If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to taste some of the best coffee in the world, there’s something about it that seems somehow mystical, even magical. The process of grinding the fresh beans, brewing the pot and sharing an aromatic cup brings with it an air of the ancient– a communal ritual that dates back more than 500 years and spans our entire planet.
Coffee’s roots can be traced to northeastern Ethiopia, and there’s archaeological evidence in the Sufi shrines of Yemen suggesting that it was consumed regularly as early as the 15th century. From its original cultivation in southern Arabia, the sacred bean began to spread across the Muslim world into Europe, India, Indonesia and, eventually, the Americas.
Now, over 2.25 billion cups are consumed every day, with beans harvested from the cherries of trees cultivated in more than 70 different countries.
As technological innovation and globalization has led to a world that feels increasingly small, coffee connoisseurs seem willing to go much further afield in search of exotic varieties to give them their daily java fix. Here, we present a gourmet java aficionado’s guide to the best coffee in the world: Continue reading
The coconut is an incredible fruit, used by cultures all around the world. Pacific Islanders call the palm tree “The Tree of Life,” and believe that coconuts can cure just about any imaginable illness. Scientific studies seem to back them up: Raw coconut, coconut oil, coconut milk and coconut butter have all proven to have antiviral, antifungal, antibacterial and anti-parasitic properties. In addition to being a delicious source of fiber, vitamins and minerals (including calcium, potassium and electrolytes), coconut has antioxidant properties for healthy skin, can help prevent osteoporosis, lowers cholesterol and helps prevent heart disease. There are a million different ways you can use coconut in your cooking, but here are a few of our favorite coconut recipes.
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from The All New All Purpose Joy Of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer, Marion Rombauer Becker & Ethan Becker
INGREDIENTS: If they are available, simmer kaffir lime leaves or lemon grass in the coconut milk first for a delicate citrus flavor • 3 cups Chicken Stock • 2 2/3 cups unsweetened coconut milk • 2 small Thai peppers or 3 fresh jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced • 3 Tbsp Thai fish sauce (nam pla) or soy sauce • 1 tsp minced peeled fresh ginger • 1/8 tsp salt • 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thinly sliced, • 2 Tbsp fresh lime juice • Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish
DIRECTIONS: Bring Chicken Stock and coconut milk to a boil in a soup pot. • Reduce heat and stir in peppers, fish sauce, ginger, salt. • Simmer for 10 minutes, then stir in chicken breasts and lime juice. • Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the chicken is no longer pink, about 5 minutes. • Ladle into warmed bowls, and garnish with cilantro.
from A Taste of Africa by Dorina Hafner
This curry (pronounced ‘sah-ma-ki wah nahzi’) is popular among the coastal dwellers of Tanzania and on Zanzibar (a.k.a. “the Island of the Spices”).
INGREDIENTS: 2 lb firm fish (e.g. tuna, snapper, salmon or trevally) • salt to taste • 3 Tb vegetable oil • 1 medium onion, chopped • 2 cloves garlic, crushed • I Tbsp curry powder • 2 Tbsp tomato paste • 1-2 chilies (hot peppers, optional) • juice of ½ lemon • ¾ pt coconut milk
DIRECTIONS: Clean and rinse the fish, then season with salt. • Heat the oil in a pan and brown the fish. • Set aside and keep warm. • In the same oil, fry onion until brown. • Add the garlic and stir; cook for 1 minute then add the curry powder, tomato paste, chilies (hot peppers optional) and lemon juice. • Mix well and keep stirring so the mixture does not burn. • Cook for 2-3 minutes. • Add the coconut milk and stir until it boils. • Turn the heat down and add the fried fish. • Simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to concentrate and sauce to thicken to a creamy consistency. • Serve hot with boiled or fried rice.
from The Healthy Voyager’s Global Kitchen by Carolyn Scott-Hamilton
INGREDIENTS: 3 cups coconut flakes • ½ cup all-purpose flour • 4 eggs yolks • 1 cup packed brown sugar • ¼ tsp salt • ½ cup butter • 2 Tb vanilla extract • ½ cup chocolate chips
DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease two 13 x 9 in cookie sheets. • In a large bowl, thoroughly mix the coconut, flour, egg yolks, brown sugar, salt, butter and vanilla together into a dough. • Divide the dough into 24 uniform balls, place on greased cookie sheets, and bake for about 35 minutes until golden. • Remove from the oven and let cool. • Melt the chocolate chips in a double boiler and drizzle on top of the cookies. • For extra crunchiness, add finely chopped walnuts or pecans to the cookie batter. • For extra sweetness, drizzle some caramel on top as well.
