Friday, December 7, 2012

Around the World in 80 Dishes: The Specials

As you may know, I am in the midst of a personal culinary challenge that I have named "Around the World in 80 Dishes."  The challenge is to make 80 main courses from 80 different countries.  (By the time I am done, I will have prepared a main course from over 40% of the 195 countries around the world.)   I recently completed my 20th challenge, which involved the preparation of a tasty carpetbag steak ... a New York Strip stuffed with fresh oysters ... that is a main course served in Australia.

Over the course of those challenges, I benefited from many new experiences.  For example, I got to pretend that I was part of the Germandat de Escullaires for a day, when I prepared Escudella, the national dish of Andorra.  The dish is prepared in the streets and served to the public on every St. Anthony's Day (January 17).  I also had the opportunity to cook with offal for the first time, when I made Khalyat Alkadba wal Galoob, or sauteed lamb hearts and livers, which is served as a main dish in Libya.  Speaking of unusual ingredients, I worked with pig trotters -- an ingredient that I never liked as a kid -- when I made Kangchu Maroo, a delicious pigs' feet curry served in the Land of the Thunder Dragon, also known as Bhutan.  I could go on, but I think you get the drift.  To this point, I look back with amazement at all that I have accomplished over my first 20 challenges and I look forward to the remaining 60 challenges.

However, I have also been reflecting upon my Around the World in 80 Dishes challenge.  To this point, every challenge has been based on a country's cuisine.  There are many more cuisines than countries.  Many of these cuisines, like their associated ethnicities, do not have their own countries.  The ethnicities may be minorities in a country.  They may be split between two or more countries.  I realized that, as I continue my personal culinary challenge, I will never have the chance to learn about these ethnic groups or the opportunity to prepare a meal reflective of their cuisine or culture. 

For this reason, I have decided to do four "special challenges."  The focus of these special challenges will be on the culture and cuisine of an ethnicity that does not have its own, formally-recognized country and/or would not otherwise be part of the challenge to prepare 80 dishes from 80 different countries.  Each such special will take place after I have completed twenty challenges.

That means the first special will be coming very soon. 

So, stay tuned and ... 


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