Recipe: Honey Almond Samsa with Orange Blossom Water

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Every wedding, every baby shower, every birthday... every party... needs a smile. And by that, I mean, something that is delectable, not just to the spirit, but to the heart. Perhaps it's an epic DJ known for Bollywood Dancing. Or perhaps it's something as simple as a platter of Tunisian cigars, filled with crushed almonds, honey, orange blossom water, and cinnamon...Oh, and there's a fair kiss of melted butter on them, too. These cigars are rather like baklava, but the orange blossom … [Read more...]

Recipe: Coconut Watermelon Refresher | ‘Otai

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Sun. Sweat. Waves. If lemonade is the go-to poolside drink in the United States, 'Otai is the go-to ocean-side drink of Tonga. Our recipe for 'Otai takes us way out into the southwest Pacific, where the tropical days lull a person into putting away their smartphone. Can you imagine? Oh, please, someone take my cellphone from me!! My heart is there already. I promise you won't need your phone to enjoy this drink. What you do need? A watermelon, a can of coconut milk, and some … [Read more...]

Recipe: Sweet Potatoes in Coconut Caramel Sauce

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I love necklaces. The bright stones add a splash of color and fun to my generally plain-Jane outfits. Seeing as I don't general have time to put on makeup, necklaces are the one and only way to brighten up my look. To make it look like I tried. Well, today, we're getting a taste of how the islanders in Tonga dress up dinner. In short? Sweet potatoes meet coconut caramel sauce - a vivid display of orange, white, and golden brown. Sweet potatoes and coconut grow easily in the Pacific, … [Read more...]

Recipe: Tomato Cornmeal Cakes | Djenkoume

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Even grownups need to build sandcastles from time to time. The urge comes from deep within our hearts - some far away love for fantasy, perhaps formed in childhood. Today, we're listening to our inner child; we're making edible sandcastles... from Togo. At least, that's what I'm calling them. If you want to be a serious adult, you can call them cornmeal cakes. In Togo, corn is everything, ever. Sometimes it is served as porridge. And sometimes it's served as Djenkoume, a.k.a. cornmeal … [Read more...]

Recipe: Green Papaya Salad | Som Tam

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Whomp. Womp. Womp. Everything worth doing takes a little bit of work. And so it is with Som Tam. The mortar and pestle crushes the garlic, mashes a Thai bird chili peppers,  and wooshes the fish sauce and lime juice into the green beans and papaya. I put the bowl on the table, dotted red with tomatoes. Ava thinks the papaya is spaghetti. The pale green shreds curl around her fork. "It's something like that..." I say, hoping she believes me. She takes a bite, then another. Soon … [Read more...]

Recipe: Greens with Veggies & Peanuts | Kisamvu

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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 … [Read more...]

Recipe: Mashed Potatoes with Veggies | Irio

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  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 … [Read more...]

Recipe: Lamb Plov with Dried Apricots & Raisins

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I'm an awkward girl; I'm not up on fashion trends, my slang is two decades passe, and I'd rather drink wine at home than be surrounded by 100 people I don't know. Dinner parties can really put me to the test, especially when I'm the hostess. I want everyone to have a good time, but I'm never entirely sure how to bring everyone together. That's where Tajikistan can help. You know that moment, right as everyone sits down to eat? I refer to it as the calm before the storm. It's a little … [Read more...]