Lunch

151. The Netherlands (Overijssel): White Asparagus with Ham, Eggs, and Buttersauce

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Overijssel is also sometimes called The Garden of The Netherlands because of all the beautiful nature that can be found there. Every region has its typical landscapes: In De Kop van Overijssel you can find a lot of lakes, Salland has hills and meadows and in Twente, you can find plenty of beautiful woods. Until the fifteenth century Overijssel was still called Oversticht. “Het Sticht” is the old name for the city of Utrecht. Which exercised power over a large area until the thirteenth century. Later the province was named Overijssel, by the people who spoke about the area on the other side of the river the IJssel.

Salland

Things you didn’t know about Overijssel:

  • In Raalte, the best white asparagus is harvested. They are used in the best kitchens in spring all over the country. Most asparagus farmers only sell asparagus straight from their farms. In the Netherlands, asparagus is called White Gold.
  • The Dutch “mountains” are located in Salland. For example The Friezenberg, Holterberg, Haarlerberg, Luttenberg, Hellendoornseberg and Lemelerberg.
  • The 46th best restaurant in the world is located in Zwolle! It’s called De Librije, and guess what they also work with the asparagus from Raalte. The chef is called Jonnie Boer and his wife Thérèse runs the front of the house.

My parents go mad over asparagus each year since it’s a product you can only eat in spring for a few months. They make a point of eating them as much as possible during the season. In all variations! with smoked salmon, with hollandaise sauce, in a salad, grilled on the BBQ, Italian style with tomatoes, basil and olives in the oven. While I am writing this, my mom called and asked me why I chose the traditional way. She expected me to experiment more, which I do a lot as chef at the restaurant. But to me some classics are not to be messed with, some of them are classics for a reason because they best complement the dish!

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148. Netherlands (Flevoland): Polderkoek

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Flevoland! Our newest province and by I do mean new… We created a whole new province out of water! That is CRAZY right. Still, a lot of Dutchies consider Flevoland to be a very boring place. I am going to try to prove them wrong. How did we create our own land? It’s quite complicated so please bare with me… This is a really simplified story of something that is actually extremely complicated. To protect our beautifull country from flooding and drowning we needed a plan. In 1891 Cornelis Lely came up with a very good one. It all started with closing off the Zuiderzee from the North Sea again and to create polders. The execution of his briliant plan was started in 1920. First, the Amsteldiepdijk was constructed from North Holland to the island of Wieringen. The Wieringermeerpolder dried up in 1930.
Then they continued with the dike to Friesland. A thirty kilometer long dike had to be built in the open sea. Waves and currents made the work considerably more difficult. This became the Afsluitdijk, which was finished on May 23, 1932. In 1940, the dyke on the Overijssel side was closed and it was possible to start pumping dry. Thousands of workers started the heavy manual work to make the polder habitable. In 1947 after Word War II the first village rose up and because the main capital Amsterdam was very expensive to live a lot of families moved to Flevoland. For the most part the polders (which is wat we call our artificial land) are used for agriculture since the land is very furtile.

Things you didn’t know about Flevoland:

  • The Flevopolder is the largest artificial island in the world.
  • During the proces of making our polders we gained a lot of knowhow, so much that still Dutch companies are flown in whenever there is a natural disaster or problem over the world ( the tsunami in South East Asia, Huricane Kathrina,…) . Our know how about how to build dikes and manage water is one of our main export products.
  • Even our king is specialized in watermanagement
  • The Palm Jumeirah in Dubai is also made by the Dutch.
  • The roads in Flevoland are so safe that you can’t do your drivingtest
  •  Lelystad has a relationshiptherapygroup for rabbits it’s called Kaatje Keutel.

So because Flevoland is so new, it was very very hard to find a local dish. This is a polderkoek, it’s sort of like what we call Pannekoeken. Which are similar to crêpes but not as thin. But what makes a polderkoek a polderkoek. Well, it’s regular pannekoek but with half of the milk replaced by strong coffee. It’s what the workers used to eat for breakfast or lunch while building the afsluitdijk. It’s not particularly special but I enjoy the bitter taste of coffee. It gives the polderkoek a more grown up feel.

