Monday Meal Review: Zimbabwe

The marathon is complete. We did it. We ate every country in the world.

(Breathe in, breathe out)

The first thing Ava said about completing our challenge?

“Can we start cooking the world all over again?

And, later:

When are we going to start another Global Table Adventure, mama?”

This child was barely seven months old when we started.

Here she is with Afghanistan… (sigh)

Ava eats Afghanistan

I can’t look at this photo without tears coming to my eyes. I just… can’t.

It symbolizes how much happens in four years.

How much changes.

I had the strangest sensation as I was taking my last bite of candy cake for Zimbabwe. Every time I blinked my eyes, I’d open them expecting to find my seven month baby nestled in my arms. All over again.

That’s probably not what Ava meant when she suggested we start over.

But every time I opened my eyes… there Ava was…  all grown up, four and a half years old, talking about staying “hwydrated.”

I kept blinking. I kept hoping for a moment of time travel…

Even if not to the beginning, to some small moment in our Adventure, before she became such a big little girl!

Perhaps when we shared the spicy potatoes from Bangladesh… in which Keith demonstrated (demonstrated?) his obsession with “laser eyes.”

Any number of tea parties…


Tea party to enjoy with Hembesha.


North African Mint Tea for Maurtius. 

I can’t help it.

Lomi Lomi from the Maldives.

Lomi Lomi from the Maldives.

I just… can’t.

Childhood is fleeting. So fleeting.


Chicken Paprikas


Making Artisan French bread with Ava.

Sometimes this adventure was difficult.

Sometimes I wanted to throw in the towel.

But at some point I knew I couldn’t give up.

The adventure became a part of our family.

An understood part of our gatherings and meals…

Even when I miserably failed at grilling whole fish for the Maldives…

I still had the love and support of my family…

Not only were Ava and Keith counting on me, you all were counting on me.

You told me you were using our recipes at home, at school, for potlucks, and parties.

You cheered us on.

You sent emails.

You made me smile.

So thank you!

Thank you so very much.

From the bottom of our hearts…

I know I’m supposed to be talking about Zimbabwe.

But it’s nearly impossible to talk about this last country without talking about the rest.

I can’t end without examining the journey that led us to this place.

Because, in every bite of Zimbabwe,  I could taste the last four years, the struggles, the joys… all of it.

I could taste the world, even as we made this final leap.

Victoria Falls, First Gorge, Zambian Side. Photo by DoctorJoeE.

Victoria Falls, First Gorge, Zambian Side. Photo by DoctorJoeE.


3 Quick Recipes for Zimbabwean Pumpkin and Squash [Recipe]

What I loved most about these dishes:

Definitely the acorn squash with corn and cheese… oh my goodness. Ah-mazing. Keith said that this is how he wants his acorn squash. Always. The butternut with peanut butter was awesome, too. It is such an unlikely combination, but it just works!

What I loved least about these dishes:

Nothing! These are all great fixes for the upcoming holidays (and wonderful conversation starters).

Zimbabwe Candy Cake | Chikenduza [Recipe]


What I loved most about this dish:

I’m so happy I found a “cake” to celebrate the final meal of the adventure.  This one is yeasty, dense, and sweet. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had, though familiar to many favorites. I can see how Zimbabweans crave this, especially when living abroad.  It was fun to decorate, too. Ava really enjoyed topping hers with an extra generous portion of pink icing.

What I loved least about this dish:

I was unsure I’d done it right, but thankfully social media came to the rescue. I got confirmation through Pinterest and Twitter that the recipe was correct. Fantastic!


What’s Next?

While this is the final post of this Adventure, I can’t stop here.

In a week or so, I’ll post up pictures from our Global Table Experience event. Then, after a brief respite, we’ll be picking up with the next phase of Global Table Adventure!

Much hasn’t been decided yet (my brain is still very much attached to this adventure, but I do know a few things… There will be a weekly recipe. A monthly video. And all of it will be themed around Global Holidays!

