Category Archives: A-Z of Countries around the World

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 20…Dominica…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of  Dominica…it is also known as the “Nature Island”

Dominica is an island country of the Lesser Antilles in the eastern Caribbean Sea. It lies between the French islands of Guadeloupe and Marie-Galante to the north and Martinique to the south.

Dominica is the most heavily forested of the Lesser Antilles…The main food crops are bananas, citrus fruits, and coconuts…Cocoa, coffee, and vegetables are also produced. Dominica is self-sufficient in fruit and vegetables and fresh fruit and vegetables are dominant in Dominica’s cuisine although with its Creole roots the food has lots of these flavours.

The national dish was Mountain Chicken until the population of frogs (the main ingredient of the dish) rapidly declined around the year 2000 because of a fungus that decimated the frog population. This endangered frog species…a large ditch frog locally known as mountain chicken. If making this recipe then use farm-raised frog legs and if you are in Dominica and offered this dish made with this endangered species then I would not eat it…The recipe can be found here…

Callaloo is now the National dish of Dominica…made with local green leafy vegetable, Callaloo spinach has a very mild flavour that is similar to regular spinach. This spinach is served cooked with onion, garlic, tomatoes, thyme and Scotch bonnet pepper. A perfect side dish for a tropical breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Popular eats have filtered through these islands such as hibiscus tea, macaroni cheese and bakes like Barbadian elephant ears which is a spicy dough that is deep fried and delicious…a type of doughnut…fried bread dough with cinnamon and sugar…

Like many tropical countries, lunch is considered the main meal of the day…then it’s siesta time(time for a nap)…

In local eateries a menu board may simply say ‘fish lunch’ or ‘chicken lunch’ and typically it will consist of the main ingredient, such as fish or chicken, with a fairly standard selection of rice, red beans and boiled “ground provisions.”

This term refers to any one or a collection of root crops such as varieties of yam, like eddoe…eddoes are popular in Spain, Portugal, Brazil and tropical countries. They can be boiled, roasted, fried or added to homemade bread and puddings. Most times, these vegetables are used as an alternative to yams and sweet potatoes. Their flesh is white, orange, yellow or pink.  The term is occasionally stretched to include breadfruit, plantain, and green bananas (rather confusingly known as figs)…

Dominican rum is based on either fermented sugarcane juice or molasses. Roughly 90% of the world’s rum is made from molasses. The balance is made from either sugarcane juice or a combination of the two.

In the Caribbean, the rum shop is often the centre of community life – the focal point where basics can be bought and men play dominoes, during and after which a shot of rum is had.

Of course, there’s rum and there’s rum. On a small island like Dominica, locally-made brands like Macoucherie (the only one made with local cane) are one of the best examples… Cheap as bottled rum is though, in terms of volume Cask rum predominates the Dominican market.

As an island bursting with lovely fresh produce I love how this is at the heart of Dominica cuisine… MY KIND OF FOOD…I love that one of the oldest and most basic is the one-pot dish or braf. One-pot cooking simply means placing all the ingredients you have, whatever they may be, in one large pot, cooking them up in water and seasoning to create a nutritious broth…dishes with names like goat water, which is a goat meat stew, and chatou water, a soup made with octopus.

Sancocheis another traditional dish made from coconut milk, provisions…I love how all the beautiful greens and varieties of yams are called quite simply “provisions plus codfish make this beautiful dish.

Codfish is also an ingredient of Ackrais a kind of seasoned and fried fritter whose ingredients include breadfruit, tannia and, from September to November, in the days after the moon’s last quarter, titiwi, which is a juvenile goby caught in fine nets at the mouths of rivers.

If you are vegetarian you will have no problem finding many delicious dishes to eat…the choice is varied. Tannia ackra, rice and peas, fried plantain, breadfruit puffs, provisions, vegetable sancoche and macaroni cheese are all staple foods and very common dishes.

You may also come across the term ital. This is a term commonly used by Rastafarians to mean wholesome, natural food. It is always vegetarian.

