About

Mark Rinaldi is a Ph.D. candidate in Comparative Literature, Human Resources maven and food aficionado. He enjoys hot pepper and cold beer.

Hi.

**To be clear: The pace of this project is and will be unstable – I am not a kept man or a bored househusband, and I am balancing this labor of love with working a full-time job and (somehow) producing a doctoral dissertation on Italo Calvino, Jorge Luis Borges and theoretical physics. I will not rush myself to meet some unreal deadline – if any particular entry requires weeks of planning and work, then so be it. My end 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 others – and though this be a noble cause, authentic, researched and brave cooking a noble cause alone makes not. Half of the fun of cooking, for me, lies in its archeology – unearthing arcana, procuring necessities, and then sitting back and enjoying a job well done. And often a hearty, garlic-scented belch.

You may say what you will about the dubious concept of “authenticity” in the modern world – and I will defend to the death your right to say it – but I believe that there are indeed steps that can be taken to preserve 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.

In short:

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.

4) I will publicly document my research to the best of my ability.

5) I will not bail on this challenge, as so many have before me.

Here is the official list of countries:
Wiki

Ingredients that have eluded me (to date):
– African Waterleaf (frozen or dried)
– Flying Fish
– Yak Cheese/Yak Butter
– Pickled Binjai (Malaysian mango)

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright – All content and food photos on all pages and sub-pages of this site are the property of Mark T. Rinaldi (author) except as where noted. All non-food photos or those marked otherwise are the property of the original authors or assignees and are duly noted and used under “Free License” statutes.

Logo and header designed by Ben Saluti – ben (dot) saluti (at) gmail.com

21 thoughts on “About

  1. Mark,

    Nice idea! I’ve read a few A’s and to be honest, they look and sound appetizing. However, I’ve only seen the first three and I have heard through the grapevine that some of dishes look pretty rugged. Nonetheless, I look forward to moving through the alphabet and learning a bit about the diversity that surrounds us. I too thought Albanians only cooked pizza. I guess we were both wrong.

    Keep up up the good work. Your energy and spirit are admirable. Not bad for a kid from the North End!

    Larry Chic

  2. Pingback: » Week 13: Bahrain United Noshes

  3. Hi Mark,
    We read about you on QueensNYC and love the idea of your project. We wondered if you might be interested in some collaboration w/fellow Astorian food bloggers? Maybe we could feature a recipe from your project on City Spoonful? Hope to hear from you.
    -Anne & Clare
    CitySpoonful.com
    @CitySpoonful

  4. Oh lord! I thought I was the only crazy one, and I’m glad to know you are crazier (lol).

    Your blog is AMAZEBALLS!

    I think you can find the Pickled Mango in an Asian Supermarket (ive seen some pickled mango in jars, not sure if that’s what you are looking for). The Cencaluk episode? OH GOOD LORD, it happened to me after i bought the second bottle. Thing with it is, i dont think it is “supposed to do that” because I had it before that explosion and it smelled different… Plus, when i saw the bottle – it says KEEP REFRIGERATED and i remember just getting it from the shelf.

    I now see Cencaluk in refrigerated sections in the asian market. Maybe I will try it buying it again.

    PS. if you ever need a taste tester/ research person for Filipino Food, ask me. :)

    • STELLAAAAAA! (bet you never heard that joke before)

      THANK YOU so much for the nice words, I’m glad you are digging this project. Refrigerating cencaluk is news to me – I remember when i bought it it was just on a non-refrigerated shelf, but that doesn’t mean anything really. The resultant explosion did make my hair silky and voluminous though!

      I will absoLUTEly look you up for help when I reach the Philippines – we’ll need to dig deep, past adobo chicken…

      Enjoying your blog as well!
      Mark

      • hahaha. no i havent. and im so NEW to this thing – i didnt even think that this message center existed!

        adobo chicken? quite honestly im not good with making that hahaha. i have to practice!

        Thanks! oh, and I wish we both could grow extra arms as we photograph and cook at the same time!

  5. When you get to Micronesia, head to Kosrae for the soup! It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten especially if you get Mamaa Sepe to make it for you.

  6. Hi fellow foodie, PhD, and beer drinker!
    Just stumbled upon your site today. A brilliant idea. I have been struggling with finding authentic Indian, Thai and Ethiopean recipes for a while.
    Tibetan yak cheese was sold a few years ago at fairway. I was lucky enough to get a bit of it back then. :-)

    Feel free to hit me up when you reach Germany and Iran. Most of my fam is still in Germany, and are foodies who take pride in their traditional dishes. Also, I was taught how to cook genuine old-school persian food by a former friend.

    Good luck with your pursuits……

    • Hi Sher!

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! How was that yak cheese!?!

      I will definitely be in touch for Germany and Iran, two of my favorite cuisines :) You can be sure that some major mast o musir will be in effect…

      Take care,
      Mark

  7. Love this idea! It makes me nuts how people feel the need to “play” with every dang recipe they find. Sometimes, try it like the locals made it! Keep going man. :)

  8. I’m coming to worship you and your blog. I discovered it months ago as I am on my own global cooking journey. My thing is that I don’t know a thing about cooking and trying to learn through this process. Of course, I’m doing one a week (just finished Bosnia and Herzegovina last night) and think I may be passing your present cooking point (Burundi) in a few months. Thanks for the amazing cooking, insight and photography!

    • Cliff! I couldn’t be more pleased about your nice words :) There is no better way to learn how to cook than to see how the entire world does it, am I right? You are doing something amazing, keep it up and don’t quit! And if you ever need some help or have questions, get in touch.

      Best of luck!
      Mark

    • I found bitterleaf, cooked Cameroonian dishes, edited the photos, half-wrote the piece… and then my advisor informed me that I have until the end of this summer to complete my PhD. So, that has been my whole life for the last several months.

      I defend at the end of August, and then we’ll get back to the important business at hand!

      Thanks for reading :)
      Mark

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: