorted somewhat by region. Don't overlook Bavaria, Prussia, the Baltics and such.

What did Beethoven eat? Mozart? Maurice Ravel? Andrew Lloyd Webber? Well Webber is still alive as far as I know, so you could rummage through his dustbin to see what he dines upon.

My point is that there are many ways to embark upon this journey, many directions to travel, many stops to make along the way. It should be fun. Play with your food.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
post #15 of 17
How about Newfoundland?
some screech
kiss the cod for luck
all that folksy music

check this out
Newfoundland through eyes of a foreigner - Newfoundland ocami cudzinca
post #16 of 17

I was looking at Google earth wondering just how to approach this. Do you start with 0' N, 0' W? Do you start with a timeline in the worlds history?

I don't know?

I did find a couple of interesting websites. Food past and present...the ethnic and regional links seemed to fit well with the idea. They also have a worksheet at the website that seems to have a decent outline, even though it doesn't fit entirely.

Maybe alphabetical?

The Foreign foods project has a list of various countries that are listed alphabetical. Maybe this would be a decent way to "jump" around the world.

edit add: After reading some of the posts here I wonder if it would be best to have a structure to get around the world (such as the alphabetical list), but each country could be dealt with individually. This way you may want to approach the food of China in a different manner than American, Irish or African cuisine. You may want to approach the food from China in a regional manner where using a timeline could work out well for other countries.

Goodcooking has an assorted list of cuisine around the world as well.

should be fun :)
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
yeah i'll have to tackle each country differently I think. I like the China breakdown so far. I've also decided to start after Easter as I have a lot going on culinarywise.

I think my start is going to be my background, Belorussian, then after that, I'm going to hit up NRatcheds background, Korea

I'm going to start two threads to kick those two off i this "series" but lets keep other suggestions open in this thread on how to tackle this.
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