Thank you for joining me today for the virtual tour of Dominica…as always I look forward to your comments 🙂

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 19…Djibouti formally French Somaliland…

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Djibouti…

Djibouti is a tiny country on the northeast coast of the Horn of Africa. It is situated on the Bab el Mandeb Strait, which lies to the east and separates the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aden…so it’s no surprise that Yemeni fish and its accompaniments are its National Fish Meal…Yemeni Fish is served with mukbaza which is actually a kind of folded bread, that after being cooked, it is cut into pieces and blended with honey and banana, or dates. Served as a thick purée along with some nuts, it is the perfect dip for your Yemeni fish dish, where the fish is traditionally cooked over charcoal in the souks…

Djiboutian cuisine is a mixture of Somali, Afar, Yemeni, and French cuisine, with some additional South Asian (especially Indian) culinary influences. Local dishes are commonly prepared using a variety of Middle Eastern spices, ranging from saffron to cinnamon…two of my most used spices…

Djiboutians are originally nomadic and pastoral people, and thus have a particular preference for camel, goat and lamb meat …which is served with a delicate yoghurt sauce, lentil stew, flatbread, and cucumber salad, served with mineral water and fruit juice…predominantly Djibouti has a mainly Muslim population…there is a strict policy where alcohol consumption is allowed.

Fah-fah is a classic Djiboutian stew which many will say is the National Dish made with goat meat, vegetables and chillies, that can also be made with camel or lamb meat. This dish is normally served with a sponge-like bread called canjeero to soak up the stew sauce…an elaborate version of this bread which is baked for weddings and feasts is cambaboor or canjeroo made of onion, garlic, corn or teff flour and enhanced with nigella or anise seeds, the mix is perfumed with Curcuma, which gives it its royal golden colour, then cooked and served with a fatty butter called subag and sweet-sour yoghurt.

Normally I like to find a video which gives you a taste and feel of the country’s food when I am giving you a virtual tour…hard to find as it is one of the strictest countries about filming and you can risk jail quite easily or find yourself with no camera and a hefty fine it seems the police do all they can to deter tourists…I found this one which shows some of the food on offer…

Djibouti…Today the culinary art of Djibouti incorporates various elements brought in by merchants and foreign invasions that at different times held the land in their grip.  as well as those borrowed from neighbouring countries…formally French Somaliland, the cuisine has through the centuries taken the bits and pieces of the many cultures that came by their way and have made the cuisine what it is today…

Among the most important influences found in the Djiboutian kitchen are the Indian and to some extent the British, whose seamen and merchants brought chapattis, lentils, and curries into the country.  The Portuguese were responsible for introducing pineapples as well as lemons, limes and oranges which the Arabs had first introduced into the Iberian Peninsula.  Also, both the Portuguese and Spaniards brought many other foods that they found in the New World such as corn, peppers, potatoes and tomatoes.  The French who still have a base in the country heavily enhanced the Djiboutian cuisine…

However, the Arab influences in the kitchen of Djibouti feature strongly and this is where the spices of the East such as cardamom, cinnamon and saffron and taste enhancers such as pomegranate concentrate…feature heavily…a true mixture of cultures is reflected in this diverse cuisine…

However throughout history food has kept its own traditions in such dishes as the staple food of the country that include: Injera, a type of spongy bread; Soupe Dijboutienne or Fah-FahYetakelt Wet, a spicy mixed vegetable stewas well as Nitter Kebbeh, spiced butter and its Banana Fritters…Oh, banana fritters there is nothing like a good banana fritter… different around the world but all delicious…

I hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of the cuisine of this tiny country…as always I look forward to your comments…for those of you who are enjoying the sunshine like me on my extended trip to the Uk…Enjoy!

CarolCooks2 weekly roundup… 20th February-26th February 2022-Monday Musings, Health, A-Z World Cuisine, Australia, Porcini Mushrooms and Saturday Snippets.

