146. Nepal: Bamboo and Potato Curry

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Nepal is a spot for the adventurous kind of traveler. Of course, there is the Mount Everest and the Annapurna’s to climb for the true diehard athletes, fortunately, there is plenty to do for those who are less sporty like me. (Hey I’m a chef, I like cooking and eating that’s what I do) There are temples to be worshipped, jungles with tigers you can explore, and medieval cities and sacred sites to be admired. In short, Nepal is Nirvana for backpackers.

Even though 90% percent of the population is Hindu and only about 10 % is Buddhist. Buddhism is still taken very very seriously. Which makes sense because Buddha was born in Lumbini Nepal. Beautiful Buddhist temples can be found all over the country!

There are over 120 etnolinguistic groups in Nepal. It’s The population consists of 30 million people with over 120 ethnolinguistic groups. (How do you manage a country with soooo many languages?). The first language is Nepali which is very similar to the Hindi language which is natively spoken by about 45% of the population. To simplify things English is commonly spoken in government buildings, offices, and businesses.

Things you didn’t know about Nepal:

  • The abominable snowman, also known as the Yeti, is a legendary apelike creature that is believed to frequent the high valleys of Nepal.
  • Namaste the greeting that begins of ends your yogaclass is the standard “Hello” in Nepal.
  • Nepal does not celebrate an independence day because they had never been under any foreign occupation. The nation is the oldest country in South Asia. Nepal became a federal democratic republic in 2008 after having a monarchical form of government until then.
  • Unlike the common quadrilateral flags, Nepal is the only country where the flag is of two triangles. The upper triangle has an image of the moon while the lower triangle has that of the sun representing the two major religions of Nepal, Hinduism and Buddhism. Although the current flag was incepted in 1962, the design is said to be 2000 years old. It is also said to represent the Himalayas.
  • Ever worshipped a little girl as a goddess? Yes, you heard it right. If you are in Nepal, you shall witness the living goddess. Also known as ‘Kumari’, literally meaning virgin, pre-pubescent girls are believed to be the earthly manifestations of divine female energy or the incarnations of goddess Taleju, otherwise known as ‘Durga’ in India.  They lived in temples and worshipped and driven in chariots during festivals. However, the goddesses retire on puberty or if they fall prey to illness or accidents.
  • Sherpas are the ethnic community in the eastern part of Nepalese Himalayan Mountains, who are employed as porters. They are known to be immune to the effects of altitude due to their upbringing and genetics.

The dish is tasty and quick just soak your beans the night before!

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145. Nauru: Coconut Crusted Fish with Mango Salsa and Miso Cauliflower Puree

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When I told my boyfriend that Nauru was the next country I was going to write about, his reaction was “Na Who?” But who am I to blame, I had never heard about Nauru either several weeks ago. Also not that strange considering it’s the least visited country in the world. The name Nauru is derived from the Nauruan word Anaoero which means “I go to the beach”. Nauru get’s roughly 200 visitors a year, that doesn’t mean it isn’t special, because it is. It is just so hard to get there from the other countries, for instance it’s impossible for large commercial ships to harbour in the island because it’s surrounded by sharp coral reefs, that could damage the ships. Another reason why it’s not chosen as holiday destination more often is because everything is so expensive!!!! Not that strange considering everything has to be imported mostly by plane from Australia.

The island is shaped like a kidneybean and so small you could easily take walk around the island in the morning and be back before noon. Nauru is famous for its notorious weightlifters.

