I want to be neither too restrictive nor too loosey-goosey with myself, so here are some basic parameters:
- Try a new country/cuisine at least once a month.
- Aim for countries whose cuisines I'm less familiar with. This means Italian, Mexican, Greek, and Chinese are out. Probably French, German, and Irish as well.
- Try to hop around from continent to continent. For instance, try something from Belize one month, Tunisia the next, Cambodia the next, Ukraine next, and so on.
- Invite friends over to share at least some of the meals with me, but don't get stuck on that. Sometimes it's more feasible to make pomegranate molasses chicken for myself on a random weeknight than to spend a weekend cooking up a feast and roping some friends into helping me eat it.
Speaking of pomegranate molasses chicken with bulgar wheat salad ... that happened last night.
Finally, let me leave you with some resources I'm sure I'll be using throughout the year.
- Honey and Co. by Itamar Srulovich and Sarit Packer - This cookbook is chock full of Middle Eastern recipes, personal anecdotes, and good humor. (For instance, the recipe for Mushroom and Cumin Sfiha ends with "Do not offer your guests seconds--squirrel away any that is left over for the next day; it'll still be delicious.") The book was entertaining to read, and I could easily spend the year cooking through this cookbook alone.
- Global Kitchen by Cooking Light and David Joachim - This one covers a smattering of dishes from regions throughout the world, so it'll be a good launching point for my little challenge to myself. Most recipes include a few sentences about the dish, the culture from which it hails, and/or a word about traditional techniques or modern tweaks.
- Wild Spice by Arun Kapil - This book may be a little harder to use exclusively for my 12 countries in 12 months challenge because many of the recipes don't include information about the country or region that birthed it. Nevertheless, his recipes draw on spices and ingredients from around the world, so I'm still optimistic it has a place in my cooking repertoire this year, even if not specifically as part of my 12 in 12 challenge.
- globaltableadventure.com by Sasha Martin - She challenged herself to cook something from every country in the world, and her site now holds over 650 recipes resulting from that challenge. Check out her Map Room page; click on a country and find all her posts and recipes from that country. She also has a page with a roundup of holidays from around the world, with recipes to go with them. Impressive! I'm trying to keep myself from exploring this site too much lest I paralyze myself with the sheer magnitude of options available.