Welcome to my weekly roundup...
February is nearly over we are in the last few days of the month… Snow is still falling in
some parts of the world…but I am already seeing images of the first snowdrops which means
spring is on the way…We have had rain all this week the first  in months and very welcome it
was by all of the plants and us too as it cools the air…
What is in store for you then this week if you are catching up…  My new A-Z  World Cuisines
featuring food from Australia has been very well received I have had some lovely comments
plus it’s fun to research and write… Monday Musings are just some findings from the week
before which I either find amusing or not, … and on Tuesday there was another  Chicken
recipe…

Friday review and the subject was Porcini Mushrooms which I love plus I found the research most interesting I love how nature depends on other factors i.e certain trees for its reproduction a bit like how humans depend on humans …Saturday Snippets is always a joy to write for me…and this week it was the “Tongue”  all part of the the face…

Right…enough of my chatter…Let’s have look at last week…

Monday Musings!

Monday Musings is a short post for me…lol…just a few topics that have caught my eye during the previous week…this week there was an interesting podcast on Rotisserie chicken and one which although it didn’t surprise me in many ways …still made me decide I would not be buying it any more…Counting Crows as the theme of the song just fitted the subjects of the posts today plus some good news that land was being returned to its rightful guardians and that made me happy as over centuries there has been too much land grabbing and marginalizing of indigenous peoples…

Monday Musings…21st February 2022…Counting Crows, Carrots, Rotisserie chicken 

After Monday’s podcast on Rotisserie Chooks(Chickens), it seemed on right that I should offer you a fitting substitute which you can make at home which equally delicious if not better x

CarolCooks2 in my kitchen…Love Rotisserie chicken but don’t have a Rotisserie? Not a problem!

You probably know by now that not only do I love a one-word prompt but also have fun researching and writing A-Z’s…currently it is on world cuisine and last week it was Australia…and Marmite rules in my world…

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 5…Australia…Is not just Roos and Vegemite!

We eat plenty of onions and garlic plus it is lovely to hear how good it is for us as well and probably why the mosi’s don’t like my blood…Please head over to Sally’s to read how good eating plenty of onions and garlic is for you…Garlic breath then chew parsley and keep a packet of mints handy …

Smorgasbord Health Column – Food Therapy Rewind – The pungent defender’s Onions and Garlic by Sally Cronin

Porcini mushrooms are another mushroom that relies on trees to grow particularly pine trees or chestnut trees …

CarolCooks2…Friday Food Review…The Porcini Mushroom…

Thus far over the last 4 weeks, the one-word prompt has been face, eyes, nose and now tongue any guesses as to next week’s one-word prompt…no prizes just the satisfaction that you know how my brain works…lol

Saturday Snippets…26th February 2022…Tongue…Can you touch you nose with your tongue?

Thank you for joining me today...if you leave a comment it will surely brighten this day as we have Covid in the house..our grandson tested positive yesterday…Covid is certainly not going away anytime soon it seems…

Have a great Sunday and laugh a lot…its free and good medicine xxx

 

 

CarolCooks2…A-Z World Cuisines…Part 5…Australia…Is not just Roos and Vegemite!

Welcome to my new A-Z …World Cuisines…where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Today I am looking at the cuisine of Australia…

Located below and south of the equator, Australia, the Island Continent, is bounded by the Indian Ocean to the west and the Pacific Ocean in the east, south of the countries of Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, and west of New Zealand…it is the land of Kangaroos, sunshine, beautiful beaches and stunning scenery…

Australia…The food culture is born from the fact that over the centuries Australia has seen large scale immigration from around the world…indeed I remember years ago the 10-pound fare with the promise of a new life in Australia and indeed my own parents looked at that option.

Known for the BBQ indeed many public places have BBQs that you can use as long as you clean after yourselves…A typical BBQ will consist of sausages, burgers, steak, fresh seafood, bread and tomato or barbecue sauce, they sometimes include salad but it’s mainly about the meat and fish and of course a few stubbies – that’s the beer to the non-Australians.