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Want to know a way to instantly endear yourself to anyone you happen to meet in Jordan? Just mention Mansaf, the country’s official National Dish.
Our guide, Ali Abudayeh, had been tantalizing our taste buds for the better part of a week with tales of this traditional Jordanian food. Mary and I love lamb, so the combination of lamb, rice, almonds and fermented yogurt sounded incredibly appetizing.
We finally got a chance to try it the day after our visit to Petra, when Ali and our driver, Rami Remawi, took us for a special lunch at Al Qantarah Restaurant. The look of anticipatory delight in their eyes indicated we were in for a serious treat, and the dish did not disappoint. Rami seemed to take great pleasure in pouring the fermented yogurt over the platter (we even drank some from wine glasses afterwards!), and showed us the method of eating it by rolling pieces of lamb and rice into a gooey ball, then gobbling it down.
Ali was gracious enough to share this traditional recipe, which has been passed down for generations:
(The following Turkish recipe is a guest post by Dalene Heck of Hecktic Travels. You can follow her and her photographer husband Pete on Twitter at @HeckticTravels. If you’re a travel writer interested in submitting an idea for a future guest post, please email Editor In Chief Bret Love at [email protected])
Mantı (pronounced Man-tuh) came to Turkey via residents who migrated across Central Asia. The dumpling-like pasta can be dried and then quickly added to boiling water to be prepared, and is typically stuffed with minced meat, onions and spices. The most popular variety is called Kayseri Mantı, which are very tiny. The mantı is typically served in a garlic yogurt sauce, with a red pepper oil or butter sauce poured on top of that and dried mint and other spices for garnish. Making mantı from scratch takes a bit of effort, but, if you’re pressed for time, you can buy the dried stuff from the local market.
Dough- 3 cups flour • 1 egg yolk • 1 whole egg • 1/2 tsp. salt • 1 cup water
Cooking- 2 Tbsp. melted margarine • 6 cups beef or chicken stock
Filling- 200 gr. minced meat (ground beef) • 2 medium sized onions, grated • Salt and pepper
Topping- 2 1/2 cups Greek-style yogurt • 3 cloves roasted garlic • 1 Tbsp. crushed red or chili pepper • 1 tbsp dried mint • 1 tbsp dried dill (optional)
DIRECTIONS: Sift 2 1/2 cups of flour and make a hollow well in the middle. • Put 1 whole egg, 1 egg yolk, 1/2 tbsp salt and water into the well. • Mix well and knead the mixture to make a smooth dough. • Cover it with a wet cloth and leave for 1 hour. • In a bowl, combine the meat, onions, salt and pepper and mix well, then set aside. • Sprinkle table top with remaining flour and place the dough in the middle. • Sprinkle a little flour on top and roll out with a rolling pin, trying to make the dough as thin as possible. • Cut out 6 cm squares and put 1 tsp. of filling into each one. • Bring the four corners of the dough together by squeezing them with your fingers. • Arrange them in an oven-pan and brush with melted margarine, then bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes until they’re lightly browned. • Pour meat stock over them and cover, continuing to cook until the moisture is completely absorbed by the mantı. • While this is cooking, combine yogurt and garlic. • Melt margarine in a separate saucepan and stir in the crushed red or chili pepper, then let it simmer for 5 minutes. • Remove the mantı from the oven and divide into 6 portions. • Spoon over the yogurt mixture, drizzle the margarine pepper sauce on top, and garnish with dried mint and dill. • Serve immediately and enjoy! –by Dalene Heck; photos by Pete Heck
I know what you’re thinking: What the heck is Paula Deen doing being interviewed on Green Global Travel?!
We debated whether this story was a good fit for us, but the fact is that GGT has always been dedicated to exploring indigenous cultures around the world, and Deen’s traditional Southern cooking is the food I grew up eating as a Georgia boy. Fried chicken, chicken and dumplings, shrimp and grits, cornbread… it’s definitely not the healthiest food on the planet, but eating it occasionally as part of a well-balanced diet always reminds me of family and home.
A conversation with Paula Deen is like a visit to The Lady & Sons, her restaurant in Savannah’s historic district: Lively, comforting and steeped in Southern charm. Her distinctive drawl drips with sweetness– she calls me “Honey” repeatedly– but never feels disingenuous.