Once upon a time, Nauru was not only the world’s smallest island nation but also the richest per capita, richer even than the Gulf countries. Why was this BIRDSHIT! Yes, you read correctly birdshit! The discovery of phosphate in birdshit in 1968 has changed the country forever, phosphate makes the soil really fertile. For thousands of years, birds took care of their business all over the island. So you can imagine after this discovery the Nauruans, back then still a British colony start selling their extremely fertile birdshit infested soil. When they gathered enough money they gained independence from Great Britain. The mining companies rush to exploit the unusual natural resources. By 1980 they were the richest country per capita. The Nauruans weren’t yet used to having this amount of money, so they spend it all and they spend it quickly. For inhabitants of the island, almost everything was free: education, healthcare, dental services, public transport, even the newspaper was free. Even if you had a medical condition that was not treatable in the tiny hospital on the island you could fly to Australia at state expense to receive treatment. If you wanted to study abroad in Australia, the state would pay that too. They build state rental houses, whose rent was just $5 a month. As you can imagine this story is not going to end well. Eventually, they ran out of fertile soil to sell, and now the island is mostly barren, only coconut trees still grow on the island. They knew this was coming the minister of Finance said in an interview in the New York Times. They just didn’t care since they have a saying on the island “Tomorrow will take care of itself”

Things you didn’t know about Nauru:

  • A 3.9km stretch of narrow gauge railway was built in 1907 for the transport of mined phosphate, the lynchpin of the island’s economy for decades.  
  • In 2015 it banned Facebook on the pretence of protecting residents from pornography, but really – many claimed – to stifle political dissent.
  • Nauru is one of the 16 countries without an army. Australia is responsible for keeping Nauru safe and sound, although the island does have it’s own police force.
  • The first Westerner to visit Nauru was the British whaler John Fearn, who dropped anchor there in 1798. He was clearly impressed, calling it “Pleasant Island”. The island is ringed by coral reef, which prevents it from having a port but makes it a perfect for diving and snorkelling.
  • It is the only country in the world without an official capital.

Ok guys this one is really easy and child friendly if you leave out the the chilli in the mango salsa. Fruity salsa’s have special little place in my heart! I love the zinginess of the lime and spicyness, the Tilapia however is not my quite favorite fish, but hey that’s wat they got over there. You can definately substitute it for any other white fish like cod or halibut.

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144. Namibia: Potjiekos

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Namibia is not the cheapest but it is one the safest and cleanest places to visit in Africa and that is worth something. Namibia is a very dry country (the driest in Sub-Saharan Africa) and has a lot of desserts, even on the coast. The North Coast of Namibia is dangerous for sailboats the Portuguese called it “The Gates to Hell” and the Bushmen called it “The land God made in anger” but nowadays it’s commonly known as “Skeleton Coast”. Why all these spooky names you ask… Well because of rare geological phenomena in which the colossal dunes merge with the ocean. You could say that an ocean of sand meets an ocean of water. A lot of ships sank there and you can find a lot of shipwrecks in the middle of the desert. Shipwrecks are not the only spooky thing you can find in the desert there is also Kolmanskop ghost town in Southern Namibia. It was once a very rich mining village, now it’s swallowed up by the desert.

Most of the Namibian population lives in the North of the country because that is where you can find the most cultivable land. Namibia’s main industries are diamonds, meat, and fish. But especially diamonds since they are one of the top 10 producers worldwide.

Things you didn’t know about Namibia:

  • The name ‘Namib’ translates as “vast place”, which is apt given that Namibia is one of the least crowded destinations on the planet. Only Greenland, the Falkland Islands, Mongolia and Western Sahara (in that order) have fewer people per square kilometer.
  • If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the fastest land animal on the planet, Namibia is the place to go – for it is home to the world’s largest population of free-roaming cheetahs.
  • In the south of Namibia you can find the largest Canyon in Africa “The Fish Canyon”
  • In the Namib dessert, there is a strange natural phenomena known as fairy circles. Fairy circles are only found in the dry regions of Africa and Australia. The grass naturally grown in a circle pattern with an empty dirty or sandpit in the middle. Scientists have theories as to why this happens, but so far no exact explanation.

Potjiekos is a one-of-a kind dish. The Dutch brought the dish to South Africa and Namibia, when navigator Jan van Riebeeck arrived at the Cape of Good hope in 1652. As African trade increased the Africans were introduced to many new herbs and spices. These spices made Potjiekos into the unique dish it is now, very far from the dish I know from living in the Netherlands my entire life “Hutspot”. There is a question what distinguishes Potjiekos from a stew. Well I have the answer for you stews are for stirring, a potjiekos should not be stirred! The flavours of the ingredients should mix as little as possible. Yes this dish takes a while, but you can put it needs to simmer for a few hours but the work itself is really really easy and you can do other stuff in the meanwhile.

