22 March 2008

Cooking for Our Rights

I know, I know. I need to quit coming up with new features and start cooking things. I get it, I do. Tomorrow, I promise, I'll be posting an actual recipe.

But, for the moment, I digress, because I've been a bit inspired. I noticed lately that several food bloggers have posted a list of 100 cooking tasks or foods they want to try, and are checking them off one by one. I was planning on doing that, but I honestly couldn't think of 100 foods on my "to attempt" list. But then, I got an idea. Instead of foods, why not do 100 cuisines?

I encounter international food a lot. In my own fictional writing (much of which is historical or contemporary multicultural) I'm always having to do a Google to find out what people actually eat in the region where my characters are living. When I read, I often am intrigued by descriptions of food in memoirs or novels or historical accounts. And of course, when I travel, I can't help but eat a ton, pick up as many cookbooks as I can carry, and immerse myself in the local foodie culture as much as possible.

As some of you may know, I am an avid student of and activist for human rights. I'm studying law, but I don't plan to practice; instead I want to be a human rights worker in some capacity. I think one of the biggest challenges when it comes to human rights is cultural misunderstanding. People resent it when another culture gets thrust on them, and when people from other cultures make assumptions about their own. Modern international human rights and its enforcement mechanisms often seem like a Western invention for those from non-Western cultures - and who could blame them? Treaties are often written in the language of Western human rights scholarship, according to Western priorities, and enforcement/activism/education is frequently done in Western ways. But human rights, I believe, is an international concept. It can come up in any language, in any culture. The key is respect, and recognising that at as individual, with a cultural background of our own, none of us can truly understand where another person is coming from - but we can learn from them.

To me, this is the beauty of food, and all it stands for. Companionship, welcoming, community, culture... so many aspects go into the sharing of nourishment. Sitting down for a meal with someone different from yourself and just listening can be an amazing experience. And of course, with the conversation, there is the food and drink, which can be a point of connection, a means of cultural transmission, a very strong association in memory, and of course, the material that sustains life. What could be more powerful?

So now, I'll get off my soapbox, and explain the damn feature! Below is a list of one hundred different countries, and a few regions stuck on the end. I wasn't exactly sure how to make the adjective of every country I chose, or how to spell some of them, so feel free to make corrections! Also, I wish I knew how to do tables in Blogger - big apologies for the long string of text! But anyway, I'm going to try to make a dish from each of these countries and regions, in no particular order, with no particular time limit. When I post a recipe, I will try to include a little bit about the country and its cuisine, as well as where the recipe comes from. I'll also be linking to places you can learn more about human rights activism. If you have any recipe suggestions, especially if you hail from one of these countries, let me know!

1. Tunisian
2. Rwandan
3. Zimbabwean
4. Congolese
5. Madagascar
6. Algerian
7. Egyptian
8. South African
9. Nigerian
10. Libyan
11. Kenyan
12. Yemeni
13. Jordanian
14. Lebanese
15. Iraqi
16. Iranian
17. Israeli
18. Saudi
19. Afghan
20. Pakistani
21. Kashmiri
22. Kuwaiti
23. Turkish
24. Azerbaijani
25. Armenian
26. Turkmen
27. Kazakh
28. Krygyzstan
29. Uzbek
30. Georgian
31. Russian
32. Finnish
33. Swedish
34. Norwegian
35. Icelandic
36. Polish
37. Ukrainian
38. Belarusian
39. Lithuanian
40. Latvian
41. Estonian
42. Hungarian
43. Romanian
44. Macedonian
45. Serbian
46. Croatian
47. Albanian
48. Kosovar
49. Greek
50. Cypriot
51. Czech
52. Slovenian
53. Dutch
54. Belgian
55. Danish
56. Swiss
57. Welsh
58. Scottish
59. Portugese
60. Bangladeshi
71. Burmese
72. Nepali
73. Sri Lankan
74. Mongolian
75. Chinese
76. Taiwanese
77. Vietnamese
78. Cambodian
79. Laotian
80. Korean
81. Japanese
82. Malaysian
83. Filipino
84. Indonesian
85. Fiji
86. Australian
87. New Zealand
88. Tahitian
89. Haitian
90. Cuban
91. Jamaican
92. Bahamian
93. Chilean
94. Panamanian
95. Brazilian
96. Bolivian
97. Argentinean
98. Venezuelan
99. Costa Rican
100. Columbian

American Indian

ps - I know Kashmir is a region, but I've made Indian food before, so I put it in instead :-)


LisaRene said...

Wow, very impressive post. Admirable career choice, sure to be compelling and very rewarding.

I'll look forward to your posts on the various cuisines.

SilverMoon Dragon said...

Just be sure to avoid the big kerfuffle over whether Pavlova is Austraian or from New Zealand!

And for the dutch food, may I recommend the highly inelegant, but extremely tasty hutspot? Take equal numbers of potatoes, carrots and onions, boil together in the same pot, and mash as you would potatoes. The other vegies give a great taste to the potatoes, and it's great rib-sticking winter food, even if my friend in primary school did insist on call it baby food. Hmm, that reminds me, it's coming up on cold weather here - I should cook it again for my family!

Anonymous said...

I have a book rec for you - The Ethnomusicologists' Cookbook by Sean Williams. It's a great international cookbook by a teacher here at Evergreen. She talks about her travels in it, and puts the recipes in the context of the culture and history of whatever country they're from.


Judith said...

Lisa - Well I admit, a teeny part of it is "hey, I can travel all over the world and stop speaking English all the time!" But yes, it's nice not to have the "corporate guilt syndrome" with a high-paying job that isn't helping others. (Not that I begrudge others their paycheques; it's just not my thing.)

SD - Haha! I am a huge fan of New Zealand and can't wait to go for a driving/surfing/eating/wine tasting trip at some point after I finish my legal studies, but I always think of Pavlova as Australian. I've made enough anyway that I'll be trying something new to avoid that debate ;-) Thanks for the Dutch suggestion! It does sounds very comforting, though being in the Northern Hemisphere we're *just* starting to warm up. I'll keep it in mind for next winter.

Nicole - Got it on the reading list. I realised one of my fellow Quire altos has a son who went to Evergreen. Go figure! He transferred from Western Washington and loved it.