Category Archives: International Project

International Food Project Update: Done with the J’s

For the last 21 years – yes, 21 years, you read that right – I’ve been on-and-off trying to cook international food alphabetically. I started with Afghanistan long ago, and I’ve now just finished cuisines that start with the letter “J”.

At first, my list of cuisines only included major national cuisines – but as I gathered more regional cuisine cookbooks, I added those too. With time, they’ve multiplied to the point that national cuisines are now the exception. In all, in these 21 years, I’ve visited 215 different cuisines and cooked 690 different dishes for this project.

When I first started, I’d do a menu for a cuisine, including an appetizer, a main and dessert, and invite friends over. Later, when I had kids, I could not manage dinner parties except in the most special occasions, so I started exploring these cuisines as every night dinners. Accommodating my children’s changing tastes and diet preferences wasn’t always easy, but we managed. Still, it’s been a very slow process. If I want to finish it – something I never thought possible -, I’m going to have to speed things up.

So as I start 2022 and tackle “K” cuisines, with just one child at home (but still a picky eater), I’m going to try something different. Whenever possible, I’m going explore national cuisines for Sunday dinners, doing full menus. Not every cuisine lends itself to an appetizer-entree-dessert format – indeed, my first K cuisine, Kenya, does not – so in those cases, I’ll just explore different dishes on different nights. Otherwise, I will leave regional and ethnic cuisines for weekday nights but limit my exploration of them to just one or two dishes. We’ll see how that works.

Meanwhile, here are the J cuisines I explored, as well as the A-I cuisines I discovered and explored (usually for just one dish) in the last year:

Jakartan: Indonesian food rocks so I was happy to explore the food of the capital. The dishes I made included chicken sate, a beef & noodle soup and a great cake for dessert

Jalisciense: I didn’t make Jalisco’s most famous dish, birria, but I fell in love with their tortas ahogadas

Jamaican: there were so many good choices for this island cuisine, and I finally figured out how to make a good jerk pork.

Japanese: I didn’t try my hand at sushi, but learned I couldn’t make a vegetarian miso soup anyone liked. Other dishes, however, were great.

Javanese: coconut beef, coconut chicken and coconut balls. If you like coconut, Javanese cuisine has lots to offer.

Jerezana: this Spanish city offered tasty dish after tasty dish, from braised oxtails to their own version of chicken cordon bleu

Jewish American: a roasted chicken was a failure, but their cheese blintzes and apple cake rocked

Jiangsu: I only made one dish, ribs, but we enjoyed it a lot.

Jiangxi: we enjoyed the fish and chicken from this Chinese regional cuisine, but the steamed pork with rice powder was a disappointment.

Jordanian: This was the only “J” cuisine from a country I had visited. I think my dishes were better than anything I ate there.

And these are the regional and ethnic cuisines I briefly explored, mostly for just one dish:

Chicken with Papaya

A’chik Mande / Garo: I enjoyed cooking an unusual dish of chicken with papayas from a tribal group in the Indian highlands.

Banana and Peanut Fritters width=530 ><br clear=



Acholi: While I only made one dish, peanut & banana pancakes, it was great to learn about these Luo people from northern Uganda.

Khachapuri

Adjarian: bread with cheese and an egg, hard to believe it but it works!

Hot and Sour Fish

Ambonese: unfortunately, the one dish I cooked from the Indonesian spice islands, was a failure


Balochi: I made the most famous grilled chicken dish from these southern Pakistani cuisine

Bukharian Jewish: The single dish I made from these people from Uzbekistan was a complete mess, but it was fun to try a new cooking technique.

Cornish: I tried my hand at traditional cornish pasties and failed terribly. No wonder they’ve improved on the recipe in the last century or two!

Manja

Gagauz: the culinary traditions of this Muslim people from Moldova may not be particularly exotic, but I did enjoy their chicken with a paprika gravy.

I’ve finished cooking “I” cuisines

Did I miss any? If so, please comment below.

