The squeamish should turn back while they still can, because things are about to get a bit weird. If we thought we were daring when we had tripe stew at a Nigerian restaurant, we’d be well out of our depth at some Ecuadorian eateries.
Before I even start to talk about soup made from a certain appendage, I should say that Ecuador does boast a lot of varied and delicious sounding food. Seafood features a heavily, as does fresh fruit – many of which are unique to the country – and their national dish is a whole hog roast, which is the kind of food that even some die-hard vegetarians have been known to sniff hopefully at.
But these dishes, with one notable and tasty exception, are the kind of food that raises serious questions about their creators and quite how they discovered that it’s edible (assuming it actually is).
Cuy (roasted or barbecued guinea pig)
That’s right. One of the dishes Ecuador is most famous for is what most people would consider the perfect pet for a child. Cuy used to be reserved for ceremonial meals, but now the poor things are eaten throughout Ecuador. But it does make sense; they’re easy livestock to keep and reproduce extremely fast, as well as being relatively low in fat but high in protein – similar to that other fluffy delicacy, rabbit. Apparently it can be delicious grilled, roasted, fried or even in soup. I’m a convert until I think about it too much.
Cuero de librillo (cow stomach soup)
Ecuadorians love soup. Really love it. Details on this one are a little sketchy, but technically it’s made with the outside of the stomach, which does little to allay my aversion to digesting stomach in my stomach. Still, it must be similar to tripe, and therefore liked by some people. None of those people are me, or work in the same office as me, because we are all disgusted.
Ceviche (cured fish)
By far the most normal on the list – in fact Jamie has a Peruvian version – it’s still pretty daring to serve up raw fish. You’ll be relieved to know that it’s made safe to eat by the addition of an acid that cures it. Traditionally that’s lime juice, usually with the addition of peppers, shallots, tomatoes and coriander. It’s fresh, aromatic, light and delicious.
Locro de papa (potato and cheese soup)
One of the staples of Ecuadorian cuisine, nothing out of the ordinary goes into this soup, but the combination is somewhat alarming. I am not sure there is another dish in the world that combines potato, avocado and cheese – and definitely not another soup. But along with the spices (most likely achiote powder and cumin) it makes for a delicious looking, hearty soup.
Caldo de tronquito (penis soup)
Finishing with a bang, this soup is said to have aphrodisiac properties. I’d think twice before serving it up to your better half on date night though, because the main ingredient is bull’s penis. I’d love to tell you what else is in it, but this is the only ingredient people ever talk about, and if you can get past that, you’re probably not really bothered what else goes in your food. I’m down with offal, but this is a step – or more of a leap – too far.
10 Mexican Dishes You Probably Haven't Heard Of
One of the most interesting (and enjoyable) things about traveling in Mexico is discovering its rich culinary tradition. Many of us believe we know Mexican food, and are sworn lovers of the cuisine. However, dishes that are integral to the country’s culinary culture are unknown to many outside of Mexico, and our ‘Mexican’ favorites are, in fact, ‘Tex-Mex.’ Originating from the southern states of the USA. Here, we take a look at 10 traditional Mexican dishes that you may not have heard of, and some that you may not even have guessed were Mexican.
Five Delicious Foods You've Never Tried
While I've never thought of myself as a particularly adventurous eater, others have always looked oddly at my food. As a child in small-town Pennsylvania, everyone else was mystified by hummus. Even in culinary school I was known for my eccentric food choices. So I present you with some of my favorite foods that you may not have even considered eating. These are not the weirdest foods I've ever eaten, but rather ones I think you'll be able to find at a good grocery store or farmers' market.
Lamb's heart - I first tried this -- and loved it -- in the Middle East. Most organ meat is underrated, but this offal is particularly delicious. I've only ever been able to get it from lamb vendors at the farmers' market it's so unpopular they usually just give it to me for free. Just remove any visible veins, sprinkle with salt and pepper and toss into a preheated earthenware or glass pan with a small amount of butter. Cover and cook 30 minutes at 350F. Enjoy on its own or sliced in a sandwich.
Sea vegetables - While they're more commonly referred to as seaweed, most available for purchase are actually farmed. In other words, they aren't actual invasive-like weeds. These are unfortunately expensive, but can be delicious and have amazing nutritional qualities. Try soaking hijiki or arame in water for 15 minutes drain and sauté with sesame oil and shoyu (traditionally fermented soy sauce). You can also accompany with onions, carrots or any other vegetable sliced thinly.