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143. Myanmar: Mohinga

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Myanmar or Burma (which is the old name).  In 1989, the ruling military governement changed the name from Burma to Myanmar after thousands were killed in an uprising. The city of Rangoon also became Yangon and many other cities had a namechange. However, most people continue to use both names interchangeably without much fuss. Sometimes Burma is just an easier word to pronounce.  Burma is considered to describe ethnic Burmans only, so Myanmar became the politically correct term, which is supposed to encompass all who live in the country. Myanmar is a beautiful country scattered with gilded temples, ancient forests and beautiful beaches.

Things you didn’t know about Myanmar:

  • The fishermen of the Inle lake in Myanmar are world famous for fishing whilst standing on one leg. These fishermen developed a very unusual technique to be able to fish and row a boat at the same time.
  • Kissing sounds are normal in a Myanmar restaurant because this is the sound they make to get the attention of the waiter. (ooooh that would piss me off)
  • Myanmar is one of only three countries in the world that has not adopted the metric system of measurement.  The other two holdouts are Liberia and the United States.
  • You will see small children wear holy thread around their neck or wrist for protection from bad spirits or spells.
  • Chewing betel nut is a national pastime. Small street stalls sell the palm-sized green leaves filled with betel nut, spices and sometimes a pinch of tobacco. The leaves are folded, popped in the mouth and chewed.

Mohinga is a noodle soup that is traditionally eaten for breakfast, catfish is not easy to find here in the Netherlands so i used trout. I liked this recipe but it was not what i was expecting, and personaly I would rather eat it for lunch then for breakfast.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup uncooked jasmine rice
Broth
  • 3 quarts water
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 1 2-ounce piece ginger (unpeeled), thickly sliced crosswise into slabs
  • 5 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 scaled and gutted catfish (i used 2 rainbow trouts, because catfish is kind of hard to find around here)(about 3 pounds)
Soup
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 stalk lemongrass, minced
  • 1/4 cup minced garlic
  • 3 tablespoons minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 red onions, diced into 1/2-inch pieces (about 3 1/2 cups)
  • 1/4 cup fish sauce
  • salt
  • 10 ounces fine round rice noodles
Serving
  • 6 eggs, boiled for 6 minutes
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
  • 2 limes, cut into wedges
  • Thinly sliced red onions
  1. Heat the oven to 160°C. Spread the rice across a rimmed baking pan and bake, giving the pan an occasional stir, until the rice is an even golden color and aromatic, 20 minutes. Cool to room temperature and then pulverize in a clean coffee grinder.
  2. To make the broth, select a large wide pot that will fit the catfish comfortably with room to spare. (An 8-quart pot works well.) Add the water, lemongrass, ginger, bay leaves, black and white pepper, and salt and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Carefully lower the fish into the pot. The fish may not be completely covered in water, but that’s okay. Bring the pot to a brisk simmer, lower the heat, and cook gently for 15 minutes. Using tongs, carefully turn the fish over or at least rotate it slightly to cook the side that was sticking out of the water. Simmer for another 5 minutes or until the fish flesh pulls away cleanly from the bone. Using tongs and a spider or slotted spoon, lift the fish out of the broth and transfer to a bowl. Turn off the heat and let the broth sit on the stove.
  4. When the fish is cool enough to handle, pull off the skin and discard. Separate the cooked fish from the bones, trying to keep the skeleton (or skeleton portions if the fish is cut in pieces) intact. Set aside the cooked fish. Return the skeleton (including head and tail) to the pot.
  5. Bring the pot to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. The broth should have a mild ginger-lemongrass flavour and be slightly cloudy. Strain the broth through a fine-mesh strainer. You will have about 10 cups. Give the pot a quick rinse (when it’s cool enough to handle), and return the broth to the pot.
  6. In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered rice and a ladleful of the broth until no lumps remain. Stir into the broth. Bring the broth to a simmer and cook, stirring often, until it starts to barely thicken, about 5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and cook the broth at a gentle simmer while preparing the soup.
  7. To make the soup, in a wok or large skillet, heat the oil over high heat. Add the lemongrass, garlic, and ginger and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the cooked fish, paprika, and turmeric, mashing the fish gently with a spoon to turn it into a coarse paste, and cook for about 1 minute. If you see any errant bones, pick them out.
  8. Pour the contents of the wok into the broth and bring to a brisk simmer. Add the red onions and fish sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes more or until the flavors start to come together. Taste the broth: it should be on the salty side because the noodles will not have any salt. If it’s not that salty, add some salt or fish sauce. (At this point, the soup can be cooled and served the next day.)
  9. To cook the noodles, bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook, stirring often with tongs or chopsticks to prevent sticking, for 5 to 6 minutes or until softened. Turn off the heat and let the noodles sit in the water for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander, rinse under cool running water, and give the colander a shake to remove excess water. If not serving right away, mix some canola oil into the noodles with your hands to keep them from sticking together. (You can also cook the noodles in advance and soak them in warm water before serving.)
  10. To serve, divide the noodles among the bowls. Ladle the soup over the noodles and serve the hard-boiled eggs, crackers, cilantro, and lime wedges alongside.

