Our humble kitchen is the epicenter of our home in every possible way. We spend the majority of our time gathered at the counter, the table, sitting at our bar stools, or snuggled up in our cozy kitchen chair. Making and eating food is one of the biggest joys in our home. An evening of cooking doesn’t really feel complete in our house until everything smells of food, every mixing bowl is dirty and the sink is overflowing with the remnants of a full night in the kitchen. This whole blog came out of an experiment that my husband, Colin, and I recently started. In a rut of making the same food over and over, we set out to cook the cuisine of countries around the world and we used a random country generator to determine where we’d be each week. We made meals from a few places and found our friends and family were consistently curious about what we were making. To be able to easily share with those who are interested, I decided to compile the recipes and stories of the meal nights here.
I should say, I am nothing more than a regular home cook who has perhaps taught herself a bit more than the average person because I enjoy it, but not because it’s in my blood or because I’ve been formally trained. We will probably royally mess up some of these recipes and find ourselves googling how to cut a whole chicken or how to shave a nutmeg. Some people have a jovial grandmother who lived in the kitchen and imparted her wisdom on the next generation, or a dad who is the master of sauces and duck confit. I assure you I was raised on Hamburger Helper and Nestle Tollhouse’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. Our Christmas dinner with my extended family was often cold shrimp with cocktail sauce and mixed nuts (No disrespect mom and dad. I loved that shrimp and nuts and the people that gathered at that table every Christmas.) Sometimes it doesn’t really matter what is on the table, it’s about the people around the table. While my family hasn’t been extremely adventurous in the kitchen, they do show love through food in so many ways. My mom frequently invites us to invade her home on weekends and you can often hear her telling her friends, “If you feed them they will come.” And she’s not wrong. There is something about food that connects people, brings them together, and nourishes the body and the relationships of those who eat together.
This journey of making food from around the world is a small way that I feel like I can love people well. I think it is important to reach beyond myself and my community to explore cultures that are radically different from mine. In making our first few meals I found myself in Indian, Persian, and Korean grocery stores on the hunt for specific ingredients. A few weeks ago I would have driven by and not made these places a regular part of my grocery routine. This experiment with food has me engaging with my community in new and exciting ways. I will never be able to visit all of the countries or even have a solid handle on what the food and culture of each place is, but I have to believe that there is value in the learning that will happen through this journey. Even if all I know about Bhutan is that it is in South East Asia or that Millet is a staple food in Niger, it is a step closer to acknowledging others and finding some humility. This planet we live on is not about me. Only a small portion of the population lives and eats like me. I’m ready to explore and grow and be challenged to think beyond my normal.
I invite you to come along on this journey, gather around your table, and eat what is good.