My name is Mark Rinaldi, and I write about food and culture. I recently finished my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and am still coming off the high, so forgive me if my thoughts on cornmeal or amaranth spill into the critical realm. My intent is for this blog to be equal parts Bourdain and Adorno, Zimmern and Althusser.
I enjoy hot peppers, death metal and cold beer.
**To be clear: The pace of this project is and will be unstable. I will not rush myself to meet some illusory deadline – if any particular entry requires weeks of planning and work, then so be it. My results will be better-researched and more accurate for it.
My goal, above all else, is to present a snippet of the cuisines of the world as they are, in as sensitive a context as possible – no substitutions and no bullshit. I am doing this in probably the only place that anyone ever could – New York City. My efforts will hopefully contribute to the collective construction of bulwarks against the homogenization of traditional food cultures.
This blog is, foremost, a reaction to what I have perceived to be a general lack of effort in the re-creation of worldwide cuisine by Western home cooks. Innumerable blogs, both current and in ruins, have halfheartedly flirted with introducing the varied cuisines of our planet to other eaters, with mixed results. Half of the fun of cooking, for me, lies in its cultural archeology. Much of the fun of eating, in turn, I derive from attempting to be aware of the cultural machinery surrounding the act.
You may say what you will about the dubious concept of “authenticity” in the modern world, but I believe that there are indeed steps that can be taken to preserve global culinary traditions. I, for one, refuse to be content with the Baudrillardian simulacra of a tortilla española, a hyperreal gado-gado, or the pseudo-individualized frankfurter of the Frankfurt School. I will not live in a world where “food” one day risks becoming a flavorless grey paste, taken from a tube. Not on my watch.
1) I will cook a meal from every single recognized country in the world, moving alphabetically so as not to avoid the more difficult cuisines. (A “meal” shall heretofore be defined as “more than one dish”).
2) I will choose which dishes to cook based on my ability to procure authentic, traditional ingredients (either in person or through mail-order). If I can’t find it, I won’t make it. NO substitutions.
3) I will publicly document my research to the best of my ability.
Here is the official list of countries:
Ingredients that have eluded me (to date):
– Flying Fish
– Yak Cheese/Yak Butter
– Pickled Binjai (Malaysian mango)
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