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.Read the rest of this entry »
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!Read the rest of this entry »
Mexico City, this megacity is home to nearly 21 million people , which makes it the most populous city in North America. The city was built atop the ruins of the once flourishing Aztec city of Tenochtitlan. Mexico city’s fascinating melting pot reveals itself through its architecture which includes pre-Columbian ruins alongside Mexican-style modernism, and the mix of cultures where tradition happily coexists with the modern culture.
Things you didn’t know about Mexico City:
- Mexico’s capital is sinking every year. Mexico City was built atop a system of lake beds by its original tribes and expanded by the Aztecs when they took power of the Valley of Mexico. Unlike the Aztecs who created intricate systems of dikes and canals for flood control, the Spanish insisted on draining the lakebed once they got a taste of the work needed to maintain their watery existence. Most of the city’s water today is pumped from its aquifer below the surface and because of the soil’s sandy condition, the city and buildings continue to sink deeper into the muck.
- North America’s first printing press was used in Mexico City. Mexican Juan Pablo used North America’s first printing press in 1539 and created 35 books with it from that year until the year of his death in 1560. His original workshop has been converted into a musuem and can still be visited in Mexico City’s Centro Historico. The press was brough by Spaniard Juan de Zumárraga in 1539, and originally printed materials for the colonial church and vice royalty.
- The greener side: Despite its reputation for being super polluted, Mexico City is one of the greenest megacities in Latin America. Part of this distinction has to do with the fact that the Desierto de los Leones, a nearby natural reserve, is included within the city limits as well as the Parque de Chapultepec, which is almost double the size of Central Park.
- Freshly released from jail by the Cuban Batista government and exiled in Mexico, Fidel and Raul Castro met Ernesto “Che” Guevara in a tiny apartment in Mexico City’s Tabacalera neighborhood for the first time. It was in this apartment and in the Cafe de la Habana in Colonia Sa Rafeal that the three planned their return to Cuba and a revolution that would turn out to be one of the most infamous in world history.
I have looking forward to making Mole for ages! The rich and tasty sauce combined with the smoked chicken! I know the chili’s seem a lot but it’s really not that spicy! I do however recommend lime juice as a topping since it cuts through richness of the sauce.Read the rest of this entry »
Luxembourg a tiny crazy rich beautiful landlocked country smack in the middle of Europe. I wonder why people don’t go to Luxembourg more often. Because it is stunning, nature is unforgettable since one-third of the country is covered in forest with easy hiking trails since they don’t really have mountains, (even though they call them mountains) they have hills. The food is old school comfort food, things like wild boar with apples and fresh trout. It is one of they tiniest bust also one of the richest and most influential countries in the world. During both World Wars, they remained neutral even though they got occupied by Germany. They were one of the founding members of both NATO and the European Union.
Things you didn’t know about Luxembourg:
- Luxembourg has the highest minimum wage in the EU – paying workers a minimum of EUR 1,923 per month.
- The restaurant with the world’s largest wine list is in Luxembourg. If you visit the Restaurant Chiggeri in the city of Luxembourg, you can take your pick from more than 2,200 different wines.
- Luxembourg’s motto is ‘mir wëllebleiwewatmirsinn‘ which means ‘we want to remain what we are’.
- Just under half of the permanent residents in Luxembourg are foreign – with around 170 different nationalities living in the country. Portuguese make up the biggest group at 16.4 percent.
This dish tastes really fancy but it dead easy!!!
When I told my dad that next up was Lebanon he got excited. He said The food there is amazing!! Lebanon I have been waiting for that one, please make this when you are visiting us! Lebanon is a sophisticated, tolerant and beautiful country, but it has had some issues in the past, I distinctly remember an episode of Anthony Bourdain when he visited Beirut (the capital of Lebanon) at the wrong time when all hell broke loose when the Israeli’s bombed the city because of a kidnapping.
The Lebanese are a proud nation proud of their music, dancing, their way of living but above all their food. There is a reason why the food in Lebanon is so good, so many cultures passed through Lebanon; the Greeks, the Romans, the French. So if even if you are not a museum buff it is still a great place to stuff yourself with all sorts of delicacies
Things you didn’t know about Lebanon:
- Lebanon is the only Arab country that has absolutely no dessert
- In springtime, and on the same day, you can ski in the mountains and/or swim in the sea.
- There’s 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon. (In Europe and America, there’s around 1 doctor per 100 people).
- There are 4.5 Million Lebanese in Lebanon. There are around 18 Million Lebanese outside Lebanon.
- Byblos (a city in Lebanon) is the oldest continuously living city in the world. The country’s name is known to be the oldest in the world and has remained unchanged for over 4000 years.
- The Phoenicians (Original People of Lebanon) built the 1st boat, and they were the first to sail ever.
This salad is legendary, it wanted to make it with freekeh but I went to 3 stores and couldn’t find it anywhere, so I bought some pearl barley which turned out great!!!
I’ll be honest… I had never heard of Kiribati! Kiribati is an island nation and consists of 3 island groups: The Gilbert Islands, The Phoenix Islands, The Line Islands. Unfortunately, due to climate change, two small uninhabited islands disappeared underwater in 1999, because of the rising sea levels.
