Nigeria is competing for the first time this year in the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics, with a bobsled team composed of Nigerian-Americans. Though bobsledding may not get a lot of press in Nigeria, we wanted to highlight this country and its food. So what is the most representative Nigerian national dish? A poll conducted this year by Pulse Magazine had readers selecting Jollof rice, whereas a poll done previously by CNN had them selecting Egusi soup. Well, we are definitely not informed enough to weigh in, so we figured we’d highlight each of these national dish rivals.
Jollof rice is a rice-based dish made with tomatoes, tomato paste, onions, hot peppers and spices, usually served with some kind of protein. Popular throughout West Africa, the recipe for Jollof Rice varies wildly depending on where you are. And of course, each country thinks that they have the best Jollof rice, and it has inspired years of heated debate (and even a rap song). In Nigeria, the dish is also typically accompanies by fried plantains and moin moin, a spicy side made from black eyed peas. You can find recipes for Jollof rice from All Nigerian Recipes, Sisi Jemimah and Ev’s Eats.
It’s was Lunar New Year this weekend AND the start of the 2nd week of the Winter Olympics in PyeongChang, South Korea, so naturally we have Korean food on the brain. One of the most important foods for the Lunar New Year – called Seollal in Korea – is Yaksik. Yaksik is a sweet rice dessert studded with jujubes, honey and chestnuts. Not only is the dessert tasty, but it is touted for its medicinal properties. The name “Yaksik” translates to “medicinal food,” (“Yak” meaning medicine, “Sik” meaning food). Think of it as a fruitier, healthier version of rice pudding. Here are recipes for Yaksik from Kimchimari (seen below) and Maangchi.
For the final country represented on the Olympic Refugee Team – Ethiopia – we decided to dig a little deeper into the county’s cuisine. Now we adore Ethiopian food, but we were wondering about traditional Ethiopian desserts (since we have never encountered any!). Turns out, we weren’t missing a hidden dessert culture – the whole concept of dessert is pretty much an imported one. However, with the influx of sugar into Ethiopia in the 20th century, desserts started cropping up. One of the most popular desserts now in Ethiopian is the pasti, a sweet, fried dough dessert influenced by Italian food, sold in small shops called Pasti Bet (pasti houses). Here is a simple video recipe for pasti from How to Cook Ethiopian, with the video in Amharic and English text below. Pasti is even popular enough to have an Ethiopian R&B song about it!
When researching the national dish of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the countries represented on the Refugee Olympic Team, we found a few dishes vying for the top spot. First up was Fufu/Bukari, an almost ubiquitous cassava mash used to sop up foods. However, Fufu is popular across a wide swath of Africa, so that didn’t seem distinct enough to be a national dish. Another contender was Pondu/Saka-Saka , cassava leaves in palm oil, but it is really more of a side dish. However, after some additional sleuthing, the main course that seemed to be the most widely-accepted national dish of the DRC is Poulet à la Moambé (Chicken Moambe), which is also considered the national dish of Gambia and Angola. We understand why it is widely beloved, we have tried this hearty, peanut-y soup before and it is delicious! Chicken Moambe is made with ingredients you’ll be able to find almost anywhere – bone-in chicken, peanut butter, palm oil and tomatoes – see recipes from African American Kitchen and Chef Bolek. If you want to go the whole nine yards you can accompany it with Fufu and Pondu!
The Olympics have finally come to Rio! When we were living in Brazil a few years ago, the country was already gearing up for the Olympic games, so we are excited to see it finally come to life. ETW will have some special food-related Olympics coverage this year, focused on the food of Brazil and the countries competing. We already have an extensive archive of Brazil and Rio De Janeiro food posts, so we encourage you to check it out in the meantime. This year, we will have special posts on the two countries competing in the Olympics for the first time – South Sudan and Kosovo (we also covered the 7 new countries in 2014) – and the multi-national refugee team. Stay tuned! Bom apetite!
