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.Read the rest of this entry »
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 »
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 »
Liberia it was supposed to be a sort of Utopia. The American Colonization Society founded Liberia in 1821 as a place for free African Americans to migrate to. More than 10,000 made the journey across the Atlantic. Of course, there were already 500.000 living there. Which wasn’t the best mix, to say the least.
Liberia has a history of bloody civil wars involving child soldiers and other gruesome acts. Fortunately ever since the previous President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf came in office things have been relatively peaceful. Unfortunately just when things seemed to have calmed down politically the EBOLA virus hit Liberia hard in 2014! Now the nation is officially Ebola-free per the WHO, and it’s struggling economically to recover.
With travel restrictions lifted, tourism can play a huge role in this. So here is a peace I 100% copied from the lonely planet website “Liberia, a lush, green, friendly and vibrant land, offers everything from excellent surf spots and shops selling wares by edgy local designers to days spent lolling in a comfy hammock on the edge of the rainforest while listening to tropical birds sing. It’s home to one of West Africa’s best national parks and still hangs on to a confident American spirit mixed with West African roots. And despite the ravages of the past, it is a fantastic place to travel, full of hope and energy.”
Soooo everybody go to Liberia! It’s beautiful and they could really use your money 😛 .
Things you didn’t know about Liberia:
- The vast majority of African countries have never had a female leader. But Liberia has one right now. Introducing Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president since 2006 and known as Africa’s Iron Lady.
- Liberia is among the 20 countries on Earth that smoke the fewest cigarettes per capita – just 104 per adult per year. Montenegro, where 4,124.53 cigarettes are smoked per adult per year, according to 2014 figures from the WHO, is top of the pile, while Belarus, Macedonia, Russia, Slovenia and Bosnia also make the top 10
- The second largest tropical rainforest in West Africa, the Sapo National park is located here. It has around 125 species of mammals. It is home to the rare pygmy hippopotamus.
- Oprah Winfrey had traced her ancestors back to the Liberian region of Kpelle.
Okra is something you have to get used to, you either love the gelatinous structure or you don’t. Luckily I happened to love it! Which I why I really liked this hearthy stew!
Kyrgyzstan is an old country it’s recorded history spans over 2,000 years, they have seen a lot of cultures and empires come and go. Although geographically isolated by its high mountains, which has helped protect its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes.
Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained independence as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991. But they have been around longer.
Things you didn’t know about Kyrgyzstan:
- Manas, a warrior who united Kyrgyzstan, is undoubtedly the most popular folk hero in the country. You see this name everywhere. There are streets, statues, universities, radio stations, national parks, and many other things that are named after him. Even Kyrgyzstan’s main airport is Manas International Airport.
- The vast majority of people in Kyrgyzstan are Sunni Muslims. However, you don’t see obvious signs of Islam while walking down the streets of Bishkek, partly due to its Soviet history. After the collapse of communism, the influence of Islam has slowly been coming back into Kyrgyz society.
- The city of Osh was an important commercial center in the 10th century as part of the Silk Road, the trade route between China and Europe.
- The name Kyrgyz is derived from the Kyrgyz word for “forty.” It is a possibility that the people of Kyrgyzstan came from forty families or clans.
- Tourists can negotiate with any car on the road; they’re all potential taxis – if the price is right.
- The Kyrgyz were one of the groups who raided the borders of China and created the need for the construction of the Great Wall.
Truth be told normally they make their own noodles, but since my kitchen is really really tiny and I don’t have nearly enough space to make noodles and the noodles are soooo similar to tagliatelle I just bought tagliatelle
Kosovo, Europe’s newest country, in the heart of the Balkans. After years and years of war, it is finally perfectly safe to travel to this stunning underrated destination! With its charming mountain villages and 13th-century monasteries.
While a lot of countries recognize Kosovo there are still some that don’t. The country has been the recipient of massive aid from the international community, particularly the EU and NATO, which effectively keeps the peace between the ethnic Albanian majority and the minority Serbs. Barbs of its past are impossible to miss, however: roads are dotted with memorials to those killed in 1999, while NATO forces stillguard Serbian monasteries.