I always try to be positive about countries… but this has got to stop people! The sea level will have risen 50 cm by 2100 and then it won’t be just the uninhabited islands that will disappear in the ocean, most of Kiribati will be largely be submerged! So we really really have to change our lifestyle…Or this vacation paradise won’t be there for long.
Things you didn’t know about Kiribati:
- Kiribati is the only country in the world to straddle all four hemispheres. The islands spread across both the equator and the International Date Line. In 1995, Kiribati changed the date for the easternmost islands, effectively creating an indentation in the dateline. This was done so that it would be the same date and day of the week across the whole country.
- Dancing in Kiribati is more than a form of entertainment. It is used to tell stories and as a demonstration of endurance and skill. Therefore, smiling while dancing is considered vulgar.
- Kiribati is known for a number of traditional martial arts, which were kept a secret within families for many generations. All of them are believed to have been given to humanity by an ancestral spirit. For example, Nabakai was given to a warrior of that name by three female spirits who would manifest in the form of a crab. Another is Tabiang, named after the village in which it originated. It uses speed and accuracy and its principle is “you give me one punch I give you four punches”. The spirit who taught it was called “Teraka”, and legend has it that this spirit also traveled to Asia and taught it to the people there, who gave it a variant of the name – “karate”
This recipe I honestly really went with my gut and sort of made up by myself, I read a lot online about the eating habits in Kiribati and read they use a lot of soy sauce, curry powder, coconut, fish and crabs, and lobsters but really no specific dish. So I heated up my pan and the dish came together, and let me tell you this is one of the best curries I ever made! Since crab is quite expensive (at least where I live) this is more of a weekend thing but it definitely qualifies as comfort food to me! I don’t know what it is about curries but they always have a tendency to make me instantly happy
Tokyo, to me Tokyo represents the town where anything can happen, from the strangest food combinations like sushi kebab to the extremely traditional rules of some sushi chefs who elevate making sushi to a form of art! And not just food-wise also the fact that there is an entire neighborhood to dedicated to manga art! (it’s called Akihabara). Temples that several centuries old are next door to high tech robot restaurants. Geisha and Sumo wrestlers!!!
There so many sides to Tokyo that it’s impossible to see all of them in one trip!
Things you didn’t know about Tokyo:
- Founded as Edo once upon a time (in the 12th century), Tokyo’s literal translation means “East(ern) capital.
- As the annual Cherry Blossom Festival nears, television and radio reports include information on the “cherry blossom front” (sakura zensen), or the advance of the cherry blossoms across the different regions of Japan.
- Capsule hotels (hotels that contain rooms roughly the size of a large refrigerator) can be found around Tokyo. Most rooms include televisions, wifi, and an electronic console.
- Despite its popularity as a worldwide landmark and part of Tokyo’s backdrop, Mount Fuji is actually visible fewer than 180 days per year due to clouds and Tokyo’s air dust concentration.
- Tokyo contains over 100 universities and colleges, giving it the world’s highest concentration of higher learning institutions. One-third of Japan’s university students attend school in Tokyo.
Tsukemen or dipping noodles as they are also called, are soo good and the perfect dish for a light hot summer meal! You can keep it simple or use as many condiments as you want. But it’s a lovely meal to share with friends or family passing around the little bowls. The sauce is what it’s all about, the best word to describe it is umami, it is sweet and spicy at the same time and just utterly delicious! I served it with leftover jerk chicken from the Jamaica recipe but you can use any left over meat you have, or roasted pork belly would be ideal!
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!
It’s been over 2 weeks and the image and taste of this cake are still floating around in my head. I’d wanted to make it for ages, since I heard so much about it, and I was pretty nervous when I started. So different from any other cake I ever baked before, so light and fluffy. My Christmas was epic, my mother and I cooked for days, and we really brought Christmas to another level this year. But for me this cake was one of the highlights, so I will share the recipe with you guys! Because I know this is a cake that makes everybody yearning for more.
Guatemala, home of the ancient civilization of the Mayans. Nowadays known for it’s stunning rural beauty; breathtaking highlands and volcanos of which some are still active. The highlands are populated by indigenous people or indians they represent about 55% of the entire population.
The old Mayan temples are stunning to visit. But the beauty of a country doesn’t necessarily mean the country is rich, 1/8 people has to survive with less then 1 dollar a day! Guatemala has gone through a lot of trouble with coups. A lot of Guatemalans fled to Mexico for safety.
Things you didn’t know about Guatemala:
- A Guatemalan woman invented the Happy Meal. She came up with the idea in the mid-70s to make kid sized meals .She got the “Leading Women Entrepreneurs of the World” recognition in Paris, France. Now, ‘Happy Meal’ is part of McDonalds menu in over 35,000 restaurants and has sells about 100 million Happy Meals in one week.
- The ancient Mayan city of Chichicastenango retains a 95 percent indigenous population
- Comfortable travel including food, drink, accommodation and activities can be done for around $60 a day, while budget travelers can live for as little as $15.
- The colorful handpainted busses all over the country take you anywhere you want to go for a very cheap price!
I made this recipe for a group of very good friends they absolutely loved it! The sauce is so nice and sweet. You would expect food from Central America to be spicy but it’s this dish just gives you a very rich sweet flavour.