Monday, December 4, 2017

Andorran Cuisine

Andorran Cuisine

I apologize for the delay in posting. This post was meant to appear weeks ago! Apparently, I had been gone for so long that Google thought my attempt to sign in was obviously a mistake. So I was locked out for some time. But I'm here now! And we're going to talk about Andorran Cuisine.

Andorra is a tiny country nestled between France and Spain. There are hints of both of these country's flavors and traditions in Andorra, yet it still manages to stand strongly on it's own. Andorran dishes are packed with flavor, rich and filling.

First, we'll talk about meat. The meat that is used here is from local producers and marked with a special seal specifying "Meat of Controlled Quality from Andorra." This includes ox, beef, veal, lamb, goat and horse meat.

Andorra is known for its wine. The high altitude gives Andorran wine a unique and specific taste. Casa Auvinyà is a winery in Sant Julià de Lòria, in the south of the Principality of Andorra. It is in the village of Auvinyà at an altitude of 1.200 m. Its vines are grown on the steep slopes looking east. This vineyard is known for it's Black Wine, made from Pinot Noir sorts and Syrah varieties (a wine sort, used for preparation of red and rose wines)
(Additional Source:
In autumn, there are numerous food festivals. One is the Festival of the Noble Mushroom (Fira de bolet). And on the eve of Halloween, special confectionery goods panellets are being cooked. The dough is made from sweet potato and served with dried fruits and nuts. This is served with white sweet muscato.

There were so many dishes to choose from. I decided to make Escudella, a traditional Andorran dish. It is served at many winter festivals, during hunting seasons and on national holidays. There are many variations. The recipe I made can be found at:

Ingredients: 2 cups dry white beans (I used a 16 oz package of the small white ones)
1 ham bone
1 marrow, bone
3 chicken thighs (the recipe called for 1/4 of a chicken, but boneless-skinless is so much easier)
14 ounces raw pork sausage, rolled into balls
1 thick ham steak, cut into chunks
1⁄2 head green cabbage
1 large white potato, cut into large chunks
1⁄4 cup uncooked rice
1 cup pasta shells
1 cup canned garbanzo beans
salt and pepper

Roll the raw sausage into one- or two-bite sized balls.
Rinse the dry beans in cold water.
Meanwhile, cook the sausage balls over medium heat.
Dice the ham.
Put the beans, sausage, ham, chicken and bones into the pot with 8 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and let simmer, covered for two hours. The chicken should be very tender, almost falling apart.
Remove the bones and bring the remaining stock and meat back up to a boil (if there isn't a lot of liquid you can add more water).
Add the cabbage, potato, rice, pasta shells, garbanzo beans and salt and pepper.
Cook for another 30 minutes, or until the potatoes and rice are tender.
 And that is the final product. It was a very filling dish. It took several hours to make. I could not believe how many different forms of starches and different varieties of meat there were in this one dish. It was certainly tasty. My husband gave it a thumbs up. I confess this will not be added to our regular menu as I simply don't have time to make it on a regular basis! It certainly demanded some attention. I can see why this would be served on holidays and for special occasions.
See you soon when we visit Angola!

Saturday, November 4, 2017


FLAG:  The national flag of the Principality of Andorra was adopted in 1866. The flag is a vertical tricolor of blue, yellow, and red with the coat of arms of Andorra in the center. Although the three vertical bars may at first appear to be of equal width, the center yellow bar is slightly wider than the other two so that the ratio of bar widths is 8:9:8. The overall flag ratio is 7:10.
The design is related to the flags of FranceCatalonia and Foix, the lands historically linked with the small country. A flag of three bars is similar to that of the French Tricolor, while the pattern of a wider middle stripe can be noted on the Catalan flag (as the old royal symbol of the Crown of Aragon) and on the arms of the old County of Foix (currently part of France). The blue and red of the Andorran flag are also found on the French flag, with red and yellow also being the principal colors of the colors of the other two flags. From 1806 to 1866, Andorra's flag was a vertical bi-color of yellow and red. The motto in the coat of arms in the middle stripe Virtus Unita Fortior means "Virtue United is Stronger".
(Source:  Wikipedia)


(That tiny little country by the arrow - Distinctive co-principality between France and Spain)

CAPITAL:  Andorra la Vella
LANGUAGE:  Catalan, French, Spanish and Portuguese
LAND:  468 sq km
MAJOR RELIGION:  Christianity

Andorra is a small land-locked country bordered by France and Spain.  Little known facts about this tiny country.  First, is a country.  Not a fictional place conceived by George Lucas :D  
It is about 1,000 years old, it has a seat in the United Nations, an Olympic team and diplomatic relations with other countries.  It is the 16th smallest country in the world, by land, and 11th in population.

