Our challenge is to try food from every country in the world.A soup or starter, a main dish and a pudding (that’s dessert to the non-brits). Where possible we will try to select dishes with roots in the country we’re ‘visiting’, but there is obviously some crossover, especially between neighbouring countries. Variations of cabbage rolls being simultaneously claimed by Scandinavian, Baltic, Eastern European and Mediterranean countries are just one example. Then you have dishes with ironclad origins in one country which have been so heavily adopted by other countries that they form part of the national cuisine. Provided a dish is regularly consumed on a large scale in that country it will be considered for selection.
We host a night per country, sourcing original recipes from that country where possible translated from native text. I cook. We both eat. Cosmin washes up. Then we sit down, score what we’ve eaten and decide if any of the dishes make our ‘list’. We want to stress that whilst we are ranking the dishes by country, we are not scoring the country itself. You cannot define a country’s entire cuisine with three dishes. Our scoring is based on the recipe, my cooking skills and our own personal tastes.
When embarking on a new relationship, I always found combining palates to compose a repertoire of failsafe recipes to please both parties relatively easy. Sure, I’d get the odd sort who would insist that onion was diced no larger than 1mm or faint at the sight of aubergines but generally I could work these restrictions into classic English fare with the occasional foray into something more exotic. With Cosmin it is different. If he is hungry he will eat anything. The other night he came home sweating like a pig and immediately downed a pint of water before pouring himself another glass. Once he had recovered he revealed that the £5 kebab he had purchased had been soaked in the hottest sauce on the planet and was ‘disgusting’. My offer of omelette was rejected however because he was already full on accounts of having eaten the majority of the flipping kebab which was by his own admission ‘completely inedible’. Even though Cosmin will eat anything it hurts my pride if he doesn’t like what I’ve cooked, however gathering together enough dishes that we both enjoy has proven difficult. He finds English roasted meat too chewy, I find Romanian cold cuts of fried meat too dry. He cannot withstand the spice us Brits are accustomed to, for me the Romanian’s are a little too enthusiastic with their salt. He laughs in disgust at English sausages, I balk at the thought of soup for breakfast. After two years together we have some dishes we return to time and again, but we’re lacking variety and quite frankly are bored to the teeth of spag bol. …So we decided to try a little bit of everything.