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Barbecue: A Celebration of Smoked Meats

Barbecue is more than a meal- It’s an event. People gather for good barbecue, whether invited or not. Barbecue is an event that gathers people around a fire. Like the fires of prehistory, this is the setting to eat, drink and tell stories.

Smoking has been used as a way of preserving and flavoring food for thousands of years. Soon after the discovery of fire, man found that meats and fish exposed to smoke lasted much longer before spoiling. In many cuisines around the world, smoking meats and fish became a yearly ritual, especially in autumn, to provide protein over the winter when hunting became less fruitful. The annual celebrations that surrounded these events morphed over time to become an excuse for family and friends to gather. The introduction of refrigeration and spices over the last 500 years has helped make smoking meats a ritualistic culinary art form that celebrates community rather than just a method of preservation and survival.

Three different countries have taken BBQ to whole other level that has become, in many ways, part of their national identities. Experience the amazing recipes and stories that have made each of these countries approach to BBQ do special.

AMERICAN BARBECUE

Almost every state and region in the United States has its own style of barbecue, each with its own cuts of meat based on what were readily available. Using a backyard grill at home is a wonderful American tradition utilized as a way for family and friends to gather for an afternoon to eat hot dogs and hamburgers. A true American barbecue is usually a day-long event that celebrates the smoked foods and cooking rituals.

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SOUTH AFRICAN BRAAI

The word braaivleis is Afrikaans for “smoked meat”. The word braai is Afrikaans for “barbecue” or “grill”, and is a social custom in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe and Zambia.

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ARGENTINIAN ASADO

In South America, asado is a technique for cooking cuts of meat, usually consisting of beef alongside various other meats, which are cooked on a grill (parrilla) or open fire. It is considered the traditional meal of Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Chile and southern Brazil. The asado is a very traditional way of cooking that typically requires the great skills of an asador. The gathering of family and friends is critical to a successful asado.

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SHOP FOR BBQ INGREDIENTS + EQUIPMENT:

Meat: www.wildfork.com

Supplies: BBQ Pro Shop

Supplies: www.atbbq.com

Supplies: Amazon.com : bbq 

Independence Day Celebratory Meals from Across the Globe

Almost every country in the world has a national holiday that commemorates the date that country came into existence as an independent nation. It is a special day of national pride that each country celebrates with patriotic parades, songs, homage to the founders, and of course, traditional food and drink.

Nationhood is actually a relatively new concept. It all began with The Age of Enlightenment, a movement that began in Europe during the late 1700s. This philosophical movement took science, reason, and inquiry as its guiding principles in order to challenge traditions and reform society. The Enlightenment’s ideals of democracy – equality under the law, separation of church and state, and individual liberty – encouraged colonial independence throughout the world in the late 1800s and early 1900s. The results of these powerful ideas were first reflected in both the American and French revolutions – when a monarchial form of government (kings ruled by “divine right”) was replaced by a republic empowered by the people.

During another “Age”, the European Age of Exploration (1400s-1600s), Europeans, especially Spain, Portugal, Holland, England, and France – sailed the world in search of new lands for their country, indigenous peoples to convert, and riches to be found from gold and the spice trade.

The end result of this ruthless quest for riches was slavery and ultimately uprisings leading to bloody conflicts in all the countries they colonized. Those conflicts eventually led to full-fledged revolutions where colonists were defeated and sent home, leaving a new and self-governing nation behind. The pride each nation has in the people who sacrificed their lives for their liberty is celebrated annually with a day dedicated to national and personal independence.

A big part of those celebrations are gathering with friends and family to eat and drink traditional foods special to their country. MHT offers you menus and recipes that four different countries might serve on their Independence Day. It’s a fun way to change things up a bit while experiencing some new and amazing cuisines.

HAITI

Haiti became a free country on January 1, 1804. As France’s most profitable colony, its plantation economy depended on a brutal system of slave labor. Following an insurrection that grew to a full-fledged revolution, Haitian slaves along with gens de couleur libres (free people of color) defeated the French military and declared Haiti an independent republic. Haiti was the first black-led republic and the first of many Latin American countries to triumph against European domination.

After freedom, it became time to celebrate and eat. The dish that symbolizes Haitian independence is Soup Joumou, a traditional soup that the French slave masters wouldn’t allow them to eat as they considered it a delicacy. After the Haitians threw the French out, this once forbidden soup became the symbol of independence and freedom.