142. Mozambique: Chicken Piri Piri

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Mozambique, a tiny country located north of South Africa. Famous for its beautiful beaches and for being the only country with all 5 vowels. Mozambique has 3 main island archipelago: The Quirimba’s, the Primeras y Segundas, and the largest one Bazaruto. The island of Mozambique is the island where the country derives its name from. A sultan named Ali Musa Mbiki. The country is rich in biodiversity and you can find the “Big 5” (leopard, lion, elephant, rhinoceros, buffalo). The Big 5 are Africa’s undisputed superstars and the reason tourists set out eagerly on dawn and dusk game-viewing excursions. Dance is huge in Mozambique! Almost every tribe has their own traditional dance! The Makhuwa have stilt dance with colorful masks, The Chopi people have a hunting dance that reenacts battles, The woman in Mozambique have a rope-jumping dance, Gule Wamkulu from the Chewa tribe even has a dance thats classified by the UNESCO as a masterpiece of Oral and intangible beritage of humanity.

Things you didn’t know about Mozambique:

  • There are over 40 local languages spoken in Mozambique, most citizens speak more than one language.
  • You don’t just say “Hello” as a greeting in Mozambique. Asking after one’s family’s health is an essential part of greeting each other.
  • Over 50% of Mozambique’s population is under the age of 15. If you thought you were too old for that college town you lived in, imagine an entire country with young people everywhere.
  • Mozambique has some of the best coral reefs in the world, especially those lining the Bazaruto Archipelago. Over 1,200 species of fish have been identified off the coast of the country and it’s also one of the largest marine reserves in the world.
  • The Church of San Antonio de la Polana is a religious building located in the city of Maputo. The church is of modernist architecture, build in 1962 according to the project architect Portuguese Cavreiro Nuno Lopes. It is shaped like an inverted flower however, it is known as many the ‘Lemon Squeezer’. This church was restored in 1992.

This was a tough one guys! I was trying to find a dish. Something that natives themself eat. I contacted a group on Facebook called “Mozambique for All”, and if you have any more questions about the food in Mozambique or traveling there, I recommend joining them! They are a super helpful group of people!!! This recipe turned about great because of their help! My boyfriend bought a rotisserie for his BBQ at home recently. As some of you know he is also a chef, he specialized in BBQ for a year by working for a BBQ catering company. This recipe was the perfect opportunity for us to try out our new toy! I made the marinade and he made sure his new BBQ toy worked properly and cooked the chicken just right. If you don’t have a rotiserie you can always spatchcock the chicken. That also works really well.

