When Eric and I gave ourselves our first assignments — using an online random country/territory generator — I received British Antarctic Territory. At that point, we realized we needed to tweak our system. We didn’t want to use a straight list of official countries. First of all, there is some discrepancy as to what constitutes an official country (take Palestine and Taiwan as examples). Second, there are so many parts of the world that are decidedly not countries in their own right, but have an amazing culinary tradition that we wanted to explore (like Puerto Rico and Macau). I took an exhaustive list of all countries and territories, and one at a time, we decided whether a listed item should stay or go. So it was goodbye, British Antarctic Territory, and hello, Bermuda; goodbye, US Virgin Islands, and hello, Hong Kong. Some areas with similar culinary influences we grouped together, which gave us categories like the Dutch Caribbean.
There was the second problem that some continents have far more countries than others. We were more likely to be assigned an African country than a South American one, for example. This meant the potential for less variety meal to meal. Our answer to this was to group countries by region. In selecting our cooking assignments, we would first be randomly assigned a region, and from that region, we would be further assigned a specific place. Our categories were as follows: East Africa; West Africa; North, South, and Central Africa; the Caribbean; South America; North and Central America; Oceania; Middle East; Central Asia; South and East Asia; Western Europe; Eastern Europe; Southern Europe. Each category has 13 to 21 items. Some places were moved into categories controversially in order to balance numbers somewhat. So China is listed under South and East Asia, but Tibet is listed as Central Asia. For our second assignments, Eric first received Eastern Europe and then Hungary. I received Oceania and then Samoa. We are still more likely to get an African country than a South American one, but we hope to see more culinary variety overall using this method of selection.
So there it is. We didn’t realize just how much would have to go into the assigning process, but it was actually fun to figure out how to best diversify our selections. For our full list, please see below. If you notice somewhere missing that has some interesting recipes of its own, please comment below! We don’t want to miss anything.
|North, South, and Central Africa||Algeria
Sao Tome and Principe
|The Caribbean||Antigua and Barbuda
St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and the Grenadines
Trinidad and Tobago
|North and Central America||Belize
St Pierre and Miquelon
Papua New Guinea
|South and East Asia||Brunei