A Haitian Independence Day Menu

Dish Course Description
Pate’Hand FoodHaitian beef stuffed pastries
Soup JoumouMainBeef and squash stew
PiklizSaladSpicy Pickled cabbage and vegetables
Diri al PwaSideCoconut rice and beans
Blan ManjeDessertCreamy coconut pudding

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BRAZIL

Brazil celebrates its independence from Portugal in 1823 on September 7th. Brazil is the only country in South America that is not Spanish-speaking. This is the result of a 1500s treaty between Spain and Portugal that split the newly discovered Americas between them. Portugal claimed the huge territory in the west, Brazil, and Spain everything to the west of that.

Brazilian cuisine is a unique contribution of indigenous peoples, imported slaves, and Portuguese explorers. Brazil’s national dish, feijoada, is basically Portuguese bean stew made with Brazilian black beans and leftover parts of the pig. Over the years, sausage, ham, and other meats have replaced the pig snouts, hoofs, and ears of yore. The meal that Brazilians eat on Independence Day is an ultimate combination of historical cuisines that represent the country. Feijoada and pão de queijo have their roots in Portugal and farofa and couve a mineira from Africa. The Cachaça (fermented palm sugar alcohol), the basis of the national drink, Caipirinha, is made only in Brazil.

A Brazilian Independence Day Celebration Menu

Dish Course Description
Pão de QueijoHand FoodCheese bread
CaipirinhaDrinkCachaça alcohol & lime cocktail
FeijoadaMainBlack bean and pork stew
FarofaSideFried manioc grains
Couve a MineiraVegetableCollard greens
BrigadierosDessertChocolate fudge balls in sprinkles

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KOREA

The March First Movement, also called Samil Independence Movement, was a series of demonstrations for Korean national independence from Japan that began on March 1, 1919 in the Korean capital city of Seoul and soon spread throughout the country. The movement was begun by Korean cultural and religious leaders who, after almost 10 years of Japanese rule, drew up a Korean “Proclamation of Independence” and then organized a mass demonstration for that day. On the appointed day, the leaders, hoping to bring international pressure on Japan to end its colonial rule over Korea, signed and read their proclamation in Seoul and all over the country. Centuries of suppressed anti-Japanese feelings were released in one great explosion, producing mass demonstrations for years in many parts of the country and forming the largest national protest rallies against foreign domination in Korean history.

This special day is celebrated every year with parades, readings, songs, and endless food. Traditionally cold noodles and hot stews are eaten. Big family and neighborhood parties are held all over Korea, north and south. Lots of hand foods are usually served and accompanied by a never-ending stream of steamed rice, marinated beef dishes, and the pickled vegetable salads called belacan.

A Korean Independence Day Celebration Menu

DishCourse Description
Jumuk BapHand FoodCoated rice balls
GalbiMainMarinated beef short ribs
SsamjangCondimentSpicy BBQ Dip
White RiceSideSteamed short grain rice
KimchiiPicklesSpicy fermented cabbage
Kongnamul-muchimSaladCold marinated sprouts
Sigeumchi-namulSaladSesame spinach salad
HotteokDessertSweet stuffed pancake

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GREECE

Greek Independence Day is celebrated every March 25 since the start of the War of Greek Independence began in 1821. Greece had been part of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 and was eventually separated years after the war began with the help of Russia, Great Britain, France.

Left behind by the Turks and Egyptians of the Ottoman Empire were the savory and sweet phyllo pastries that are responsible for famous Greek dishes like spanakopita and Greek baklava. Synonymous with Greek Independence Day celebrations is Bakaliaros & Skordalia, a wonderful combination of batter-fried codfish and mashed garlic potato dip.

A Greek Independence Day Celebration Menu

Dish Course Description
SpanakopitaHand FoodFlaky spinach and feta phyllo pies
LahanosalataSaladCabbage salad
BakaliarosMainBatter fried codfish
SkordaliaSideMashed garlic potato dip
PrasorizoSideRice with leeks
BaklavaDessertPhyllo pastry with honey and nuts

Argentinian Asado – So Much More Than a BBQ

“Un Aplauso Para el Asador!”

(an applause for the asador!)

Asado (A-sod-oh) is Argentina. A day long homage to all things grilled meat, the asado brings together family and friends, usually on Sundays, and represents the true spirit of Argentinian people. Historically, the abundance of wild cattle from the pampas plains combined with the mystique of the proud and independent Gauchos (cowboys) who herded them, makes for a strong cultural identity around cooked meats.

My Hungry Traveler is excited to show you how to throw a fun and filling asado that friends and family won’t stop raving about. You can also learn more about the origins of Argentinian cuisine HERE.