Seitan - Defining this food probably makes it sound even worse. A simple wheat flour and water dough is washed repeatedly to remove the starch and isolate the wheat gluten (protein), and then boiled in a flavorful broth. A relatively popular meat substitute/protein source for vegetarians and vegans, seitan can be sliced like deli meat or cut into chunks but tastes best when ground. There isn't a strong flavor, so any seasoning will work. Try substituting seitan for ground meat in chili or, my favorite, sloppy joes.
Unless you’ve been to Uruguay on the 29th of the month, you’ve probably never heard of Dia de Noquis, or Gnocchi Day. The custom of eating gnocchi on the 29th is simple. By the end of the month money has run out, and the combination of potatoes, flour, and an egg makes for a budget-friendly dish. Many Uruguayan restaurants advertise their gnocchi dishes, and a favorite is the classic, noqui de papa, or potato gnocchi.
Don’t forget to put some money under your plate as you eat. According to tradition, doing so ensures good luck and prosperity for the following month.
“Walkie talkies” or grilled/deep fried chicken heads and feet
Walkie talkies, one of the most popular South African street food dishes, usually served with pap (porridge), is made using chicken feet, heads and often giblets. The head and feet are boiled, to remove the hair and nails, and then served with a tasty sauce. The chicken feet are also great thrown on the braai and grilled over open flames, ensuring a crunchy pre-meal treat.
Where to eat it: Any food vendor in a South African township.
Keep a close eye on your eggs for this scrambled eggs recipe
To ensure that you perfectly cook this scrambled eggs recipe, keep in mind the scrambling process isn't a long one — probably a minute (or less) will result in egg nirvana. Just be sure to continually scrape around the pan until the eggs clump together. Kamikawa recommends a folding technique as you work to cook the eggs, again, pulling them off the heat while still slightly wet. Of course, it must be acknowledged that scrambled eggs can be a highly personal dish, so ultimately, you will cook them until your desired firmness is achieved.
"Make sure your eggs still cling together and aren't soupy," Kamikawa advises, adding another tip for how to know when your breakfast is ready to be served: "The eggs should lightly clump or curd." He also noted to Mashed, "If the eggs are still too liquidy that you can't pull them out with a spatula, they're not quite there yet."
Pulses: The Superfood You've Never Heard Of
If you don’t readily recognize the word “pulses,” or know it is the official name for the category of food that includes dry peas, chickpeas, beans and lentils, you’re not alone. In fact, most Americans have no idea what pulses are. But many of those same people likely have a can of chickpeas, a bag of dried lentils or some black beans lurking on the shelves of their kitchen cupboards. Since the United Nations has officially declared 2016 the International Year of Pulses, it’s only a matter of time before this pantry staple also becomes a household word.
Pulses, it turns out, have a lot going for them in terms of nutrition, sustainability and affordability. Here are the top five reasons to start including more of them in your diet.
They’re inexpensive. For just a few dollars, you can buy enough dried pulses to make several servings. The precooked, canned versions are slightly more expensive, but they’re still a bargain source of protein compared to the cost of meat.
They’ll help you lose weight. A study of people on a reduced-calorie diet showed that those who ate the most pulses (about a half-cup a day) lost four times more weight than those who ate the least (less than a tablespoon per day).
They’re versatile. Think beyond beans and rice or lentil soup. Pulses can be used in everything from dips and smoothies to main dishes — and even desserts.
They’re good for the planet. Pulses have a low carbon footprint and use significantly less water than other foods. For instance, while it takes only 43 gallons of water to produce 1 pound of pulses, a farmer will use 800 to 1,000 gallons of water to raise 1 pound of meat.
They’re high-protein, high-fiber foods. Just a half-cup of cooked pulses provides 9 grams of protein and 7 or more grams of fiber. They are also incredibly nutrient-dense -- pulses pack high amounts of iron, magnesium, zinc, potassium and B vitamins. They even provide more antioxidants than much-touted antioxidant powerhouses, like berries and pomegranates.
Need more inspiration? Take the Pulse Pledge. When you sign up and commit to eating at least one serving of pulses per week for 10 weeks, you’ll receive information and recipes to help you find delicious new ways to use pulses.
Sally Wadyka is a Boulder, Colorado-based journalist who writes about nutrition, health and wellness.
The World’s Best Craft Gins You’ve Never Tried
Mother’s Ruin. Dutch Courage. Ladies’ Delight. Gin has managed to rack up a fair share of nicknames since its inception during the Middle Ages. It’s considered to be one of the most versatile and broadest categories of spirits, boasting a massive variety of styles, production techniques, and flavor profiles. But the central component that binds them all together is, of course, the star ingredient: juniper.