Outdoor eating is a huge part of the culture…the cuisine is drawn from around the world including the UK, Europe, Asia and Middle Eastern…

Typical Aussie Food…

Let’s start with the “Vegemite”…Vegemite is a dark brown paste made from various vegetables, yeast extract and spice additives. It’s a bit like marmite( which) is the best to us Brits which has the famous love it or hate it advert as they acknowledged that it’s not to everyone’s taste…so I’m guessing “Vegemite ” is something similar I will hasten to add that I’m a die-hard Marmite lover and haven’t touched “Vegemite”

Like me, the most popular way to eat it is on bread or toast with butter… Australians also eat it with avocado, melted cheese or tomato…

DO you think of Kangaroos and Emu’s when you picture Australia or if indeed like me you have been lucky to visit this lovely country I couldn’t wait to visit The Roos..They can be found on the meat counter as Kangeroo like chicken in the Uk is very popular meat as is Emu …

The Meat Pie…

Aussies love their meat pies as much as the Brits do… Eating the pies is traditional with tomato ketchup the way to go in Oz whereas I prefer mine with gravy…

The best in 2021 went to...A chunky steak pie from a little-known bakery has been crowned the best in Australia after beating more than 1,500 pastries. Pinjarra Bakery, about 82km from Perth in Western Australia, has claimed the coveted prize after being named the maker of the “best plain meat pie” at the 2021 Great Aussie Pie Competition.

Aussie Burgers…

Something I learnt about the Aussie Burger when we had our restaurant…was a burger isn’t complete unless it contains beetroot…I love beets and they are regular in my kitchen and wonderful in Beetroot and orange smoothie…but in a burger… yes I was taught about an Aussie Burger by an Aussie that it was either a slice of beetroot or beetroot chutney in an Aussie Burger…it was soon a regular on the menu at Sugar Reef to the delight of our regulars as was the chutney which flew off the shelf…

Homemade beetroot chutney

Beetroot Chutney:

Ingredients:

  • 1.5k Beetroot.
  • 3 Brown Onions.
  • 3 Apples (Granny Smiths)
  • 450ml Balsamic vinegar.
  • 80ml Fresh Orange Juice.
  • 350gm raw sugar.
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves.
  • 2 large sprigs of Rosemary.

Let’s Cook!

Set oven to 200c. Wrap beetroot in foil and bake for 1 hour. Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Chop Onions and Apples finely, chop cooled Beetroot and put in a large pan.

Add remainder of ingredients except for the Rosemary.

Stir until the sugar dissolves, add the Rosemary, reduce heat and simmer for at least 1 hr or until mixture thickens slightly. When ready, remove Rosemary and spoon into sterilised Jars.

Store in a cool, dark place and once open refrigerate…Can be added to your burger or eaten with cold meats…

Fish and Chips…

The most common fish and chips fish after basa in Australia is New Zealand Hoki. More Hoki is caught in New Zealand each year than Australia’s total annual fish catchment.

Surrounded by water seafood is bountiful and very popular all over Australia…Barramundi or Barra as its often called is a very popular white fish and Asin Sea Bass…is native to Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Barramundi is Aboriginal for “large-scaled silver fish” and is internationally renowned for its deliciousness and versatility…in a delicious seafood stew, griddled on the barbie it can take the spices…a beautiful fish.

Australia is also known for its native ingredients…for 10’s thousands of years, indigenous peoples like Aborigines and Torres Strait Islander communities have been foraging and harvesting native Australian ingredients…I have been pleased to note that many of these are being recognised and more and more top chefs and restaurants are using these ingredients and they are being seen more and more on Farmers Markets and the larger fresh produce markets…

This is an interesting video and shows the commitment of the Australian government…I am heartened that it is not just here but happening around the world…where it is being recognised that indigenous peoples know the land and how to work it…Again it is a long video that I had running in the background but worth a listen to hear the passion for food and the land.

Native fruits and vegetables which are now being used in many kitchens across Australia and around the world you may even have used them yourself…

Saltbush…

Saltbush seems to feature on all the cooking and in many recipes today its popularity is booming in my world…With its lovely silvery-green leaves it grows wild across most of Australia…Traditionally eaten by indigenous communities the leaves were used to heal wounds and the fruit and seeds eaten…Saltbush has been used as grazing fodder for sheep and cattle by both natives and settlers.

