Israel, apart of the Middle East is a country known for its religions and sacred Jerusalem. Israel borders the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt, Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Israel is the only country to have revived a “dead” language and has made it their national language. This language is Hebrew. The Dead Sea, which borders Jordan and Israel, is the lowest point on Earth, nearly 420 m or 1377 ft below sea level and is 10x saltier which means there is no marine life hence “dead” sea.
The cuisine of Israel is a blend of Jewish, Middle Eastern, Arab, and Mediterranean cuisines. Like many other countries, the cuisine can differ depending on what region you are in. Holidays and celebrations of the Jewish and Arab cultures also have their special dishes for the occasion. It is said a meal without a salad is not a meal at all in Israel (oops I dropped the ball!). Common foods you can find throughout Israeli cuisine include chickpeas, couscous, fish, fresh vegetables, pita bread, and chicken to name a few components. Israel is thought to be a melting pot of cultures which brings a vast variety of foods and an ever growing cuisine!
For Israel I decided to attempt the beloved falafel, up until now I had never tried it before! Falafel is an unofficial national dish of Israel due to being the most popular street food, however it is also considered a national dish in several of the surrounding countries. Some believe that it was first created in Egypt over 1,000 years ago and brought to the Middle East and others claim India was the inventor of falafel 1,400 years ago. There is also talk that Egypt create falafel more recently in the late 19th century and originally was made using fava beans instead of chickpeas.
I didn’t cut any corners here, except for the use of my air fryer of course! I allowed my chickpeas to soak as the recipe warned it wouldn’t work otherwise. I followed the recipe but had difficulty getting them to stay in perfect ball shape. A lot of them would crumble with any pressure. This recipe also is VERY time consuming, just prepare ahead! Shaping every ball alone is time consuming. The recipe recommends frying in a pan which would allow more to cook at once but the air fryer decreased the grease. This could have lead to the falafel being on the dry side.
This meal had good flavors with roasted garlic being a highlight on our palettes. Hummus was key to balance the dryness of the dish and the fresh vegetables brought a refreshing crunch and more moisture to the meal. This was my first attempt at falafel and I think it was a decent go at it. We rated it 7.5/10.
Our final Kenyan recipe had a lot of promise. A homemade spice blend and a solid ingredient list made for an exciting cooking journey. The recipe can be found here.
Kuku Kienyeji translates to “free range chicken.” Unfortunately my chicken was a Hannaford special 😅, but nonetheless this recipe calls for a whole chicken that you cut into sections for cooking. This more natural chicken traditionally takes longer to prepare thus the boiling is the first step of the cooking process. In some preparation I found people would use other parts of the chicken including gizzards and liver. I did not partake with that!
At the time I had questioned some of the preparation and was sad to see the chicken cook down to the point it fell off the bone. For anyone using store bought whole chicken I think browning the chicken on all sides at a higher heat and cooking over half way through before adding it to the vegetable mixture could give that aesthetic the blog has. Other sources this meal was definitely had more of a stew appearance. It is a lengthy cooking process with a homemade seasoning which if you don’t have a spice grinder could seriously add on time.
To round out our Kenya food tour we were unfortunately underwhelmed once again! The clove was too powerful and made it less appetizing. We found the mix of veggies and chicken was nice and it was spicy without being “too spicy” of course minus the clove.. Also the chicken cooked so long it fell off the bone making the presentation a let down compared the the reference. This one ranked lower at 5/10. It probably is just cook error🙃
Switching gears, we will next visit Norfolk Island!
The Philippines is an Asian country made up of 7.6k islands of which only 2k are inhabited. The Philippines are known for their beautiful beaches and picturesque landscapes like the one pictured below.
The cuisine of The Philippines is unique due to the diverse ethnolinguistic groups and tribes over the thousands of islands. Much of Filipino cuisine was created several centuries ago and have since evolved into known dishes today such as paella, lechon, adobo chicken, and lumpia to name a few. This country is also one of the world’s largest producers of coconut. Vinegar is also known as a very crucial element in Filipino cuisine as you will read more about below.
Of course the dish we chose is a very well known dish and is often the first food to be associated with Filipino food- chicken adobo! When I was researching the Philippines, my friend Eric who is half Filipino, steered me in the direction of this mouth watering plate. He has made us this meal on multiple occasions so I already had a good idea how good it would taste. Adobo, a salt, vinegar, soy sauce, and black peppercorn marinade has been around since the precolonial period. The indigenous people would use vinegar and salt to help preserve food in the tropical climate.
This was another easy dish! I marinated the chicken overnight in order to get as much flavor as possible and while it cooked I could get the mushrooms and onions prepped. When everything was cooking I got the rice going and prepared the salad. Although it was a steady hour of cooking with minimal breaks it can be done during the week.