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141. Morocco: Lamb tagine with plums and apricots with couscous

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Morocco, this beautiful country is very familiar to me. Part of my father’s business is located in the North in Tangier. My parents own an apartment there, so we go there a lot. As a matter of fact, my parents are there right now. Morocco is tailor-made for adventurous travellers. With its seemingly endless dessert, its rusty mountains, its colourful souks, and dreamy medinas where you lose yourself the minute you enter the labyrinth of tiny alleys. Moroccan people are known for their hospitality, and that is not a myth. Every building you enter, people are offering you traditional super sweet mint tea (which I love!) or harrira (a lentil soup). In short, Morocco is a magnificent country with kind and generous people, and you should definitely visit should you ever get the chance!

Things you didn’t know about Morocco:

  • It is the only Islamic country where women’s rights are enshrined in the constitution
  • Tangier used to be known as a center for sex and drugs during the era of Paul Bowles, Jack Kerouac, and William S Burroughs
  • Under Moroccan Constitutional Law, no party can have an absolute majority
  • Chefchaouen is Spanish rather than French-speaking as it was a Spanish enclave for many years
  • You can ski in the winter – in Oukaimeden

Tagines are cooked on the stove, or on an open fire, not in the oven. I love tagine and this recipe is amazing, and I’ve made it a bunch of times. I got it from a local woman. The sweet stickiness of the prunes blends perfectly with the lamb and all the warm spices like cinnamon and cumin.

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140. Montenegro: Black Cuttlefish Rice with Gamba’s

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Montenegro is located in the southeastern European region known as the Balkans right along the Adriatic Sea. It is the least populated Balkan nation. The name Montenegro means “black mountain” in Venetian Italian. Although its name is derived from Italian, Montenegro is a Slavic nation and not Latin. That’s why they call their own country Crna Gora, which means “black forest”. It probably won’t surprise you that Montenegro has lots of mountains and forests. The best and by far the coolest way to see the 1300 meter high Tara Canyon is rafting, you know the tiny boats on a wild river. Also, don’t forget to make a stop at one of the many many monasteries especially Ostrog Monastery which is built inside a mountain.

Things you didn’t know about Montenegro:

  • Montenegro’s Lake Skadar is one of the biggest bird reserves in Europe. It’s home to over 270 bird species and is a vitally important stop for migrating birds. Among the most popular on the lake are the Dalmatian Pelicans.
  • They have a lazy Olympics in the town of Brezna. You can win about €400 for just being the one that lays down and does nothing for the longest.
  • Montenegrins are known to be very relaxed. In that effort, they have their own set of commandments to live by. Among them are: “Love thy bed as you love thyself”; “If you see someone resting, help him”; and “If you have the urge to work, sit down, wait and you’ll see it will pass.”
  • His Imperial and Royal Highness Stefan Cernetic, Hereditary Prince of Montenegro, Serbia and Albania has been attending gala dinners, giving out Orders (for a fee) and hobnobbing with celebrities and aristocrats for years.Montenegro hasn’t had a royal family since 1918. But that didn’t stop Mr Cernetic from conferring Pamela Anderson the title of Countess of Giglio in a ceremony, in which she knelt before him and thanked him for his generosity, in 2015.
  • Montenegro is one of the founding members of the Red Cross

I love this rice dish. It is a popular meditarian dish and one of my favourites! The ink doesn’t only add color but also a rich flavor!

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139. Mongolia: Boortsog (Fried Cookies)

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Mongolia, a rough country with a tumultuous history squeezed between Russia and China. Mongolia’s founding father is the legendary and once feared Genghis Khan. He came to power by merging several nomadic tribes. In 25 years he conquered more land surface than the Romans did in 4 centuries. Quite an impressive dude right? In the 13th century, the Silk Roads became an important economic route in Asia. Salesmen like Marco Polo traveled all the way from Europe to gain access to luxury goods like diamonds, pearls, rubies, silk, porcelain, paper, peaches, rhubarb, elephants, and horses. Modern-day Mongolia is not what I expected. In the capital city, Ulaanbaatar cars and pedestrians commingle with livestock. Nearly 60% of Mongolia 1,4 million people have moved to the city, where they seek a more luxurious lifestyle. The result is the Ulaanbaatar has become the most polluted capital in the world. It has gotten so bad that in the winter months when the smog is at its worst doctors advise couples to avoid conceiving children.

