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.Read the rest of this entry »
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!Read the rest of this entry »
El Norte is sometimes referred to as “unknown Mexico” or “lost Mexico” because it is ignored by the vast majority of tourists. It’s a place of vaqueros, horses and small towns, mountains and sweeping deserts. But at the same time with some of the more modern cities in the country. Truly this is a very rich and virgin region. Visit Chihuahua or Coahuila and you will be far off the well worn gringo path. In many ways traveling to the north is like traveling through an old Western movie. Northern Mexico is one of the country’s most wealthy and modern regions.
Things you didn’t know about Mexico:
- The colonization of the New World by the Spaniards introduced a lot of products to the rest of the world. Among those incredible contributions to global gastronomy are tomatoes, peanuts, avocados, corn, vanilla and hot peppers. Imagine many of our favorite dishes without these ingredients!
- A Mexican inventor created the world’s first birth control. That’s right. Luis Ernesto Miramontes Cardenas, a 25 year old Mexican chemist came up with the chemical compound – that would become the first birth control pills – in 1951.
- Mexican Spanish has more Arabic words than Spain’s Spanish. After the colonialization of Mexico by the Spaniards, Spanish in the Old Country underwent an evolution that involved ridding the language of Arabic influence, which the Spanish looked down upon at the time. But the Spanish spoken in Mexico retained this influence and can be seen today in their distinct use of worlds like alberca (pool), almohada (pillow) and Ojalá (which translates roughly to “I hope so” or “if god wills it”).
A bit of breakfast dish right in time for Easterbrunch! This is Machaca a tortilla with scrambled eggs and dried shredded beef! I love it! So damn good and easy to make
- 2 Tablespoons of vegetable oil
- 1/2 cup of white onion finely chopped
- 1 cup of dry beef meat finely shredded (could be substituted with shredded cooked beef)
- 1 cup tomato finely chopped
- 2 Serrano peppers chopped
- 6 eggs lightly beaten
- Salt to taste
- Chipotle sauce to taste
- Creme fraice
- Flour tortillas to serve
- Heat the oil in a medium heat skillet, add the onion and sauté for about 4 minutes. Add the dry meat. It will absorb the oil in the skillet. Let it brown a little at medium heat stirring frequently. About 5 minutes for this step.
- Add more oil if need. Place the chopped tomatoes and Serrano pepper into the skillet. Stir and cook for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat.
- Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
- Pour the eggs into the skillet and stir until they are done and to your liking. Taste to see if they need salt. Do not let them dry.
- Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
- Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.
Mauritania is located in the West African region. both a desert spring and coastal haven. Much of the country is left to its natural state, undisturbed by urban infrastructure. Mauritania has one of Africa’s grandest scenery. If you go to Mauritania as a tourist, keep in mind that a holiday here doesn’t mean big, fancy all inclusive resorts and touring busses ; it means enjoying what Mauritania was naturally blessed with. One of the sites to visit would be Parc National du Banc D’Arguin where millions of migratory birds winter along the coast.
Things you didn’t know about Mauritania:
- It is not acceptable to eat with or in the presence of one’s in-laws, and eating with the left hand is forbidden.
- People are expected to slaughter an animal according to the number of wives and the wealth of the husband. At the end of Ramadan and at the sacrificial feast that ends the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, a married man is expected to offer a lamb. The meat must be eaten up within three days or it is thrown away. It is customary to offer an animal in connection with name-giving, initiation, marriage, and funeral ceremonies and when people return from Mecca or other important places. Only circumcised adult men are allowed to slaughter animals.It is not acceptable to eat with or in the presence of one’s in-laws, and eating with the left hand is forbidden.
- Mauritania is one of the top 10 least visited countries in the world.