Yum! This chicken was so delectable, the mushrooms were tender and full of flavor, and the salad was refreshing and spicy! We loved that the ingredient list was minimal and not overwhelming. The meal overall was well rounded and a crown pleaser. We rated it 8/10!
Adobo Chicken with Mushrooms and Onions – The Philippines
This super savory chicken uses simple ingredients and is easy to make.
Doesn’t that look nice? I would love to be sticking my toes in that warm, white sand.. but instead of sand I’m stuck with white snow. Anyways.. welcome to Seychelles! You can find this African country in the Indian Ocean north of Madagascar. Seychelles is an archipelago made up of 115 islands with 8 being having the majority of inhabitants. Interestingly there were no inhabitants until the late 1700s when the French discovered the islands. These are the only islands in the world that are formed from granite versus typical volcanic or coral elements. The worlds largest seed, Coco de Mer, can weigh up to 40lbs and can be found on two of the 115 islands making it heavily (pun intended) protected due to its variety.
The cuisine of the island is like many other neighboring islands. Local produce and seafood dominate the main course which includes shark chutneys and fish curries. You can eat the cherished Coco de Mer seeds however due to their size and harvesting rules many do not. Breadfruit is very popular here and according to legend if you eat breadfruit here you will return some day. I used this recipe which was actually created by Chef Daniel Louis on the island of Mahe, Seychelles. The recipe is for traditional shrimp creole curry. Creole cuisine ) is a mix of African, French, Spanish, and Caribbean influences that involve a lot of spice and heat using simple cooking methods.
Cooking and preparation was simple using basic cooking techniques. I liked that this recipe used a whole cinnamon stick to give a deeper flavor. Good thing I still have 50+ from a previous order..🙃
As you know we love shrimp dishes and this one didn’t disappoint! We enjoyed the warmth from the ginger and curry, however it did remind us of some dishes we have made before. The shrimp pairs well with these flavors and the coconut rice is just a given at this point (it is the only way to eat rice with curry flavors). We though it was deserving of a 7.25/10. Side not still not a huge fan of eggplant- think I will pass in the future🍆
After our journey west we are going northeast to Mongolia. This eastern Asian country is bordered by China and Russia and is one of the largest landlocked country in the world. It is also the least populated country with over 25% of its inhabitants living the nomadic lifestyle. Mongolia is sometimes referred to as “the land of blue skies” because of how often the skies are clear. The Gobi desert makes up the southern border of the country and has an impressive dinosaur fossil reserve. Wild horses run abundant here with a ratio of 13: 1 to humans. Endangered snow leopards and two hump Bactrian camels are also native here.
In Mongolia there are some truly unique traditions around their food. “Airbag” or fermented horse milk is one of the most popular drinks with spiritual importance. Another popular food despite below freezing temperatures is ice cream! It is believed to be first created in Mongolia but it wasn’t the sweet treat we love today but rather meats stored in intestines and the jolting from riding on a horse made an ice cream like substance.. I’ll pass!
Mongolian cuisine primarily consists of meats, fats, and dairy products due to the climate and resources of the country. Due to its location China and Russia have influenced their cuisine. Today I make a better known dish- Mongolian chicken! This simple but incredibly savory meal can be found in Chinese and Asian fast-food restaurants and was actually invented in Taiwan. I did not realize the lack of Mongolian authenticity until after the fact so there will be a Mongolia round two..🙃 Does that mean I need to round up some intestines and a wild horse? Nonetheless lets continue, here is the recipe.
Well at least it was easy to prepare and took few ingredients. I decided to add some golden zucchini (glorified zucchini) to the dish to add color and balance. The cornstarch was definitely a game changer and allowed the sauce to coat evenly.
This was a meal we needed! Simple, quick, and delicious- check, check and check! The chicken was insanely delicious, the sauce was very similar to teriyaki, and this could have earned the perfect 10 if it had more elements to the dish. I can see myself making this in the future using this recipe as the base to a bad ass stir fry! 9.5/10, so close darling! We will have Mongolia take two in the future to find the real deal.
Welcome to South Korea, our 84th country! You can of course find South Korea on the border of North Korea, The Yellow Sea, and The Sea of Japan. The city of Seoul is the largest of South Korea and the world’s third largest city with a population of 25 million people! Outside of the bustling city you can admire the traditional Hanok architecture in Hanok Village which is situated between two of the large palaces from the Joseon Dynasty. Interestingly, in South Korea you don’t turn a year older until New Year’s Day, and from birth you are a year old. From yummy food to popular music South Korea has left its mark on the United States.
There are a few foods that come to mind when you think of South Korea- kimchi (fermented cabbage and vegetables), bibibaps, and soondae (blood sausage) to name a few. Their cuisine has evolved greatly over time due to political and social events. Rice, vegetables, seafood, and meats make up most meals while sesame oil, gochujang (fermented chili paste), doenjang (fermented bean paste), and soy sauce are common ingredients. Koreans are very into fermented foods which add a unique flavor to any dish. Our dish we are making today, beef bulgogi, will have a side of kimchi.
