I’ll start by saying that a few years ago, I didn’t even like cooking. It was tedious, difficult, and time-consuming. Then I took a job that involved preparing dinners everyday for a family of four. With practice, I learned how to chop, how to read a recipe, which flavours went with what, how to spice to different tastes, and finally started to improvise. I got a good knife, some wooden spoons, a food processor, and a slow cooker, and four or so years later, cooking is one of my favourite things to do.
Living in Toronto, Canada, I enjoy the availability of a plethora of flavours from around the world. While my husband Eric and I have a dozen favourite restaurants offering an outstanding array of international eats — Japanese, Indian, Korean, Ethiopian, Greek, Thai, Mexican — there is something special about creating a meal in your own kitchen — trying, failing, trying again, learning — and experiencing a cooking tradition you’ve never before explored.
It was Eric’s idea to go beyond the comfort zone of our established culinary repertoire to try some dishes we would have otherwise never tried. He suggested we each be randomly assigned a place and be tasked with serving a meal from that place.
We created a list of countries and territories that includes most of the world (we opted to exclude those without a recognizable culinary tradition…sorry, British Antarctic Territory) and using a random generator on the internet, we both received our first assignments. For me: Bhutan. For Eric: Togo.