Month: June 2013

Thai-food-menu

Menu: Thailand

“Friends for a meal are easy to find, friends until end of life are difficult to find” (Thai Proverb) Summer is the time of easy friendships, where the only things that matter are cold drinks, fresh food, and a patch of shade. Dinnertime is less strict, and I find myself veering towards later, lighter meals. Like this one. So now all you need is to find someone to share it with (P.S. Speaking of which, I can’t decide if that Thai proverb is encouraging or discouraging, but there’s one thing I know for sure. Whoever you make this meal for will certainly be woo’d for the summer, if not for life.) The key to Thai food is balance. If you serve something hot and spicy, you must serve something sweet. Which is exactly what we did. All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Green Papaya Salad | Som Tam [Recipe] One of the easiest Thai dishes, with an orchestra of flavor. Think spicy, lime-tastic, and salty. This is salad all grown …

Water buffalos in Thailand. Photo by Torikai Yukihiro

About the food of Thailand

From her thick, green mountaintops in the north, all the way past her flatlands, through her river basins and glittering skyscrapers, Thailand has it all. And if you thought her landscape is stunning, you should taste the food. There’s a zing to Thai food that keeps me coming back; at first I thought it was the sour notes, formed from hefty squirts of lime juice. I do adore a good burst of lime…But over the years I’ve realized Thai food is far more complex than that. There’s a dance going on in every bite, especially in the salads, like som tam (green papaya salad  [Recipe])… sure, there’s bright bursts of lime juice, but there’s also the smack of salty fish sauce, the brutal burn of Bird’s Eye Chili peppers, something sweet (usually palm sugar) and there, somewhere in the background, a hint of bitterness. In preparation for this week’s Global Table, we ate at My Thai Kitchen in Tulsa, Oklahoma. We covered the table with several selections, most notably the beef salad, the green curry …

Kilma'njaro, captured out the window of a flight from Dar es Salaam. Photo by Paul Schaffner.

Monday Meal Review: Tanzania

  Moving Beyond Your Breaking Point Summer sweat is a near constant, now. I haunt my house, barefoot, draped in loose flowing dresses, completely aimless thanks to this seasonal fever. It’s all I can do to stay awake when the temperatures hit the nineties and the humidity approaches 100%. Eating Tanzania in this thick sort of summer heat was just perfect. All I had to do was close my eyes, and I was there. At least, I was there on the flatlands. But I wasn’t where I really, really wanted to be. Where I really wanted to be was Mount Kilimanjaro in northern Tanzania. Unlike the sizzling flatlands, Mount Kilimanjaro is covered with a perpetual blanket of snow. This epic mountain has fascinated me ever since I read about it in Michael Crichton’s book Travels. Have you read it? It is one of his least known books, but by-far my favorite because it covers Crichton’s globetrotting days. In the book, Michael Crichton attempts to climb Kilimanjaro. He approaches the mountain with all the swagger and arrogance of someone who’s …

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Greens with Veggies & Peanuts | Kisamvu

When my neighbor Jonathan told me he craves Kisamvu for weeks after his visits to Tanzania, I knew I had to try it. Kisamvu is just another word for cassava leaves, but Jonathan tells me he uses spinach whenever he’s in the states and the taste is a very good approximation. Jonathan gave me the very recipe they use at the orphanage he visited in Tanzania, called the Janada Batchelor Foundation for Children. While there, he films documentary footage to help promote the good work they JBFC does with his production company called RTC Pictures… What a fun gig! Now about that recipe… There are no exact measurements, although I did have the pleasure of watching the “Mamas” make a huge batch of kisamvu in his video footage (Mamas are the ladies in charge of the children). They do everything from build and stoke the kitchen fires (which are built under three large stones. The stones hold the pot). They also chop wood and cook the food. And the food comes straight from their gardens, moments …

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Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio

  I’m a little like mashed potatoes; I’m stable and sure, but I avoid wearing colorful makeup. The last time I wore blue eye liner was the nineties, and it was already a decade too late. I’m destined to recede behind more vibrant individuals – individuals of style. But imagine what good things could come from a splash of color? The jury is out with me, but consider the mashed potato. Must she remain the unadorned, pale wallflower in a buffet of color? Tanzania teaches that this doesn’t have to be so… Enter the rainbow known as Irio, a Kikuyu dish found in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda. Irio simply means “mashed” – a concoction of whatever tubers and vegetables the cook wants to pull together for an easy dinner. Most often, Irio is a combination of white potato, peas, and corn, but green beans, carrots, shredded spinach, or other veggies can also play star roles. Depending on how Irio is mixed, the mash might be sunset orange, or new leaf green.  For me, it was …

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Menu: Tanzania

“The roaring lion kills no game” Tanzanian Proverb In honor of this all-too true saying from Tanzania, we’re going all veggie this week. Truth is, I’ve been doing my fair share of ‘roaring’, which leaves me with a deficit of time for anything but quick (but fun!) dishes. Veggies fit the bill rather perfectly. In fact, our menu feels like a bulletin from Smokey the Bear, but without fires… and lots of veggies… “Thanks to Tanzania, you, too, can prevent veggie boredom!”  Whether you’re tossing corn and peas in your mashed potatoes, or stirring peanut butter and coconut milk into your leafy greens, Tanzania definitely steps up with fresh ideas for your weeknight side dishes. All recipes and the meal review will be posted throughout the week. Greens with veggies & Peanuts | Kisamvu [Recipe] This vegan treat is inspired straight from the heart of Tanzania; enjoy spinach cooked with carrot, onion, pepper, and a creamy, tantalizing blend of peanut butter and coconut milk. Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio [Recipe] Turn boring mashed potatoes …

Students at Nyanzwa Primary School in Iringa region. Photo by USAID Africa Bureau.

About the food of Tanzania

A few months ago, my next door neighbor, Jonathan, told me he was going to Tanzania to shoot documentary footage at an orphanage in Tanzania. “Your going to Tanzania?!” I exclaimed, thrilled with the serendipity of the situation, “Tell me all about the food – what do the children eat?” Over the next several minutes, he enthusiastically described the food of this east African country, possibly most well-known for the breathtaking peak of Mount Kilimanjaro. (Incidentally, if you ever get the chance to read the autobiographical book Travels, by Michael Crichton, you’ll find a wonderful passage about his hike to the summit of this great mountain). He said, while the food itself is simple, even outside of the orphanage, it remains utterly craveable. There’s an old Tanzanian saying that states “Little by little, a little becomes a lot.” And so it is with the food. Even when there is a little, if it is good and the supply keeps coming, it fills the heart and belly to capacity. The first food Jonathan mentioned was ugali, the white …

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Monday Meal Review: Tajikistan

It is often said that family who live in close proximity take each other for granted. But in many ways, I think it’s just as easy to take each other for granted when family is scattered around the country. We get used to a certain state of … loneliness… of missing each other. We resign ourselves to the distance, and take for granted that it can be no other way than to be apart. It got so bad, for me, that I hid behind my work and responsibilities. I didn’t take trips, not because I didn’t want to, but because I didn’t know how to leave. I didn’t know how to shut off the flow of work and make time. The result? Until this week, I hadn’t seen my family in over a year. Fifteen months to be exact. Some of them I hadn’t seen in more than three years. I’d resigned myself to being too far to help, too far to matter, too far to influence. When my sister announced she was throwing a graduation party …