For our last post about the cuisine from debut Winter Olympic countries, we bring you the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, who has two entrants this year, husband and wife cross-country skiers, Angelica and Gary di Silvestri. In an interesting turn of events, there was actually a vote held to pick the national food of Dominica, which seems awfully official. Mountain chicken (actually a giant frog) used to be the unofficial national dish, but the frog is now on the conservation list, so a new dish had to be selected. The new dish, chosen by vote, was Callaloo, a stew made with leafy greens. Though spinach can be used, the dish earns its name from the callaloo plant, a local name for amaranth or taro leaves. A preparation of Callaloo with crab (another recipe here) is particularly common in Dominica, though callaloo is eaten in other Caribbean countries. Due to this, the mountain chicken still has some proponents who hold that it is really a more representative dish from Dominica. What do you think?
East Timor is one of the world’s youngest counties, established only in 2002. However, it is already sending its first athlete to the winter Olympics, skier Yohan Goutt-Goncalves. Seafood is key in the national diet in this island nation, and culinary influence from Portugal and Indonesia is strongly felt. The national dish of East Timor is Ikan Pepes / Pepes Ikan (Ikan means ‘fish’ and pepes is the cooking technique), fish steamed with chili sauce in a banana leaf. Sounds pretty good! Here are two recipes for Ikan Pepes from Latitudes and Good Chef Bad Chef, which include ginger, garlic and turmeric in the aromatic fish marinade. We love foods cooked with this technique and it is a shame we haven’t tried to do it yet – maybe Ikan Pepes will be our first attempt. Fortunately, our favorite grocery store carries banana leaves.
Malta, a Mediterranean island nation. has one competitor in their debut Olympics, skier Elise Pellegrin. Malta’s cuisine is influenced by France, Spain, Italy and even England. The national dish of the country is Stuffat Tal-Fenek, a stewed rabbit dish in a red wine an tomato sauce. Apparently rabbit is hugely popular in Malta, and a dinner where rabbit is consumed is called a fenkata. One legend behind the dish was that it was originally developed as an act of resistance to hunting restrictions placed on the island (which were removed by the 18th century). I Love Food.MT has a recipe for Stuffat Tal-Fenek, and Gourmet Worrier has a recipe with a particularly elegant presentation.
This year, Winter Olympics newcomer Togo has two athletes competing in Sochi, skiiers Alessia Afi Dipol and Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean. We were also super interested to learn that there was a sizable Togolese population in Madison, Wisconsin. Togo is a tiny country and shares a lot with its neighbors, culinary. However, in our search for some classic Togolese dishes, Pâté and Fufu. Fufu, and similar dishes are popular throughout West Africa. In Togo, Fufu is made from pounded yams, and serves as a perfect startch to accompany any meal. Pâté is similar to fufu, but is made from cornmeal. Both Pâté and Fufu are usually served with some other sort of stew or sauce. CeltNet has a nice array of some tasty Togolese entrees that would be great with Pâté and Fufu including Chicken and Peanuts and Palm Soup.
Second in our series on winter Olympic newcomer cuisines is Paraguay. The athlete representing Paraguay is an American citizen of Paraguayan heritage, Julia Marino, who competed in slopestyle freestyle skiing. One of the most emblematic dishes from Paraguay is Sopa Paraguaya, which literally means “Paraguayan Soup”, but is actually a cornbread-like dish with a light, souffle texture, rather than a dense bread. Why it is called a soup is shrouded in mystery, but it remains an extremely popular staple for holidays and weddings. Other than corn flour, primary ingredients in Sopa Paraguaya include cheese and onions. Here are some recipes from Global Table Adventure, Cynthia Presser and Bite and Booze. Cheese and carbs – this is our kind of dish. If this dish intrigues you, you should try one of our other favorite dishes from Paraguay, cheese rolls called Chipa.
Chicagoans associate Devon Avenue almost singularly with a vibrant Indian community, and vibrant Indian food. But travel a bit further west on Devon, and it morphs into a Russian community, home to some of the city’s best stores for Russian and eastern European fare. We set out with one of our good friends, a Russian-born New Yorker from Brighton Beach no less, to see just what Devon had to offer. We figured it was perfect timing to inspire you to get some Russian goodies in honor of the winter Olympics in Sochi!
