#122: Burkina Faso

Football, Snow and Turkey.

That is what I call the “Three Horsemen”! It’s the week before American Thanksgiving– and I would like to take this moment to inform all the people out there that it has finally snowed in Denver. It’s officially holiday season now. To be fair… it was minimal. It was a glorified dusting, but I am breaking out the remainder of the boots and coats and making coco. In my lab we had a Canadian exchange student this summer, and though we came to find out that Canada has thanksgiving in October, it seemed to shock and amaze her all of our Thanksgiving traditions here in the colonies. In particular, she (and so many others) are horrified at “black Friday” which mostly has moved to Thanksgiving Thursday. To help with the remainder of the confusion, I have found this article to illuminate your turkey day:

https://www.bustle.com/articles/124804-8-ways-canadian-thanksgiving-is-different-from-american-thanksgiving

  • It’s on a Monday –> so no three day turkey coma. Sorry.
  • It’s in October
  • It’s not that big a deal to French provinces.
  • Not always turkey –> sometimes it’s chicken or ham

THE DINNER: WHOA GUYS!!!  I’m learning so many of the things! First off, I’m thrilled to find that there was a country I literally have never heard of (BTW, that was my very spot on Chris Traeger impression from Parks & Rec. It’s very good, you’ll have to take my word on it since you’re reading this). Incidentally, this not so tiny country in the horn of Africa gained independence from the French in 1960. Their food landscape, therefore, is obviously very French inspired because they’ve only been their own nation for about 50 years now. Apart from the typical things you see in French cuisine, I was saddened to find that Burkina Faso’s populace is mostly food insecure and the nation tops the list of the Global Hunger Index. All year, but particularly this time of year in the states, it is so important to donate time and food to local banks and outreach mission. We are so blessed here, but there is still a great need even in our country to provide meals to those that are starving. In this time of Thanksgiving, please know that it is us alone that make the change we wish to see in the world.

PSA over, we picked a drink for this nation! We haven’t done one of those in a while and this one is interesting. Jus de Bissap Rouge (sometimes called “Hibiscus sabdariffa“) translates to “Red Bitter Juice” more or less. The hibiscus is a native plant and the tea used from this infusion is thought to have healing properties. People with high blood pressure and Crohn’s disease often take advantage of this herb to alleviate their symptoms. Externally, compresses soaked in the infusion reduce edema, eczemas oozing, dermatoses as well as abscesses

Jus de Bissap Rouge Recipe: http://okra-cocoa.blogspot.com/2007/06/jus-de-bissap-rouge.html?m=1

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: HALF a STAR out of five this meal!
Guys, this one is literally steeping tea. You add some nutmeg, vanilla and sugar and then bring it to a boil. It’s so simple. I wish I could assign no stars. The hibiscus flowers were found at a local natural grocery store– like Whole Foods. That might be the one item that is “tricky” to come by.

Best dish of all time scale: THREE and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
So… it was tea. It’s hard to judge tea. On one hand, I thought it could be less sweet and more tart. On the other hand, my dad felt the opposite. I wanted this one to be a lot like “Lemon Zinger” from my very favorite Colorado tea house, Celestial Seasonings. It was not. It missed my mental mark somehow, through no fault of it’s own. It should be noted that we all drank it an sort of said “not…bad….” but there were no heartfelt musings about it either way. We left this one in the middle of the pack. I also think that if we had drank this in the midst of summer it might have come to different reviews. Timing is everything I guess.

I think we will be taking a “bye” week for the holiday and then be back at it for country #123!

To the Turkey!!
(the food not the country… we already covered the country in week #22 😉)

– L & K

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#121: Sri Lanka

So, this week has been weird, Am-I-Right?

I guess if we are being fair, this whole year has been weird…and not in a Johnny Depp-it’s-charming-and-quirky kind of way, but in a distinctly odd and vague way. I feel like this year in general has been like a generic knockoff of a normal year. The milk is not completely sour and the bread is not entirely stale, but something just doesn’t seem to sit right. During this impending Christmas time, one of my favorite memories (and traditions to this day) is watching How The Grinch Stole Christmas. The old animated one, not the new Jim Carry one, just to be clear. I’m sure you can see where I’m going with this, but at the end of that story, I still as an adult woman am reminded that the fabric of the Grinch’s soul was altered by the positivety of the Who people. Thus, I have decided that if I’m moving anywhere after this election, I’ll be moving to Whoville. My first order of business? Why, helping the Grinch grow his heart three sizes, of course. I know mine could stand to grow more anyway and they have “roast beast” and “Who-pudding” there, so it’s looking like a win-win for everyone. Please forward my mail accordingly.

THE DINNER: Our little detour to Sri Lanka was much needed this weekend. As is typically seen when we venture into the Indian Ocean region, so many of these cuisine profiles serve curry up as King and Country. That’s no different in the small island nation of Sri Lanka. They primarily devour fish or chicken in several variations on regular curry and serve it up over rice. Traditionally they also celebrate the food profiles of chutney, fruits and vegetarian fare. Additionally they are known for dahl (which I will remind you from our journey to Nepal in week #39 is “soup”) as well as these things call “hoppers” which is pan fried fermented batter. Sort of like a wonky version of a funnel cake, but savory and fermented. Okay, that was a stretch, I’ll admit it. Regardless (or “irregardless” as this was added to the Oxford Dictionary this week much to my chagrin) we picked a spicy squid curry to represent the nation of Sri Lanka!  It’s not surprising that the country utilizes so much seafood, as it’s an island, but the fennel was one ingredient on the list that did make me squint and my head tilt to the side. In disclosure, this is also a “masala” and not a “curry” for those keeping score.

