It’s Mardi Gras / Fat Tuesday / Carnaval! Hope you are having a festive time, or at least enjoying some festive treats. We’ve written about many Fat Tuesday goodies in the past including the inimitable Chicago doughnut staple, the Paczki. Like the Polish Paczki, the Portuguese malasada is a filled doughnut without a hole, eaten as a last indulgence before Lent. The malasada first came to Hawaii with Portuguese immigrants in the late 19th century, and has since become immensely popular in Hawaii as well as in Madeira and the Azores. Due to the treat’s popularity, Shrove Tuesday in Hawaii is informally known as “Malasada day” and at the iconic Leonard’s Bakery in Honolulu (933 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816) you can even get plush Malasada toys alongside the coveted pastries. Traditionally, Malasadas were not filled, but today in Hawaii you can get fun fillings like Coconut (Haupia), Chocolate and Passion Fruit. Saveur even has a recipe for Leonard’s signature Malasadas.
We had a great two weeks in Miami – unfortunately we were so busy with work there wasn’t much time to post. We are off to Key West for the weekend, home of Key Lime Pie. Though we are not looking forward to returning to cold weather on Sunday, we are excited we will get to share our culinary Miami adventures with you when we return.
For our last post about the cuisine from debut Winter Olympic countries, we bring you the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, who has two entrants this year, husband and wife cross-country skiers, Angelica and Gary di Silvestri. In an interesting turn of events, there was actually a vote held to pick the national food of Dominica, which seems awfully official. Mountain chicken (actually a giant frog) used to be the unofficial national dish, but the frog is now on the conservation list, so a new dish had to be selected. The new dish, chosen by vote, was Callaloo, a stew made with leafy greens. Though spinach can be used, the dish earns its name from the callaloo plant, a local name for amaranth or taro leaves. A preparation of Callaloo with crab (another recipe here) is particularly common in Dominica, though callaloo is eaten in other Caribbean countries. Due to this, the mountain chicken still has some proponents who hold that it is really a more representative dish from Dominica. What do you think?
East Timor is one of the world’s youngest counties, established only in 2002. However, it is already sending its first athlete to the winter Olympics, skier Yohan Goutt-Goncalves. Seafood is key in the national diet in this island nation, and culinary influence from Portugal and Indonesia is strongly felt. The national dish of East Timor is Ikan Pepes / Pepes Ikan (Ikan means ‘fish’ and pepes is the cooking technique), fish steamed with chili sauce in a banana leaf. Sounds pretty good! Here are two recipes for Ikan Pepes from Latitudes and Good Chef Bad Chef, which include ginger, garlic and turmeric in the aromatic fish marinade. We love foods cooked with this technique and it is a shame we haven’t tried to do it yet – maybe Ikan Pepes will be our first attempt. Fortunately, our favorite grocery store carries banana leaves.
Malta, a Mediterranean island nation. has one competitor in their debut Olympics, skier Elise Pellegrin. Malta’s cuisine is influenced by France, Spain, Italy and even England. The national dish of the country is Stuffat Tal-Fenek, a stewed rabbit dish in a red wine an tomato sauce. Apparently rabbit is hugely popular in Malta, and a dinner where rabbit is consumed is called a fenkata. One legend behind the dish was that it was originally developed as an act of resistance to hunting restrictions placed on the island (which were removed by the 18th century). I Love Food.MT has a recipe for Stuffat Tal-Fenek, and Gourmet Worrier has a recipe with a particularly elegant presentation.
Apparently, Florida is the only state in the US currently without snow. Well we are certainly sick of snow here in Chicago, so we are excited to get away. We are headed to Miami today for a two-week business trip, though we plan to eat as much as we can there (especially on Calle Ocho in little Havana), and drink a lot of coffee, too. Anyone have any last-minute recommendations? We really hope to get some Bolivian and Nicaraguan food.