#52: Tunisia

Welcome to the Big 5-2!

We have reached a year’s worth of weekend food adventures on Around the World in 195 Sundays! We have officially been at it for a year’s time. It’s hard to imagine we have made 52 international meals already! I guess when they say that time flies when you’re having fun, they definitely mean it. We have only 145 more countries to go…which sounds like fun to us. It’s been another rainy week here in Denver. I’m starting to think I’ve moved back to Portland, OR that this is now Portland at this point actually. So we wanted to pick a sunny country to mark this Memorial Day weekend. We picked Tunisia and we can maybe fantasize that we are on the Mediterranean being fabulous. Maybe.

THE DINNER: The food of Tunisia is a melting pot of all the inhabitants of that land over the centuries:Phoenicians, Romans, Arabs, Turkish, French, not to mention, it’s native peoples. The basic profile is Mediterranean with notes of spicy distinctiveness that is common to the middle African nations. We in Brovskyland LOVE LOVE LOVE spice…at least L & K love it. So we were excited to hear this. Tunisian food offers mainly vegetarian fare with main meats including chicken and mostly seafood– keeping to the white fish common to the Mediterranean region. The best thing I read when doing research for this meal was that Tunisians like to refer to their food as “sun cuisine”, meaning that anything that is out in the sun makes for a good meal (i.e. olive oil, spices, tomatoes, seafood….). What a lovely way to put it though: “Sun cuisine”. It just sounds wholesome and happy. Which after all this rain in the Mile High City is certainly welcome.

We tackled the quintessential sauce for Tunisia: Charmoula! It is the chimichurri sauce of Northern Africa/Mediterranean region. It’s slathered on all types of meat, veggies and etc. It’s super simple to make just like it’s South American counterpart and it’s basically perfect on everything from basting, to saucing, to grilling. We wanted to make a region authentic dish, so we stewed/pan fried it with chicken quarters and then served over cous cous.

Charmoula Recipe: http://www.saveur.com/article/Recipes/Charmoula

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: TWO STARS out of five this Dinner!
It’s basically throw all ingredients into a food processor and then slather over meat. So it’s nothing that’s particularly difficult here. It’s more just “what wonderful method of cooking” would you like to choose from. It was actually hard deciding what to do with the sauce and how to serve it once it was made that was the real difficulty. It was decided that we would do chicken quarters and that we would serve over plain cous cous. I mean, cous cous is the easiest grain in the history of life to make. You literally boil water and add the cous cous. It’s done when the water has absorbed. You can’t over cook it. You can’t burn it. It’s cake. So the cous cous gets negative stars for difficulty. I think, now looking back we might have added some more peppers to the carmoula.

Best dish of all time scale: FOUR STARS out of five for Dinner!!
Overall, this was a solid meal. It was tender and juicy and the charmoula was lovely. I could have had that on everything. Certainly lived up to the hype. I’m not concived it was more than four stars, because while it was delicious, it was not something that we raved about for days after or that we even raved about while eating. It was what it was. I love chicken and rice– which is really what it boiled down to. It was a great Sunday family meal, and for little ones or the not-so-food-adventuresome it was not crazy exotic.

As we approach week #53, we are going to head to the Middle East for the recipes of Tajikistan!!
Tajik food is very intricate and I’m most excited to announce a AW195S field trip– no not the the P.O.M (which we love!) but to Boulder! I think you can put the pieces together on this one, but if you’re not a native, the hint is that Tajikistan has give Boulder (it’s sister city) a present that we can visit to get something warm to drink in accompaniment of our meal 🙂

Peace, Love and Food Fights!
– L & K

 

PS: For those planning to make ceviche from week #51, please be aware that Lime Juice Burns are in fact a thing. It would behoove you to wear gloves! We are still recovering from some significant hand burns following some time in the sun and yard coupled with the lime juicing.

#51: Peru

Hello, Food Lovers!

Hope you’re staying dry on this, once again, rainy Monday in the Mile High City! Luckily, we had a very pleasant weekend of adventures: gardening, soccer, wine with friends, music and midnight pizza… I was sad to see the weekend come to a close. I actually have to confess, this weather makes me want to stay indoors and snuggle with some coffee, so I naturally I can’t say that I hate it. It’s sort of lovely.

THE DINNER: We tackled Peru this week for our fifty-first Sunday adventure! Turns out, that Ceviche is considered a dish of National Heritage and even has its own state holiday. That’s right. A fish dish has its own day of celebration where people pay tribute to it… and what have you done lately? So what happens on National Ceviche day, you ask? I was curious too, so naturally I did some digging. The day has grown in popularity with each passing year, particularly along the Peruvian coast. If you’re curious to celebrate, it falls on June 28th every year. Evidently, Lima and Callao are two of the best places to spend this day. Of particular note is the annual Festival Gastronómico “Ceviche Perú,” which normally runs from June 27 to July 1. Now that is a holiday, I can get on board with.

The classic Peruvian ceviche is composed of chunks of raw fish soaked in citrus juice (typically lime, lemon or occasionally orange). To this, the Peruvians add onions or chilies and sometimes corn. There are regional specific parts of the country that use shark or shrimp as their main meat, but any seafood can, in theory be used. Cebo (sea bass) is the fish traditionally used for it’s texture and ability to stand up to the acidity without turning pithy. The mix is left to get “happy” at room temp for up to several hours and is usually served at room temperature, but can be served cold per taste pallet. We also hit up our sweet tooth by making traditional shortbread cookies with dulce de leche filling, called alfajores. I’m going to be honest, everyone loves shortbread, so we were stoked about these.

Sweet and Salty Alfajores Cookie Recipe: http://urbanbakes.com/sweet-and-salty-alfajores/
Ceviche Recipe: http://www.food.com/recipe/simple-peruvian-ceviche-111154?soc=socialsharingpinterest

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF STAR out of five this Dinner! THREE STARS for Dessert!
As far as the ceviche is concerned, it’s really just a matter of chopping the ingredients and then combining them. That’s basically as easy as it gets where cooking is concerned, apart from pouring milk onto cereal, it can’t get any more basic. All the ingredients were readily available at our local grocers, so there was not even a need to venture to a specialty market. The cookies get a little more star power for difficulty this week, basically because shortbread is finicky and once it becomes room temp, it’s wicked to deal with. Also, more stars were awarded because many people, though awesome cooks, find baking daunting.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Dinner and for Dessert!!
Overall, this was a five star weekend for food. The ceviche was really fresh and light– something about fish and lime juice is just really dependable and crisp. Ceviche at it’s roots is a clean meal, simple and satisfying. I loved the habaneros and could have gone for some more heat, but it was certainly worth all five stars. Cilantro is also something I find very refreshing and always plays well with lime and citrus components.  We served it with some blue corn tortilla chips and avocado slices….which was brilliant, if I do say so, because the avocado’s creamy, basic acidity went blow for blow with the harshness of the ceviche. The cookies were wonderful, as anticipated. Buttery and carmel-y and were the best compliment to the ceviche. I could definitely get used to this country. I’m ready to jet set to Manchu Pichu 🙂

AW195S has come up on week #52 which means that a whole calendar year has passed since we started!! For this week we will be showcasing food from Tunisia!!

Looking forward to a 3 day weekend!
– L & K