(59) Curaçao – Keshi Yena

Willemstad, the capital of Curaçao. Source: Reddit

Welcome to another day traveling the globe by taste bud, today we land in the Caribbean on an island called Curaçao. You can find this Dutch island off the shores of Venezuela. It has a unique landscape that makes it stand out from the other Caribbean islands- it is a true desert island that receives little rain. Because of its dry climate growing crops is a challenge. When the Spanish came to the island and wanted to grow oranges they instead got small and tart fruit. Eventually it was discovered that the leaves from these plants were great to make liquor known today as blue curacao! This island of course has beautiful sandy beaches, incredible coral reefs, and a vibrant capital city know for its array of colors.

This gem of an island has strong European influence that can be found in its buildings, culture, and of course food. Dutch treats are enjoyed around the island along with Caribbean specialties. Keshi yena is considered to be the national dish of Curaçao which can be made vegetarian or with meat. It consists of cheese lined molds (such as a muffin tin or ramekins) filled with a savory filling that is baked until the cheese melts to completely enclose the center. You end up with several “cheese-castles” which is best served with a sliced up French baguette. The recipe I used can be found here.

When I was starting to make this dish I was surprised by the ingredients I was using. I would have never thought that raisins, capers, and soy sauce would be together as a part of this dishes filling! I found it tricky to cut the cheese thin enough to mold into my muffin tray, but I made it work. I used two different gouda cheeses (one older and one younger) which I felt elevated the meal.

Once I stuffed the cheese molded tray with the filling I used the remaining sliced cheese to encase the concoctions. Warning, there was a lot of grease that formed on the top of my tray and I had to keep dabbing it throughout the cooking time to avoid it dripping into the bottom of my oven. The author of this recipe used separate cooking dishes which may have eliminated this issue.

The end result once again surprised as with its complex and rich flavor. Most of my little cheese castles fell apart, but I was able to get a couple to stick together (shown above). We served them with the recommended baguette which we discovered tasted great with the keshi yena on top. Ian thought it reminded him of a lasagna in a way. If you don’t like your meals really cheesy this would probably be too much for you (or if dairy makes your tummy upset). We rated the dish 7.5/10.

(58) Nepal – Dal Bhat

Mountain Sinai. Source: Gadsventure

Today we travel back to Southern Asia to the country of Nepal. These country is situated mostly in the Himalayan mountains (home to Mount Everest) bordered by China, India, and Bhutan. Due to its location in a harsh environment it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world. Nepal is known to honor their cows due to Hindu religion (one of the most popular religions of Nepal) which means they will not kill their cows even when they stop providing milk. At that time cows are released and the community will care for the free cows. How cute!

Cuisine of Nepal can be broken up into regions and understandably has strong Asian influence. Such regions are Himilayan, Newars, Khas, Lohorung, and Terai. Each have specific dishes and cooking preparation methods that are unique to the region (with some overlap). Today’s dish dal bhat is a lentil curry, sometimes soup-like in consistency, that is eaten throughout the country and neighboring China and India. Traditionally it is served over rice and is vegetarian or vegan dependent on the oil used for cooking. It’s served at the 17,000 ft base camp on Mount Everest to fuel the brave hikers on their journey to/from the summit. The recipe I followed can be found here.

This meal was super-duper easy and healthy. I don’t cook with lentils often, but I was intrigued by the mix of spices (which I admit did not measure out when preparing). Additionally it has few ingredients and is inexpensive to make. Have I caught your attention now?

We enjoyed this meal and the blend of spice giving a mild heat to the dish. The lime and cilantro helped balance the heat. It was by far the best lentil dish we have ever had. Ian felt that adding salsa would have made it better, but what doesn’t salsa make better? We rated this dish 7.25/10 and recommend it to anyone who has never had lentils before or enjoy the flavors of cumin, turmeric, and cayenne. Let us know what you think by dropping a comment below!

(57) Togo – Grilled Ginger and Garlic Chicken with Tomato Cornmeal Cakes

The fortress like huts of the Tamberma people in northern Togo. Source: iStock.com

Bringing us to up to 57 countries is a lesser known African country, Togo. Togo is a West African country bordered by Benin, Ghana, and Burkina Faso along the Gulf of Guinea. This country has a long growing season which fuels their agriculture dominant economy. Cocoa, coffee, and peanuts are some of the important crops grown here. Togo is famous for its white sandy beaches and national parks.

