Final: Ireland vs. Czech Republic

We made meat, gravy, and potatoes; and we made meat, gravy, and dumplings.  The question remains unanswered: is Czech food better than Irish, or vice versa?

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Czech Cuisine — Houskový Knedlík, Bread Dumplings

Houskový Knedlík (recipe follows), Czech bread dumplings, are a traditional accompaniment to Svíčková na Smetaně, beef loin with cream, and also would work great alongside any roast meat and gravy or sauce.

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Czech Cuisine — Svíčková na Smetaně, Beef Sirloin with Cream

The cuisine of the Czech republic is descendent from the food of Bohemian and Moravian Europe — the regions that make up the modern-day nation.  A typical Czech dinner might consist of a soup starter and a main dish of roasted meat and dumplings, all accompanied by the most famous Czech beer, Pilsner (“from Pilsen” in Czech).  We love roasted meats, dumplings, and beer, so we felt like the Czechs deserved at least a qualifying spot in the World Cup of Food.

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Irish Cuisine — Shepherd’s Pie

Irish cuisine is shaped by the crops and animals that have been historically raised in its temperate climate.  Potatoes, introduced in the sixteenth century, have become synonymous with both the cuisine of the island and of the reason millions of Irish left — the Potato Famine of 1842 to 1852.  The Irish diaspora has left their stamp on many places throughout the world, especially the eastern United States.

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Guamanian Cuisine — Chicken Kelaguen

Kelaguen is a Guamanian dish similar to Latin American ceviche or French tartare where meats or fish are finely chopped and marinated in citrus juice with coconut, onions and chilies.  In modern times, chicken kelaguen (recipe follows) is fully cooked before chopping and marinating, but beef, shrimp, or fish versions are marinated raw until the acid in the citrus juice cooks the meat.  Often accompanying kelaguen (and just about any other Guamanian meal) is the spicy condiment fina’dene, made from soy sauce, vinegar, onions, and chilies.  We love cevice and carpaccio (raw, thinly sliced beef marinated similarly) and spicy things, so we couldn’t wait to try our hand at kalaguen.

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Guamanian Cuisine — Red Rice

Guam’s position in the western Pacific Ocean has established it as a stopover point for Transpacific travel for centuries.  The indigenous Guamanians, the Chamorros, probably arrived about four thousand years ago from southeast Asia.  The Spanish explorer Ferdinand Magellan landed on the island in 1521, and it was settled and colonized by Spain about a century-and-a-half later.  Spanish rule held until 1898 when Guam was ceded to the United States as a result of the Spanish-American War.  Japan controlled the island for a three-year period during World War 2, and after United States intervention Guam has remained a U.S. possession ever since.

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Australian Cuisine — Burger with the Lot

You know how something along the lines of fifteen of the top eighteen basketball players in the world are from the United States?  Well, a list of the most terrifyingly deadly animals in the world would look similarly skewed in Australia’s “favor.”  Even something as seemingly innocuous as an Australian magpie will attack anything that moves within fifty feet of its nest.  Oh, and if it gets an opening it will peck at your eyes.

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Final: Romania vs. Austria

We stuffed things in hopes of honoring the cuisine of Draculas everywhere.  We fried veal.  We ate bacon and potatoes, and silly little wafer cookies.  We did our research.  For the first time in this competition, we both felt that there was a clear winner, a cuisine that was not only fun to make and delicious in our home, but one that we anxiously await our further adventures with.  That cuisine is…

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