Beef bulgogi is a marinated, thinly sliced (oops) beef that is often grilled or sautéed served over rice or wrapped up in lettuce. The origins of the meal date back to Goguryeo era, which was 37 B.C. to 668 A.D. It started out as skewered meat known as maekjeok and over time evolved to neobiani which was marinated beef that was grilled and often eaten by the upper class and royalty. By the early 20th century beef was more available in Korea and ultimately became the bulgogi we know today. There is a slightly different interpretation of the dish which is more a beef broth meal. So I actually did neither preparation and sautéed the meat in its marinade- yum! Can you smell that garlic? Recipe can be found here.
After my meat marinated for 24 hours I cooked it as directed via skillet. I decided to let it cook with most of the marinade to make sure it would stay tender. Luckily this meal as another easy one to do during the work week. To achieve the cucumber ribbons I used a veggie peeler.
What a pretty plate! We loved this colorful meal and how each element brought something special to the dish. The meat was very tender and well seasoned. The ginger as always pulls through with a garlic punch. We always find the addition of cucumber refreshing and helps cut the spiciness. This dish was deserving of a solid 8/10.
Hey fellow foodies, today we are in The Gambia. You can find this country tucked inside Senegal and has a unique shape that surrounds the Gambia River. It is the smallest non-island country and measures 30 miles across at its widest! Although the country is small it has over 500 species of birds and a beautiful 50 miles of coastline. The majority of the country’s income is dependent on its agriculture which consists of sorghum, peanuts, millet, and rice.
The Gambia is apart of West Africa which shares a cuisine consisting of grains, peanuts, local vegetables, and seafood (if bordering the coast). As we know from our previous taste bud travels peanut butter is used often in African cuisine to thicken stews or even potatoes- you can see that dish here. The dish I made tonight is a Western African dish consisting of some of my favorite things. You can find that recipe here.
We’ve got another week night meal folks! It was a breeze to cook and I didn’t have to make any modifications. This dish smelled incredible while it was cooking and I was super excited for the end result (mostly because of the peanut butter).
I LOVED THIS DISH! Peanut butter hell yes! I get so pumped about dishes with that good ole PB and this one did not disappoint! Although I was much more excited than Ian he thought it was another delectable dish that was creamy and savory comfort dish. The ginger and pepper brought a nice mild warmth that just tied it all together. On top of that it was a vegan dish! How incredible. I rated the meal higher than Ian, but it still got the high marks of 9.25/10.
Hey guys welcome to our final Vietnamese entrée. Today I made shaking beef with an Asian cucumber salad. Shaking beef is a traditional meal that also has French influence. It can be mixed with various vegetables or without like this rendition. I followed Jet Tila’s cookbook 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die to make this super simple yet incredibly delicious dish. Another great thing about both the salad and beef is that there were minimal ingredients required and it was done in less than 30 minutes! That is my kind of meal!
You can find the recipe for the cucumber salad here.
It is key to cut the beef thin and not to skimp on the garlic (but that goes without saying). Once your wok/fry pan is hot you “shake” the pan to constantly mix and cook the meat. Jet suggested serving the meat with a slice of baguette or French bread to absorb the juices of the meat.. we listed and boy was he on the money there!
This was the tastiest and ironically the simplest out of the bunch we made for Vietnam. The meat was very savory and tender. The cucumber salad was very refreshing and actually paired well with the meat. The bread soaked up of the liquid goodness on the plate and left us craving more. This meal proves that you don’t need all the fancy gadgets or ingredients to make an amazing meal. We thought it was worthy of a 9/10!
Next week we travel to the tropical Grenada to serve up a highly rated meal.
On our second day in Vietnam we made another traditional dish known as bún bò xả ot. This dish translates to beef with lemongrass and chili and is refreshing to eat in the heat of the summer. I opted to try some pork I had bought since I would be using beef another time this week. The recipe Ian followed can be found here.
Ian thought the dish was straightforward and an easy one to make during the week. He substituted crushed red pepper flakes instead of the chilis since we could not buy fresh ones at the store. He felt the amount of salt that was asked for made the cucumbers a little too salty.
We thought this dish was delicious! There was a strong presence of ginger and lemongrass with every bite which was well-balanced by the cucumber. The light fish broth was very good and helped keep the dish from being too spicy. It was a hair too salty for us (which is saying something coming from Ian!) but overall had good flavor and was a unique dish.
We rated it 7.5/10, it might have been higher with beef but I doubt it. Next we will attempt to make the Vietnamese crepe banh xeo.. to find out if we were successful or not stay tuned!
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.
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🔥