An asado spread

The Basics

  • Plan for a long weekend afternoon when the weather’s nice and you don’t mind being outside.
  • During weekends in Argentina, it’s very common for friends and family to gather around food. Time is spent chatting, listening to music, drinking vino tinto (red wine), and munching on tasty appetizers until the main dishes come off the grill.
  • Figure around 1 pound (1/2 kilogram) of meat per guest and extra for leftovers.
  • Ask guests to bring typical side dishes, chimichurris, and fruit desserts.
  • The star of the show, meat, should be of the highest quality, only salted to allow the beef flavors to shine, and cooked slowly to medium-well doneness over low heat. Pork gets salted the same but with a light squeeze of lemon to bring out its natural sweetness. Sausage doesn’t get salted.
  • Sprinkle a heavy dose of coarse like sal parrilla or Kosher salt within 30 minutes of serving.
  • One person mans the grill. In Argentina this grill master is called the “asador” and is revered and applauded for their skill in handling this difficult responsibility.
  • Asado courses come in waves and the asador usually goes around serving guests as the meats come off the grill.
  • Prepare everybody in advance that there’s little chance of escaping unstuffed.

THE ASADO

All asados start with sitting around chatting and munching on appetizers before the meats come off the grill. The meats are cooked with the larger, longer cooking meats going on the grill first and smaller cuts going on later. Argentinians love their meats grilled low and slow until it is well done with crispy outsides and tender juicy insides.

Appetizers – Known in Spanish as entradas, these are the meal-before-the meal of an asado. Plates of picada (cold cuts of deli meats and cheeses), loaves of baguettes, empanadas, pickled eggplant, and provoleta (grilled cheese wheel) are just a few of the varieties to be served well before the meat is even done cooking. For a hearty group, matambre arrollado (rolled stuffed beef), also known as “hunger killer”, is also served.

Wine – Although beer and other beverages are often served at an asado, Argentina is known for its incredible wines that seem to have been made for the sole purpose of complementing their meat. Red wines, such as the popular Malbec, complement the rich flavor of the meat perfectly. Mix some sparkling water into the wine for a less intense, bubbly red wine.

Sides and Salsas – The asado’s grilled dishes are almost always accompanied with fresh salads and salsas to counter the richness of the meats. A nice complement is chimichurri (green, red, or both), ensalada criolla (red pepper salsa), Ensalada de Palmitos (hearts of palm salad), Ensalada Rusa (potato salad). Vegetables like red peppers, onions, zucchini, and eggplant are brushed lightly with olive oil and salted before joining the meats on the grill.

The Opening Act – No asado is complete without Argentine sausages – chorizo, salchia paradilla, and morcilla. Chorizo is served in a baguette with chimichurri (choripan). Salchia a basically a coil of grilled pork or chicken sausage that’s much like an Italian sausage in taste. Morcilla is blood sausage may sound scary but actually has a mouthwatering taste. In a traditional asado, the achuras (innards) come next. To many Argentinians this is the best part of an asado. Different parts of the cow grilled include the kidney, intestine, tripe, and sweetbread. Remember, there is no shame in skipping the achuras, morcilla, or anything else for that matter.

The Main Act – It’s finally time to focus on the heavenly smells that have been wafting in the air for hours. Although beef is the main event, many asados will also have chicken and pork. In addition to asado de tira (short ribs) and bife de chorizo (sirloin steak), an asado usually has a few other grilled items, including pollo asado (butterflied chicken), bife de lomo (tenderloin), entraña (skirt steak), vacío (flank steak), and pork spare ribs.

The Finale – After applauding the asador, brace yourself to taste any deserts that guests brought. Although it will be painful to fit them in at this juncture, it’s the right thing to do.

Where’s the Beef? Excellent quality Argentinean sausages and meat cuts can be ordered online from Wild Fork Foods.

MHT’s Asado Recipes:

New Orleans Jazz Fest Feast

“Laissez les Bon Temps Rouler”

(Let the Good Times Roll)

Since 1970, The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, more commonly known as Jazz Fest, has brought thousands of music lovers to the Big Easy. Under George Wein’s (founder of the Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival) guidance, the vision of a large daytime fair with multiple stages featuring a diverse range of music styles, Louisiana cuisine food booths, Louisianans arts and crafts booths, and an evening concert series throughout the city was realized. In addition to local customs, he emphasized African, Caribbean, and French culture, and was able to present the music, cuisine, and crafts of various cultures to the world through Jazz Fest in a way that was both enjoyable and exciting.

Acura Stage

The 350 people who attended the first Jazz Fest has grown to an average of 70,000 visitors per-day over the seven days of the Festival held annually on the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May. Here’s 2022’s music lineup for both weekends and each of the 13 stages and music styles spread around the huge fairgrounds.