Things you didn’t know about Kosovo:
- Tony Blair and Bill Clinton are local heroes. There are streets and children named after them, not to mention a Clinton statue. So if you’re looking for a different view on the world, Kosovo will spin new perspectives. The NATO support in the liberation of the Albanian population from the oppressive regime of Slobodan Milošević was regarded as the most successful example of western intervention in recent history. This means Brits, Americans and others are welcomed with open armed gratitude. Be prepared; it’s highly likely you’ll be thanked personally.
- Because tourism in Kosovo is only just beginning, that means prices are seriously undervalued. Accommodations in Kosovo offer great value. You can stay in a massive suite at the nicest hotel in the entire country for less than the price of an average hotel in an American city. A cup of coffee costs between fifty cents to one euro depending on the café. A traditional meal can be had for as little as €1.50, while a bottle of beer is around €1.
- The majority of the population of Kosova is under the age of 30.
This dish might not specifically be from Kosovo but rather from the region. But it’s got all the right flavours and spices that they use. For me ticks all the boxes of comfort food! I was a little worried about the rice not cooking inside the bell peppers, but it worked like a charm, the rice got perfectly cooked and the spice of the harissa paste gave it a lovely kick!!!
Kazakhstan, I never realized how big Kazakhstan was. Kazakhstan is sooo big that the distance from one end of the country to the other end is the same as the distance from Londen to Istanbul! That is about 3 to 4 hours by plane I reckon!
Compared to the rest of Kazakhstan the capital looks futuristic, the reason for that is that it’s a completely new city, it’s only been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997, so about 20 years!
In the summer the temperatures a fine but in winter it gets bizarrely cold with temperatures as low as -48 C (-53F) and on top of that really windy!! This makes Astana the second coldest capital in the world!
Things you didn’t know about Kazakhstan:
- Kazakhs believe that whistling a song inside a building will make you poor for the rest of your life.
- Stan is an ancient Persian word meaning “land” or “nation,” and Kazakh means “wanderer,” “adventurer,” or “outlaw.” Therefore, the name Kazakhstan translates as “Land of the Wanderers”.
- When a Kazakh shooter won the gold medal at a 2012 international sporting competition, the organizers mistakenly played the theme music for the film Borat instead of the Kazakh national anthem. In the film, British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen plays fictional Kazakh journalist Borat Sagdiyev.
- Horseriding is a large part of Kazakh culture, including the traditional sport kyz kuu, literally translated as “girl chasing”. It is essentially a race between a man and woman, both on horseback, that either ends up with the man kissing the woman (a victory for the man) or the woman beating the man with a whip (a victory for the woman). Indeed, some say Kazakhs were the first ever to domesticate and ride horses. Incidentally, horse meat is a big part of their cuisine.
- The traditional nomad home of the Kazakhs is known as a yurta. It is comprised of a collapsible tent, with a wooden frame, covered in felt. Its name comes from the Kazakh word meaning “community,” “people,” or “family.”
- Kazakhstan’s traditional drink kumis has also been referred to as “milk champagne.” It is made from fermented mare’s milk and is believed to be a cure-all for everything from the common cold to tuberculosis. The Kazakhs living on the steppes also drink shubat, or fermented camel’s milk, which is supposed to have virucidal properties
- Kazakhstan has an unofficial taxi system. People wave on the street, cars stop, destination and price are discussed, and they go.
These dumplings are a bit greasy but really good! The yoghurt seems like a weird condiment but actually goes perfectly well with the dish!
- 1/4 cup of water
- 1 egg
- 1 cup of flour
- 200 gr lamb mince
- Caraway seeds
- Greek yoghurt
- In the bowl of a large food processor or a large bowl, combine flour and salt. In a small bowl, beat together eggs and water.
- Process or mix into the flour mixture until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead the dough until smooth and elastic.
- Lightly grease a medium bowl with oil. Add the dough, turning to coat, cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. In a large bowl, combine lamb, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Quarter the rested dough. Place one quarter on work surface and cover the remaining with a damp dish towel. On a floured surface or using a pasta machine, roll the dough into a paper thin rectangle.
- Cut the dough into 1 1/2-2 inch squares. Place about 1/2 teaspoon of the lamb mixture into the center of each square. Fold all the edges over the filling and pinch to keep them together. Pinch to seal the seams over the filling.