Today, the national park service in New South Wales considers Saltbush a threatened species due to trampling, invasive weeds and excessive clearing…which is such a shame when this happens to native plants lets hope that plans are in place to protect the Saltbush from extinction.

Lemon Myrtle…

Again Lemon Myrtle leaves have traditionally been used by the Aboriginal peoples as a healing salve because of their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties…with its citrusy flavour its makes a lovely tea and gives a nice citrus zing to bakery products.

Wattleseed…

Acacia (wattle trees) grow in abundance in Australia and most have edible seeds. Aboriginal communities have traditionally eaten these seeds raw or the seeds have been ground to make the traditional Damper(bread) Today the Wattleseeds are becoming increasingly popular and are still ground and used as flavourings for cakes, biscuits and bread.

Quandong…

Generally found growing on arid land these beautiful vibrant reddish-pink berries are quite tart in taste are known for their immune-boosting antioxidants and vitamin C. The tart flesh is often turned into jams and chutneys, while the nuts are roasted. ..this is bush tucker has for many, many years been held in high regard by the Aboriginals communities for their versatility and healing properties.

Green Ants…

Plentiful and high in protein, insects are eaten the world over, and green tree ants in Australia are no exception. Recognised by their vibrant green bellies, these endemic creatures are found in trees and shrubs across Queensland and the Northern Territories and have been eaten by Indigenous communities there for centuries. They’re extremely tasty, delivering a hit of lemon to foods and drinks they flavour…

I haven’t even mentioned desserts, Pavlova, Lamingtons, Tim-Tams, Fairy Bread and Anzac Biscuits…

I love a nice Pavlova and can’t remember the last time I ate ‘Pav” as Aussies call it, Lamingtons I tried when we were in OZ…Fairy bread has sprinkles so I guess its a party food…I do love an Anzac Biscuit though…and caramel slices are good…

That’s it for today …I look forward to your comments…Next week is the start of the letter B…Have a good week…x

 

 

 

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CarolCooks2…New A-Z…World Cuisine… Part 1…Argentina

Welcome to my new A-Z where I will be looking at the countries of the world, their food and national dish or their most popular dish around the world…by this I mean some dishes are eaten in many countries as their fame has spread around the world…I have Chel to thank for giving me some ideas from which this one took shape…Thank you Chel x

Argentina…

Argentina is a vast country located in the southern part of South America. The eighth-largest country in the world, it is the second-largest country in South America after Brazil, and it’s about one-third the size of the United States. Argentina is bordered by the Andes Mountains and Chile to the west.

When I first think of Argentina I think of vast plains, baggy trousered cowboys, huge BBQs of meat for which they are famous…Dulce Le Leche that delicious caramel…

I think of wandering down the streets and just seeing sights like this…lovely BBQed meat…The National dish is “Asadas” which is a variety of BBQ meats grilled on a Parillo (large grill)..this would include steak, ribs, chorizo, molllejas(sweetbreads), chinchulines(chitterlings) plus morcilla( blood sausage)…Empanadas..stuffed pastries filled with either meat, corn, vegetables, tuna or cheese.

Yerba Mate…A traditional Argentian drink…an infusion “mate” is made by steeping the dry leaves and twigs from Yerba Mate which is a species of holly…in boiling water. This is then poured into a guampa(gourd) and drank through a metal straw the taste is said to be similar to green tea.

The country is divided into four regions: The Andes, the North, the Pampas, and Patagonia. The Pampas is the agricultural heartland.

Since the Inca Civilization people living in the Andes have based their diet on potatoes, maize and meat. Soups and stews are among the most popular dishes. Everything goes into it including meat, many kinds of potatoes, maize, carrots, local spices and hot peppers. They are cooked for hours because of the lower oxygen at high altitudes…

Pachamanca is a cooking method that has been used in the Andes for centuries and it is still very popular all over the Andean region. Placed underground on a bed of hot stones seasoned meat, herbs and vegetables are slowly cooked for many hours. Because it takes a long time to cook it is usually a special treat and mainly cooked during celebrations.

The Guinea Pig has long been part of The Andean diet…Although this is not in English it is quite easy to follow and recognise the ingredients.