As exciting as all the fantastic music is, it’s the food that makes Jazz Fest so special. With its official food policy of “no carnival food”, there are more than seventy food booths that include local dishes like Cochon de Lait, Andouille Sausage, Soft-shell Crab, and Oyster Po’Boys, Cajun Jambalaya, Crawfish and Sausage Jalapeño Stuffed Breads, Muffulettas, Creole Red Beans and Rice, Pralines, Bread Pudding, Beignets, and the mother of all Jazz Fest dishes, Crawfish Monica. All food vendors are small, locally owned businesses. To check out this year’s list of food booths and what they’re serving, CLICK HERE.

If you can’t make to New Orleans this year, my Hungry Traveler has complied the best recipes from Jazz Fest that you can make at home. So, crank-up the music, grab something to drink, cook-up some amazing dishes for a big party…and let the good times roll!

Listen to Jazz Fest music while you’re cooking:

MHT’s Jazz Fest Recipes:

One Passover – Three Menus

“Why is this night different than all others?”

First of The Four Questions

Every spring (April 15th this year), Jews around the world observe Passover, the Jewish holiday that celebrates the Exodus from enslavement in ancient Egypt. There are many timeless Passover traditions that are shared by Jews everywhere, but the food served at this holiday varies by region.

The reason for these different foods is the majority of Jews (80%), called Askenase (Hebrew for “Germany”), initially settled in Eastern Europe and Germany. The Sephardic (Hebrew for “Spain”) Jews were exiled from Spain and Portugal during the Inquisition of the late 15th century to northern Africa and parts of the Mediterranean. The dietary rules for Passover and in general of the Ashkenazi Jews are very rule bound, especially when eating Kosher and “Kitniyot” (no grains and seeds, rice, corn, and peas). Sephardic Jews have no such restrictions and as a result, their Passover Seders reflect the exciting cuisines of their home countries. In addition to some of the more interesting Passover customs shown below, three different Passover Seder menus are offered here. You can experience these tasty recipes at home for the holiday, Jewish or not.

Matzoh (Mott-zuh)- Matzoh is one of the most iconic elements of Passover. During the Exodus from Egypt, the Jews fled so quickly that there was no time to waste waiting for bread to rise Instead, they ate unleavened matzah in their desperate escape from slavery. Jews eat matzoh in honor of their ancestors, and to celebrate their freedom. This special unleavened bread is kept on a separate matzah tray.

Finding the Afikomen – At the start of the seder, three pieces of matoh are piled next to the seder plate. The middle piece is removed and broken in two. The larger piece, called the afikomen, and is meant for desert after the seder. It is wrapped in a cloth and hidden in the house as a game for the children to find.

Elijah – An extra wine glass is set on the table as an offering to the prophet Elijah, whose spirit visits homes on Passover. At the end of the Seder, it is customary to pour wine into Elijah’s glass and open the front door so his spirit can visit the home.

Cleaning the House – Before Passover begins, it is customary to clean the house. The idea is to go into the holiday with a clean slate to ensure a successful Passover.

Telling the Passover Story – The Jewish people, led by Moses, asked the Pharaoh to free the Jewish slaves, and were denied. As punishment against Egypt, God sent ten plagues to convince the Pharaoh to release the Jews (Blood, Frogs, Lice, Flies, Pestilence, Boils, Hail, Locusts, Darkness, and Killing of the firstborn). The pharaoh repeatedly refuses Moses’ pleas to “let my people go”. With each denial, God unleashes a different plague on the Egyptian people. As a result, God sent the last plague, which would kill the firstborn male in each household.

The Jews were instructed to mark their doors with the blood of a sacrificed lamb so that the Angel of Death would pass over their homes. With this last plague, the Pharaoh finally relented, and the Jews were free to began their exodus from Egypt. The holiday of Passover commemorates these events.

Recognizing Persecution Today – The Jewish people have a long history of being persecuted. Passover is seen as a holiday to not only reflect on that persecution, but to recognize the oppression of people everywhere.

Hosting a Seder – The Seder is the foundation of Passover. Jewish people around the world gather on Passover to have a Seder. A typical Seder is comprised of a dinner as well as reading through the Haggadah (Passover prayer book), which includes the story of Passover and various prayers to recite during the Seder. In addition to a multicourse meal, it includes acknowledging each of the plagues set upon the Egyptians. The Passover Seder Plate is the centerpiece of the Passover meal. The symbolic foods placed on the plate are integral to the telling of the Passover story. .

Passover Seder Plate

The different foods on the Passover Seder plate each serves the purpose of retelling the story of Exodus. The symbolic foods of the Seder Plate come together to create an atmosphere which reflects upon, sympathizes, and celebrates the tragedy and triumphs of the Jewish ancestors and their Exodus from Egypt.