Tobacco is one of the main crops in this little country...

(From 8 Facts About Andorra - link below):  One fact that surprised me here is how much tobacco is produced in Andorra. It takes up a lot of what little farming space exists here. There used to be a cigarette factory in Andorra and because of its status as a tax haven, you can purchase cigarettes here much cheaper than you can in Spain or France. Cigarette smuggling has been a long problem (tradition) in Andorra where people would head up to the mountain tops to take smokes into Spain or France. Andorra is also one of the few places in Europe where you can still smoke indoors in public places.
Andorra is the world's only Co-Principality:  A principality is a place ruled by a prince. Monaco is an example of a principality. Andorra, however, is a co-principality. They have two princes who jointly share the position of prince. Neither of the two is from Andorra, however. One is the President of France, who is currently Nicolas Sarkozy. The other co-prince is the Bishop of Urgell who is currently Joan Enric Vives Sicília. The position is a constitutional one similar to the British Monarchy and holds no real power. Except for limited things, the two princes must exercise their authority together, not separately. They are the only country where one of their heads of state (the President of France) is democratically elected by another country. The other prince (the bishop) is appointed by the head of state of another country (the Pope).

Andorra is the only country in the world with CATALAN as its official language:  Catalan is spoken in Spain, bits of France and an even smaller hunk of Sardinia. However, the only country where it is the official language is in Andorra. I’m sure there are many people in Catalonia, however, who would like there to be at least one more country :)

Andorra has never been in a war in over a thousand years!  (We could learn something from these folks)....Given its non-strategic location in the Pyrenees Mountains and lack of natural resources, Andorra has been without conflict almost since Charlemagne came through to fight the Moors. Technically, Andorra did declare war on Germany in WWI but never sent anyone into the conflict. Given Andorra’s lack of participation in WWI, they were forgotten about in the Treaty of Versailles and didn’t officially declare peace with Germany until 1957!


Well, I am totally impressed at how many "only"s this little country has!

Because of its rugged terrain, earthquakes and landslides are a common occurrence.  

What a fascinating little "micro" country!  Hope you enjoyed (and learned) reading about ANDORRA (again, not the Star Wars place OR Darren Steven's mother-in-law)  :D

Next stop:  ANGOLA!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


Flag Facts

Two equal vertical bands of green and white; a red five-pointed star within a red crescent centered over the two-color boundary; the colors represent Islam (green, purity and peace (white), and liberty (red): the crescent and star are also Islamic symbols, but the crescent is more closed than those of other Muslim countries because the Algerians believe the long crescent horns bring happiness.

Country #3 on our quest around the world!


Located in Northern Africa, Algeria was ruled by France for more than a century, but after fighting through much of the 1950's they achieved independence in 1962.

Capital - Algiers
Population: 34,178,188
Area: Slightly less than 3.5 times the size of Texas.
Bordered by Libya, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Tunisia and Western Sahara. The Mediterranean lies on its northern border.
Terrain - mostly high plateau and desert; some mountains; narrow, discontinuous coastal plain.
Natural Resources: Petroleum, natural gas, iron ore, phosphates, uranium, lead and zinc.

Second largest country in Africa, after Sudan.

Population: 34,178,188

More to come......

Friday, October 22, 2010

Algerian Cuisine

photo source:


Algeria, located in Northern Africa, is strongly influenced by Islamic culture. 99% of Algerians are Muslim, with Jews and Christians making up only 1% of the population. Their meals are a combination of Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisines.

Interesting facts about Algerian Cuisine
* Meals are a sociable and eaten leisurely
* Guests are warmly welcomed and greeted with Etzai (mint tea) or coffee, and often invited to stay for a meal.
* It is customary for the women in the family to cook the meals. This is considered a woman's duty. (Don't even start guys!)
* Recipes and cooking customs are passed down by word of mouth as women get together to prepare meals.
* Food is consumed using the thumb, forefinger and middle finger of the right hand. Using all of your fingers is considered a sign of overeating.
* Dates, walnuts, figs, mint and yogurt appear in many Algerian recipes.
* Ginger, saffron, onion, garlic, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, parsley, and mint are essential to any Algerian pantry.

Photo Source:

Breakfast is usually a light meal, which may include sweet pastries served with tea or Turkish coffee. Coffee is often flavored with cardamom. Lunch is often purchased from street vendors, or stalls, and is commonly some for of Shawarma (Kebab). Dinner is often very large and eaten late at night. This is especially true during the month of Ramadan.