Chicken marinade

Staple foods found in Togolese cuisine include beans, yams, plantains, millet, rice, and maize. The country has a history of rule from Germany and France which does influence their cuisine. Due to this influence it is not uncommon to see Togolese people enjoying German beer and French baguettes. Today’s dish was made up of two components- grilled chicken and tomato corn meal cakes. Cornmeal as you probably know by now is a popular African staple that can be transformed into several sides to accompany the main meal. Chicken is more excessable in Togo and is commonly cooked over a fire similar to grilling.

I chose to marinate chicken drumsticks for 24 hours prior to grilling to get as much flavor as possible (recipe here). Ian being the grill master that he is I had him take charge with the cooking. As for the cornmeal cakes the directions were similar and easy to follow (recipe here). The tomato sauce was a great way to bring the cornmeal to the next level.

The chicken obviously tasted great from being grilled, but I was sad I couldn’t taste the ginger. Like I stated above the cornmeal with the tomato sauce definitely made it tastier than the past cornmeal dishes I have made. Still we were not wowed by the meal and I honestly don’t see myself making the cornmeal sides again (sorry..). We rated it 6.25/10. If the chicken had more ginger flavor it could have been rated higher.

Next we head to Nepal for a vegan dish that packs a little heat🔥

(56) Singapore – Chili Prawns

The majestic merlion of Singapore. Source: Travel Awaits

Hey guys, we are in Singapore! This beautiful country borders Western Malaysia and is guarded by the mythical merlion (seen above). This figure came to life from the combination of its previous name Singapura (lion city in Malay) and honoring the the past, modest fishing village that the country started as (hence lion head and fish body). Singapore is known for its ban on chewing gum, affordable street food, and its summer-like weather year round (it is situated near the equator).

No that isn’t guacamole, I could only find green chilis

For a smaller country Singapore is well-known for its incredible cuisine, especially seafood. Rice, noodles, and other meats are also found in many of its dishes, but today we pay tribute to seafood. I was originally going to make the very popular chili crab, but I couldn’t buy any crab locally.. only crab meat for crab cakes and that wasn’t going to cover it. So the next best thing was chili prawns (or shrimp).

The dish consists of a sweet and spicy chili sauce that simmers prior to the addition of the seafood of choice. At the end a beaten egg is mixed in briefly and the dish is removed from heat to serve over rice or noodles. Luckily I had some leftover coconut rice which paired wonderfully! This dish is so good that it’s mentioned in the top 50 best dishes on CNN. The recipe can be found here.

So we loved it, obviously. It was sweet with a mild heat, the ginger and garlic coming through well. The egg made the sauce creamy and delightful, just make sure not to let it sit too long so the egg doesn’t fry. Our only suggestion would have been some vegetables added to the mix to complete the meal. We absolutely loved it and will be making it in the future! It was rated 8.5/10.

(55) French Polynesia – Mahi Mahi with Tahitian Vanilla Sauce

Source: Discover the World

Ia ora na (Tahitian for hello) and welcome to French Polynesia! This French territory is made up of over 100 islands, only 67 being inhabited. These islands are sorted into five archipelagos/island groupings: Tuamotu, Austral, Marquesas, Gambier, and Society. Tahiti, a Society island, is the capital and the most populated island making up nearly 70% of the entire country’s population. Most inhabitants are Polynesian, but a quarter of them are European and Chinese. French Polynesia is known for its hundreds of sandy beaches, exploring wild life in the jungle and dives into the ocean. I’m ready to pack my bags!!

Cuisine of French Polynesia consists of a large variety of seafood, locally grown produce such as uru (breadfruit) and umara (sweet potato), and for special occasions suckling pigs. A well known dish, poisson cru, is made up of raw tuna, lime juice, and coconut milk.

Today I made a recipe with cooked fish (sorry sushi lovers) with a decadent vanilla bean sauce and a side of sautéed veggies.

It was pretty easy and quick to prepare, the vanilla sauce being the most technical part of the recipe. Make sure to scrape out every little bit of those vanilla beans to get your moneys worth!

The end result should look something like this, a beautiful sheen on the fish with specks of vanilla bean throughout. I did feel my sauce was slightly on the runny side, but it was still delicious. I ended up using three times as much sauce then pictured when eating the fish to get as much flavor as possible (I didn’t want my plate to look soupy). We loved the uniqueness of the vanilla bean sauce and thought it worked well not only with the fish but the rice as well. There was a hint of sourness I felt came from the rum, but the rum flavor in general was not strong.

This would be a great healthy alternative to try for your work week! We rated it 7.25/10

(54) Malaysia – Nasi Lemak

Sorry for my little hiatus we were off camping! With the warmer weather we have also decided to go down to 3 countries a week so we can enjoy the outdoors and get more active! Alright now on to the Malaysia!