Finally, stay tuned for my memoir. (You can sign up to be notified when National Geographic releases it, in the fall of 2014!)


And now, for another little Rewind

Here’s Keith’s first video… from Austria… oh, those sweet little hands!

I wish I could go back in time and hug that little baby a million more times.



We hope you’ll continue our adventure and share it with your loved ones.  Together, we can make the world a friendlier place. Together, we can celebrate what we all have in common: the food of our global heritage. At the very least, a little stovetop travel can bring you places you may have never imagined were possible!

We love you all. Thank you for being a part of this crazy Global Table Adventure! 


Sasha, Keith, and Ava


  1. Janet Goodell says

    Sasha, Thank you so much. I have been enjoying our adventure since June. I have enjoyed it so much that I will be starting the world over this week. To keep with the seasons, I’ll “begin” with Croatia and catch up with the A-C’s after. How could I ever stop here when I missed so much! So, I’ll be watching little Ava grow up. You made me tear up as my fellow adventurer is 16 and just topped 6 feet! He has eaten 4 of those candy cakes! I can hardly wait for holidays around the world!

    • Sasha Martin says

      What a great idea, Janet! It makes my heart warm to know people will still be cooking through these recipes. It’s like a little time capsule. I bet your son has a great appetite! All the better for eating the world 😉

  2. as someone above said:


    this is an amazing collection of recipes and an amazing adventure. We have cooked many and will continue to do so.

  3. As someone who has followed along from afar these last few years I have to admit that I got a little emotional reading through and looking at the photos. When you started, how could you have imagined all that this journey would have brought you and where it would have taken you. Enjoy taking a deep breath and good luck with upcoming projects!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thank you Audrey! Your web site has been a great inspiration to me. I try to give my readers what you do in real life… and, while we can’t go on a “physical” journey like you and Dan, i try to capture the journey of spirit… the way other countries change us… bring us to new understandings, not just of them, but of ourselves.

  4. Penélope says

    Thank you for creating this adventure for all of us. I found the blog when you were already half way through, and I fell in love with it. In made me feel better knowing that even if I cannot travel as much as I want, I still can bring a piece of the world into my kitchen anytime. I have promised to myself that I’m going to try every single recipe you have posted so far, and all those to come. I can hardly wait to see what you have in store. Let me say thank you one more time, you made my days brighter with your posts.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh, you’re a gem! Thank you for being curious and interested in your world.

  5. Thank you for the many great meals we’ve had. I only found the site this year so we did one letter a week, picking out a mixed meal from different countries within that letter. We’ve decided to go back thru with additional web searches but I took the list of countries and do a random sort every week so we never know which country is going to be next. I look forward to whatever new adventures you present on this site.

  6. Congratulations Sasha! What a n incredible accomplishment, and what a gift you have given to your daughter! Thank you so much for inviting us all in on the journey. You are an inspiration in so many ways!

  7. Diana says

    My kids grew up with your recipes. They also enjoyed a bite of the world. We did not try each country, since I would get terribly busy at times trying to cope with work, and two babies who I baby sat full-time. However, my kids grew up, and my little girl is as old as Ava, so I can relate. She was also 7 months old when the whole adventure started and now she is my little helper in the kitchen. Time just goes by inevitably fast, but in each stage it brings a lot of joys. Thank you for the inspiration, and thank you for the recipes!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Isn’t it overwhelming to look back over the photos? Simply amazing how they change.

  8. Keith says

    Congratulations on an amazing journey and thank you for bringing us along for the ride!

    • elisa waller says

      YAy! Its been amazing…really puts time in perspective too! I love you and your search for …family, food, and home…my home is your home…is our home <3

  9. Sasha! I was lucky enough to join you with Marina in St Kitts, and have continued to follow your progress. Congratulations!! Such a huge feat. I can’t wait to see what’s next (after a much deserved break for you, I hope!). I’m so in awe of your adventure!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Thank you Alia! That meal will always have a special place in my heart, not just for the (amazing) food, but the company.

