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 »
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.
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 »
Malta, With 3 times more tourists than inhabitants it is a great example of a mass tourism spot. Malta is the ultimate mediterranean holiday in Europe: sun, beaches and cheap liquor. Malta has a really rich history, and the reason for that is mainly due to it’s strategic placement in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea. In the past 7000 years Malta has been a part of many empires and conquered a lot; The Romans, The Arabs, The Knights of St. John, The French, and The British. They all left their mark on the tiny island. The capital of Malta is Valetta a beautiful city that is on the Unesco list and for good reason. On less than 1 km² there are over 300 historical monuments. The most important one is st. Johns Co-Cathedral built by the Knights of St. John, they ruled the island in the 16th century. The Knights of St. John were extremely rich and lived their lives to serve God. The cathedral is covered in gold and it’s all real, none of it paint.
To discover the rest of the island you take the touristy bus ofcourse, but you can also go your own way and hop on one of the local busses. All the public transport busses on the island were imported from Great Britain in 1955.
Malta is also of the best diving spots in Europe. The water is so clear that in some places you can see 30 meters deep, the reefs are beautiful and there a few shipwrecks at the bottom of the see when on a diving tour.
Things you didn’t know about Malta:
- During World War I, Malta was also known as the Nurse of the Mediterranean because a large number of wounded soldiers were accommodated on the island.
- Malta is devoid of forests and rivers. Yes, you would not find any of these across its seven islands. Malta is mainly made up of limestone, and there are no hills in the country that are higher than 300 meters.
- You might be surprised to learn that there are more Maltese people in Melbourne, Australia then there are in Malta.
A perfect little handpie to bring for a picknick (i took them to the beach the next day) . Of course you can also eat them immediately. Yummy and delicious, if you leave out the lardons you can make it a vegetarian dish. Please do add a little extra salt if you leave out the bacon.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!
Lesotho, a tiny tiny tiny country completely surrounded by South-Africa. Lesotho is a very mountainous country, hence it is often called The Mountain Kingdom. The entire country is at least 1000 meters above sea level. Which makes it the highest country in Africa.
And don’t think just because it’s Africa it’s hot. No way!! Up in the mountains, it gets pretty cold, but don’t worry you can buy traditional beanies everywhere! That’s not the only thing you can do up in those mountains. This
might be is very touristy but they have donkey pub crawls!!! Imagine being completely wasted going from pub to pub on a freaking donkey!! That just sounds hilarious and totally something I would do with some friends!
Things you didn’t know about Lesotho:
- Lesotho is ruled by a constitutional monarchy and is one of the 3 remaining kingdoms in Africa. (The other are Morocco and Swaziland). King Letsi III is the reigning king of Lesotho since 1990.
- Not many countries can say that their traditional dress is a blanket. The Basotho blanket is a very common sight in the kingdom of Lesotho, often with colorful patterns. The blanket is not only used to protect the Basotho against the cold but is also worn as a status symbol and cultural identification. Almost entirely made of wool, they protect very well against the harsh cold winter. Another typical feature is the woolen balaclava (which only leaves their eyes free) and the gumboots
- Lesotho is home to the highest altitude pub in Africa in 2874 meters above sea level. It’s located right at the border with South Africa, and the end of the iconic Sani Pass (or the beginning if you come from Lesotho). A cold beer is very welcome when driving this scenic pass starting in South Africa and to top it all off, you’ll have an amazing view from the top (while sipping that cold beer).
- You would not immediately associate Africa with snow, but Lesotho is home to the highest ski resort in Africa. Afriski is situated at 3050 meters above sea level.
Lesotho has 28 airports. Only three of them have properly paved runways. Hold on tight…
Well, this was surprisingly good I never knew putting tangerine in a soup would be so amazing! A great meal for a healthy quick mid-week meal!!!
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!!!
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!
North Korea, by far the most isolated country on earth! North Korea has been the subject of speculation for years. And I really don’t want to get into it too deeply since we all know the North Korean regime is horrifyingly cruel.
A leader starving his own population to prove a point is among the evilest things someone can do in my opinion. Over the past few weeks, they have been in the news negatively for trying to poke the bear (The US and Europe)… with several threats of nuclear war.
Let’s all pray it doesn’t come to that! But how did North Korea become like this? And why is it that South Korea is far more prosperous? How did the rest of the world let it get this far? Should we intervene or should we call their bluff? These are all questions that keep a lot of people up at night…
Things you didn’t know about North Korea:
- Taedonggang is now the most well-known beer in North Korea, named after a river that runs through Pyongyang. There’s a beer ration—men get vouchers every month. This is not necessarily a nationwide policy but is the case in Pyongyang. But you can buy more; the ‘ration’ just means you get given vouchers, rather than your consumption is limited. The Taedonggang beers have numbers for names: One is made of barley, water, and hops, and tastes good. Two is the most common, with barley, water, hops, and a bit of rice. There is a 50-50 barley-rice mix. Four is more rice, and Five is rice beer. Five is repulsive.
- Marijuana in North Korea is not illegal and can be bought at markets.
- During the 1990s, all teachers were required to learn the accordion.
- North Korea bases its calendar on Kim Il Sung’s date of birth: 15 April 1912. The year is 105, not 2017.
- Blue Denim Jeans are illegal in North Korea as denim represents capitalist America.
- According to his official biography, Kim Jong Il allegedly learned to walk aged 3 weeks.
That’s the classic North Korean dish, called naengmyeon in Korean. So classic there’s a song about it: “Naengmyeon, naengmyeon, Pyongyang naengmyeon!” Music is a form of propaganda, so to mention food gives people a sense of national pride and also shows security in food. “Long noodles refer to long life, or a long time being married. Everyone at a wedding gets served cold noodles, and the idea that you would say, ‘No noodles, thanks’ would be exceedingly rude.” However, I have to say it was not my favorite dish.
Hiroshima has been through a lot, recovering from the atomic bomb as I hope everyone knows, and if you don’t please read up on your history!!! But really that’s really not what I want to talk about!
Hiroshima is located on the island of Honshu. Nowadays Hiroshima is known as the street food paradise of Japan, especially the tiny island of Miyajima that is a 10-minute ferry trip from the city center. Miyajima is also known for the deer that just roam the village freely, not scared of humans. If you’re lucky you can even pet them!
Things you didn’t know about Hiroshima:
- Hiroshima has been farming oysters since the 1500s. Today it produces 25,000 to 30,000 tons of oysters a year, 60 to 70 per cent of Japan’s total production. Known locally as sea milk for their nutritional value, they are eaten boiled, fried, grilled, with rice, in stews, or raw.
- After the war, Hiroshima needed to get its transport system up and running fast. Tram cars were donated from cities all over Japan and even abroad, earning them the nickname Mobile Museum. Today the tram fleet ranges from pre-war clunkers to the futuristic Green Mover Max. It’s the cheapest, easiest and most eco-friendly way to get around town.
- Kumano, a village 20 kilometers east of Hiroshima, produces 15 million calligraphy, makeup and artist’s brushes a year. That’s 80 per cent of Japan’s production. Of the town’s 27,000 inhabitants, 1,500 are brush craftsmen, hand-making brushes the traditional way. Visit on September 23 when 10,000 brushes festoon the streets for Kumano’s spectacular Brush Festival.
Okonomiyaki is a very popular takeaway dish in Hiroshima, you can add any ingredients you want so great for using up veggie leftovers! It would also be the perfect drunk food!!!! However, let someone sober make it for you because the transferring from pan to pan will be pretty hard once you had a few drinks.