2021 Year in Review

Just about every damn week…57 countries represented in 2021.

Happy New Year! As is custom in December to reflect on the year and in January to plan for a new one, I thought the time was ripe for a quick year in review of what I accomplished with this blog in the past year. I started off with a goal of hitting 50 countries, then 60, and then deciding to blog about it a few months in to the process. I quickly stood up the blog and managed to hit 57 countries in 12 months. For 2022, I hope to maintain that pace and shoot for 60 again, recognizing that anything more than 50 is nothing to slouch at. So next week I’ll be back at it and I already have a list of countries rip roaring and ready to go for 2022. But first, let’s take a look back.

Let me preface this by saying that it was very hard to wittle this down to a dozen or so dishes that deserved special recognition because with the exception of a handful, I really enjoyed just about everything I made this year. Were some of them maybe more of an effort than justified by the end result? Maybe. But I tried to come up with a manageable list for 2021.

I figured it made sense to include my favorite dishes of the year but what I think could be helpful for those few readers who tune in to this on the regular, is to highlight ones that I find to be easy or everyday additions to my cooking repertoire. Some of these I’ve already made more than once and when all is said and done with this project, I imagine I’ll identify a few more along the way. So here’s the list and links (I did survey Matt as well for his take and then did any necessary overrides). 🙂

Tunisia (Shakshuka): A great breakfast dish that could be customized in a number of ways. (Beginner/Intermediate/Everyday)

Senegal (Chicken Mafe): Perfect winter dish combining chicken, peanut butter, and root vegetables. (Beginner/Intermediate)

Trinidad & Tobago (Chicken Pelau): This was such a unique combination of flavors and the leftovers got better each time. (Intermediate)

Libya (Hraimeh): I cooked this cod perfectly and I was so excited. If you’re looking for a healthy, weeknight meal that doesn’t require a lot of ingredients (but you do have to keep an eye on the fish as to not overcook) this is the dish for you. (Beginner)

Argentina (Steak w/ Chimichurri Sauce + Alfajores): The chimichurri sauce is quite simple but the alfajores are something special. All around a great meal for summertime grill time. (Intermediate)

Jamaica (Jerk Chicken): Hands down the best marinade I’ve ever tasted for Jerk Chicken. This makes for an incredibly easy meal, just marinate and then cook! (Beginner/Everyday)

Turkey (Tavuk Kebabi): Matt and I have made these chicken kebabs at least a half a dozen times if not more. Once you have all the ingredients for the marinade on hand, it’s another simple marinate and enjoy meal. (Beginner/Everyday)

Mozambique (Piri Piri Chicken): Are you sensing a pattern here? Matt and I clearly love spicy grilled chicken. This was no exception. (Beginner/Everyday)

Fiji (Kokada): Ceviche is one of those things that puts many home chefs out of their comfort zones. This recipe helped me taking the plunge for the second time with great results. (Intermediate)

Greece (Shrimp Saganaki): It was hard to pick just one Greek dish to cook but I opted for simplicity with this shrimp dish and was not disappointed. (Beginner/Everyday)

Bolivia (Saltenas): These were a grand effort and didn’t turn out as pretty as I had hoped but they tasted incredible. They make the list as a reminder that I should attempt them again some day but also to know I can try difficult things and just because it isn’t perfection, it can still taste pretty damn close. (Advanced)

Vietnam (Bun Cha): I had never heard of this dish prior to traveling to Vietnam in February 2020. While there, I not only ate it several times, I learned to make it as well! Further adjustments will need to be made (Intermediate)

Tuvalu (Tuna Coconut Curry): I was so proud of how I cooked this tuna and with just a few ingredients, I found this to be a very accessible, healthy dish for when I get sick of all the shrimp and salmon (my fishy go-to dishes). (Intermediate/Everyday)

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