Round Two wrap-up

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I started Round Two more than 1,000 days ago.

On January 7, 2015, I made Albanian Tavë Kosi, the first of the 21 dishes scheduled for Round Two. Nearly three years later, I got through 19 of them.img_0251

As has been mentioned before, a big part of that is pictured at right, because as nice as it is to have little Eleanor hanging out, it is not conducive to having an adventurous cooking blog.

Part of that is also just the nature of this round. There were a lot of foods I wasn’t looking forward to – specifically, Kenya, Russia, Zimbabwe, Saint Lucia. Many of those turned out way better than I expected.

Some presented ingredient-acquisition problems: See Finland, where I scoured the web and local vendors to find reindeer meat before giving up and just making mammi. Making ramen broth from scratch was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my kitchen, even harder than cassoulet.

But for the passing of my boss’ father, I’d be stuck without food or ingredients for Palau. I skipped Madagascar because I am hesitant to eat “toothache plant” without knowing for sure I have the right leaf; I skipped Nauru because, well, you tell me what Nauruans eat – nobody else has been able to.

And so it’s on to Round Three. I am quite looking forward to this round, even more than I dreaded Round Two. I’ve already made two of the dishes – Algerian couscous and Bangladeshi korma. I found the ndolé leaves I need for Cameroon. I’m excited about eating frogs in honor of Dominica, making pupusas for El Salvador, diving into a new cookbook to make Georgian kachapuri.

This round has three – three! – countries from the Levant: Jordan, Lebanon and Palestine. I’ll make French crepes and Venezuelan rice and beans. And, it wouldn’t be a round of Nation Plates if it didn’t have machboos (UAE); corn-meal with something (Rwanda) and fish-and-fruit (St. Vincent and the Grenadines).

I only have one question mark on my list for Round 4: Kiribati. Yet another Micronesian nation, where I seem to run into the most trouble on this blog. If you have ideas, let me know.

In the meantime – here we go. Algeria coming soon. Prepare for the noms.

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Zimbabwe: Sadza with peanut chicken 🇿🇼

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I love porridge.

They’re great vehicles for flavor, they’re filling, they’re relatively easy to make. Pop some ingredients in an Instant Pot, push a button and you’ve got congee. Rinse some nixtamalized corn, boil it, cook it slowly and out come delicious grits. Take some stone ground oats, mix with hot water and a hot bowl of oatmeal is waiting for some maple syrup.

Porridge, clearly, is more of a breakfast food. It’s filling, and, as mentioned, is a great vehicle for bacon, eggs, sweet syrup, fruit, whatever.

That is a very Oregonian way of viewing porridge. But for much of the world, a thicker version of porridge – corn, cassava, sorghum – is a crucial staple food.

And so we have Zimbabwe, which, like much of Africa, has a national love for a corn mush called sadza. It’s similar to Zambia’s nshima and other corn-based porridge-mushes, in that it’s thicker than your average porridge, and serves as a vehicle for eating something else.

In this case, rather than suffer through more leafy greens, I found a recipe for a chicken-and-peanut dish from the Cape to Cairo cookbook, which I can’t find online but recommend picking up.

I prefer not to re-post recipes from cookbooks, but here’s a gallery of the meal:

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