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147. Netherlands (Friesland): Fries Suikerbrood ( Frysian Sugar bread)

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The Netherlands! Whooohooo! This is awesome! The Netherlands is my home country! I might have been born and raised in Belgium, but my parents are Dutch and I have a Dutch nationality. I have been living here for 11 years now. And as much as I love traveling for me this will always be my home. I really want you guys to get to know our food and culture. Because damn I’m proud of my country, i will make a dish from every province, so bear with me guys.

This week we will start with Friesland! The most Northern province of my tiny country, they even have their own language, culture, and traditions. The most known for is De Elfstedentocht! The Elfstedentocht is a long-distance (almost 200km), leading past all eleven historical cities of the province. It is held both as a speed skating competition (with 300 contestants) and a leisure tour (with 16,000 skaters)ice-skating event. The tour is held at most once a year, only when the natural ice along the entire course is at least 15 centimeters. It hasn’t happened since 1997 because the weather conditions haven’t been sufficient since then (Fuck you climate change). But when the ice is suitable, the tour is announced and starts within 48 hours! The Icemasters as we call them will say on National television “It giet oan!” Which means “We have a go! The Elfstedentocht goes on!) I assure you when this happens the entire country will go wild! Ice skating is kind of our thing… Look at ALL the Olympic Medals we won in speedskating.

Things you didn’t know about Friesland:

  • Apart from the Elfstedentocht on ice skates in summer there is the same route as rowing competition
  • Our most famous Dutch model Doutzen Kroes is from Friesland.
  • Friesland is officialy called Fryslân since 1994 but everyone in the Netherlands outside of the province still calles it Friesland.
  • Most of the Wadden islands also belong to the province of Friesland: Vlieland, Terschelling, Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. The fifth one Texel belong to the province of North Holland.
  • The Frysian horses are the only true Dutch horsebreed and are one of the oldest horsebreeds in Europe. The horses were exclusively used for high ranking army officers in battle. They are known to be strong and loyal, and nowadays used a lot for dressage. Jumping is not really their cup of tea. Regulations say they have to be all black, and their names have to Frysian like: Lobke, Wisse, Hidde, Wieske.
Frysian Horse

The Frysian specialty I chose is amazing, and one of my favorites when it comes to baking. Frisian sugar bread. We eat it with a nice layer of butter as a treat for Sunday breakfast or Christmas. instead of pastry for teatime. Traditionally it was given to mothers who had just given birth to a baby girl. When they had a baby boy they are given a cake with raisins.

If you have any leftovers which is not likely… But if you do, please make French Toast( or as we call them in Dutch wentelteefjes!). There does not exist a more perfect bread in the world then Suikerbrood to make French Toast. Just image the sugary bread coated in a crispy layer. That is the stuff of dreams! At least my dreams I have fooddreams sometimes.

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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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135. Mexico, El Norte: Machaca con Huevos

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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.

Chihuahua, Mexico

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

Ingredients

  • 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
  • Mayo
  • Chipotle sauce to taste
  • Creme fraice
  • Flour tortillas to serve

Instructions

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Now the tomatoes have released their juice.
  4. 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.
  5. Well, some people like to eat this dish very saucy.
  6. Serve with with jalapenos, creme fraiche, flour tortillas and cilantro. Mix the mayo with the chipotle sauce.

134. Mexico, Mexico City: Mole Poblano with Smoked Chicken breast

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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.

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129. Malta: Mushroom Pastizzi

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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.

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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.

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123. Macedonia: Tavche Gravche (Fancy Baked Beans)

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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.

Schermafbeelding 2018-06-09 om 13.18.52

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!

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117. Lesotho: Spinach and Tangerine Soup

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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!

Schermafbeelding 2018-01-10 om 13.40.45

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!!!

spinach tangerinesoup

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116. Lebanon: Pearl Barley Salad with Caramelized Grilled Figs and Feta

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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 delicaciesSchermafbeelding 2017-12-16 om 18.05.31

Things you didn’t know about Lebanon:

  1. Lebanon is the only Arab country that has absolutely no dessert
  2. In springtime, and on the same day, you can ski in the mountains and/or swim in the sea.
  3.  There’s 1 doctor per 10 people in Lebanon. (In Europe and America, there’s around 1 doctor per 100 people).
  4. There are 4.5 Million Lebanese in Lebanon. There are around 18 Million Lebanese outside Lebanon.
  5. 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.
  6.  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!!!

vijgensalade

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