All posts filed under: Monday Meal Review


Monday Meal Review: Taiwan

I got a really neat question in my email this week. I thought I’d take a brief departure from my normal meal review to answer it, in case you’re looking for similar ideas: Hi Sasha, I came across your website. I absolutely love it. I’ve worked in international transportation for 30 years, teach yoga, and love food too. Your website really speaks to me. I had a question: My daughter graduated high school and I’d like to give her a simple yet unique grad party with foods that her and her friends would find exciting. Do you have any ideas for a menu? Theme? Thanks for your help! Angela The irony? This week we’re in New Jersey celebrating the graduations of two nieces and one nephew… both from high school and college.  My amazing sister, Elisa, made several Global Table recipes for the party, so I’ll skip to the list of what worked. BIGGEST HIT: Cake on a rope, from the Netherlands. Food-wise, it’s fun to have interactive recipes… something to bring everyone together. Fondue …

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Monday Meal Review: Syria

“Want to help me make the kebabs?” I asked Ava, gesturing toward the pile of long, metal skewers, the bowl of sour cherries swimming in water, and the ground lamb meat, spiced with baharat. I tried to imagine what this spread looked like in a three year-old’s mind. Dangerous, slimy, raw. I cringed a little internally, knowing she wouldn’t want to help. Knowing this would push every squeamish part of her mind. But then she spoke. “Sure!” she smiled and slipped her hand into the cold, wet bowl of cherries. A moment later she plucked one out. “Can I eat it?” I thought about the sour flavor. How outrageous the slippery flesh would taste to her young taste buds (I once read that children have more taste buds than adults). “No… let’s wait until we can eat the cherries with the meat.” I replied, thinking it would be her best shot at loving it. “Okay!” she chirped, agreeably. We took turns, me threading the small meatballs onto the skewer, she sliding on the cherries. Soon, this wasn’t …

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Monday Meal Review: Switzerland

I can’t stop thinking about those three girls that were found last week: Michelle Knight, Amanda Berry, and Gina DeJesus. Also on my mind is Mr Ramsey, the man who stepped forward and kicked in the door to free the girls. Friends, it is so important to step up when we’re called. Is it scary? Yes. Can it be dangerous? Yes. But what else is life for, than helping  each other? I’m not by nature a hero. Once, when I was in my mid-twenties, I heard a man scream and groan next door. The sound was chilling, the urgency of the scream scraped up my spine, setting my every nerve on full alert. My gut reaction was to duck away from the window, for fear of being attacked or worse. Once on the floor, I called the police. They lit up the house next door in less than ten minutes. Nothing suspicious was found. No source ID’d for that scream. Their findings didn’t sit right to me, but I let it go because, surely, the …

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Monday Meal Review: Sweden

“Det är skönare lyss till den sträng som brast än att aldrig spänna en båge.” “It is fairer to listen to the string that broke than to never strain a bow.” Verner von Heidenstam (Swedish Poet & Novelist) I slumped into my chair, put my head on my arms, and groaned. I’d spent hours making the Swedish princess cake, only to find out that the marzipan was too thin. Not only could I see the cake through the spring green coating, the marzipan began to crack as I struggled to stretch it over the cake. Whipped cream oozed thickly out of the seams and ripples. Back to the store it was, to find more marzipan, color it, and cover the cake anew. I also made the custard three times. And the cake batter three times. I huffed. I puffed. I had  a storm cloud over my head. If this cake was a constant struggle, it was mostly because I wanted the recipe to work. I wanted it to be easy for you to follow in …

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Monday Meal Review: Swaziland

  “The bee that is forced into the hive will not produce honey.” This Swazi proverb has me thinking about what I do and why. When I used to work a desk job, I had  a palpable limit to my energy and creativity: it was called “5pm.” The old song “It’s five o’clock somewhere” was my quitting time rhyme. I was out that door faster than anyone else and, in fact, I was unproductively waiting for the end of the day even before five o’clock. But since I began cooking the world, something strange has happened. No longer am I watching the clock. No longer do I count the minutes down by the second. Instead, I have weeks like this one… our Swazi week … where I’m surrounded by the steam of the moistest corn bread I’ve ever had, reveling as I eat nearly an entire loaf by myself. Times when I fall into a tongue in cheek discussion with Mr Picky about how delicious beets are (I believe it, he doesn’t). Where Ava tries …

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Monday Meal Review: Suriname

  Our little family went to Austin, Texas this week to watch the Moto GP race. Fourteen countries were represented and we had a great time! Anyway, the trip cut short our work week, so you’ll find most of our meal review in the video this week. That being said, I do have a short question for you to ponder this week… and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. What do you hope they say about you when you are gone? Do you hope they point out your many accomplishments at home, work, and beyond? Do you secretly (or not so secretly) hope people cry? Or do you hope they laugh?  The very thought of someone laughing at a funeral sounds twisted and wrong, but it doesn’t have to be. An old proverb from Suriname suggests this most poignant idea: “Where there is death, there must be laughter.” What do these proactive words mean to me? Well. We need the good with the bad. We need joy with sorrow. We need to celebrate the …