NameSymbolRepresentsWhat To Use
ZeroaThe Shank BonePesach or Passover sacrifice: Jews leaving homes in EgyptRoasted chicken neck, leg bone, or lamb shank bone
BeitzaThe EggRepresentative of mourning and tears from being unable to to stop the destruction of the Temple. It also celebrates Spring, renewal, and rejuvenation.Hard boiled eggs or haminados (eggs cooked over low-low heat for 5 -6 hours with water, onion skins, coffee grounds, tea leaves, and a splash of oil and vinegar).
MarorThe Bitter HerbsReminder of the bitter slavery and exile in EgyptGrated horseradish wrapped in lettuce leaf
ChazeretThe LettuceThe bitter enslavement of ancestorsA romaine lettuce leave
CharosetThe PasteSymbolic of the mortar used when being forced to build Egyptian storehouses.The are many variations based on finely crushed fruit, dried and fresh, red wine, and nuts. (See MHT’S Charoset recipe below).
KarpasThe VegetableAlludes to the backbreaking labor forced on ancestorsParsley which is dipped in salt water and eaten.
The Salt WaterThe tears shed by ancestors enslaved for so long1 tbsp salt in 1 cup water for dipping vegetable and egg in before eating

Passover Seder Menus

Below are three separate Passover Seder menus: Ashkenazi, Sephardic, and a “best-of” (in MHT’s opinion) combination of the two.

Askenase Sephardic Suggested Mash-up
Chopped Chicken LiverSyrian MuhammaraChopped Chicken Liver Spread
MatzohMatzohMatzoh
Gefilte FishIsraeli Chopped SaladIsraeli Chopped Salad
Matzoh Ball SoupFava Bean SoupMatzoh Ball Soup
Braised Brisket with FruitMoroccan Chicken with OlivesChicken with Olives, Garlic and Lemon
Sweet Potato & Carrot TzimmesSpanish Spinach with Raisins & Pine nutsSpinach with Raisins & Pine Nuts
Potato Kugel Persian RicePersian Rice
Ashkenazi Apple CharosetTurkish Date CharosetTurkish Date Charoset
Chocolate MacaroonsTurkish Tishpishti (Walnut Cake)Chocolate Macaroons

MHT’s Passover Recipes

An International Gameday Party

February is going to be a great month for getting comfy and watching major sporting events on TV. Upcoming sporting events include the American Super Bowl in Los Angeles, CA on Sunday, February 13th, and the Winter Olympics in Beijing, China from Friday, February 4th to Sunday, February 20th. These events are perfect for gathering with friends and family. Better yet, they offer a great reason to eat, drink, and, watch commercials (if that is why you’re tuning in). These upcoming events are a opportunity to mix it up with the party food options….

My Hungry Traveler has put together game day menu suggestions for you with party foods from America, Europe, and Asia. You can make some-or-all of each region’s menu, or have fun doing a mashup from them all. The key is to make as much as you can in advance so you can spend time with your guests instead of cooking in the kitchen. Buying vs. cooking from scratch some of the “lesser” sides, such as potato and corn chips, will make things easier as well. Let the games begin!

Pregame

Pregame is all about spending time chatting with each other before the game begins. The food should be casual so guests can all talk with each other while munching. Put everything out at once just before guests arrive.

Americas Europe Asia
Potato chips (buy) with onion soup dip (buy)Danish sesame seed twistsChinese candied walnuts
Tex-Mex shrimp quesadillasSwedish shrimp toastsSingapore shrimp sate
Corn chips (buy) with salsaPortuguese olive dip with vegetablesChinese fried wonton chips with sweet & sour dip (buy)
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First Half

First Half is a great time for munching on appetizers while yelling at the TV (if that’s your thing). The Olympics have a short viewing duration each night, so it’s best to serve dishes from either the First Half or Halftime menus, or combine them to create a single “food event”. The Super Bowl is a much longer event, so MHT recommends serving the First Half dishes and the Halftime dishes separately.

Americas Europe Asia
Buffalo chicken wingsPortuguese chicken bitesKorean chicken wings
Pigs in a blanketBritish stilton & walnut pinwheelsThai galloping horses
Tlayudas (Mexican pizza)French anchovy & olive flatbreadChinese scallion pancakes
Baked empanadasPolish pierogiChinese pan-fried dumplings
Crawfish MonicaAustrian Alpine cheese noodlesChinese dan-dan noodles
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Halftime

Halftime – As if the munching and small dishes of incredible food early in the evening isn’t enough, Super Bowl halftime is a time to take it up a level. This orchestrated break is the perfect time to put out a full meal hot foods and sides that have been prepared in advance. The key here to serving so many items at once is to keep warm foods warm through the first half of the game in heated vessels such as crockpots and your oven on low, and to remove cold dishes from the refrigerator right before serving. Plates can be assembled by your guests at a buffet-style table and brought back to their seats in time to catch all the halftime festivities.

