How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb…of a mess I was about to unleash in my kitchen.
196 countries. Three years. Where do I begin?
First off, I have a few secret weapons in my arsenal.
1) I’ve traveled to a number of countries and have taken cooking classes in many of them where I’ve learned some techniques, received some recipes, and have great fodder for writing a blog.
2) I have a partner who while he isn’t thrilled about the mess this process unleashes in the kitchen, he is open to happily try anything I put in front of him. Being able to cook for someone other than myself makes this far more worth it. And I have great friends who not only support my crazy cooking attempts, but embrace those group meals and have for many years.
3) I have some great cookbooks and friends all over the world to reach out to for ideas, tips, and moral support. I also know some people who have worked on similar projects and they are a great resource for ideas.
4) I’ve already cooked a number of international dishes over the years so I either know where to find some of the random ingredients or I’ve been there, done that and am ready to do better.
So…here are my guidelines for myself to get the job done.
- I don’t need to make a MEAL from a region, it can just be one dish whether a breakfast food, main dish, dessert or specialty sauce. This gives me flexibility that I need to not get stuck in a rut OR always feel like I have to make it a huge production. I hope to find dishes that are easy weeknight meals. Dishes that are healthy. Dishes I want to make again and again. Those aren’t often found in the most complex of meals and I think it’s important for this not to turn into a chore. I’m six months in as I write this and I still love the process of researching what to make, looking into my pantry to see what I might already have, and thinking of what is in season or might be a good meal to make in the early days of summer or the dead of winter.
- I’m going to cook from all over the map, all of the time. I’m not going to try to tackle all the most familiar countries in my first year, nor am I going to try to take on all of Africa during a six-month span.
- When I find a healthier substitute or tweak that will still maintain the integrity of the dish, I’ll do it to make this dish more my style of cooking (less oil or not fried, etc.).
- Speaking of the integrity of a dish, I’m going to try to do my research but I’ve already seen that borders shift, some dishes have numerous “origins” and I might not always get it right. But I’m going to try.
- I’m going to fail. As I write this I can already think of two disasters in my first six months.
- And I’ll kick ass. Seriously, I’ve already made some great dishes in the first half of 2021.
- I’m going to come up with some ratings for each attempt that will help me not only remember what was worth the effort, but to help others think through whether they might want to try this on their own. The one great thing I have from my previous blog attempt is a record where I can go to find what I thought of a certain dish and where to find the recipe. Which leads me to…
- I’m not going to retype recipes here. I just don’t have the time. I’ll offer some tips and then I’ll send you to the source when I can, whether that’s a plug for a great cookbook or a website where you can find the recipe
Well, I’m about 30 recipes behind for creating blog posts so I’m going to get cracking, and hopefully have my narrative catch up with reality in the next few weeks.