- Transfer to a parchment lined baking sheet or counter in a single layer. Repeat with remaining dough and filling. Fill a large pot with salted water and place over high heat. Once boiling, add the dumplings in batches, being careful not to overcrowd. Cook until they float and the meat is cooked through, about 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, draining well, and transfer to serving bowls.
- Repeat with remaining dumplings. In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium high heat. Once it is melted and starting to sizzle, add paprika, mint, and chili flakes. Cook until fragrant and the butter begins to foam, about 30 seconds.
- Remove from heat. Top the Manti with Greek yogurt and pour the butter. Serve immediately.
Jordan, a little bit of slice of peaceful heaven in the middle of the conflict area of the Middle East. Jordan isn’t involved in any of it! They do however harbor a lot of refugees from the surrounding countries.
Jordan has a tradition of welcoming visitors: camel caravans walked the legendary King’s Highway transporting frankincense in exchange for spices and Nabataean tradesmen, Roman legionnaires, Muslim armies, and Crusaders all passed through the land, leaving behind these impressive monuments.
Things you didn’t know about Jordan:
- Aqaba is the Red Sea destination you probably haven’t considered. But as question marks continue to hang over Egypt’s coastal resorts – Sharm El Sheikh in particular – this little urban nugget at Jordan’s southern tip is a plausible alternative. It has a pleasant ambiance in its bars and cafes, hits the temperature sweet-spot of the upper Twenties Celsius during October
- It may be one of the oldest cities on the planet, in fact. Archaeological evidence suggests that what is now Amman witnessed human settlement as early as the 13th century BC. It was also established on the surface of our world so long ago that it features in the Bible (as Rabath Ammon).
- It is arguably the most memorable scene in the Indiana Jones movies – the moment at the climax of Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade when the Indy lays eyes on Al-Khazneh, the rock-carved Treasury building in the “lost” Nabatean city of Petra (which is masquerading on screen as the resting place of the Holy Grail).
- Sitting 1,200 meters above sea level, Ajloun Forest Reserve in northwest Jordan is five square miles of hills and valleys where you can camp among wildflowers or stay overnight in one of the log cabins, leaving the days wide open for wandering among oak, strawberry, carob, and wild pistachio forests.
The tahini sauce however simple it goes perfectly with the kofta!! I served it with couscous but a nice salad will do very well of course! I used fresh mint in the kofta because I have lot’s of it on my plant on the roof terrace, but you can just as well use dried mint.
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.
The North of Italy is completely different from what most people would expect when they hear Italy. I have been there twice, once on a skiing trip when I was 17 to Selva val Gardena which is in the Trentino South Tyrol region.
And the second time was last summer on a surprise city trip to Milano with my best friend. Food wise the dishes are heavier then in the rest of the country and have more of German/Swiss/Austrian influence, which is not that strange since the Northern part of Italy shares a border with Switzerland and Austria.
Things you didn’t know about the North of Italy:
- There is no legal drinking age in Italy, in the sense that a young person of any age can legally consume alcohol, but a person must be 16 years old in order to be served alcohol in a restaurant or a bar.
- The world record truffle weighing 3.3 pounds was discovered in Tuscany by a dog named Rocco and it was sold at an auction to Macau casino mogul and billionaire Stanley Ho for $330,000.
- The United States banned Prosciutto from being imported until 1989, and Mortadella and Speck until 2000. Other meats like Cotechino and Zampone are still banned at present. Some say it is to protect the American livestock from disease but most speculate that it is to protect US meat producers from competition.
- The Italian Wedding Soup or Minestra Maritata is not traditionally served at Italian weddings. “Maritata” means “married” but in the context of the dish, it pertains to the soup’s ingredients — meats and green vegetables — going well together, therefore “married” in a sense
- The origins of Italian surnames are either patronymic, occupational, descriptive or geographical. Surnames ending in “o” usually come from Southern Italy, while surnames ending with “i” are often from Northern Italy.
The pesto on top of this dish really really brings it to another level! I have had osso bucco many times! but this one is really really traditional and my favorite version. I ate the whole lot with pasta.