Things you didn’t know about Mongolia:

  • Mongolia is home to a lot of endangered animals like snow leopards and the twohumped Bactrian camel
  • More than one-quarter of the population live as nomads.
  • There is a theory that Mongolian horsemen first invented the ice cream. They would take animal intestines on long journeys. The combination of freezing and being jolted around on the horse produced an ice-cream like substance. This then made its way to China, Marco Polo, then Italy!
  • Mongolian native horses are the last truly wild horses left on the planet. They have 66 chromosomes, one or twom more than the average horse. 
  • The Gobi desert is Asia’s biggest desert. It is like no other in the world. The Gobi Desert is also regarded as the world’s biggest dinosaur fossil reserve.

These cookies are really good and so easy to make.

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138. Monaco: Fougasse

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Monaco, the second smallest (the smallest being Vatican City) yet wealthiest country (per capita) in the world. You can literally walk from one end of the country to the other end in about an hour, since it’s length is only 4km. It is however the most dense populated country in the world. In the spring of 1956 all eyes in the world were on Monaco where the wedding of the century was taking place. The actress Grace Kelly married Prince Reinier Grimaldi of Monaco. Her dress inspired designers for years to come.

Things you didn’t know about Monaco:

  • Monaco is not only one of the richest countries per capita in the world, but it also has one of the lowest unemployment rates and more billionaires per capita than any other country!
  • Monaco does not grow any commercial crops as there simply is not enough space to do so!
  • Monaco does not have its own major defense force. The country’s defense; however, is France’ responsibility.  Monaco was never a part of France despite its long history and geographical intimacy with France.
  • Do not be surprised to learn that the native of Monaco are not allowed to gamble here and visit the casino. The rule is imposed by the country’s government, which does not want its citizens to gamble away their money. The casino is a source of income for the country and provides employment to its residents.

This bread is so nice! It’s so herby, great to eat with a bit of aioli, goats cheese, or simply dip it in olive oil!

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137. Moldova: Herby Zucchini Feta Pie

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Moldova, a tiny tiny country in Eastern Europe wedged between Romania and Ukraine. The national hero of Moldova is Stephen the Great who is Dracula’s (then know as Vlad The Impaler) cousin. He fought the Turks and won 46 of his 48 battles. He was crowned by the Pope as Atleta Cristi which means Champion of Christ. Then there is the story of Transnistria a country within a country that is nog recognised by the rest of the world as country but a part of Moldova. Nonetheless they have their own currency (which is useless everywhere else), visa, border patrol. The biggest part of Moldova feels connected to Europe, but Transnistria feels more connected to Russia and the old Sovjet Union.

Things you didn’t know about Moldova:

  • Moldova is placed the 12th among the top world wine exporters. Vine growing and wine making in Moldova counts for almost 5,000 years. And also the largest underground wine cellar in the world, Cricova, is “hidden” in this country. It’s a 120km long and the deepest point is more then a 100m deep. The wine cellar holds at about 40 million liters of wine.
  •  Cleopatra Stratan holds the record for the highest paid young artist, the youngest artist to receive an MTV award and the youngest artist to score a #1 hit in a country.
  • In the time of the USSR Soroca became the Gipsy capital of the world.
  • The biggest animal that ever lived on this territory is “Denoterium”, a breed of what is known to be like an elephant.  The animal’s skeleton is now preserved in the ethnographic museum and is considered to be the second biggest in Europe.

This is a really nice recipe perfect for hot summerdays accompanied with a nice salad! The herbs make it nice and fresh!

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