It is also interesting and I know for a fact from living here that not everyone cooks in a modern kitchen but they still serve up delicious food.

Argentina …The North.

Tamales are a traditional Mesoamerican dish that’s popular in the cuisines of many countries throughout Latin America. In Argentina, a version known as tamales salteños is popular in the northwest region of the country, mainly in Salta, Jujuy, and Tucumán.

This dish of cornmeal dough shell filled with various ingredients (eg chopped beef, pork, sweet filling) then steamed in corn husks or in banana leaves…is delicious and popular around the world…

Then we have empanadas… the most common empanada is filled with beef, but some are filled with quinoa, humita, rabbit, or goat.

For spice lovers, many northern empanadas are served with homemade hot sauce and are often fried instead of baked. Maybe not the best for our cholesterol levels, but oh so delicious…

Cazuela de cabrito, baby goat casserole is a very popular dish found on almost every menu…slow-cooked for hours in a pot or a brick oven…it is said to be very delicious…

The Pampas…

Since the beginning of the 20th century, agriculture is the primary economic activity in the Pampas. … Parts of the Pampas are noted for their vineyards, especially in the region of Mendoza, which alone produces half the wines of entire South America.

The Pampas are referred to as the granary of South America as they provide the bulk of the world’s export of wheat.

Best known for being the home of the gauchos, Argentina’s famous baggy-trousered cowboys, the pampa stretches south and west from Buenos Aires. It’s a region of endless yawning plains, the fertile soils of which support succulent pasture for the country’s revered beef cattle, along with golden wheat and sunflowers.

The food…for me always conjures up images of huge BBQ’S, decadent deserts, dreamy pasta and beef cooked the old way…

The Sandwich and of course it’s big and hearty…Bondipan (or bondiola) is a classic sandwich originating from Argentine. Similar to the more famous choripan, this sandwich is made with bondiola de cerdo, pork shoulder that’s roasted or grilled to perfection and served in crusty french bread

The succulent and salty pork is drizzled with lemon juice and often topped with chimichurri. If desired, a bit of chilli sauce can also be added to the sandwich. The sandwich is typically sold as street food, and people usually enjoy it while standing by the bar.

Chimichurri Sauce.

Ingredients:

  • Half a cup of Olive Oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped parsley
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 2 small red chillies, or 1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (about 1 tablespoon finely chopped chilli)
  • 3/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 level tsp coarse salt
  • pepper , to taste (about 1/2 tsp)

Let’s Cook!

Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl…Allow it to sit for 5-10 minutes to release all the flavours before using. Ideally, I let it sit for at least 2 hrs…Chimichurri can be refrigerated for up to 24 hrs.

Many recipes use a food processor to make sauces like this I much prefer to chop by hand as I find a coarser sauce is far nicer but it is down to personal choice…

Chimichurri can be used to baste meats while grilling or barbequing ..traditionally these sauces are used to baste food …

Pasta…creamy and opulent...this stuffed pasta variety is believed to have been invented in Argentina. Called Sorrentinos they are round and large and come with a variety of fillings such as different types of grated cheese, ricotta, ham, vegetables, or nuts.

Bread…Fainá is a unique flatbread made with chickpea flour, black pepper, and lots of fresh herbs. It is extremely popular throughout Argentina and Uruguay.

There is of course what it’s most famous for …” The Beef”…This authentic gaucho dish, Asado con Cuero consists of beef with its hide still attached, grilled over an open fire. This is a very old, traditional way of preparing beef that dates back to the Argentine gauchos, who roasted their beef long and slow on an asador, a type of metal structure, over low fire, and used quebracho wood, which is still used today as it lends a unique flavour to the meat.

Large chunks of beef are first salted and then soaked overnight in a marinade made with ground chilis, pepper, cumin, chopped parsley, wine, vinegar, and oil. The following morning, the marinated beef chunks are grilled with their hide side up, over low fire for about 8 to 10 hours, or more if necessary.

