Year: 2012


Menu: San Marino (with Giveaway)

Here’s something you might not have known: Abraham Lincoln was made an honorary citizen of San Marino in 1861. This made him happy, as he believed that San Marino demonstrated how a “government founded on republican principles is capable of being so administered as to be secure and enduring.” (Read the whole letter) What he doesn’t mention in his letter to his “Great and Good Friends” is their food, likely because he never had the opportunity to sample it. Personally I believe that any “secure and enduring country” has to have great food. Thankfully, San Marino delivers like a champ in this department. This menu is a little like cooking Italy all over again (northeast Italy, anyway)… but with a flair distinctly Sanmarinese. Each bite of this menu is comforting, rich, and perfect for the curious stovetop traveler on a wintertime journey through the rugged mountains. You’ll notice a lot of milk, from the bechamel to the pork roast, as well as typical ingredients like polenta, honey, and dried figs. Consider serving this menu with some …

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Guaita fortress and part of the city (view from above Monte Titano). Photo by Ricardo André Frantz.

About the food of San Marino

Let’s dive into Italy, right over the mountains, into the tiny 24 square mile country of San Marino. In this small enclave, there is no level ground. Indeed, every sunny vista is filled with the jawdropping scenery of a life “away from it all.” In this land, tenacity is the name of the game. Whenever San Marino comes up in conversation people like to ask how they managed to stay independent within Italy all these years. Why aren’t they just a part of Italy, they ask. For one, I think the difficult mountain terrain has provide a natural barrier (both physical and somewhat cultural), but also the people seem to be filled with good ol’ tenacity. One simply has to look at their determination to grow food in the rubble-like soil. Almost miraculously, they manage to produce a bounty of chestnuts, barley, fruit, and wheat in this small land. The food is typical of Northeastern Italy, with specialties like Swallow’s Nests, spirals of filled noodles coated in bechamel and Parmesan [Recipe]… and then there’s pork slow cooked in milk and …

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We are one family

Monday Meal Review: Samoa

There’s a Samoan proverb which reads “Ua iloa i vaʻa lelea,” or we are one family.  I love this proverb. I spent most of my topsy turvy childhood figuring out what love means. What family means. And then, one day, those grace-filled words dawned on me … We are one family. The Samoans knew it all along. Blood bonds and geographic bonds are just the wonderful beginning. We can find love whenever and wherever we open our hearts. We are all one family. Sometimes it’s a bit messy. Sometimes it’s not how we pictured it. Sometimes we disagree and sometimes we cry. Sometimes we need a break. But sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes we laugh and see eye to eye. Sometimes we can’t get enough of each other’s smiles. We are one family. How my life changed when I began to look at the world through this lens. Sure, I still mess up (all the time, actually… and I’m sorry for that), but reminding myself of these words helps me to slow down and “think kinder,” with more love, …

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Samoan Steamed Spice Cake | Puligi

When Samoans want to bite into the holidays, their kitchens fill with the warm scent of cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. If you try to peer under the lid to see what’s cookin’, you’ll more than likely get a full steam facial, so watch out. Within that foggy cloud of vapors, you’ll find cocoa brown puligi, a steamed bundt cake made dark with the unusual addition of “burnt” sugar. The cake is traditionally steamed in an underground oven known as an imu, although many now steam it on the stovetop, or as I have done in the oven. We ate this treat one early morning, as part of a Samoan Saturday breakfast which included our Koko Rice (a.k.a. chocolate and coconut rice pudding). I was so bleary-eyed from my too-early wake up (thanks to my ever-eager Miss Ava) that I completely forgot to serve it with the traditional accompaniment – vanilla custard – and instead passed around some softened butter. It was only days later that I remembered what I’d read, cut myself a new slice, …

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Chocolate & Coconut Rice Pudding with Sweet Orange Peel | Koko Rice

I used to say I wasn’t a chocolate girl but, as the year’s go by, I’m realizing that it’s really more about finding the right time to eat chocolate. After dinner? Certainly. At 3pm? I’m game. For lunch? Maybe. Midnight? Definitely. 3 am? No way. I’m sleeping for goodness sakes. But breakfast? Am I game for a chocolate breakfast? Let’s just say it’s an arrangement I’m willing to get out of bed for and I know of at least two other people who are as well. After all, who couldn’t use a jolt of dark chocolate goodness to start the day out right? Which brings us to today’s Koko Rice from Samoa. I originally dubbed it “choconut” because I thought I was clever. Unfortunately, Google quickly informed me that I had not, in fact, invented a word so I had to go back to the much simpler, but wordier expression “chocolate and coconut.” Whatever you decide to call it, koko rice is a rich and creamy blend of chocolate and coconut milk with just the lightest hint of orange zest. Each …

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Samoan Coconut Creamed “Spinach” | Palusami

Oh, boy. I honestly never thought this would happen. Me. Canned meat. Together at the table. At the Global Table. When I decided to cook a meal for every country in the world, I had visions of exotic spices laced throughout grand feasts of epic proportions. I imagined a variety of fresh herbs, carefully plucked from a garden somewhere. Canned corned beef, never really popped up in these daydreams. But, when Soraya the Samoan suggested I try Palusami, I quickly learned the time had come to eat canned shaped meat. I sidestepped this challenge for as long as I could but throughout Polynesia, canned corned beef is a fact. A much loved staple. I could have cooked it for Fiji, or Nauru, or Kiribati, or Palau, and on and on. But I didn’t. Some of you even egged me on. But I just couldn’t face it. Until now. Until Samoa. Today we finally cracked open a can for their version of creamed spinach called Palusami. Coconut creamed spinach. The irony is, of course, that the recipe is just …