Americas Europe Asia
Cincinnati chili (5 ways)Belgian Beef CarbonnadeIndonesian beef rendang
SpaghettiButtered egg noodlesJasmine rice
Tidewater coleslawGreek cabbage saladKorean kimchi
Fire and ice picklesDanish cucumber saladThai cucumber salad
Collard greensSpanish spinach with pine nutsJapanese spinach salad
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Second Half

Second Half – Once all the serious eating is over, leaving out sweets for folks to eat at their leisure is a great way to finish the culinary games. Decaffeinated or regular coffee is a nice digestive accompaniment to end this major feasting event. Who won? Who knows! All we know is that your event will be a dining event your guests won’t forget.

Americas Europe Asia
Pecan pieAustrian Linzer torteKorean hotteok pancakes
Chocolate chip cookiesRugelachChinese almond cookies
Banana puddingItalian zuppa IngleseIndian instant pot kheer
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Christmas Dinner in Emilia Romagna, Italy

Italians do Christmas feasting arguably better than anyone else. Whole days are dedicated to multi-course banquets, with dozens of family members working together to create traditional dishes to celebrate this most important holiday in Italy. The dishes are often decided by the availability of local bounties of a particular region. Many of the most intricate and time-consuming dishes that each region is known for are prepared for especially for Christmas. Emilia-Romagna is considered one of the richest regions in the world for producing gastronomic products, so much so that it has earned the nickname of “Food Valley”. The fame of Emilia-Romagna is due to two gastronomic pearls: Parma ham and Parmigiano-Reggiano, which have become famous Internationally. Here are other items produced in the region:

  • Balsamic Vinegar of Modena
  • Prosciutto Ham from Parma
  • Mortadella of Bologna
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese from Parma and Reggio
  • Grana Padano cheese from Piacenza
  • Tortellini of Bologna
  • Tagliatelle egg pasta of Bologna
  • Zuppa Inglese of Emilia Romagna
  • Lambrusco sparkling wines from Emilia Romagna

The Christmas dinner menu below showcases many of the foods that this food-crazy region is so famous for, as well as a few banquet dishes from Bologna’s renaissance past.

Italian Christmas Banquette in Emilia Romagna

Antipasto

  • Salumi (Mortadella, Prosciutto de Parma, Coppa and Pacetta Piacentina)  
  • Fromaggio (Gran Padano, Fossa, Parmigiano Reggiano flakes with drops of Balsamic Modena)
  • Verdura (Marinated Mushrooms and Red Peppers in Olive Oil, Giardiniera – pickled vegetables)
  • Bagna Cauda w/ Crudo (warm anchovy dip with crudites)
  • Salad of Tart Greens with Prosciutto and Warm Balsamic Dressing
  • Pane Focaccia (flatbread or “pizza bianca”)

Regional Wines: Dry Lambrusco, Sauvignon Blanc di Parma, or a light Barolo  

Primi

  • Tortellini en Brodo (meat-filled pasta in broth)

Regional Wines: Piedmonts’ dry red Freisa d’Asti or “La Monella,” or fruity white Arneis 

Secondi

  • Cappone Natalizio (Christmas Capon)
  • Pasticcio di Tortellini con Crema di Cannella (renaissance tortellini pie with ragu and custard)
  • Tagliatelle con Arance e Mandorle (Tagliatelle pasta with caramelized orange and almonds)
  • Fagiolini alla Bolognese (green beans with mortadella)
  • Panzanella (bread salad)

Regional Wines: Aged red Recioto della Valpolicella Amarone or Classico   

Dolce

  • Torta Barozzi (rich chocolate cake)
  • Zuppa Inglese (Italian trifle)
  • Café Expresso

Regional Wines: Nocino (walnut liquor) or Black muscat-based Elysium dessert wine

MHT’s Northern Italian Recipes:

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A South African Braai

“Ons gaan nou braai!” Afrikaner saying

It means “a braai is not a barbecue”. Braai (bray), is a South African cultural institution. Like the Argentinean asada, American backyard cookout, or Korean gogigui, it is built on community than just an outdoor cookout.

What makes braai so special is that it is all about bringing good friends and family together around a shared celebration. There is always some excuse for holding a braai, whether it’s to celebrate a wedding, birth or death, or just because. Everyone brings meats and sides to share, called “Bring & Braai”, it’s basically the same idea as the North American Potluck.

