Vietnam, a country with 1,000 years of Chinese rule and, more recently, over 100 years of French influence, is not shy of new inventions when it comes to food and drink. While the Chinese introduced the concept of food and drink as medicine, the French contributed coffee in 1857. Vietnamese also make the most of their rice, fresh herbs, and ripe tropical fruits, leaving nothing to waste.
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Valencian cuisine is a Mediterranean cuisine, which translates to vegetable and seafood extravaganzas. It’s hardly surprising then, that a succulent, flavourful anguila (eel) dish would develop here. All i pebre, chunks of eel and potato coated in a luscious, thick garlic and pepper sauce, is a must-try of Valencian food sorcery (yes, it’s magical!).
Every time I visit Spain, I am confirmed in my conviction that Spaniards love to eat. Food is everywhere, visibly displayed, with tempting smells wafting out from restaurants and market stalls. Ingredients in their prime, bursting with colour and firmness, laid out on plates and slices of bread. Oily anchovies on juicy tomatoes, salmon on the creamiest of avocados, octopus sprinkled with pimentón. Quite frankly, who wouldn’t love to try this myriad of mouth-watering foods?
Rice in Spain, in particular in Valencia, has a history of at least eleven centuries. Rice-growing in Valencia’s Albufera region dates back to the 10th century, when Arabs introduced rice to the Iberian Peninsula and other surrounding areas such as Morocco and Sicily. In fact, the Spanish name for rice, arroz, derives from the Persian orz, to which the Arabs prefixed the particle al, eventually leading to a language evolution from al-orz to ar-orz, to ar-ruz, and finally to arroz.
It was summer 2009 in Valencia, Spain. The classroom was cool, the students tanned with glistening skin, the sparkle of youth in our eyes. We were eager to learn, and eager to play. One warm night it was tapas and dancing in the old town, gliding through the cobbled streets, surrounded by churches and buildings with a history. The other night it was fooling around at the beach, grabbing a few beers to while the evening away on the golden sand, chilling and laughing and acknowledging the breaking sound of the waves as they touched and tickled our naked feet.
Pa amb tomàquet (tomato bread) is one of those foods that you can’t believe you didn’t know about sooner. Incredibly simple to make, yet infinitely delicious, surely this is a food that somebody will make trendy over in the UK at some point. Maybe you’re even reading this now and thinking, that could be me. I say, go for it! I would totally stop by regularly for an affordable pan con tomate, as it is also called. Because affordable is definitely what it is in Spain, and in my opinion what it should be, given the relatively low cost to make (which also means you can try it at home – yay!).
This summer, I was off to a mini-trip in Spain to revel in the sights and foods (mainly foods) of some of the country’s major cities. One of them was Sevilla, the capital and largest city of the autonomous community of Andalucía and the province of Sevilla. I had heard from several friends that this was a beautiful place to visit, and finally I was able to get a sneak peek of it myself during our two-day stay.
This originally Russian dish is typically made from thinly sliced beef, taken from a tender cut of meat such as fillet, since it needs to be the kind of lean meat that can be sautéed easily, which other cuts of beef make it hard or practically impossible to do. It is sautéed in butter with mushrooms and onions and in the final step combined with sour cream to be served over a starch such as potatoes, rice or noodles.
The beauty of many Spanish dishes is how simple they are in both cooking methods and number of ingredients, and yet how they still manage to be incredibly delicious and versatile. It’s the same with seafood too: there are many regional varieties, but often all you’ll need for a delicious seafood dish is grilled, boiled or fried clam or mussel or shrimp, a little salt and a sprinkle of olive oil on top. Simple indeed, but such an indulgence.
In Sweden, there exists a popular pastry called semla.
Fact: On Fat Tuesday alone, bakeries sell over 6 million semlor (and that’s not including homemade or supermarket-sold ones!).
Fact: Sweden has a population of 9.9 million.
Fact: Traditionalists eat semla on Fat Tuesday only. But there are others who eat semla every Tuesday during semla season. And then there are those Swedes who fika with it to their heart’s content (read more about fika here).