Desserts…think a luscious combination of sponge cake, whipped cream, almond paste, dulce de leche, meringue, walnuts, and candied chestnuts, while the top is dusted with powdered sugar and coconut…Then we have “Dulce le Leche” …sigh…I am known as the queen of burnt dishes and yet nothing good comes out of it like Dulce le Leche…

This is a type of condensed milk sweet from Argentina. Traditionally, it is made by heating sweetened cow’s milk until it caramelizes and achieves a thick consistency, enough to act as a spread, a filling for cakes and pies, or an ice cream topping.

It is said that dulce de leche originated in Buenos Aires when a serving woman was preparing la lechada by heating sugar and milk. As she left it on the fire a bit longer than usual, she noticed it had become a dark brown substance, and that’s how dulce de leche was born.

Patagonia…Patagonia is a region encompassing the vast southernmost tip of South America, shared by Argentina and Chile, with the Andes Mountains as its dividing line. The Argentine side features arid steppes, grasslands and deserts…Argentina’s famed RN-40 highway passes the pinnacles of Monte Fitz Roy and Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. 

With magnificent landscapes and fascinating flora & fauna. But these are not the only noticeable characteristics of Patagonia; there is a whole other world which is the world of the region’s remarkable Patagonia food and drinks.

Patagonia’s most famous dish, The ‘Cordero al Palo’ dish is a Spit Roast Lamb cooked over an open log fire for several hours until the outside is crisp and the meat falls off the bone. Cooking it in this way gives way to a smoky-perfumed, mouth-watering dish that rivals food coming from the finest of restaurants…can you imagine just sitting in a little roadside BBQ place just relaxing and taking in the glorious scenery and smelling that wonderful lamb cooking on the BBQ…

But Argentina is not only famed for its meat dishes… this Patagonian King Crab ‘Chupe’, a traditional Chilean dish in which seafood is cooked in a stew with breadcrumbs to make a thick, creamy dish, similar to a chowder. It is usually topped with gratinated cheese that brings out the crab’s rich flavour…sounds just delicious…

But of course not forgetting the Empanadas which are eaten throughout all the regions of Argentina…In Patagonia, locals have added their own touch to this traditional snack, by filling the baked dough with a very thick roasted lamb stew, instead of the usual ‘Pino’ meat or cheese.

Sadly the “Chaco Prickly Pear” like white carob, chanar and Mistal Trees…are under threat or are disappearing…Native to north-central Argentina, mistol (Ziziphus mistol) is a spiny, fruit-bearing tree that has small flowers and reddish-brown, drupe-like fruits. Distinguished by a sweet, pasty flesh, the fruit is often consumed fresh, although it can also be boiled, sundried (pasa de mistol), or transformed into arrope (a homemade sweet) or patay (a paste used in numerous Argentine specialities). Bolanchao is a type of candy made with mistol fruit that is typical of Santiago del Estero, while this plant can also be used for making mistol liquor or a mistol infusion with healing properties.

The people of the indigenous Toba community often consume a combination of mistol juice and Algarrobo flour or tusca tree flour. Other parts of this tree have also been commonly used by the indigenous people, including the tree’s roots and bark… gathered, processed and prepared traditionally then made into traditional specialities such as flour, bread, sweets and beverages and that have been strongly interwoven with the lives and cultures of indigenous peoples and many of these practices date back to pre-Columbian times are disappearing due to many factors including globalisation, deforestation, habitat loss and import of foreign goods such as sugar and wheat flour…

It makes me sad that indigenous peoples property and lifestyle doesn’t seem to matter and yet they have such knowledge of how the land works that it is a travesty in my eyes that their traditions and land husbandry skills are not preserved and practised…the ecosystems are dependent around the world on the wealth of knowledge indigenous people have and to me, they are essential to our survival.

I hope you have enjoyed this first post of my A- Z of “World Cuisines” as much as I have enjoyed the research and the learning…it is no surprise that Argentina has the highest meat consumption in the world…plus they are one of the major producers of fruit and vegetables in the world…I have learnt much about the food and diversity in Argentina but I will continue to grow or buy local as buying from there when you are halfway across the world is not being aware of the environmental footprint plus the cost to indigenous populations, animals and plant life…

Thank you for reading I look forward to your comments as always xx