The gin that most of us sip today is simply a modern-day evolution of the Dutch liquor known as jenever. Originally used as an herbal remedy, it continued its progression over the centuries, eventually rising to international fame in Great Britain during the late 1600s when William of Orange became King William III of England. Ever since, the world has continued to associate the spirit with the U.K., and the London Dry style still reigns as one of the most popular interpretations (think: Beefeater, Bombay Sapphire, and Tanqueray).
5 Great Gin Cocktails to Try This Spring
But don’t get caught pigeonholing gin into one style or region of origin. These days, there are more gin labels on the market than ever before, and many of the most exciting options come from destinations you wouldn’t necessarily expect. Here are 10 of the most underrated gins from across the globe that are worth a try the next time you’re in the mood for a classic gin concoction.
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Top 10 dishes you must try in Iran
This iconic stew, an essential part of every Persian wedding menu. Khoresht-e fesenjan traditionally made with duck, this dish also works well with chicken or lamb. In the north of Iran it is sometimes made with fish. It is a relatively easy khoresht to make, but it must be cooked slowly to allow the flavours to develop in the sauce. The consistency should be thick and creamy and the colour almost black. The distinctive flavour combines the nutty taste of ground walnuts with the sweet and sour flavour of pomegranate syrup.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds chicken legs, cut up
1 white onion, thinly sliced
1/2 pound walnuts, toasted and finely ground in a food processor
1 teaspoon salt
4 cups pomegranate juice
1/2 teaspoon cardamom (optional)
2 tablespoons sugar (optional)
The sweet and sour flavour of zereshk (barberries) and the glistening ruby red berries set against the white and saffron tinged grains make this a feast for the taste buds and the eyes. Zereshk polo is served at weddings and other celebrations because it is impressive and easy to make in large quantities. It is usually served with chicken, but it is also delicious with Saffron yogurt lamb
1 medium onion
2-3 chicken breasts
Sugar (3-4 spoons usually is enough)
3 cups rice – soak in salt water after washing the rice
1 cup zereshk (barberries)
Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi
Khoresht-e ghormeh sabzi is sour and full of herbs. A popular favourite throughout Iran, this is a meal for both festive occasions and family meals. Recipes from different regions vary slightly. The Azerbaijani version, for example, uses black-eyed beans instead of red kidney beans. Recipes in the south of the country add chilli and garlic, while in Shiraz potatoes are sometimes used instead of beans. The recipe here departs from tradition by adding spinach to enhance the taste and give the dish a softer texture. Fenugreek gives a very distinctive aroma and flavour.
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp turmeric
1 lb. stewing meat
4 dried Persian limes
1/3 cup kidney beans, dried
4 cups fresh parsley, packed
2 cups fresh cilantro, packed
1 cup fresh fenugreek
2 cups fresh chives
For the Persian New Year (Norouz) celebrations it is traditional to serve this rice dish with fish – traditionally fillets of smoked white fish from the Caspian Sea. However, fresh fish is now widely available. In the north of Iran it is marinated in lemon juice and saffron and fried, while in the south the fish is stuffed and baked. This rice goes well with most fish and meat dishes.
2 cups basmati rice
8 cloves garlic
Smidgen ground saffron
1 package frozen Sabzi Polo
2 Tbsp dried dill weed
Chelo kabab koobideh
Kebabs have more variety than you might think. First, there’s Koobideh, ground meat seasoned with minced onion, salt and pepper. It sounds simple, but the taste is sublime. There is kebab-e Barg, thinly sliced lamb or beef, flavored with lemon juice and onion and basted with saffron and butter. Chicken kebab, known as Joojeh, is traditionally made from a whole chicken, bones and all, for more flavor (although in American restaurants it’s often made from skinless chicken breast), marinated in lemon and onion, and basted with saffron and butter. If you’re lucky, you’ll find jigar, lamb liver kebab, garnished with fresh basil leaves and a wedge of lemon.
3 lbs (1360 g) Ground Beef (85% Lean)
2 Small Onions
1 Tbsp (Approximately) Salt or as preferred
1 Tsp (Approximately) Black Pepper Powder or as preferred
1 Tsp Turmeric
1 Tsp (Approximately) Ground Sumac.
1/4 Tsp Saffron
Before the introduction of electric fridges, families in the colder, northern provinces of Iran such as Azerbaijan devised ingenious ways to preserve meat for consumption during the winter months. The meat would be cut into small pieces (gheimeh), fried with onions, flavoured with turmeric and other spices and put into big earthenware vats. A thick layer of solidified fat on the top ensures a good seal against micro-organisms. These vats were kept in dark, cold basements over the winter. Each day, a small amount would be taken to add to the khoresht. Khoresht-e gheimeh is diced meat combined with yellow split peas, dried limes and saffron with fried potatoes. It is very popular all over Iran and can be cooked all year round the combination of meat and pulses, served with rice, provides a nutritious meal.
