A couple weeks ago I read this blog post about learning about one country per week for a whole year. One day a week, the blogger planned to research a country and teach her children about it. For dinner, they would eat a meal from that country.
I loved the idea and decided to do it too. Yes, my kids are younger than hers and may not remember much or anything from it. Still, it’s an excuse to try lots of new recipes from lots of different places, and since I’ve always felt that I’m not as strong in geography as I wish I were, I look forward to learning something myself.
We did our first country yesterday, and it was Brazil. I know a couple guys who went to Brazil on their missions years ago, and they highly recommended that I make feijoada, which is mostly black beans served over rice, with lots of meats in the beans. After looking up several feijoada recipes online in order to find one that a) looked tasty and b) did not contain meats that are hard or impossible to find in the United States, I finally decided to kind of mix some of the highlights of each recipe and make my own version. Every recipe has black beans, marjoram, green pepper, onion, garlic, and lots of meats, which varied by recipe. Chorizo sausage was a constant, and I also saw varying combinations of the following: pork loin, pig ear, pig feet, salted cured beef, other Brazilian sausages, and bacon. Some even called for kielbasa, which is actually a Polish sausage, because apparently it’s somewhat similar to Brazilian chorizo. The dish is served with sliced oranges and pickled jalapenos (I didn’t buy the latter because no one would have eaten them).
For those who are interested, here’s my “recipe”:
1 cup chopped green pepper
1 cup chopped onion
1-2 cloves garlic
3 slices bacon, chopped
1/4 lb. kielbasa, sliced
1 precooked pork chop (or any other cut of pork), sliced
1/3 lb. chorizo
Fry meats together in a deep frying pan or dutch oven. I didn’t add any extra fat, instead frying my vegetables in the (plentiful) fat from the meats. Add vegetables and fry until they are somewhat soft and fragrant. Add two cans of black beans with 1/2 to 1 cup water. Season with 1 tsp. marjoram and a bay leaf or two. Serve over rice with slices of orange and/or pickled jalapenos. Serves 4.
Maybe not extremely authentic (no pig’s parts or salted, cured beef, and no dry beans), but it got the point across.
As for the geography lesson, I pointed out Brazil on a world map, showed Lego a picture of the flag, showed him a picture of a huge and incredibly ornate Carnaval float, showed him a picture of the Christ the Redeemer statue, watched a video of capoeira, and taught him about the Amazon River and the Amazon Rainforest, looking at pictures of each. I told him they speak Portuguese there, which is like Spanish. I think all he remembers is the food and the capoeira.
I’d call it a success. Stay tuned for next week: South Korea!