My friend Shannon is a mother of two and introduced a family project called World Dinners earlier this year. I think it is a great way to discuss other cultures, learn about other countries and try new foods! I thought it would be a perfect thing to share with everyone as part of my Not Me Monday series.
So – here you go. Everyone, meet Shannon!
Amy: Can you explain Alphabetical cooking – or what are you calling it
Shannon: We call them World Dinners and its eating dishes from around the world.
Amy: From where did the idea come?
Shannon: The idea came from my friend, Eliza, who got the idea from a kid’s CD (They Might Be Giants – Alphabet of Nations). She started making dinners based on the countries in the song. I thought it was brilliant and asked my (then) 9-year old son if he’d be interested in doing the same thing. He said yes, and here we are!
Amy: When did you start this project?
Shannon: We started our project in June, 2013. We started at the beginning of the alphabet and have worked our way down the list. We did a couple of countries out-of-order, to accommodate seasonal ingredients (fresh pumpkin, for instance), and we’re down to ‘Y’. We’ll have a beef stew and bread from Yemen this weekend. The only country we’ve missed is Japan, and that’s because my husband is in charge of that one and hasn’t got to it yet. A few dishes are things we’ve had before, like falafel from Egypt and beef stroganoff from Russia, but most of the 23 dishes we’ve made have been new.
Amy: What are your favorites?
Shannon: My favorites have been the unexpected greats – benachin from Gambia and lamb tangine from Morocco. So much flavor from all the spices! My son’s favs have been Quiche Lorraine from France, Plokkfiskur from Iceland, and meatball subs from Oman. My husband doesn’t have one dish that stands out, but there were several that he liked.
Amy: What have your discovered from this experience?
Shannon: The best thing I discovered is that you can find good food all over the world. Just because the origin is exotic, doesn’t mean that the food is weird or inedible. Sometimes you might be pleasantly surprised!
Amy: What does your family think of this project?
Shannon: My family thinks it’s pretty cool. My son is totally on board, my husband thinks it’s interesting, and my 4-year old daughter thinks it’s weird. LOL! It’s okay…introducing new foods to a preschooler isn’t usually successful.
Amy: What hurdles have you had to overcome?
Shannon: My hurdles have mostly been finding some ingredients. If I can’t find something, I just use something close – ham instead of salt pork, for instance. Sometimes a recipe uses an unusual spice blend (common in Middle Eastern dishes) and I have to research what’s in the blend so I can make it.
Amy: Will you do it again and start over – or try something different?
Shannon: My son wants to do it again next year, with new countries. I think we’ll probably do it. We might have a problem with ‘X’ though! There is only one country with the letter ‘X’ in it and we did that one last week – Luxembourg. In the song, they use West Xylophone, which my friend surmised is Fiji; that’s the country she used for ‘X’ and probably what we’ll do next time.
Thanks Shannon for sharing your story.
What do you think of Shannon’s project? Love it?
Do you have an interesting story you’d like to share? Know someone who has a great story too? Let me know – I’d love to interview more people and find out what they are doing in their lives to learn new things or make more out of the every day minutes!
Happy Monday to you!
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