Thursday, January 1, 2015

Our Global Kitchen Challenge

My family
Hello!  I'm Lauren.  For 2015 my family and I are going to start a Global Kitchen Challenge.  Every week we will share a meal from a different country or territory.

Travel is very important to us.  Between the two of us, my husband or I have visited Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Ecuador, France, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Spain, UK (by way of Gibraltar) and Vatican City.  We'd love to travel more, but now that Z has been born, our jetting days are on hiatus.  Instead, we are going to bring to world to us via our kitchen.
Here are some reasons that I am doing this:
  1. It's very important to us that Z grows up to understand there is a very diverse world out there! 
  2. I love to cook!  I love to try new recipes!  This is a wonderful excuse to do both.
  3. I am an adventuresome eater and I want my son to be too.
  4. When I was a kid, we did something similar on a much smaller scale.  Each month during the summer we learned about a new culture and had a party with the other family doing it with us. I really enjoyed it and hope that my son will enjoy this adventure too!
  5. I am big believer that you can learn a lot about other countries through their food.  Food is a common thread through every culture.  It represents not just nourishment but also family and love.  Through that we can gain understanding.
  6. This will give us an opportunity to learn more about places that we know and places that we've not ever heard about before.  
Z loves lentils
Thus I set off to make a list and start going through the countries alphabetically...and then I realized that when you define the countries there some angst and politics involved.  Is the UN the official scorekeeper?  They count 192.  What about Taiwan?  What about disputed territories?

I found a list on wikipedia and it includes all countries recognized by the UN or recognized by at least one UN country, which made me really anxious because Abkhazia is the first item on their list.  What's that?!  Now I'm in analysis paralysis.  I want to do this to honor the people of the world.  Am I dishonoring Abkhazians by not including their country?  I plan to do Taiwan so I'm already going off book.  Should I do Abkhazia?  What about South Ossetia?  It's in a very similar Georgia-claims-me-but-Russia-recognizes-my-sovereignty boat.  And then Somaliland, but is their food really that different than Somalia to my un-refined palate?  India is obviously one country geo-politcally, but calling them one country would be like going over to Europe and saying, okay, you guys all seem alike so you are one country, which is basically what the Brits did back in the day.  There are so many variations of customs and cultures and languages in India.  So, maybe I'll do an India month, but I won't list those all out now.

I could also go by the Animanicas, who mention Guam and Greenland even though those are only actually territories.  But, this is so dated.  Various countries have been created since then for example, Serbia and Kosovo and all the Russia splinter countries like Georgia, Ukraine and all the -stans.  They had to take some artistic liberties to get stuff to rhyme, like saying San Jaun, which is the capital of Puerto Rico which is also only a territory and now Hong Kong is a autonomous region in China and even then it was just a territory. 

I found a pretty good list at, but they do put each of the UK countries as separate, which I'm not opposed to culinarily because I do like their foods, so I copied that. No Guam or Greenland, which is fine since they are territories.

Similar challenges have varied in what they define as cooking the whole world.  Curiosity Killed the Cook and Cooked Earth both go by the whole Wikipedia list.  Global Table Adventure uses the World Atlas, which is smaller than wikipedia.  Travel by Stove is interesting as she follows her own drummer, including focusing on interesting cities.

Overall, I like the list at the best, with a few tweaks like listing all the UK countries seperatly.  I will do some territories and some disputed regions.  I did remove a few island territories like Christmas Island and Mayotte, but left others like Puerto Rico.  I'm not trying to be political, I'm trying to learn about cultures.  If you feel that I have omitted some place important, please let me know.

Right now, my count is at 225, which if we do one a week, will take us a little over 4 years to do.  But, I already said that I'm doing an India month and I'll probably break up other large or interesting countries like Italy.  Before little Z is done with Kindergarten he will have had food from all the countries and various territories around the world!

For the complete list, go see The List!


                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    1. Looking forward to seeing how you get on with this. We have been doing a similar thing over on our blog:

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    2. Thanks for visiting. I added you to my list of global chefs! I like your take on one country per letter :)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    3. Good for you! I decided I'd do the UN countries (193), but since I'm seeing the finish line, I have to work on what to tackle after that! Good luck!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                      1. Hi Cliff! Your blog has been very inspirational. It's so much fun to see how many people are doing this challenge and everyone's different take on it.