Walking the canopy walk in Gunung Mulu National Park. Source: Maps of the World

Malaysia is a southeastern Asian country situated by Singapore, Indonesia, Brunei, and Thailand. It is made up of two regions, West Malaysia (or Peninsular Malaysia) and East Malaysia (or Malaysia Timur). Western Malaysia makes up 40% of the total country and is known for its rainforests, mountains, and sandy beaches along with some of the tallest skyscrapers of the world. Eastern Malaysia is home to many nature reserves, National parks, and rural landscapes. One of these National Parks, Gunung Mulu National Park (pictured above) has incredible bridges you can walk in the canopies of the rainforest, the largest cave chamber in the world, and the pinnacles which are jagged limestone peaks that are as high as 50 meters (164ft).

All special ingredients and foods we haven’t tried before!

Malaysian cuisine consists of many things I have not tried (and will be trying today). It is made up of three ethnic groups: Malays, Chinese, and Indian. The common ingredients you can find throughout Malaysian dishes are chili peppers, Belacan (shrimp paste), coconut, lemongrass, tofu, seafood, soy sauce, tamarind, rice and noodles. The unofficial national dish of Malaysia is called Nasi Lemak and consists of many of the ingredients listed above along with two I did not see myself trying.. dried anchovies and sardines.

Nasi Lemak is made up mostly of a coconut rice that is cooked with pandan leaves, tamarind juice, and sambal ikan bilis (achovy paste made of chilis garlic, shallots, belacan, and small dried anchovies). It has other ingredients that are garnished around the main dish which allows you to get a different experience with every bite. Due to the array textures and flavors it is adored not only in Malaysia, but also neighboring countries and islands.

Although feeling a little uneasy I decided to tackle this new meal with an open mind. I did have to purchase several ingredients through Amazon since I was unable to find them in my local stores. Although it looked daunting, it was not too challenging to make. I still have not found a way to avoid burning the bottom of my coconut rice, but it was still successful. The recipe I used had several elements that together made up the dish (this being the traditional way) and looked quite nice once I plated it up.

I filled a tea bag with the pandan leaves for easy removal

We were pleasantly surprised by the dish, however the spice had us chugging water and milk. The anchovies and sardines were gave a salty flavor to the dish (make sure not to over season with salt). The egg, rice, and cucumber helped soothe my burning tongue after taking a bite of the very spicy sambal ikan bilis. If it wasn’t as spicy it would have taken a higher rating, but due to feeling like my mouth, face, and esophagus was up in flames we rated it 6.5/10.

Let us know what you think of this unique dish and if you handled the heat better 😅

(53) Croatia – Lamb (Beef) Peka

Views of the old walls of Dubrovnik. Source: The Traveler

Welcome back, today we travel back to the Balkans to the beautiful Croatia. This crescent-shaped country borders Hungary, Slovenia, Serbia, Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has over 1,200 countries, Krk being the largest and most populated. Interestingly it was believed to be the most populated area of Neanderthals and is home to the most remains in the world.

Croatian cuisine utilizes all forms of meat from land and sea, various vegetables, plenty of olive oil and wine. Each region brings different dishes and flavors like many countries. Peka, the dish I made today (recipe), consists of a variety of vegetables and a meat of choice cooked in plenty of olive oil, white wine, tomato paste and herbs. In Croatia it is often cooked outdoors over a fire, the dome lid is covered with hot coals for about 2 hours.

Since I made this during the week I had limited time to cook so I decided to try using my crockpot on low instead. I found out when following this recipe it used A LOT of vegetables, actually too many.. It was so much that I just could put the lid on the crockpot. It cooked for at least 10.5 hours (since I work long days) and was very done in crockpot fashion when I got home. Due to the high volume of vegetables it required additional liquid in order not to dry out the food. Looking back I should have used half the vegetables.

The meal was served with jasmine rice and sprinkled with dried thyme and rosemary. The white wine pulled through with the acidic sweetness. We thought it had savory elements and the meat was very tender, but overall it was on the more basic side. It could have very well been my execution and alteration to the recipe that lead to it being this way. We rated it 6/10 for the above reasons.

