Year: 2012


10 New Year’s Food Traditions from around the World

Before the confetti and the fireworks of 2013 glitter through our skies, our global neighbors teach that we must first take a little time to dream. You see, if we imagine our futures as bright and as shiny and as real as the stars above us, we come that much closer to realizing our dreams. It’s called positive thinking. And all around the world, people accomplish this through a brilliant collection of New Year’s food traditions. These food traditions aren’t just another nice meal with a game attached; they’re a way to represent everything we want for ourselves and our loved ones. When we eat symbolic meals, it’s the best kind of positive thinking (hello, happy tummies and hearts). Here are my favorite New Year’s food traditions from around the world, with recipes pulled from our archives. Try one this year to make your very own Global New Year. 1. “RING” in the New Year Rings are a symbol both of continuous love and of “coming full circle.” Any food made in a ring shape is a great choice …

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2012 christmas eve dinner

Merry Gingerbread Winners!

Ho, ho, ho! The time has finally come! We’re beyond excited to announce the winners of this year’s Gingerbread for Peace Competition. Every year I love looking at your beautiful creations. You and your power over icing never cease to amaze me… which is why, if it were up to me, you’d all win. Truly, truly. And that, my friends, is why I enlist the help of an amazing panel of judges. With that said, I’d like to thank our sweet judges, who have the tough (impossible!) job of rating the contestants on the following criteria: – Overall design – Creativity – Difficulty & Technique – Neatness  & Precision – Adherence to theme of Gingerbread for Peace and Globally inspired structure – How much does the essay relate to the theme.. So THANK YOU to Jenny Buccos from for who is a powerhouse of energy, bringing the world into the heart of the classroom. Her virtual field trips make it possible for children to not just “see” the world, but to learn about it in the context of math, …

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Monday Meal Review: São Tomé and Príncipe

Our children grow up frittata fast. They start out little bitty eggs, get whipped up into a froth (by our mad parenting skills, no doubt), and then poured into a pan… ready for the oven (a.k.a. the world). We turn around for ten minutes, and when our gaze next falls upon them, they are a … frittata… nothing like the little round egg we started out with. Our hearts break a little (partly because we’re proud of how far they’ve come, and partly because we’ll always miss the baby they once were). This week I turned around for ten minutes and my daughter was no longer a toddler. She was a full-fledged little girl. For the last year Ava’s been sleeping in a crib with several slats hacked out. We called it her toddler bed (considering the drop-side crib is no longer safe nor salable) , but we all know it’s just her old crib, hacked up. Well, this creative solution is no more: this week we finally moved Ava to a big girl bed, complete …

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Weeknight Cod Fish Feijoada

One of our readers, Annabelle, suggested we try today’s Cod Fish Feijoada. This filling, yet healthy Portuguese stew made it’s way to the islands of São Tomé and Príncipe during colonization. Things have evolved quite a bit since then. While most Feijoada’s involve black beans (even as far away as the one we made for Brazil), the islanders favor this white bean version and make it with readily available fish (and sometimes pork). The entire principal is a slow-cooked, tender meal full of flavor from raw beans. In the old country, a variety of herbs and spices might be added, but things are simplified on the islands. Some recipes don’t even include the carrots as I have (and they might as often be substituted with cabbage). The really distinct part of São Tomé and Príncipe’s recipe is the red palm oil – a signature ingredient in West African cooking. I found mine at Whole Foods, but you can get it a lot cheaper at local African markets (such as Ebute Tropical Market in Tulsa). Since the fish …

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Easy Banana Mousse with Chocolate Curls

When I first read that bananas are popular in West Africa’s island country São Tomé and Príncipe, I envisioned them eaten raw on the surf-swept beaches… or perhaps sold battered and fried with a cloud of powdered sugar. While all this certainly does happen, I never imagined I’d see them folded inside of a fluffy mousse, decked out with indulgent curls of dark chocolate. But I’m sure glad I did. In my reading I learned that this mousse could be made any number of ways – with or without eggs (I even read one account of some part of a leaf being used to thicken the cream, perhaps they meant agar agar?) – but however you make this, the simpler the better. The method I chose is a ready-in-15-minutes kind of mousse and there are so few ingredients it’s silly. The key to the mousse are 1. really, really ripe bananas and 2. really, really ripe bananas. In fact, they are perfect when they fall into a smooth puree with the slightest of pressure from the …

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Sweet Potato Frittata

Ava grabbed the small, purple step stool and placed it squarely in front of the kitchen counter. She’s gone through a growth spurt lately and yet my little girl still stands on her tippy toes to see into the mixing bowl. On days like today, when I see her eyes peep over the top of the bowl and grow wide with delight, I hope she never grows up. With quick jabs of her whisk, she pops the yolks and helps stir together the frittata mixture. In the background we hear the delicous sizzle of onion and sweet potatoes in oil.   Eggs are a West African staple, often making their way into toasted baguette sandwiches from our Nigerien Global Table and omelets, as with our Gabonese Global Table. Today, we’re taking inspiration from São Tomé and Príncipe and building a Sweet Potato Frittata complete with sweet bits of browned onion. This could just as well be a shredded sweet potato omelette, but I chose to call upon the islands’ Portuguese influence with today’s Frittata. And let it be heard: there’s …

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Menu: São Tomé and Príncipe (with Giveaway)

Ava’s never been a big fan of bananas, but when I told her we were eating mousse for dessert this week, she giggled. Loud. Like a startled bird. The holidays are in full swing; her three year-old brain clearly imagined something like this… Thankfully, moose is not an option in São Tomé and Príncipe, but mousse is. And so, without further ado, I’d like to share our menu. Each item has been selected with the holiday crazies in mind: they require few ingredients and come together in a flash. The inspiration remains firmly Santomean, as locals prefer to eat simply.  The sweet potato frittata is my new go-to, the Feijoada will warm your bones, and the mousse? Well… it’s mousse. That’s all anyone really needs, besides love. Unless you also need a moose. With antlers. All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Sweet Potato Frittata [Recipe] Need a great brunch idea for the holidays? This healthy & hearty frittata (yes, that’s possible) only has four ingredients and comes together in a snap. The best part? You …

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Fishing boats in Sao Tome & Principe. Photo by Bdickerson.