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Menu: Samoa (Plus Giveaway)

“E tuai tuai, ta te maʻona ai.” This Samoan proverb states that food which takes a long time in the oven will be satisfying. It’s the equivalent of “good things come to those who wait.” You see, much of Samoan dinners were traditionally cooked in underground ovens made with hot stones and covered with dirt and leaves. My mom said that was just about all there was in the late 70’s. Today, electricity takes much of the guesswork out of when dinner will be done but there’s still satisfaction in enjoying traditional favorites. For our menu, I went with yet another festive holiday spread. Bring that Palusami to your next holiday potluck. As for the rice and the puligi? Yes, yes. Definitely. Special thanks to Soraya, a lovely Samoan friend of Brian (longtime reader who always leaves the neat musical selections). She was kind enough to message with me about all kinds of good, traditional eats (especially the Palusami). All recipes and meal review will be posted throughout the week. Coconut Creamed “Spinach” | Palusami …

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Gifts for the Stovetop Traveler

Hi, friends. Here’s a lip-smacking collection of gifts with the stovetop traveler in mind. You’ll find everything from kids chopsticks to a boozy liquor cabinet of global proportions. All of it will help you eat the world better than ever. Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy! xo 1. Cookie cutter shaped like the world (I hope you’re hungry) 2. Tapas Fondue Set (Retro fun. Love the star cutouts on the candle base) 3. Tunisian Hand Painted Tagine (I own & love a version of this!) 4. Buddy Trainer Chopsticks (Set of 2 in orange and blue.. I’m getting these for Ava.) 5. Bamboo Steamer (10-inch) 6. Blue Koi Fish Teapot (Pretty, pretty) 7. Turkish Ibrik Coffee Maker (Coffee? Yes. Plus, who needs a microwave, when you can heat everything up in an Ibrik). 8. “Snow Globe” Spice Shaker Set (seriously!) 9. Ebelskiver Pan & Mix Set (something I’ve always wanted to try) 10. Fish Chopstick Rests (Set of 4) 11. Let’s Make a Date Line Bulletin Board (keep track of your global menus) 12. Ceramic Potlluck Roaster (want!) 13. Global Placecard Holders (ditto!) 14. La Chamba Comal (simply beautiful way to char …

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About the food of samoa

Mom was the ultimate “drop everything and go” traveler at a time when not many people, let alone pregnant women, did that sort of thing. She was in Samoa in 1979 – just months before I was born. P.S. In case that wasn’t tough enough for ya, she also had a (very energetic) toddler in tow – my brother Damien. Amaz. ing. I know, I know, I know. You’re thinking things have changed since then – and to some extent they have (although much is still the same, like the fact that this tiny Polynesian nation is made up of a few islands totaling just over 1,000 square miles ). But I had to get her report of the place and what I heard was too good not to share. Here’s just an excerpt of her letter dated April 16, 1979 (just 3 months and 2 days before I was born), where she talks about the singing, the food, and the children. For starters her “condition” as a single mom just about to pop raised many questions. “Where’s your …

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Monday Meal Review: Saint Vincent & the Grenadines

This week we brought our Global Table to Keith’s parents’ house in southwest Oklahoma, where we ate with his mom, his aunt, and his uncle. His childhood home sits under the glinting autumn sun, surrounded by dusty golden grasses and emerald green wheat. There’s a half mile (or more) in all directions between the house and any other structure, at least that’s the way it seems to me. At night the stars act as streetlights. It’s quite the retreat. Keith’s mom was able to use some of her family china to set the mood and I brought some rust-orange leaf place mats that my mother gave me. The warm autumn colors went perfectly with the pumpkin and coconut cream soup. Eating our meal off of plates and mats which have cycled through dozens of special meals made me feel connected to the deeper meaning of Thanksgiving… the importance of family. I loved seeing the three siblings come together from miles apart for this meal. While we ate the Global Table the Friday after Thanksgiving, injecting the …

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Caribbean Pumpkin & Coconut Cream Bisque

I know three things for sure: this Caribbean soup cannot wipe out old college debt, or go gift shopping for us… or even stop that dog from barking a few houses over (unless that particular dog likes soup?). That being said, I have personal proof that this soup can help you bring love into the kitchen and give your family just a little escape from the ordinary.As you whip it up, the house will fill with the scent of pumpkin, ginger and coconut cream – that’s when it’ll start. Your family will come wandering in to see what you’re doing. The neighbors will come knocking.  Soon the house will fill with spirited chatter and spoons clinking against bowls. This taste of the islands is the best thing after a week of pumpkin pie and turkey leftovers (but not to0 big of a leap – it’s still pumpkin season after all!).In Saint Vincent and the Grenadines (as well as all over the Caribbean), they enjoy this soup, often with some really spicy scotch bonnet peppers, ginger, and …

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Caribbean Black Cake

Sometimes I think the holidays would go a lot smoother if everyone was handed a shot of rum and a slice of cake. How could conversation not go smoothly after that? Turns out, that’s what they do in the Caribbean… with great success. Black cake is a cousin to the British Plum Pudding and is made with an expensive array of dried fruits, like cherries, raisins, and prunes and topped off with a bit of nutty crunch (almonds for me). Before baking  – sometimes for months – the fruit soaks in rum and cherry brandy until it’s so plump and intoxicated, that only good things can come from it. What version of the cake ends up on your fork depends on what island your plate rests on, although most will agree that – unlike with American fruit cakes – grinding up the boozy fruit is a must. This, along with a dose of molasses and brown sugar give the cake it’s deep brown coloring (while some also like to add a local ingredient called “browning”). …

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