  10. Is your memoir going to include the recipes from the Adventure? If not, might I suggest a second volume that is a cookbook. I would love to have the recipes in actual book form (I’m old fashioned like that, I suppose).

    • Sasha Martin says

      There will be a selection! The book will be my search for food, family, and home, even as a young child and in the years leading up to this Adventure.

  11. Cynthia says

    You made me cry! Thank you so much for putting a ton of effort into something we can all enjoy and learn from. It is a great and lasting gift to us all. My very best to your family. I look forward to keeping up with your new adventures.

  12. Mary B says

    Congratulations and thank you for sharing your journey with so many strangers! I’ve only made a few of the recipes so far, but there are many on my to-do list – so I guess my journey will continue!

  13. I can’t believe it’s over! I’ve read every one of your blog posts from the beginning. I think you posted on our June 2009 Birth Club before you got started to get some readers. Thanks for sharing your Ava with us. My Charlotte (who is a couple weeks older than Ava) has tried many of your foods, including the Moroccan lamb tagine and the pasta from Lichtenstein (or Luxembourg? the one with the onions, cheese and applesauce – so good). Our younger daughter, Phoebe (20 months old), enjoys watching the videos of Ava.

    Thank you for such a great adventure!

    • Sasha Martin says

      That seems like a lifetime ago! It really does… and now you have another little one… congratulations 🙂 Those foods are some of our favorites, too. The pasta is Lichtenstein, yes… and you’re right: yum!

  14. Shamone Hubbert says

    What a great adventure this has been! I have followed your every post from the beginning and I must say I got teary eyed watching that last video. You are such a treasure and have brought this global table experience into so many homes. Congratulations on this accomplishment you have made!!! Hugs!

  15. Brian Schwartz says

    So my prediction made last year was right. There were tears in your eyes when you did the Zimbabwe meal. Tears in my eyes too. Bravo!

    • Brian Schwartz says

      and talking of Bravo, what a wonderful Top Chef challenge some of these world dishes would make!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Oh, thank you Brian! You’ve been such a loyal and cherished part of this adventure.

  16. Barbara says

    Thank you and Congratulations! I’ve been following since “almost” the beginning. My all time favorites (with some minor adjustments to a few) are Syrian Lentils, Latvia Pancakes, South Sudan Combo, Swahili ginger & milk tea, Filipino Pork Adobo, Lamb Plov and Jordanian spiced chicken. I also love to add cardamom & cinnamon to my coffee…yum. (I had never had or even heard of cardamom before this adventure). There are also still many more recipes I want to try and I’m looking forward to the next phase of GTA!

  17. meganleiann says

    Congratulations! What a beautiful collection you’ve made- of recipes and memories! I’ve cooked through so many of these recipes and intend to cook many more. I homeschool my boys and have a heavy emphasis on Geography and History and well, people! I love using this site for reference. We put faces and tastes behind the stories of the world using your adventure. Thank you for your valuable contribution to our family’s understanding of the world!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Say hello to your boys! Sounds like you all have a great time learning – that’s so key!

  18. Congratulations Sasha, even though you forgot to mention the Cinnamon you used in the Sri Lankan dhal curry was supposed to be Ceylon Cinnamon. And you didn’t show them the South African Boerewors (sausage) which is an absolute delight. Which means you have more work to do. 🙂 But well done. This has opened up everyone’s’ eyes to the culinary delights they are missing out.

      • It’s funny that you ended in Zimbabwe of all places. This is where I grew up (7 years) after leaving Sri Lanka at age ten. After Zimbabwe it was Hong Kong, then Canada and now the US. Next time you visit Zimbabwe , Sri Lanka or Hong Kong I have very good friends and family who can and will host you and the family. And if you come to Los Angeles, I will host.