About the food of São Tomé and Príncipe

Are you slightly offbeat? Do you prefer to stand out from the crowd, preferably while eating chocolate?  São Tomé and Príncipe is just the place for you. These two tropical islands, just over 372 square miles combined, are home to an amazing amount of plants and animals that have developed into their own, exotic form. These spectacular critters are literally found nowhere else in the world. The cocoa covered islands have guaranteed that they evolve in isolation – think of it as a tropical petri dish with azure beaches. Yes, there are spiders, but they have their own… shall we say… crabby sort of look. Definitely a tad bit offbeat, eh? As for the food, it’s an amazing blend of traditional, sub-Saharan African foods with a strong blast of Portuguese influence. You’re as likely to find a simple sweet potato/pumpkin and egg dish [Recipe], goat or cassava… as you are a hearty plate of Feijoada (bean stew with pork or fish)  [Recipe] with rice (or better yet, riz creole – seasoned rice). That being said, there’s nothing like …

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Monday Meal Review: San Marino

Neighbors. I’d already planned on talking about neighbors last week, but when the grief of Newtown, Connecticut struck, I realized how much more urgently this message needs to be said. Abe Lincoln called the people of San Marino his “Great and Good Friends,” despite being separated by an entire continent. There was such tenderness in his words, but this particular weekend they struck me hard. Why? Because so few of us know anything about the people who live in our very neighborhoods, let alone an ocean away. Did you know, neighbor Sandeep Kapur, who lived two doors down from the killer (who I shall not name out of respect for the grieving), stated that he had never met the family, despite the fact that he’d lived there for three years? Three years, without so much as a hello. Unfortunately, this is not unusual. Listen, friends: my only platform is love. Love, love, love. Always more love. Do you know who lives near you? Are situations like these keeping you from finding out? Listen. We can’t …

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Pork braised in Milk & Fresh Herbs | Maiale al Latte

It’s fun to let a recipe go “wrong” on purpose.  Maiale al Latte is one of those dishes: pork braised in milk for hours, until the milk gives way to tender, nutty, herb flavored curds. Some will tell you this “curdled milk” is a mistake. I’m here to tell you what everyone in San Marino and Italy already know – this is homemade cheese ripe for the snacking, an epic byproduct of an already amazingly tender roast, soaked with sage and rosemary, garlic and bay leaves, milk and wine. Outrageous. Once strained out of the sauce, I’ve read accounts of the curds being spread on toast. What a guilty pleasure. Yum. But let’s back up a moment. This isn’t about cheese. That’s just the cherry on top. This is really about a braised, tender pork shoulder… fit for any gathering of happy friends. The Sanmarinese and Italians love milk-braised pork. And today, we’re about to see why. Let’s dive in, shall we? Recipe adapted from Gourmet. Serves 10-12 Ingredients: 1/4 cup olive oil 5 lb boneless pork shoulder, a.k.a. …

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Fig & Honey Apple Polenta Cake | Bustrengo

Sometimes life calls for  a little something extra-ordinary. A toothy smile on a cloudy day can be enough. A favorite pair of fuzzy, polka-dotted socks can even do the trick. But on other days I want something a smidge bit … well… gourmet. I want something that says this day – this meal – this time – is more special than you know. That you’re more special than you know. And so, it’s not without a little irony that Bustrengo fits the bill. You see, this Fig and Honey Apple Cake is traditionally made in San Marino (and Italy) after dinner chatter dies down, while sitting around the embers of a dying fire. In this way, she’s a real casual sort of affair. Something to satisfy that sweet tooth, without going to too much of a fuss. As easy as a smile but as tasty as good love. Inside you’ll find all manner of diced apples, dried figs, golden polenta, olive oil, and pools of honey. Oh, and curls of orange and lemon zest. No biggie. These …

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Swallow’s Nests | Nidi di Rondine

What being a grown up has taught me: There’s no way to turn couch surfing into exercise. I cannot be a mermaid for a day, no matter how hard I will myself to grow a tail. Superman isn’t going to swoop down out of the sky and carry me away with him. Heck, he can’t even find a phone booth these days. That being said, there are lots of good things I’ve learned as a grownup. Making my daughter guffaw makes my heart happy Eating around the table with loved ones is worth a pile of dirty dishes. There are superheroes in every day life, like my husband who quietly shovels our neighbor’s drive when he thinks no one is looking. And now… thanks to the tiny country called San Marino… I’ve finally learned that I can have the best of two worlds: lasagna and cinnamon rolls.  The dish is called Nidi di Rondine, or Swallow’s Nests. Think fresh sheets of pasta spiraled like a cinnamon bun, but layered with bechamel sauce, cheese, and ham …

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