Recipe: DIY Spring Rolls | Bò nhúng dấm

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  Today, let me show you how Vietnamese food is like a dream. Delicate. Lingering. But, also, let me show you how their food is like a celebration. Bold. Unapologetic. Before I do, call your friends and family because today's recipe is a Vietnamese food party. The star? The DIY Spring Roll. Here's how it works: Every guest gets to pick and choose their fillings, from cucumber and sprouts, to vibrant mint, thai basil, and cilantro. The best part? Everyone gets to … [Read more...]

Recipe: Venezuelan Fruit Punch | Tizana

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Crack open just about any Venezuelan fridge and you just might find a pitcher of tizana. Tizana is as much a drink as it is a fruit salad. The fruity concoction keeps for nearly a week, which makes it perfect for impromptu scooping. Though perhaps not traditional, I'm guilty of digging into the pitcher at breakfast time, dessert time, and, of course, at midnight. I can see how having tizana in the fridge would be a great way to get my daily allotment of fruit, especially when in a … [Read more...]

Recipe: Fresh Corncakes with Cheese | Cachapas

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"There's nothing hidden between heaven and earth." Venezuelan Proverb Nothing hidden indeed... except, perhaps the cheese inside a steaming, hot Cachapas. Brittle autumn days require an extra slathering of comfort. Ooey gooey cheese-filled corncakes, a.k.a. cachapas fit the bill nicely. Think of them as the South American version of pancakes. The cakes are made with just two ingredients: corn and masa harina, plus the requisite sprinkling of salt and pepper. There's a simplicity to … [Read more...]

Recipe: Cousin Alfred’s Meat Sauce

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When I ask my mother how I'm related to Cousin Alfred, the answer usually goes: "Well..." and then there's a  contemplative silence. I can see her running through all our different relations, high up on the family tree, doing mental gymnastics to connect one branch to another. Eventually, she comes out with "I think he's my mothers, mother's cousin's"... and then, either she trails off, or my attention span wanes because, really, all that matters is that he is family, one way or … [Read more...]

Recipe: The Pope’s Fettuccine | Fettuccine alla papalina

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Before I knew about Papalina-style noodles, I thought Carbonara was the bees knees. But it turns out that Papalina is the richer version of carbonara. It uses cream, Parmesan, and prosciutto instead of the pancetta or guanciale (pig jowl) from in carbonara. One peppery bite in, and mac and cheese is a bland, happily forgotten memory. Let me be clear. My translation of the Italian is not entirely accurate. Papalina means skullcap, not pope. But I dubbed this recipe the Pope's … [Read more...]

Recipe: Green Papaya Salad

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  What do you do when you're running low on inspiration? Do you sip a cup of tea, take a walk, paint, write a poem, cook something? Or do you freeze up, unable to create? Writing a book for the last several months has had an interesting effect on my brain-space. The book is incredibly daunting and takes all my creative juices. I find myself sopping through my house like a wrung out rag. I once read that we are only capable of making a certain number of decisions each day. After … [Read more...]

Recipe: Sweet Potato Simboro

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It only takes five minutes of grating sweet potatoes to make me wax poetic on the brilliance of the food processor. Friends, I certainly don't have biceps of steel. Most days, I don't even see my biceps beneath the jiggle. Today's recipe for Simboro gave them a work out. I first learned about Simboro from a reader named Benjamin who spent some time in Vanuatu. This comforting side dish is made with a grated starch, like cassava, sweet potato, or yam, wrapped in "island cabbage," then … [Read more...]

Recipe: Honey & Pistachio Stuffed Quince

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Say "Quince" to an Uzbek lady, and you just might see her flush with delight. Though they aren't eaten raw, baked quince are soft and tender, like a pear.  The taste is mild, something like an apple, but with traces of pear, too. Uzbekistan is the third greatest producer of quince, after Turkey and China. They include the fruit in plov, stir it into preserves, and they bake it up with honey, and sometimes even stuff it nuts... as we're doing today. How to choose a quince: - look … [Read more...]