100 g/3½ oz. yellow split peas
1 medium onion
4 dried limes
300 g/11 oz. leg of lamb
50 g/2 oz. butter
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons turmeric
2 teaspoons powdered dried lime
Salt and black pepper
1 litre / 1¾ pints boiling water
1 tablespoon tomato purée/tomato paste
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons liquid saffron
Tahchin is an Iranian rice cake that includes rice, yogurt, saffron, egg, and chicken fillets. It is also possible to use vegetables, fish, or meat instead of the chicken fillets. Tahchin is composed of two different parts: The thin Tahdig part which includes the chicken fillets, saffron, and other ingredients at the bottom of the cooking pot and the second part which is the white rice. In restaurants, Tahchin is mostly prepared and served without the white rice part.
600 g/1 lb. 5 oz. basmati rice
4 tablespoons salt
8 chicken pieces
1 large onion
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
½ teaspoon turmeric
3 tablespoons lemon juice
6 tablespoons liquid saffron
Salt and black pepper
500 ml/just under 1 pint water
50 g/2 oz. butter
400 g/14 oz. Greek-style full-fat/whole milk yogurt
1 egg (optional)
This is a rich and nutritious dish, suitable for cold winter days. It combines complex carbohydrates, protein and fat, and with side dishes of fresh herbs and yogurt it makes a healthy balanced meal. Traditionally a poor man’s dish, it has come into its own in recent years for informal family meals. It used to be made with the cheapest cuts of lamb and animal fat. In the old tea houses and caravanserai, specially made individual clay pots were used to make Abgoosht. All the ingredients were put into the pot, a small quantity of water added and the lid was then sealed with mud. The pots were buried in the ashes of the wood stove and left to cook slowly. Today, better-quality cuts of lamb such as leg or shoulder shanks are used. Traditionally, the broth is strained off and served as a soup with pieces of bread floating on the surface like croutons. The meat and pulses are pounded together and eaten with fresh herbs and warm flat bread. The ingredients of Abgoosht vary from region to region. The most common version uses only chick peas and no tomato purée/ tomato paste. The recipe given here includes potatoes, red kidney beans and split peas, as well as tomato purée. It is a very easy dish to make, but it has to be cooked slowly in order for the flavours to develop. You can make it a day in advance to the stage of adding the red kidney beans to serve, reheat it, then add the lemon juice and saffron just before serving.
3 lbs (1360 g) Beef Shank
1 Can 15 oz. (425 g) Chickpeas
1 Can 15 oz. (425 g) White Beans
3 Garlic Cloves
1 Large Onion
5 Dried Limes
2 Bunches Cilantro
5 Small Potatoes
5 Small Tomatoes
1-2 tbsp Savory
Turmeric, Black Pepper Powder, Salt
10 Exotic Fruits You've Probably Never Tried
They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about a cherimoya? Never heard of it? Cherimoya is a fruit native to the highlands of South America that Mark Twain once called "deliciousness itself." While you may be a pro when it comes to pears, avocados and mangos, there are plenty of fruits considered delicacies in other countries. From durian to salak, discover 10 exotic fruits that are cherished around the world.
This Ping-Pong-ball-size red fruit is indigenous to Malaysia, and has also been cultivated throughout Thailand, South Vietnam, Indonesia, the Philippines, India and Sri Lanka. It features a thin, leathery skin covered in tiny pinkish hairs for which it is named (in Malay, rambut means hair). A relative of the lychee, it has a white or pinkish flesh on the inside that is described as juicy and sweet. It's often eaten fresh or canned, in salads and, more recently, in high-end cocktails.
This Southeast Asian delicacy is known first and foremost for its potent odor, which is said to be similar to rotting food or garbage. It's so pungent, in fact, that it's banned from certain restaurants and hotels, as the smell can linger for days. The durian tree does not bear fruit until it is 15 years old, making its prized crop very expensive&mdashup to $50 per fruit, according to National Geographic. About the size of a volleyball, the fruit's shell is covered in short spikes, and needs to be broken open like a coconut to reach the fleshy middle, which can be eaten raw, but is also used in anything from Malaysian candy and ice cream to traditional soups.
Also known as the horned melon, jelly melon, kiwano or hedged gourd, the African cucumber is a vibrant fruit, featuring a mosaic of green and yellow colors on the inside and bright orange on the outside. It originates in the Kalahari Desert&mdashwhich spans from central Botswana to west central South Africa and eastern Namibia&mdashbut can now be found in California and New Zealand. The taste has been compared to cucumber and zucchini, or a mix of banana, cucumber and lemon, and it is often used for decorating platters or as an ingredient in smoothies and sundaes.