The Khabz (pita) is a traditional Arab flatbread. It is the base of Algerian cuisine and is eaten at every meal. Lamb is common, along with fish and occasionally chicken or beef. Couscous is also served routinely.

Fresh fruit is often in a bowl on the table and consumed after a meal. Fruit and fruit juices are plentiful. Young Algerian children enjoy drinking apricot nectar. Etzai is one of the most popular drinks, along with Turkish coffee, fruit juice and soft drinks.

photo source:

I could go on and on! There is so much to talk about. But let's take a peak into our pantry...
For this country, I chose a recipe based on the spices more than anything. I did choose a chicken dish, even though lamb is more common. This is simply because I have to drive 45 minutes to find lamb around here :) And it's pretty darn expensive. I did splurge and buy Saffron so my meal could be truly authentic (at least that was the excuse I made to myself ~ and my husband~ as I purchased that $17 bottle containing 0.06 oz. of Saffron!)

Anyway, I was going to go REALLY authentic and serve yogurt-mint soup as an appetizer and coucous with raisins and flatbread along with my dish. The children were particularly unruly this afternoon and I didn't have the time to make the soup. In all the commotion, I forgot to make the coucous. I simply would NOT make a good Algerian wife! And I'm sorry, but I will NOT be serving my husband dinner at midnight. If he's hungry, he will be walking his hiney to the refrigerator himself :)

Photo Source: MY KITCHEN :)

The meal I chose was Chicken with Chickpeas and Lemon. Here's the recipe!

Chicken with Chickpeas and Lemon



1) Combine garlic, salt, pepper, ginger and saffron. Add 1/2 butter and stir well. Rub it all over Chicken. Allow to marinate overnight.

2) Put Chicken in large pan. Add 1/2 Parsley and cilantro, green onions, cinnamon stick and just enough water to cover; bring to boil, simmer 1 hour.

3) Melt remaining butter and saute red Onion until well browned.

4) Remove Chicken from pan; add Onion, chick Peas and remaining herbs to the remaining liquid, simmer until liquid is reduced to a sauce.

5) Add lemon juice, remove from heat; discard the cinnamon

, pour sauce over Chicken and sprinkle with remaining Parsley and cilantro and serve.

SO... how did it turn out? It was actually delicious! VERY different flavorings than what I'm used to, but it was extremely tasty. While I imagine some of the dishes they serve are subtle, this one was vibrant and flavorful. The combination of herbs with the lemon and chickpeas really flavored that chicken. And Derek loved it! I did manage to throw a pita

on his plate with the chicken (and even some asparagus), and I saw him finishing up the sauce and chickpeas with his bread. So a definite thumbs up on this recipe!!!

I can't wait to jump into our next country's cuisine. Next stop...Andorra! I know... I know... I hadn't heard of it either! And it's not a fictional Ewok village. It really does exist and I promise we'll tell you all about it.

Recipe- Information-

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Albanian Cuisine

photo courtesy of

Albanian Cuisine

Reading about Albanian cuisine made me hungry! I guess we really are drawn to the familiar. I have a German heritage and I have found that my Grandmother and Great Grandmother's cooking was probably VERY influenced by Albanian, Hungarian, Romanian and old Yugoslavian cuisine. As I was cooking this meal, the smells from my kitchen made me miss my family.

But we'll talk about the meal I made shortly!

In Albania, the main meal of the day is lunch. It usually consists of gjellë, a main dish of slowly cooked meat, and a salad made from fresh tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and green peppers topped with olive oil, vinegar and salt. Sounds delicious to me!

photo courtesy of

As I was researching this country's cuisine, I saw the same ingredients coming up over and over. A few of those foods were lamb, yogurt, garlic, cabbage, beans, veal, leeks, peppers, various cheeses, oregano, olives and grapes. Their meals are extremely influenced by Greece. But then again...what isn't!

photo courtesy of

Alcohol is vastly consumed. The most common alcoholic drinks include cognac, beer, red and white wines and raki. Mineral water is one of the most commonly consumed non-alcoholic drinks, along with carbonated beverages.
I had to choose a recipe that included lamb. It seemed wrong not to, with as much as it came up in my research.

Albanian Lamb Stew with Okra

12 Ounce(s) Okra, fresh or frozen
2 medium Green peppers, diced
2 Cup(s) Celery, diced
4 Ounce(s) Onion, diced
4 Cloves garlic, pressed
1/2 Cup(s) Water
1 Pound(s) Roasted lamb
1/4 Teaspoon(s) Thyme


Cook okra until liquid evaporated in skillet or Microwave dish, stirring
occasionally for 5 minutes. Add green pepper, celery, onion, garlic, salt
and pepper to taste. Cook for 10 minutes. Stir to prevent vegetables from
sticking. Add water, lamb and thyme and simmer, covered, over Low heat for 20 minutes until heated through.