Meats include beef boerewors and pork sausages, kebabs, chicken and steak with fish and other seafood added on the coasts. Must-have sides include pap (cornmeal porridge), Mieliepap terts (corn-bacon & mushroom pie), garlic bread or braaibroodjies (grilled cheese, tomato and chutney sandwiches), and, of course, chakalaka.

To understand how important braai is to the nation, consider this; it even has its own national holiday dedicated to it on the 24th of September called National Braai Day.

It all started by the Voortrekkers (Afrikaans for “pioneers”), disgruntled Afrikaner farmers descended from the original settlers working for the Dutch East India Company. Unhappy with many aspects of British colonial rule, they migrated east from the then-British occupied Cape Colony off the coast of South Africa in the 1830-40s. They travelled with ox-drawn wagons and horses, which meant they had to pack light. To survive, the nomad farmers had to hunt, shoot, and roast meat on open fires in the open air, and so the culture of braaing (derived from the Dutch word for roast, “braden”) was born. The Bantu peoples who lived in these parts of South Africa at the time had also developed an appreciation for grilled meat. Where cattle were mainly used for the production of milk, they preferred to roast mutton, goat, or game. Another important protein supply were grilled insects such as caterpillars, locusts, and termites. Today, standing around a fire and preparing grilled meat (no insects) is a unifying tradition of South African enjoyed by people across different ethnic backgrounds. Even when you invite friends over for beers, a braai is likely to break out. A basic braai menu might look like this:

SAMPLE SOUTH AFRICAN BRAAI MENU

Pregame

Fire-Baked Dukkah Oysters (grilled oysters)

Broodjie (grilled meat/cheese sandwich)  

Salad

The Heritage Salad (Date, spinach & biltong)

Chakalaka (hot vegetables)

Meats

Boerewors (traditional beef sausage)

Beef Short Ribs (glazed in Coke BBQ sauce)

Sosatie- (curried Lamb and apricot skewers)

Piri-Piri Butterflied Chicken (butterflied chicken in hot sauce) 

Bunny Chow (Curried Pork in hollowed-out Bread Loaf)

Sides

Monkey Gland Sauce (tomato-chutney sauce)

Mieliepap Tert – (Cheesy Cornmeal Pie with bacon & mushrooms)

Mielie (grilled corn on the cob)

Dessert

Melktert (milk tart)

Malva Pudding (warm cream soaked pastry)

The World of Hot Dogs

Americans love a good hot dog—so much so that, according to the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, about 20 billion of them a year, which works out to about 70 hot dogs per person. While you might expect Midwestern grill-masters to buy the most hot dogs, the actual top consumers are Los Angelinos, 34 million pounds (154 million kilograms) a year. The hot dog was probably invented by the person who renamed German dachshund sausages to “hot dogs,” or maybe the first person to create a dedicated soft bun for holding a sausage?

The first recorded hot dog eating contest was in 1972. In that event, the winner ate 14 hot dogs in 12 minutes. In 2021, Nathan’s Famous champion Joey Chestnut won by polishing off 76 hot dogs (and buns) in 10 minutes.

There is even a list of the correct way to eat a hot dog, including: no ketchup if you’re over the age of 18, no wine pairings, no utensils, and it should take exactly five bites to consume a proper hot dog.

Who invented the hot dog?

It’s hard to say definitively who invented the hot dog, but credit has gone to Emil Reichel and Sam Ladany (the co-founders of Vienna Beef) and Johann Georghehner, a German butcher. No one is entirely sure.

Why are they called franks or wieners?

Hot dogs are called franks, short for frankfurters, because they may have begun in Frankfurt, Germany. Hot dogs are called wieners because they may have begun in Vienna, Austria, which is wien in German.

When was the hot dog invented?

Sausages date all the way back to ancient times, but the hot dog is first found mentioned in print in the late 1800s.

Where was the hot dog invented?

There is no definitive answer, but Frankfurt, Germany and Vienna, Austria both take credit for the invention. The modern day hot dog was allegedly created in Brooklyn, NY at Coney Island.

How the hot dog got it’s name?

There are several myths about how the hot dog got its name, but the most likely origin is 19th century college humor, when students would make crude jokes pertaining to the questionable origin of the meat in hot dogs.

Hot dogs are red because sodium nitrite is added to cure the meat, add flavor, and prevent the growth of bacteria. Sodium nitrite is also added to bacon, cold cuts, and Spam.

Hot dog history continues to evolve, as the beloved American treat is enjoyed at home and across the world. Regional versions have arisen from the endless ways to serve a hot dog. In Seattle, top your hot dog with cream cheese. In Alaska, look for reindeer dogs accompanied by Coca-Cola grilled onions. In Iceland, lamb hot dogs (pylsur) are served with onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade. In Chile, the wildly popular el completo is a hot dog that’s twice the size of the American version, served with chopped tomatoes, avocados, sauerkraut, and a huge dollop of Americans sauce (mayonnaise and ketchup). 