  19. Heather says

    Congratulations Sasha! You have shared and accomplished so much. Your video brought tears to my eyes. Amazing how the time passes and how grown up Ava is! Sending you hugs and love and big congratulations!

  20. Congratulations on completing a wonderful journey! Seeing Ava grow so quickly in this post brought tears to my eyes.

  21. Samantha says

    I’m so proud of everything you’ve done~~ 196 countries!? Wooooooow! I’m sure Keith & Ava truly appreciate the huge effort you put into this, and now you probably have an entire list of favourite recipes to use and keep forever 🙂

    Thank you so much for sharing everything with us too! Your posts were always a joy to read and gave me heart-warming “food for thought”, (not just for the stomach 😉 ) And you know what? The other day, my mum said she liked the Somalian beef suqaar and wanted to make it again (we’d made it a few times already). I was so happy that I was able share a bit of international cuisine with the family, and it was all thanks to you and your blog. 😀 Now that I’ve finished uni for the year, I’ll have plenty of time to try out the rest of your wonderful recipes. 😉

    I wish you all the best for the remainder of this year, and the next! I look forward to the next GTA (after you’ve taken a nice long break, of course 😉 ) and also your memoir! God bless you & your family <3

    • Sasha Martin says

      Samantha, I love that your mom enjoyed the Beef Suqaar… what fun that it has become a staple in your home. Enjoy your time from school and happy stovetop travels 🙂

  22. Roseblossom says

    Thank you for sharing your journey with us, and I look forward to your next adventure 🙂

  23. Big Dave says

    I have thoroughly enjoyed your journey. I joined after your call to Rick Steves’s show. I hope you get to take a little break, and then write a book or something!

    • Sasha Martin says

      That was a fun chat! Rick is such a lovely man. Glad you made your way here, Dave!

  24. Leslie says

    Thank You Sasha… partially because of your adventure around the world. I’ve been doing much more ‘from scratch cooking’ more than 80%. (Something I used to do). I am especially loving baking from scratch with gluten free adaptions. Even though that means I spend part of my weekend 4-6 hrs. cooking and freezing dinners for the week. I’ve managed to do much more Indian food, dals, curries+ Thai, Vietnamese,Japanese,Singaporean, Tunsian, Libyan, Lebanese,Egyptian, Iranian,Italian, Russian, Ukrainian, Mexican and Central American food. My youngest daughter and I have been alternating cooking a night a week. I cook her Indian food one night and she cooks me Japanese food one night . Other times when we’re both home for dinner we both cook together and it has been lots of fun coming up with new twists on the different recipes from the countries I’ve listed( your recipes plus others we have found..) Plus we are cooking more and more vegetarian and vegan dishes too about 60 % of our diet. So it is healthier. Best of Luck in all your ventures and blessings on you and your family.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Leslie, your cooking adventures with your daughter sound wonderful! It’s so great to learn new recipes together and alternate the cooking so it stays fun and new for both of you. 🙂

  25. How amazing! Seeing your child growing up through all these cooking adventures and bringing family and friends together! Thank you for this wonderful collection!

  26. Sandra says

    This day is so bittersweet. I have enjoyed this adventure so very much. I always look forward to your updates, especially the meal reviews. I have made many of the recipes and plan to make many more. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. Enjoy the break but dont make it too long because i am ready to see what you have coming our way next.

    • Sasha Martin says

      Bittersweet – that’s the perfect word for it. Thank you for trying and reading, and all of it!

  27. Simone says

    Oh my gosh, you made me cry!!! I’ve been following along from the beginning too – based on your post in the babycenter forum… I really really hope that this is not ‘goodbye’! And that you find another way to keep the global conversation (and food) going!! Thanks for sharing your adventure and your stories! You are such a thoughtful and wonderful writer! Can’t wait for the book!!!