Sprinkle with paprika and garnish with
lemon rind.

As I said earlier, this dish reminded me of some of the old Hungarian goulashes that my grandmother used to make. And her mother before her. I'd smell it before we even walked through the front door of their home in Chicago. They were amazing and brought a warm comfort over me that I can't really explain. I look forward to cooking some more European recipes in the future! stop... Algeria!

p.s. The husband loved this one :)

Information for this blog was obtained from the following sites:

Sunday, September 26, 2010


Country #2 on our journey around the world....

I found Albania fascinating and very surprising. First off, it has beautiful beaches! Sharing a coastline with Greece and just across the Adriatic Sea from Italy, Albanian beaches are spectacular!

Image Courtesy of

Here's how you remember the bordering countries: GAMMS! Greece, Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia. I had a bit of a jump ahead on learning a bit about Serbia since some maps showed Serbia and some showed Kosovo. In a nutshell, it's the former Yugoslavia (shown on the above map) - Kosovo's population is made up of a Muslim majority whereas Serbia is more Orthodox, but they are one-in-the-same (thank you to Sasha Kolenda).

As I stated, Albania is on the Adriatic Sea, 45 miles from Italy - across the Strait of Otranto which links the Adriatic Sea and Ionian Sea.

Interesting Fact: Since about the sixteenth century, the Albanians themselves have referred to their country as Shqiperia - Land of Eagles.

Population: 3 million
Capitol City: Tirana
Land Area: 29,000 square miles

Interesting Fact: Albanians shake their heads to say 'yes' and usually nod to say 'no'. (I could see that getting us North Americans into a lot of trouble) :D

I found the history of Albania fascinating. Like Afghanistan, their history is one of great struggle and conflict. They hold the record for the shortest-lived dynasty in European history with Prince William of Wied who lasted only six months. If you ever get a chance to read about this period in Albanian history, you'll find an era that would make reality TV pale in comparison. How about "Albanian Shore" instead of "Jersey Shore"? MUCH more drama, with less make-up :)

Interesting Fact:
There are over 8 million Albanian speakers, barely a third of whom live in Albania. Many have emigrated to other parts of Europe, to Australia and, in particular, to the USA. Still more live in the countries bordering Albania (GAMMS). This makes it, uniquely, a country which is often described as completely surrounded by itself.

Best time to Visit: May to September

"Hello" = Tungjatjeta

Albanian Proverb: Mbroje atdhene si shqipja folene - Protect your fatherland like the eagle protects its nest.

Recommended Reading: "Land of Eagles: Riding through Europe's Forgotten Country" by Robin Hanbury-Tenison. Credit goes to the author for the previous "Interesting Fact".

I hope you know a little more today about Albania than you did yesterday! And I'm excited to start learning about our next stop: ALGERIA!

Saturday, September 18, 2010


The first of 195 countries - here we go!

Afghanistan is a landlocked country located in the heart of Asia. Bordered by Pakistan to the south and east, Iran to the west, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan to the north, and China to the far north-east. Now if you're like me and like to memorize bordering countries, try this: PITUTCh (Pakistan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and China). Silly exercise, but it works for me!

Interesting Fact: Afghanistan is very rich in natural resources that remain largely untapped, to the tune of approximately one trillion dollars. They remain untapped due to ongoing wars.

Population: approximately 29,000,000
Capitol City: Kabul
41st Largest Country (249,984 square miles)

I have to admit, I got lost in all the political and historical details of this country; it has been in turmoil for centuries. I will spare you the details, but just be advised that Afghanistan is not a safe place for the world traveler. How very unfortunate, because I found in my reading, that Afghanistan has some beautiful architecture and as my fellow blogger, Chris, discovered - some very wonderful cuisine.

Interesting Fact: Afghanistan has farming communities that are some of the oldest in the world.

The Blue Mosque in Mazar i Sharif

Afghanistan is comprised of 34 Provinces...I won't name them or give them kitschy little words to help you memorize them :)

Terrain: Mostly rugged mountains; plains in north and southwest. The Hindu Kush mountains run northeast to southwest, dividing the northern provinces from the rest of the country, with the highest peaks found in the northern Wakhan Corridor. South of Kandahar is desert.

Well, that's Afghanistan 101 - VERY condensed. To be honest, I really did not enjoy the read on Afghanistan, mainly because of the horrible living conditions (amongst the poorest countries in the world with 35% unemployment) and the ongoing wars. All we can do is to pray for this country to find peace.

Thanks for stop....ALBANIA!