This one had me stumped for a while, since I dislike collections of physical objects. I decided to collect the “Samurai Kids” series by the brilliant and compassionate Sandy Fussell (books have a clear and excellent function, so I like collecting them), but then I had another idea.
As you know, I recently had a sushi epiphany. I’m still flying high.
A lot of food is international, no matter where in the world you are (but perhaps especially in Australia, where we’re linked historically to Europe, politically to America, and physically to Asia).
Here is a list of the meals CJ and I regularly cook (usually mangled beyond recognition, because that’s the multicultural way), with the country that instantly comes to mind (this is my mind, which is going to be wrong on plenty of these):
-Stir fry (generic Asia)
-Soto/Javanese chicken soup (Indonesia)
-Fish and Chips (UK)
-Lamb chops (Australia, yay!)
-Tuna Mornay (actually, I don’t know)
-Roast dinner (UK)
-Fettucini bolognaise (Italian)
-Shepherds’ pie (UK, although it could be Germanic)
-Fried rice (Indonesia)
-Beef stroganoff (Russia)
-Salad with fetta (Greece)
-Yum cha (China)
So I decided to collect famous foods from EVERY CONTINENT ON EARTH and serve them all at once, making sure the world is as well-represented as possible. Naturally, I’d only eat delicious things (eg I don’t like curry, so I chose butter chicken for India), and I’d have to fudge in places (Africa was hard, particularly since I cordially dislike most vegies) – but I’d try to be as stereotypical as possible.
Historically, practically everything we eat comes originally from the Americas – but from so long ago that we don’t associate most of it with America any more.
I had to make some tough calls for the UK, Italy, India, and China (sooooo much deliciousness), and leave out a lot of Europe for the sake of variety.
This is one draft of what I came up with:
Isn’t it a beautiful thing? Making this map made me incredibly proud of how international our world really is.
I deliberately focused on dishes that are very much a part of ordinary Australian life (I have eaten absolutely every item on this map, and have cooked almost all of them).
Papua New Guinea makes a drink that is clearly lemonade – which it isn’t well known for, but it’s delicious and easy to prep ahead of time – and I wanted to represent PNG since I lived there for two years (but don’t have an underground mumu oven, which would be really handy right now).
Halva is a kind of sweet.
I actually plan to do this thing for real next month – and blog about it in detail, of course! How will sushi taste after a mouthful of butter chicken? Does satay taste good with mashed potato, or is it better with pate? I plan to find out.
For my own amusement, I did another map with stereotypical booze by continent (from roughly left to right: Tequila; a genuine South American phrase that means “the dregs of everyone else’s drink, given to some poor drunk fool who doesn’t know any better”; Baileys & red wine; beer in Egypt; vodka & sake; and white wine for Australia).
I don’t think I’ll ever try that one in real life though.
I’m working on a final list for the food that is as simple as possible (eg France is pate rather than souffle, USA is coke rather than hamburgers, and I’ll do caviar instead of beef stronanoff for Russia). Everything that requires cooking will be cooked by me or by my friends.
I can’t wait!
Can anyone else think of a food (like “Turkish Delight” or “Brazil nuts”) that we actually name after a country?