Native to West Africa, the ackee is now mostly produced and consumed in the Caribbean, particularly in Haiti and Jamaica, where it is the national fruit. Measuring up to 4 inches in diameter, this bulbous fruit grows on the evergreen ackee tree. It has a yellow and red leathery skin and must open naturally, at least partially, revealing thick, cream-colored sections attached to three shiny black seeds, before it is removed from the tree. (An unripe ackee can be poisonous when eaten.) The nutty-flavored flesh is often parboiled in salted water or milk and then lightly fried in butter. It's also served with codfish, added to stews, or curried and eaten with rice.
Also known as bushukan or fingered citron, this citrus fruit&mdashwhose skin somewhat resembles that of a lemon&mdashis native to southwestern China and northeastern India, and looks like a giant-fingered hand or yellow squid. The fruit is in season in winter, and can grow up to 12 inches. When split vertically, it reveals a white, juiceless and often seedless flesh. Prized for its fragrant scent (like that of violets), its thick yellow rind is often used to make jam and marinades, to flavor liquors and perfume clothing. In Japan, it is also considered to be a good luck totem for New Year's, and is displayed as a decoration in homes.
Native to Mexico and Central America, this shiny plant is largely grown for ornamental purposes, but its fruit, which is shaped like an ear of corn and is the only nonpoisonous part of the plant, is popular in the tropics. It takes just over a year for the fruit to ripen when it does, the scales begin to separate, allowing the white flesh inside to peek through. Said to taste like a blend of pineapple and banana, it's often eaten fresh, served with a bit of cream, added to fruit cups and ice cream, or used to flavor beverages.
Native to Mexico, this fleshy, pear-shaped plant is also known as vegetable pear, chocho, mirliton and christophene, and belongs to the same family as melons, cucumber and squash. Originally from Central America (it's believed to be native to Guatemala specifically), the light green fruit is now cultivated throughout Mexico and in certain parts of America. Each fruit can weigh anywhere from 6 ounces to 3 pounds, with flesh that's similar to that of a water chestnut. It can be prepared in a number of ways, including boiled, mashed, pickled and fried, and is used in everything from juice to jams.
Native to the valleys of Bolivia, Colombia and Ecuador&mdashand subsequently grown in Chile and Peru&mdashthis oval fruit can weigh up to 5 pounds and consists of a smooth, green skin and plump white inside that's pitted with dark brown seeds (which are not edible). Its flesh is juicy and fragrant, with a custard-like consistency that is said to taste like a mix of banana, passion fruit, papaya and pineapple. It can be cut in half, scooped out and eaten raw, used in salads, puréed and made into mousse, folded into a pie or tart filling, or frozen and eaten like ice cream.
Native to Indonesia and Malaysia, salak&mdashalso known as snake fruit or snakeskin fruit&mdashis the shape and size of a ripe fig but with a pointed tip and brown scaly skin. It's prepared by breaking off the tip and peeling back the skin to reveal three yellowish-white lobes and a dark brown seed. It has a crisp texture and sweet flavor, making it a popular choice for fruit salad. It's also used in soups and custards, and can also be found canned in syrup, candied, pickled or dried.
Most popular in Southeast Asia, dragon fruit is eaten around the world, including in Mexico and Central and South America. This pomegranate-size fruit is quite vibrant, with bright pink skin and large, green-tipped scales inside, it contains a white or fuchsia-colored flesh that's dotted with tiny black seeds. Slightly sweet and crunchy, the fruit is said to taste faintly like a mix of kiwi and pear or melon. To be eaten, it is cut down the middle and the soft inside is scooped out. Though often eaten fresh, it's also used in juices or frozen drinks, or tossed into fruit salad.
25 Foods You Have To Eat Before You Die
There are a lot of things people hope to accomplish in their lives. Having successful careers, raising a loving family, making a ton of money -- these are among the most common goals. While those are all good and fine, what about the finer things in life? Like making sure you've tasted freshly-made whipped cream (it will make you a better person) or eating a big bowl of the classic Korean dish bibimbap before you're buried six feet under?
We know how easy it is to get caught up by the fast pace of our lives, so we're here to remind you of what's really important: eating. And since we don't want you to go through life without eating as best as you can, we've put together a list of things you have to eat before you reach the end of your life, most of which you can make in your own kitchen. (And the ones you have to travel for, we promise they're worth spending your savings on.)
If you feel like we left an important have-to-try food off the list, let us know in the comments below!