(52) American Samoa – Sapa Sui

Hey guys welcome to the American Samoa, the southern-most territory of the United States. It can be found hallway between New Zealand and Hawaii and is made up of 5 inhabited, volcanic islands and 2 coral atolls. One of the coral atolls, Rose Atoll, has sunk back into the ocean from the weight of coral and old lava, but was believed to have been covered in rainforests like the other surrounding islands. This country produces the most American football players than anywhere else in the world and makes the tuna canneries employ 80% of the islands natives. It also is home to one of the most remote national parks of the US and is spread over 3 of its islands- Tutuila, Ofu, and Ta‘ū. Pictured above is one of these islands beaches.

Ofu Beach. Source: Beachesworld.com


American Samoa cuisine is mostly filled with easily excessable foods found on or surrounding the islands. Such foods include coconut, fruit, seafood, rice, various livestock, and canned corn beef. A staple dish found here known as sapa sui or Samoan chop suey is unlike its American cousin with Asian influence. With that said it did not originate here and brought over from Chinese settlers in the 1840s. At the time there were laws prohibiting interaction with the Chinese settlers, but as time pasted many married native Samoans ultimately bringing us intertwined culture and cuisine.

I used this recipe which at first glance said to use mung beans and of course in western Maine I couldn’t find that so I looked the substitute which is green pigeon peas. I later read that glass noodles could be used and sadly did not have enough on hand for the desired amount. When it comes to mid week cooking I don’t always read my recipes over enough prior to execution day and I later find out things like this.. oh well. It was fairly simple to make and definitely did not need to be seasoned with salt (the amount of soy sauce used was salty enough in my opinion)

It was a nice mix up and was clearly reminiscent of its ancestry with the dominating soy sauce flavor. The fresh ginger also brought a mild warmth to the dish, but it did not wow us like others have. We rated it 6/10 and with more noodles and chicken vs ground meat probably could have scored a higher rating.

Next we head back to Europe and substitute beef for yet another lamb recipe (sorry not sorry)! Let us know if you tried this dish and had a different experience than we did!

A Greek Breakfast- Feta and Sundried Tomato Egg Skillet with Honey and Walnut topped Greek Yogurt

To top off our week in Greece I made a Greek breakfast spread. Ian often had Greek yogurt with walnuts and honey on his vacation along with other traditional foods such as fruits, pastries, and eggs. To pair with the yogurt and accruements I made a Greek inspired scramble with sundried tomatoes, feta, and some herbs.

It was simple, quick, and delicious although the addition of spinach would have brought the eggs to another level. I liked that this breakfast was not only easy, but had several foods that are often staples of the kitchen (at least my kitchen). The point being you don’t have to buy expensive or fancy ingredients to make a meal that perfectly represents a country. I have been spending more money on groceries lately with uncommon ingredients so I decided to take a step back and keep it simple for this bonus recipe.

With my Greek egg creation being so simple I don’t feel it needs a written recipe- add the desired eggs (fried or scrambled), fresh or sun dried tomatoes, feta cheese, herbs (oregano and parsley is what I used), salt, pepper, and paprika. If you discover a Greek-inspired egg scramble combination that worked well for you let us know in the comments below!

Next we head to a US territory for a twist on an American classic!

Greece Day 4 – Ian’s Gyro (Tzatziki recipe included)

For our final meal of the week we had a classic street foot of Greece- the Gyro. Pronounced like “yee-roh” (Greek for spin) this savory wrap is traditionally filled with a grilled meat (lamb or beef), tzatziki sauce, sliced tomato, and red onion wrapped inside pita bread. The sandwich did not become mass produced like it is now until the 1970s as American tourism quickly made it a fast food. It is now popular in the US especially in New York City.

It does originate from Greece, however it is believed to be very similar to the Turkish döner kebabs. The term gyro refers to the method the meat is traditionally cooked, rotating vertically on a spit. The Turkish kebabs are cooked in a similar fashion and alike ingredients. We were unable to achieve that, however we broke out our little Colman grill and got the job done. We used sirloin tips for our meat of choice, yum!

As for the tzatziki sauce it is a refreshing combination of Greek yogurt (make sure its plain!), shredded cucumber, lemon juice, and herbs. This sauce can be found in cuisine along the Balkans and the Middle East along with Greece with slightly different preparations. We were glad to use our nifty shredding attachment to make this step even more of a breeze!

This meal wasn’t new to us, but that wasn’t going to stop us from making it one of our four. We loved the tender meat with the cooling tzatziki and fresh vegetables. Our only downfall (slight) was the naan bread since I could not find pita bread anywhere! The naan made it VERY filling, but nonetheless it is one of our favorite dinners to make. With that said we rated it 9.5/10 (10/10 with pita). We hope you enjoy Ian’s recipes just as much as we do!