Every region in America has its own take on the hot dog based on local ingredients, history, and preferences. Here’s a few:

The classic New York City hot dog is produced by Sabrett, Nathan’s, or Hebrew National. Never topped with ketchup, these hot dogs are usually finished off with brown mustard and sauerkraut, and/or sweet onions in a tomato-based sauce.

Chicago dogs are made with Vienna Beef. They are steamed and are then tucked into a steamed poppy seed bun and joined by yellow mustard, neon green sweet pickle relish, chopped white onions, sliced tomato, a dill pickle spear, pickled sport peppers, and a dash of celery salt. No more, no less.

In the Detroit area, Coney dogs are a major regional specialty, except that they’re eerily similar to the West Coast chili dog. Natural casing beef or beef and pork German-style wieners are topped with a slightly soupy, flavorful beef heart-based chili sauce, yellow mustard, and raw white onions. 

Mexican Sonoran Hot Dog can be found primarily in Arizona and neighboring Sonora, Mexico. This hot dog burrito is a bacon-wrapped hot dog that’s cooked on a grill or griddle before being tucked into a bun and topped with a combination of beans, grilled and fresh onions, tomatoes, mayonnaise, mustard, jalapeno salsa, and crema.

Seattle DogGriiled hot dogs a served in soft buns coated with cream cheese and topped with caramelized onion, and mustard. Sauerkraut or sliced jalapeno peppers are sometimes added.

Red Hot (Texas Pop Open) or White Hot (White Pop Open) – Upstate New York’s city of Rochester serves a unique hot-hot dog. A spicy all-beef frank in a natural casing is steamed, loaded in a steamed split-top bun, doused in minced meat chili, and garnished with chopped raw onion and mustard.

Corn Dogs are a staple of state and county fairs throughout America. They are hot dogs on a stick, encased in a sweet-and-savory cornmeal batter and deep-fried to golden-brown perfection

Pukka Dog – Hawaii’s contribution to the world of interesting (and tasty) hot dogs is made with a hole toasted lengthways in a got dog bun with the frank stuffed down the hole along with pineapple relish.

Ball Park Dogs – It doesn’t get any more American than hot dogs and baseball. In Los Angeles, Dodger Dogs are skinless, foot-long pork hot dogs, steamed or grilled, and cradled in a foot-long steamed bun. Boston’s Fenway Franks are steamed beef hot dogs in a soft steamed bun and wrapped so they may be tossed long distances by ballpark vendors to hungry fans. Small packets of relish, mustard, and ketchup accompany them.

Kansas City dog – If a Reuben sandwich met a New York hot dog in a dark alley, you’d end up with this flavorful variation. A pork-based hot dog is nestled in a sesame seed bun and then topped with melty Swiss cheese, sauerkraut, and mustard or Thousand Island dressing.

Southern Slaw Dog, you’ll find a fresh twist on the classic chili dog. Creamy, crunchy coleslaw helps cut through the hearty dish. An all-beef dog in a soft sesame seed bun is smothered in chili and then topped with creamy coleslaw, chopped raw Vidalia onion, and optional yellow mustard. In parts of the south, coleslaw is replaced by a chopped pickled vegetable relish called chow chow.

Most every cuisine has it’s own take on the hot dog. Here are a few:

Røde Pølse (Denmark) – The popularity of this hot dog is not only everywhere in Denmark but throughout Europe as well. Tasting one can help explain this phenomenon. A long, bright red pork grilled hot dog, sticking out of both sides of its soft bun, is garnished with chopped onions, large slices of pickled cucumbers, Danish remoulade, ketchup, mayonnaise and fried onions.

Completo (Chile) – Not to outdone by anyone, Chileans’ created this beloved monster with an oversized bun holding an oversized hot dog that is then covered in too much sauerkraut, diced tomatoes, mashed avocado, ad mayo.

Chung Chun (Korea) – This dog is all the rage in Korea and the American west coast. Although it looks similar to the American corn dog on a stick, this interesting hot dog is very much Korean in taste. A hot dog on a stick is rolled in a flavored panko batter with small cubes of potato and deep fried the served sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Perro Caliente (Colombia) – Salchitas, hot (“caliente”) dogs (“perro”) are boiled, tossed in a soft bun and topped with coleslaw, pineapple sauce, ketchup, mustard, mayonnaise and finished with crumbled potato chips.

MHT Hot Dog Recipes:

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