My international food project, started 21 years ago this month, has moved at a glaciar pace since then. But I’m glad to say that I am now done with cuisines that start with an “i”. Or at least I hope so – I keep discovering new cuisines that I didn’t know about when I reached their letter in the alphabet. Indeed, in addition to the cuisines below I caught up on A by cooking an Awadhi meal – only to realize that I’ve skipped Aceh.

The final “I” cuisines I cooked are:

Indonesian

Jackfruit Curry, Vegan Indonesian Fried Rice, Indonesian Broiled Cod, Fried Chicken and Beef Rendang

Iranian

Butternut Squash Soup, Split Pea and Barley Stew, Fried Fish for Nowruz, Chicken Kebab, Cubed Meat Kebab, Pomegranate Chicken and Braised Short Ribs with Orange

Irish American

Irish Stew, Corned Beef and Potatoes O’Brien.

Italian

Panzanella, Pasta with lemon sauce, Bucatini with four cheeses, Pasta in Mushroom Sauce, Gnocchi in a Gorgonzola, Pear and Walnut Sauce, Country Style Chicken and Steak Tagliata

Italian Renaissance

Onion Soup, Renaissance-style Fried Chicken and Braised Beef with Carrots

These join my previously cooked I cuisines:

  • Iceland: baked fish, chicken with saffron and pepper cookies
  • Imperial China: a chicken wing recipe from the 8th century, braised chicken from the 10th-13th and beef and walnuts from the 18th.
  • India: chickpea, red bean, and chicken curries plus chicken and tofu tandoori
  • Indo-Chinese: noodles and cauliflower
  • Iraq: lentil soup, two types of kibbeh, chicken in yogurt sauce, lamb shanks, rice, and farro pilaf
  • Ireland: Irish stew, beef & stout pie, potato biscuits, and bread and butter pudding.
  • Iroquois: ghost bread and three sisters stew
  • Israel: corn shakshuka, meatballs in tahini sauce, lamb shawarma, grilled chicken and olive oil cake
  • Italian-American: minestrone, fetuccini alfredo, baked zitti, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, vegan lasagna, chicken scarpariello and chicken parmesan.
  • Ivory Coast: grilled chicken, roasted lamb, stewed chicken and peanut sauce.

Exploring “I” cuisines

In the last few months, I have (mostly) finished cooking “H” cuisines and I’ve been making my way through the I’s. I still have five of these cuisines to go (Indonesian, Iranian, Irish-American, Italian Renaissance and Italian) but I figure this is a good time to announce the many new cuisines I’ve added to my International Food Project:

  • Haryana: I made pakora, butter chicken and garlic cauliflower
  • Iceland: baked fish, chicken with saffron and pepper cookies
  • Imperial China: a chicken wing recipe from the 8th century, braised chicken from the 10th-13th and beef and walnuts from the 18th.
  • India: chickpea, red bean, and chicken curries plus chicken and tofu tandoori
  • Indo-Chinese: noodles and cauliflower
  • Iraq: lentil soup, two types of kibbeh, chicken in yogurt sauce, lamb shanks, rice, and farro pilaf
  • Ireland: Irish stew, beef & stout pie, potato biscuits, and bread and butter pudding.
  • Iroquois: ghost bread and three sisters stew
  • Israel: corn shakshuka, meatballs in tahini sauce, lamb shawarma, grilled chicken and olive oil cake
  • Italian-American: minestrone, fetuccini alfredo, baked zitti, spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, vegan lasagna, chicken scarpariello and chicken parmesan.
  • Ivory Coast: grilled chicken, roasted lamb, stewed chicken and peanut sauce.

New Cuisines Up: Honduras, Hakka, Hyderabad & Hmong

As I make my way cooking and eating food from “H” cuisines, I’ve “finished” four more:

Hakka

I made two very tasty chicken dishes and a vegan noodle dish.

Hmong

I did great with the meat dishes – the vegan dishes weren’t as good.

Honduras

Not my most successful cuisine, but I made steak, chicken & rice and coconut buns.

Hyderabad

This incursion into a regional Indian cuisine had me cooking chicken curries, a biryani and a dal.