Deen’s positive spirit is rooted in overcoming a lifetime of obstacles: Her parents died young, she got married at 18, suffered panic attacks and agoraphobia in her 20s, and got divorced at 42. To pay the bills, she launched a catering service called The Bag Lady, with sons Bobby and Jamie delivering the classic Southern meals she prepared in her kitchen. Now, she’s battling back from criticisms of her cooking after it was revealed that she’s battling Type 2 diabetes, and has pledged to create healthier versions of her recipes in the future.
We recently spoke with Deen from her Savannah home to talk about old memories, the new book, and what makes traditional Southern cuisine so utterly timeless.
It’s often said that food is intrinsically connected with our memories. What are your earliest memories of food from your childhood?
Food played such a big part in my childhood. We lived in my grandmother and granddaddy’s business, which was a motel/swimming pool/skating rink/restaurant. It was like a mini-Disney World back in the ‘50s. I spent much of my life in that kitchen. My first memory of food was with my aunt, who was only three years older than me. She sat me on the counter and got out a big bottle of vanilla flavoring. She said, “Smell this, Paula!” and I said, “Oh, yum!” She poured a big tablespoon and gave it to me and it nearly choked me to death. (Laughs) I couldn’t understand how something that smelled so good could taste so nasty! I was probably three years old.
Who were the biggest influences on your Southern style of cooking?
My grandmother. My mother and daddy died very young, but her parents were in the food and lodging business their whole lives. My grandmother was the one that I spent time in the kitchen with. She had a garden every year until she was in her late 80s and couldn’t work it anymore, and she’s the one who taught me canning. My daddy’s favorite meal was chicken and dumplings. I was 19 when he died, and it was important to me that I be able to make his favorite dish. The first request I remember of my grandmother was to teach me how to make chicken and dumplings.
You grew up in Albany, Georgia. What led you to make your home in Savannah?
When I was 40 yrs old I was battling agoraphobia, and my husband at the time came home and told me he’d gotten a job in Savannah. I was devastated. I went to bed and cried for two months, and got up every day feeling hopelessness. Finally, one day it was like I flipped the light switch [in my mind]. The Serenity Prayer went through my head, and it was like I heard it for the first time. That morning, I accepted my mother’s death, my daddy’s death, my death, my children’s death… I realized that I could live the rest of my life in fear, but it wasn’t going to change things. It all became clear. I got out of bed and I fell in love with Savannah, Georgia.
Why do you think traditional Southern cooking remain so popular?
It will never go out of style! I wouldn’t even consider doing anything trendy: Trends come and go, but mama’s cooking will never go out of style.
When you started The Bag Lady in 1989, did you ever imagine it would lead you where it has?
No way. I didn’t have that good of an imagination! But if you didn’t want to talk to me about my little business, then I had nothing to say to you. I was all consumed with survival. I knew that this was my last chance– my first and probably my only chance– to do something great, because I was 42 years old. I was ready to get out of my marriage of 27 years. I had no education, and I had two sons that I wanted to give a better life. I would not let anything deter me. I even put my relationship with my children on the line, because I felt like if I could make this little business succeed it would make their life better. Of course, they were young and they didn’t see it that way. They told me daily, “Look, this is your dream, not ours!” But they hung in with me, and a wonderful thing happened… they grew up! My goal when I first started my little business was for us to be able to buy groceries on a Wednesday when payday wasn’t until Friday. When I tell my story, or even pick up something and read my story, it’s hard for me to believe!
How is Southern Cooking Bible different from your previous cookbooks?
When I married at age 18, I was given one cookbook at my shower– the Better Homes & Gardens Cookbook in the checked loose-leaf. I adored that book, and it still sits proudly displayed in my kitchen today. When I couldn’t get in touch with my family members, I would sit down and read that cookbook. I loved it because it had pictures and it showed me how to carve a ham, how to set a table… everything was in that one book. When I wrote my very first book, The Lady & Sons Savannah Cookbook, somewhere in my soul I said I wanted a book that would mean as much to people as that book meant to me. That’s what I tried to accomplish.
Are there still any major goals you’ve yet to accomplish in your life?
Absolutely! Retirement is not a part of my vocabulary. I did everything ass-backwards. I retired until I was 42, then I took total responsibility for my own life and made a commitment to do whatever it took to be able to say that my mother and father produced a winner. Like I said, I retired early and now I work ‘til I drop! –Bret Love
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