- The capitals name Nouakchott means “place of winds“
- Mauritania has the largest ship graveyard in the world left abandoned by various outsiders that bribed the local officials and nowadays over 300 of them are stranded at the beaches
This avocado pudding is surprisingly light and delicious. It is not overly sweet which i like! I think you can even eat for breakfast on the weekends, instead of an avocado toast :P.Read the rest of this entry »
Macedonia a beautiful mixture of cultural contrasts. Part Balkan, part Mediterranean and rich in Greek, Roman and Ottoman history this combination makes Macedonia a fascinating country. Ohrid is the place to be in Macedonia. Best of all is that you can be skipping through historic monuments one minute and lying on a deck chair with your toes in the water of Lake Ohrid the next. The reconstruction of the capital Skopje following the 1963 earthquake was mainly conducted by the Polish architect Adolf Ciborowski, who had already planned the reconstruction of Warsaw after World War II. The plan turned Skopje into a modernist but grey city. At the end of the 2000s, the city center experienced profound changes. A highly controversial urban project, “Skopje 2014”, was adopted by the municipal authorities in order to give the city a more monumental and historical aspect, and thus to transform it into a proper national capital. Several neoclassical buildings destroyed in the 1963 earthquake were rebuilt, including the national theatre, and streets and squares were refurbished. Many other elements were also built, including fountains, statues, hotels, government buildings and bridges. The project has been criticised because of its cost and its historicist aesthetics.
Things you didn’t about Macedonia:
- Alexander the Great, the once-king of the Kingdom of Macedonia was the world’s first conqueror, who extended an empire across Greece and Persia to India and Egypt.
- Macedonia was one of the only countries during the break up of Yugoslavia to remain at peace throughout.
- Kokino, to the north of the country, is one of the world’s oldest observatories, as recognized by NASA and dating back to the 19thcentury BC. It is inscribed on a Unesco “tentative” list of protection.
- Skopje, the capital, is said to be seven thousand years old and was known in the Roman period as Scupi
This recipe is perfect if you’re having vegetarians or vegans over for dinner or just as a side dish. The spices are just right! and it’s great to eat with just a piece of toast. My best friend is a vegetarian, and she loved this because it is often hard to find something that is filling and easy to make!
Libya is an ancient crossroads of civilizations. On the Libyan coast, you can some of the finest Roman and Greek ruins in existence, among them Leptis Magna, Cyrene, and Sabratha. Libya also has some of the most beautiful corners of the Sahara Desert, from seas of sand the size of Switzerland and as well as mysterious caravan towns (Ghadames) and an isolated black-as-black volcano (Wawa al-Namus) in the desert’s heart. A country with so beauty much to explore… yet so much unrest. The country has been as unstable ever since the revolution 2011. The whole country remains off-limits to travelers with chronic instability and ongoing conflict.
Things you didn’t know about Libya:
- Much of the central and eastern area of the country is covered by the Libyan Desert. The Libyan Desert is one of the most sun-baked and arid places on earth. There is no average rainfall — the land may go for decades with no rain and the highlands for five to ten years without it
- Tripoli the capital is also known as the Mermaid of the Mediterranean for its turquoise waters and whitewashed buildings.
- The Berbers identify themselves with their village or tribe before their country.
- Food is eaten with three fingers on the right hand. The left is considered unclean. Good manners dictate you leave a little food on your plate to indicate that your host is a gracious and generous provider.
- Saving face is important to Libyans, who are non-confrontational. They avoid disagreeing or saying no
This Libyan fish is really good the spicy sauce is really tasty and a great change from what I normally do with fish.
When I think of Latvia I think cold and woods full of pine trees. Which is not wrong, but not the only things identifying Latvia. First of all it one of the least densely populated countries in the European Union with only 2 million inhabitants. (compared to where I live in the Netherlands, 18 million people!!!)
Nearly half of the entire population lives in the capital Riga. The capital is an interesting mixture of somber Sojvet and ancient medieval buildings. Apart from the large forests, there are also beautiful beaches.
During Soviet times they were zoned off as a high-security military base, strictly out of bounds to civilians. The region’s development was stunted and today the desolate coastal villages feel as though they’ve been locked away in a time capsule.
Things you didn’t know about Latvia:
- Over 50% of Latvia is covered by forest, and it’s one of the most environmentally friendly countries on the planet.
- Latvia has the highest rate of fashion models per capita in the world.
- A Latvian-Jewish tailor invented jeans (Levi Strauss backed him financially)
- The Latvian culture still retains many Baltic pagan traditions, such as the celebration of the summer solstice (sees picture above), when Latvians go to the countryside to get drunk, to dance, light huge bonfires and do something called seeking the fern flower (having sex in the forest)
- When Swedish Vikings were at the height of their power around 1187, ancient Latvian chiefdoms not only stopped them from conquering their country but sent a fleet of ships to the then Swedish capital Sigtuna and burned it to the ground.