Sri Lankan Spicy Squid Masala Recipe: http://abowlofcurry.cucumbertown.com/spicy-squid-masala-fry-recipe?image=4433

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: THREE STARS out of five this meal!
So, actually the art of locating squid in a land locked state was half this week’s difficulty. We ended up at P.O.M. 🙂 much to our happy detouring. We love it there. So a little vacation to that part of our world was nice and welcomed. Apart from that, there was spice palooza since this was a masala, that’s not all together surprising. The remainder of the ingredients were found with ease at our local grocery.

Best dish of all time scale: TWO and a HALF STARS out of five for Meal!!
Let me preface this low scoring meal with this caveat: WE LOVE SQUID in Brovskyland. The reason this dish scored low was in now was reflective of the meat choice. So please, if you haven’t tried squid, don’t be scared or alarmed or let this review put you off it. Squid rocks. This squid, did not. What a shame that turned out to be! The meal actually turned out to be rather bland when it all boiled down to it. The texture of the squid might have been improved with more of a carmalization, but that doesn’t detract from the reality that it just lacked flavor. Curry/Masala is supposed to bring in so many flavor profiles that were absolutely absent here. What a disappointing exhibition. However, it should be noted that the onion and peppers with the tomatoes were very tasty. It is a very small note 😉

For turkey day weekend coming up, we are going to be thankful we are celebrating #122 in the little known African nation of Burkina Faso. Now, if you haven’t heard of that nation, you’re in good company, I hadn’t either.

Signing off from the top of Mount Crumpit 😉 , 
– L & K

#120: Czech Republic

If you haven’t been, Prague is one of the wonders of the world.

Trust me on this one, it’s gorgeous, historical and foodie paradise. If I’m being perfectly honest, which you know I am, I didn’t care for the libations in the great country of CR. There was this spiced liquor called Becherovka, which I can only describe as 38% ABV version of paint thinner meets gin. It was not my cup of whiskey at all. But cest la vie, I’ll stick with their beer!  Along with the beer, I also really have come to love to sentiments of the Czech people… now, that might be a smidgen on the bias because my family is Slovak and until currently, the Czech Republic and Slovakia were the same exact place. But, seriously, these people have the right head-space. Here is my case study:

  • “Bez peněz do hospody nelez”   —>  “Don’t go to the pub without money”, very wise and very unwise at the same time. I dig the dichotomy. I too am a walking contradiction.
  • “Na každém šprochu pravdy troche”   —>  “There’s a bit of truth in every gossip”
  • Stokrát nic umořilo osla”  —>  “A hundred times nothing killed the donkey”…alright, to be fair, this one lost me in the translation; but it made me laugh.

THE DINNER: I have to say, the best turn of phrase for this coming weekend’s food adventure was this one Bez práce nejsou koláčewhich translates into “Without work, there are no koláče”. For those of you that aren’t fluent or well versed in puffy pastry lingo, “koláče” are like the Czech answer to the Danish. It’s a flaky pastry filled with jam, fruit or chocolate and served all times of the day and night. This bad boy does double duty as dessert and breakfast. I love me a multitasking food 😉 The name of the specific koláče we picked was “Dukat Buhtle”. These little gems are pretty much like a vacation to Prague. To which my gypsy soul says, “Amen.”

Dukat Buhtle Recipe: http://tortelina.blogspot.com/2012/05/dukat-buhtle.html

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OVERALL COUNTRY SCORE:

Ease of prep and cooking: FOUR STARS out of five this meal!
Don’t panic. I will explain myself. Four stars comes from the sheer fact that the recipe is in Bosnian. That was the first hurdle. Once translated, everything was obviously in metric. No surprise there, but the specific conversion from deciliters is ridiculous and tedious and time consuming. The dough was really hard to work with, as it is incredibly sticky- but not too much work apart from that. I have to say, though, that I loved the exact nature of converting Celsius to Fahrenheit. I mean, come on! What baker doesn’t get a little kick out of 356degrees. That’s adorable and breaks it up for a seasoned baker. Speaking of being seasoned bakers—call it altitude or what have you, but it did not make 25 Dukat Buhtle… it made 17. So, maybe something else (like the remaining 8 Dukat Buhtle) was also “lost in translation” 😉 like the licks to the center of a tootsie pop- the world may never know.

Best dish of all time scale: FIVE STARS out of five for Meal!!
Well, damn it all to hell, the Czech proverb of “without work, there are no koláče” really does pan out here. Haha, “pan” see what I did there? Anyway, back on track, these were worth all the strange conversions, all the weird phrasing the translator spit out and all the time waiting for the dough to proof. When we tasted them, I had a hard time immediately placing what the dough reminded me of. Then it hit me like a five pound sack of all-purpose enriched flour! These have the consistency of biscuits. They’re dough like, but flaky; sweet but not “un-savory” (yes, I made that word up to prove my point. Call it creative liberty). They are buttery and melt in your mouth. I’m pretty stoked to try the jam and fruit versions. I will need to double to dough on the next attempt. These babies flew off the shelf. Fives all around, especially from our “Russian judge”.

While the Broncos did nothing to secure a win this weekend, the Rapids advanced over LA in a shootout shocker! We will be progressing with a “W” into next week’s country too for  #121. Can’t wait to see what the little island of Sri Lanka brings to our table!!

Already listening to Christmas music- don’t judge 😉

OXOX, 
– L & K