    • Sasha Martin says

      Hugs, Simone!! It is definitely not goodbye. It’s just the beginning! (I kind of feel like I was in “world cooking school” these last few years… and now we all have a good understanding of the basics, we can move forward and get creative 🙂

  28. Malorie Farrington says

    I am so happy that I met you and was able to follow your adventure even after I moved. This was beautiful and made me cry, too. So excited to read your memoir.

  29. Have been with you since Finland and a tried a few countries with you. Good job.

  30. Amber says

    Thank you for an exciting adventure. It was so rewarding to keep up with you and see the new delights you would gift us with each week. Thank you for sharing with us. 🙂

  31. Sonja says

    Oh man, your last video made me cry, you guys are so lovely and genuine! Having been a regular silent reader of your stovetop travels, I now want to voice my heartfelt thanks for all your efforts and deep global caring. Thanks for giving us from other countries the opportunity to “meet” you (I’m a German recently living in Germany who grew up in South Africa and also lived in Ireland 🙂 ). I live with my own Mr. Picky and since I know him have been on my own mission in creating new taste combinations with ingredients that he “hates”. Your recipes have been a huge support in this undertaking 🙂 I get such a thrill when he goes for seconds and he’s started asking: “What country is that from?” You have totally achieved all your goals that you set out to accomplish and have gone way beyond that-you have touched hearts on a global level!!! A big hug from my stovetop to yours! Sonja

    • Sasha Martin says

      That’s so funny about “What country is that from” – my daughter does that now, too. Even if it’s just some made up recipe I invented from the random scraps in my fridge. It’s adorable. I always try to find a way to tie it to some country, if not just my own… “Well, the pumpkin was grown in California, so USA,” etc…. Thank you for breaking the silence. 😉 I loved your note.

      • Sonja says

        😀 more input will be coming your way in the Global Table Adventure Level Two 😉

  32. Dutchgirl says

    Thanks for your the enjoyable times I had reading your blog and trying your recipes every now and then.
    I’ll be present when your next adventure starts.

    Best wishes for you and your family!

  33. Jessica Bennett says

    I need to catch up on the last several months of this blog, but I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for changing so many lives in such a wonderful way. I wish you and your family well and look forward to your book and other adventures that you share with us.

  34. annaclarice says

    Thank you so much for the adventure and letting me tag along from afar. I plan on using this website for many years to come to find amazing recipes (and the tips I need to complete them).

    Here’s to the next step on your Global Adventure!

  35. I actually teared up reading this. My little girl is almost exactly the same age as Ava, and she has enjoyed seeing pictures of Ava as we have “traveled” with you this year. Sometimes she’ll ask me where something is from and if it is a recipe from “that lady with the little girl who cooks stuff from all over the world.”

    I have just started a blog of my own, and a) I think you were part of my inspiration and this blog helped give me the courage to do it and b) I hope you won’t mind that I will be posting links to some of your vegan recipes. In fact, my first recipe was the Swahili Ginger n’ Milk Tea! God bless you with whatever your next endeavors turn out to be!

  36. Crystal says

    thank you for this wonderful website! I joined in less than a year ago, so I have much catching up to do and can’t wait. I have found many unexpected family favorite recipes thanks to your travels. I loved the Turkish pizza, Swedish meatballs, different variations of stuffed grape leaves, ground nut croissants and just tried orange rice today! looking forward to following your global holiday adventure. thank you for letting me travel alongside your family travels!

    • Sasha Martin says

      I need to make that Turkish pizza again soon – one of my all-time favorites! 🙂

  37. Diane says

    Congratulations!! I’ve enjoyed your wonderful website, recipes, and stories and love the way you welcomed a global awareness with a sense of fun and experimentation!! Thank you for the wonderful recipes and I know I’ll have fun trying them too!

  38. Pingback: Food Recipes | Food Recipes

  39. Marcia DeOliveira-Longinetti says

    Way to go Sasha!!! Thumbs up! You made me tear up girl!

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