This recipe was kind of a bummer to be really honest, i didn’t really like the potato pancakes, they were a bit boring for my taste. The kotletes on the other hand were perfect quick easy meal!
Kuwait is quite different from the other countries in the Gulf region. It is just as oil-rich as the other Arab countries but they choose not to express their wealth in the same way. Where the others are all about glitter and glamour, in Kuwait they made conscious decision not to sell its soul to the gods of commercialism.
And Kuwait lies just far enough away from those Gulf mass tourism places to the south to mean that tourists and expats are fewer here. So it feels more authentic and less fake.
That doesn’t mean that Kuwait is boring because it is most definitely not! Kuwait remains an oasis in a land of desert plains and has excellent museums, a fine souq, beaches and lively restaurants.
Things you didn’t know about Kuwait:
- Kuwait is the only country in the Gulf to have an elected parliament and a constitution.
- Kuwait National Day was celebrated on June 19th until 1962. In 1963, it was changed to February 25th in order to avoid the hot summer weather.
- Gas is cheaper than water. Petroleum and petroleum products make up nearly 85% of export revenues.
- The flag of Kuwait contains four colors: green, white, red, and black. They symbolize “our lands”, “our deeds”, “our swords”, and “our battles” respectively.
- Wives do not take on their husband’s name upon marriage. The name you are born with is your name from birth until death.
- They only make up a third of the population, a minority within their own country. The other 2/3 are composed of expats from all around the world. Kuwait has an interesting societal structure and the international community.
The ingredients sound a bit bland for someone who hasn’t tried the dish. But the overly sweet flavour of the fresh dates paired with the nutty earthy flavour of the ﬂour mixture topped with cinnamon and walnuts is divine.
Florence a city I have yet to visit but is on the top of my list ever since I read Inferno by Dan Brown. It’s been a year since I read it and it still haunts me almost every day… and please don’t go and watch the movie, please just read the flipping book… I love Tom Hanks just as much as the next girl, but Inferno… naaaah not his best work. Sorry people! Too bad because the story had so much potential to be one of the most influential movies of all time.
About Florence,… Florence brought forth so incredibly influential historical figures that it seemed strange to me not to choose Florence as one of the 4 areas I am discussing in Italy. Italian icons like Leonardo Davinci, Dante, The Medici family (who ruled over Florence for 200 years!), Botticelli, Donatello just to name a few…
The height of Florence was during the Renaissance, actually, Florence is the birthplace of the Renaissance!
Things you didn’t know about Florence:
- Between 1865 and 1870 Florence was made capital of the newly united kingdom of Italy.
- It was Hitler himself who rescued The Ponte Vecchio of Florence from being destroyed during the World War II. He thought it was beautiful…
- Florence was the birthplace of pavement! In 1339 so before Rome, Venice, the first paved streets have been invented.
- Stendhal Syndrome has been born in Florence and acquired the name of Florence It is the state of mind when someone becomes lightheaded or dizzy because of the outstanding art. As strange as it sounds it is really true.
- Florence is the birthplace of the Italian language. The famous Florentine – Dante Alighieri is said to create the standard Italian language that the whole country speaks nowadays.
The orange zest and the white wine is what truly makes this torta di riso different from any other rice tartlet you had! It makes it taste like luxury!
Guinea has a very tough history! They’ve gone through many struggles over the centuries. Nonetheless they are a very brave nation. During their struggle for independence one of their slogans was: “We prefer poverty in liberty to riches in slavery!” and who can blame them. Freedom is one of the most important basic human rights! But when the French let them have their independence they immediately cut off all financial and physical support which let to a disastrous fall into poverty.
After gaining independence from France, Guinea turned to the Sovjet Union for support. The first president introduced a socialist government. Thousands of people were killed or tortured during this time. Today, the country is trying to become a democracy, but the process is not easy. At this moment there is still no light on the horizon for Guinea. The most recent disaster was the Ebola virus which wiped out a chunk of Guinea’s the population.
Things you didn’t know about Guinea:
- Guinea was a part of the Mali empire between the 13th and the 15th century.
- Guinea was the first country gaining independence from the French on October 2nd 1958
- The literacy rate of Guinea is very low.
- Guinea has a rich musical tradition like other West African countries.
For Guinea I made an African snack called puf puffs. You can compare them with beignets only there is onion in them which strongly seems to work perfectly!!!!