Yesterday, I wrote about my personal challenge to cook a dish from every country around the world. Today, I’m writing out my guidelines for this challenge. Not because I need a formal set of rules— this is a just-for-fun side project— but because I think typing out some rough guidelines before a big project like this will give me some basic structure and sanity.
Here are my guidelines.
1. No Particular Order
I’ll work through the countries list in no particular order. I might make a dish from a certain country when I see a good recipe, or when inspiration strikes. I might hop around a particular region of the world. I probably won’t go alphabetically, but who knows, that may happen, too. I’ll work my way through these countries and recipes in whatever order I please. Fewer rules = more fun.
2. Representative Dishes
As I cook my way around the world, I’d like to try the most representative dishes I can find from each country. These might be everyday staple foods, or they might be fancy special occasion affairs. Whatever they are, I’ll try to find something typical of that region, or special to that nation.
I know that most countries contain a multitude of cultures and sub-cultures, each with their own special cuisine. I won’t be able to represent every culture in every country with a dish, but I hope I will capture at least one unique and remarkable facet.
I may stray from this if the most representative dishes from a given country are things I can’t eat (guideline #3) or made with obscure ingredients and equipment I can’t find (guideline #4). In that case, I might pick a more obscure or less unique dish.
3. Things I’ll Eat
It’s no fun cooking your way around the world if you’re only cooking things other people can eat.
I grew up vegetarian, and I still eat that way. While I’ll gladly cook meat for other people, I’m not yet comfortable eating it myself. In the spirit of only cooking things I will eat and enjoy, every recipe on this website will probably be vegetarian, unless I have an unlikely change of heart and decide I must have moqueca (Brazilian fish stew). I am otherwise a very adventurous eater, and the world is filled with plant-based foods, so I don’t think this will restrict me too much.
4. Keep It Simple
Cooking your way around the world means exploring a variety of ingredients and cooking techniques, which is excellent. However, there are also a lot of traditional ingredients and cooking implements that will probably be out of reach to me, even in this day and age. I’ll try to choose simple, accessible recipes over complex ones that need modifications. In the event that I do need to modify a recipe, I’ll note the changes.
Keeping it simple isn’t just about the recipes, either. Food bloggers have really ramped up in the last few years, with excellent writing, step-by-step photos, videos, etc. It’s great that the quality of content has gone up, but sometimes it can feel hard to participate if you aren’t creating magazine-quality content. So, I’m giving myself official permission to keep my posts simple. Each dish will have at least one photo, and a recipe— and that’s it for minimum requirements.
5. Do Your Research
Any time you work with geography and national boundaries, even in the context of a cooking project, you are bound to run into issues of politics and power. Trying to go through every UN-recognized nation also means confronting your own ignorance– some of the countries on the list, I hadn’t even heard of before yesterday. Over the course of this project, I’ll do my best to stay informed and be culturally sensitive. If I’m unfamiliar with a certain place or idea, I’ll stay open minded about it and do my research.