Jamaicans from all walks of life enjoy the humble rice and peas, sometimes as a meal of its own but mostly as a side dish. What a Jamaican calls “peas” we call “kidney beans,” and the dish has a lot in common with southern American red beans and rice. Key Jamaican twists on the dish include cooking the beans in coconut milk (which yields a creamy, slightly sweet flavor) and including a Scotch bonnet pepper in the cooking liquid for a little spice.
Jamaican food over the years has been shaped by the Spanish, British, African, Indian, and Chinese people who have inhabited the island over the last several centuries. Though Rastafarians are less than one percent of the population, they have added their contributions to the cuisine also, with numerous dishes built around their religious beliefs barring consumption of pork (and for the most devout, meat of any kind).
In our Asian/Oceanian second qualifying round match between Guam and Singapore we tried our hands at some tasty dishes. In what is proving to be in the minority of our World Cup of Food matches, this time we have a decisive winner.
Continue reading Final: Guam vs. Singapore
As noted in our post on Hainanese chicken rice, Singaporeans love the inexpensive, fresh foods available at their local food courts. Rice and noodle bowls, soups, fried rice, Indian curries and flatbreads, and savory pastries are very popular quick meals that are widely available. When a Singaporean wants to sit down somewhere a little nicer to eat, though, stir-fried crab is one of the most popular choices.
Singapore has a true melting pot culture. Malays (the “native” Singaporeans), Chinese, Indians, English, Portuguese, Sri Lankans, Thais, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and Arabs have all at one time or another come to Singapore en masse and left their mark on the culture, especially the food. Food is a national obsession in Singapore, the most common conversational topic, and a matter of great national pride.
A favorite food of many Guamanians is tinaktak, a half stew, half stir fry where ground beef is browned then simmered in coconut milk with vegetables until everything is tender. Neither of us had ever encountered the dish (or Guamanian food at all, really) until a fateful Spring weekend in 2010. Chris was invited to help prepare the food for the annual Seattle University Marianas Club Fiesta, a celebration of local Marianas Islander culture. The event featured traditional dancing and music, several speakers on various Marianas Islands matters, and of course a gigantic feast.
It was a battle of rustic stews this week on The World Cup of Food, with the Cape Verdean chicken and rice stew canja pitted against Tanzania’s beef and green banana stew ndizi na nyama. Considering these dishes along with everything else we know about the two nations’ cuisines, which do we think is better and deserves to move on to face Korea in the next round?
In Tanzania, bananas and plantains are king. The nation grows almost four million tons of the fruits each year, and very little of that is exported. The rest goes onto the tables of Tanzanian homes and restaurants in stews or fried into cakes and chips, or is brewed into beer or wine.
When a Cape Verdean cook wants a quick, hearty dinner he or she often looks no further than to canja (recipe follows), the chicken and rice soup that is well-liked not just in the islands, but in Brazil and Portugal as well. Brought by the Portuguese colonists, canja is incredibly simple. Whole pieces of chicken are simmered in rice and broth until tender, with some onions and garlic adding flavor. Many cooks jazz the recipe up by adding peppers, mushrooms, or anything else their imaginations conjure, but the basic version is what most Cape Verdeans abroad miss.
Hawaiian and Indonesian cuisines have made strong cases for themselves in The World Cup of Food, and either would make a worthy opponent for Spain in the round of thirty-two. Just like every week, though, we have to say “aloha” to one and “aloha” to the other, though with opposite meanings.
Continue reading Final: Hawaii vs. Indonesia