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Monday Meal Review: South Sudan

What is a celebrity? One definition is someone who commands “public fascination.” Could this be the profile of one such person? This week we shared our meal with a very special guest; someone who has actually traveled to South Sudan, slept in their huts, hunted in their forests, and enjoyed feasts while sitting at the right hand of the village Chief.  I’d tell you when all this happened, but I’ve been sworn to secrecy. I’ve wanted to invite this man to our table for a long time, partly because he is so passionate about the cultures of the world, but also because anywhere he goes, he comes back with stories. Enough to fill a 450 page book, actually. Say ‘hello’ to Brian Schwartz. You might recognize him from his lengthy, insightful comments… He’s been sharing them from the very beginning of this blog. Without him, my adventures into Africa and parts of Asia would have been much quieter, but his memories (and music!) have livened up our stovetop travels … making me (and I’m sure …

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Monday Meal Review: North Sudan

If you could taste life, it would be salt of the earth, spice of the heavens. It would leave you thirsty, and yet it would quench you. When I see people sweat through complicated recipes to impress each other, rather that for fun, I wonder if they taste life… if they really drink it in. Because I’ve seen it. I’ve seen her. That girl who’s crying before a dinner party because she’s taken on a recipe that’s much too complicated. Or because she’s just splattered oil on her favorite blouse. Or she answers the door with flour on her face and doesn’t realize it until a glass of wine and two hours later. While her friends fill the walls of her home with effervescent laughter, her insides are writhe with stress, fear, insecurity. She’s wondering if everyone’s doing okay, without taking a moment to breathe for herself. To live. To take it all in. To taste life. I know, because I’ve been that girl. I recently read a cookbook review that claimed the author wasn’t sharing true “recipes” …

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Monday Meal Review: Sri Lanka

It all started about a month ago. While watching our new Sri Lankan friend, Iyona, prepare a dozen or so platters for Ruby’s 40th birthday party, I noticed how little she measured. Anything. Nothing. Ruby seemed completely relaxed. Un-phased. (P.S. I’m pretty sure she’d pass for 22, right?!) Anyway. Back to the cooking. It was a dash of this. A heap of that. Cook it a while. Don’t forget to stir. That was the extent of her instructions. I’ve seen many people cook with similar abandon (my mom included), but I typically struggle with the desire to control the flow of the ingredients. So often, this is because I want you to be able to make these dishes at home.  I have to include exact measurements to make sure you are successful. BUT, this is not the way of the world. MOST of the world doesn’t measure. And here’s the kicker. Somehow, some way, the food comes out just as good as if they had. So,  a month later, when I cooked the meal for a few …

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Monday Meal Review: Spain

The more I need to laugh, the more I hole myself up in solitude. Does that make me an introvert? This week I holed up… major. I watched my paella turn canary yellow while my husband and daughter played in the yard. The trees were budding. The birds were singing. But I stood in my windowless kitchen. I stared into the paella as it plumped up. I wondered if I could drink in the steam coming off the rice, and whether or not it would conjure up the most honest sort of happiness. Can food do that? Because, if it can, I want to eat it. Surely Spanish food can. The truth is, I was so scared I’d mess up the paella, when my neighbors said they were too busy to join us, I decided not to invite anyone else over to try our Spanish Global Table. It just seemed easier to live a bit in the shadows. You see, I’ve been working on my book to be published by National Geographic in 2014… writing …

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Monday Meal Review: South Africa

 “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl” Zulu Proverb I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: a good friend makes for a great companion in the kitchen. Through the crackle and sizzle, conversation and laughter keep love flowing… right on into the meal… So, I was thrilled when my friend Janine said she’d help me figure out the food of South Africa. She’s South African, so I knew I was in good hands. But then things got a little wonky. Because she’s vegan, I offered to make the meal entirely vegan so she could share it with us. I never expected her to decline. But she did. Here’s the deal: she wasn’t just being polite. Janine insisted, with her smooth slightly British-sounding accent, that we could not eat South Africa without trying their true, traditional dishes. She says they “love their meat,” like Bobotie. Even if she couldn’t eat the food, she thought I might as well go all out and experience the real South Africa… after all, “Almost doesn’t fill a bowl,” as the …

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Monday Meal Review: Somalia

Keith falls asleep quicker than I can slip under the comforter and lay my head on the pillow. Most nights, I find myself staring out the window – watching the moon arc across the sky – while Keith snores next to me. I don’t know how he does it. My mind rarely clicks off… each night my head hosts a cluttered, clamoring PARTY of thoughts. Just as with the most ruckus of house guests, I’m lucky if I can control one out of ten of these thoughts. There’s no peace in my mind. There is just swirling, swirling, swirling. Worry, insecurity, negativity, hope, joy… it’s all bundled up in their, tied up and tangled in the confetti of my life. And yet, the Somali people say: This beautiful proverb made me question what I am doing at night to keep myself from this kind of soul-satisfying slumber. I asked myself: What is my personal roadblock to attaining inner peace? I sat with this question for a long time. I thought about it while dicing vegetables for the …

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