Jollof Rice in Nigeria and Beyond
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One of my most treasured food memories is of a family vacation to Italy when I was a teenager. We spent a week in Florence, and every meal we had was a revelation. But the one that stands out most in... Read more
Prior to spring-breaking there with the family in 2022, I hadn’t been to Puerto Rico in nearly two decades. And while I have a strong memory of eating excellent mofongo in the mountains while driving around the island for a travel article (as well as some terrific ice cream in Ponce), my recall of delicious and typical foods in Puerto Rico was pretty … nonexistent. I wasn’t sure what to expect on our family foray to San Juan and Fajardo there last April.
Along the north coast we traveled there sure are lots of seafood, plantains, rice and beans, fritters—but below the surface, the overarching influences to know about in modern Puerto Rican cuisine, aka cocina criolla (Creole cooking), include the native Taíno, the Spanish colonizers, and the West African slaves brought to the island.
The Spanish introduced the concept of making sofrito—sauteeing and blending tomatoes, peppers, garlic, onion, olive oil, bay leaf, and more to form a base for sauces—that’s so essential to many traditional Puerto Rican dishes (albeit, with a distinct PR spin, thanks to the local ingredients incorporated). Pigeon peas, tamarind, and the methods of frying foods and mashing starches were among the key contributions from West Africans. Native plants used by the Taíno, such as recao (culantro), yuca, and achiote, still figure prominently in the Puerto Rican kitchen today.Read more
It wasn’t until our third trip to New Orleans that the local noodle soup called ya-ka-mein crossed our path. A popular festival food and hangover cure that combines noodles with green onion,...
The very rich, chocolatey Brooklyn blackout cake is associated with an iconic chain of Brooklyn bakeries called Ebinger’s, which went bankrupt in 1972 after 74 years in business. Ebinger’s...
The New Jersey-invented sloppy Joe has nothing to do with the messy ground beef sandwiches of your elementary school’s cafeteria. It is a double-decker sandwich on excellent thin-sliced rye bread,...
Florence, ItalyOne of my most treasured food memories is of a family vacation to Italy when I was a teenager. We spent a week in Florence, and every meal we had was a revelation. But the one that stands out mos… Read more
little sulapAmbuyat is a dish made from the sago palm's inner trunk. It is a bland, starchy material that resembles tapioca starch. The national dish of Brunei is called ambuyat, and the Malaysian states… Read more
ArmeniaWhen I was a child, my family used to have a tradition of baking apple pies together every fall. We would gather the ripest apples from our backyard and spend hours peeling, slicing, and mixing t… Read more
Minato City, Tokyo, JapanGrowing up in a family of foodies, I was exposed to a wide range of flavors and cuisines from a young age. My parents loved to travel, and we would often explore different countries and cultures … Read more
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