Tag Archives: Olympics

Seswaa: National Dish of Botswana

File:Flag of Botswana.svgCongratulation to Nijel Amos of Botswana, who earned the first-ever medal for his home nation by finishing second in the men’s 800 meters! In celebration of his achievement, we learned a little about Seswaa, arguably Botswana’s national dish. Seswaa (also called Chotlho) is a mashed-meat stew, often reserved for special occasions. It’s preparation is simple: typically cooked by men, chunks of meat are slowly simmered in salt and water in a three-legged iron pot (like the ones pictured below courtesy of our friend Brendan). Margarita’s international recipes has a rather humorous recollection of trying to pound the meat with a wooden spoon to produce the desired result, but with little luck – for her, the gristle seemed to prevent a proper pounding, so she had to resort to shredding instead.


And if you don’t want to try Seswaa or one of the any other great Botswana dishes, you should give a Mopane worm a try!

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Chicken Tikka Masala: National Dish of Britain

Mughal_Empireunited_kingdomIndia Flag

Until about a week ago, Team GB had all but struck-out in the medal department at their home Olympics. Fast forward half a fortnight, and their 16 golds places them third on the overall list, as well as garnering them today’s national dish highlight at ETW – chicken tikka masala. Wikipedia offers this succinct definition: “Chicken tikka masala is chicken tikka, chunks of chicken marinated in spices and yogurt, that is then baked in a tandoor oven, [and] served in a masala (‘mixture of spices’) sauce.” The recipes variations are as wide-ranging as its origin histories, but nothing obscures its popularity. Recently Robin Cook, the British Foreign Secretary, declared chicken tikka masala as the new national dish of the United Kingdom. Today, 1 in 7 of all curries sold in Britain are tikka masala, and it is the most popular restaurant dish in the country. But while tikka masala is unquestionably popular in Britain, and has been declared the national dish, its transnational origins reveal a fascinatingly complex and controversial history.

Chicken Tikka Masala at Akbar’s Indian Restaurant in Santa Monica, CA.

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Pabellón criollo: National Dish of Venezuela

Pabellón Criollo from Wikipedia

Many congratulations to fencer Rubén Limardo, winner of Venezuela’s first Olympic gold medal since the 1968 Mexico City games. In honor of this achievement, it’s time for some Venezuelan food! When we think of Venezuelan cuisine what immediately comes to mind are arepas – filled pockets of corn dough that strike the perfect carb-to-filling ratio. Though arepas are popular – the quintessential Venezuelan dish is Pabellón criollo (which translates roughly to “Creole Flag”) – a comforting dish of rice and beans with shredded beef. Similar variants of the mother dish of rice and beans are popular throughout South and Central America, as well as the Caribbean. Fried plantains are also an essential component of Pabellón criollo and for a variation, you can get your dish served with a fried egg, which is called a caballo (“on horseback”). The secret to the dish, however, is in the sofrito, the fragrant triumvirate of bell pepper, onion and garlic.  What’s for Eats has a delicious-sounding recipe as does Venezuela cooking (with each component broken into a separate recipe)– seems like good party food!


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Beshbarmak: National Dish of Kazakhstan

Beshbarmak photo from PeretzP

In the early morning hours on the first full day of the 2012 Olympics we saw Kazakh athlete Alexandr Vinokurov win the men’s cycling road race. In honor of this feat we decided to do a little feature on Kazakh food, especially the national dish, Beshbarmak. The name means “five fingers,” and as this implies, the dish is usually eaten by hand, and is a favorite for special events like weddings. It is usually made with horse meat (owing to the traditionally nomadic nature of the country), potatoes, onions and very wide noodle sheets. The dish is also popular in Kyrgyzstan, where it is also claimed as a national dish.  Foodista has a recipe for Beshbarmak using the more conventional for western tastes choice of lamb.

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The Olympics (of Food)

Olympic Cookies from Papery and Cakery

The Olympics are on – one of our favorite times! In honor of the event we are going to be covering the national dishes of Gold Medal winning countries, along with other Olympic-related foodie tidbits. Let the games begin. If you’re feeling extra festive, why not whip up a batch of Olympic cookies.

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The Olympics and British Cuisine

A view inside the Olympic Village Dining Hall – courtesy of The Daily Mail

The 2012 Olympic Games begin today in London, and Britain is using the international exposure to rebrand its still paltry international culinary reputation. Of course, anyone who still believes Britain has terrible food has either not visited London in the past ten years or, if they did, managed to have their heads stuck in the Underground for too long. As Henry Chu of the LA Times noted, London is a very different place from when it last hosted the Olympics (1948), and Londoners today are used to having the world at their doorstep. But just in case you missed the memo, here’s some light reading to catch you up: The New York Daily News is asking whether or not the Olympics can put British cuisine back on the menu, noting that the Olympic Village’s main dining hall contains a number of different culinary zones highlighting the international influences that make up the British culinary menu, including “Best of Britain; Europe, the Americas and Mediterranean; Asian, and Afro-Caribbean” cuisines. Meanwhile, Gavin Cleaver at An Englishmen in BBQ Sauce (he’s a Briton writing in Dallas – get it?) has a celebration and occasional loathing of British cuisine, dishing out gold, silver, and bronze medals (try the curry!) in an Olympics of British food. Lastly, Katrina Heron at The Daily Beast outlines how, as spectacular as the Beijing Olympics were overall, they were an unmitigated culinary disaster, with terrible food that kept running out. Instead, in London, they are trying to launch a “culinary revolution,” insisting that this Olympics presented “an unprecedented opportunity to look at our diets and our health, at our catering industry, at the state of our farms, and to commit to a long-term plan for good food and environmental stewardship.” Internationally diverse, readily available, locally sourced, delicious food? London, we wish we were there too.

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Canadian treats for the Olympics: Nanaimo Bar

canadaWe don’t often feature foods from Canada on ETW, but it’s not for a lack of variety. With the Winter 2010 Olympics (we are both big Olympics fans) being held in Vancouver we decided that we wanted to feature Canadian food more prominently for the duration of the games. So to start off, with we have a Vancouver original with a perplexing name, the Nanaimo bar. Named after a town in British Columbia, the Nanaimo bar is a no-bake dessert with vanilla custard filling, a cookie crumb base and a coating of chocolate. Yum! The Nanaimo bar seems pretty simple to make, but there are certainly many permutations. Chowhound put out a call for the definitive Nanaimo recipe and a recipe from Closet Cooking came out on top.

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