Our first stop on Devon was Argo Georgian Bakery (2812 W. Devon Ave.), a place we had been meaning to try for quite a while. Right in the center of the store was an amazing Georgian oven. There were an assortment of delicious baked goods for sale, and we especially enjoyed the Hachapuri (Georgian bread stuffed with cheese). You can also get a variety of breads (lavash and shoti), and bean-filled breads (lobianai) and also frozen foods to bring home. We are carb lovers, and absolutely adored the freshness and artistry of these breads.
We were not lucky enough to see bread being removed from the huge beehive-shaped oven, the toné. But we have learned how the bread is made: it operates similar to a tandoori oven, where the bread is stuck to the side walls as it cooks.
After filling up on bread at Argo, we headed over to Three Sisters Delicatessen (2854 W. Devon Ave.). Three Sisters is a nice, but small, specialty store absolutely jam-packed with treats from Russia. One one side there is a large meat case, and a selection of some pretty appealing looking cakes. You are also in luck if you are in the market for caviar, salted fish, or Russian cookies and chocolates.
At first sight the blandly-named City Fresh Market (3201 W. Devon Ave.) looked like a typical neighborhood grocery store. But once we got inside, our friend got so excited: the market has a strong Eastern European flavor, with a huge array of Eastern European canned goods and deli items. Her personal favorite, and ours, was the huge pickle bar, packed with unusual things like pickled tomatoes (as seen below). This was a real standout, and unlike anything else we had seen in Chicago!
The first in our Winter Olympics newcomer series is Tonga. The sole athlete from Tonga is certainly making waves at their first Winter Olympics, the luger, born Fuahea Semi , now Bruno Banani, did not place, but by changing his name he won an endorsement deal from a German underwear manufacturer with the same name. Antics aside, we have always wanted to try Tongan cuisine, since the South Pacific has so far eluded us in culinary terms. Being an island nation, fish plays a large part in the island’s cuisine, along with other staples like coconut, sweet potato and cassava. One of the most iconic dishes in Tonga is ‘Ota ‘ika, known sometimes as “Tongan ceviche,” fish marinated in citrus and coconut milk, similar in some ways to Latin American ceviches. Since M loves ceviche, I can only assume we will be making this recipe soon. Check out recipes from Daily Dish and Radio NZ to get a good start. Are there any other Tongan recipes you would recommend?
Though we started off the Sochi Olympics by covering Russian food, the Olympics are perfect time to highlight food from all around the world. The US, Canada, Russia and Northern European are usually heavy hitters in the medal count because they are COLD, however, many other countries are making winter Olympics appearances, including seven for the first time ever. Check out the Olympic Teams from each of these countries – Paraguay, Malta, Togo, Tonga, Zimbabwe, Dominica, East Timor – and get ready for ETW posts featuring national dishes and other foodie delights from each of these countries in the coming weeks.
What did you think of the Opening Ceremony? With the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics officially under way, we are in full Russian food mode. We are not experts in Russian food, but we have trying to learn more about the country’s different regional and local specialties. We’ve done a little research in preparation for a Russian dinner party in honor of the Sochi Olympics, to get a little beyond Borscht (Beet soup) and vodka (though of course, those are great, too). Here are some recipes to get your Russian dinner party started. Do you have any favorites you would recommend?
The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia start February 6th, which means even more inspiration for exploring international cuisines. The setting in Sochi, a resort town on the Black Sea, also provides a great springboard for learning more about Russian cuisine. Sochi, in particular, is known for its idiosyncratic cuisine that is a result of the cultural interchange along trade routes. The Russia and India report has a list of unique Sochi-specific dishes to try.
Welcome to Eating the World! We’re two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.To contact us for partnerships or just to say hi, email us at eating the world (at) gmail.com
Eating The World · We're two Midwestern omnivores, L and M, who are trying to eat food from every country in the world (at restaurants in both the US and abroad). Eating the World is where we update our global restaurant and food adventures. We are based in Cleveland, Chicago and beyond.