You know, sometimes I have these Ideas.  And, invariably, they spiral out of control, I get disheartened, and either do a half-arsed job, or completely abandon the Idea.  However, something that has been knocking around in my head for, oh, a million years, is a list of international recipies.  "National Dishes" as it were, of all the countries, of all the world.

My main reason for this, was pure and simple gluttony.  I love to try funky new foods, and am always willing to put something in my mouth in the name of research.  Well, except for Fish Fingers, but then, they're just a whole law unto themselves.

My other reason for wanting to do this, was curiosity.  What do they eat, say, in Burma?  Now, I know I could click on Mr Google, type it in and read something like "In Burma, the national dish is considered to be this food served with these things and eaten thusly." which is all well and good, but it's not the same as actually eating it for yourself and discovering for yourself WHAT it is and HOW it tastes.

Of course, my first item on the agenda, was getting a list of Countries of the World.  Easy Peasy, you might think.  However, five different sites gave five different lists of countries.  One had in excess of 250, one had less than 200, one decided that some countries don't count, one used this criteria, one used that criteria...  So, I've debating between two of these sites, the one with 257 Countries, and one with 193 Countries.

The difference in the two?  The larger list includes individual islands and territories (Paracel Islands or British Indian Ocean Territory, anyone?), while the second list lists all the countries recognised by the UN.  That's a difference of sixty countries - or sixty recipes.  Now, I am actually more inclined to use the larger list.  Yes, it's more work, but on the other hand, if the people in the British Indian Ocean Territory have a recipe that they are proud of, why shouldn't it get included?  The Paracel Islands, however, might have a dish it's proud of - but the CIA World Factbook (a very interesting site if you're bored, by the way!) states there are no inhabitants, aside from scattered military posts.

But still, I am more inclined to use the big list.  It will just mean going through the countries one at a time, and weeding out the ones that don't have a People living on them.  BUT - if I can somehow get in contact with, say, one of these military sorts based on the Paracel Islands, who knows - he/she might be able to say "Actually, we DO have a dish we like to cook here"

Oh, and as a sidenote - the CIA World Factbook lists 266 World Entities.

See, all these sites have political things to take into account.  For example, the 257-list doesn't include Tibet.  The CIA list Taiwan on it's own as it's claimed as independent AND by China.  Palestine is broken down in the West Bank and Gaza Strip...  The European Union, while neither a continent nor a Country - so the member-countries are listed together as it has "Country-like governance"  And even now, as I glance over the list beside me - I am rather amused to see that England, Ireland, Scotland & Wales are listed under The United Kingdom.  Which, technically is correct, but I'm sure if I listed, say, Roast Beef and Yorkshire puds as the national dish for the UK the rest of them would jump up with their Haggis, Leek Soup, or Guinness Stew and say "Whooooa nelly!"

And so it goes on...

See how fun this is going to be!

So, I will be using the list of 257 countries, and adding to it if need be.  Personally, I am not worried about Political or Social claims - it's the REGION I am interested in, and what they eat there.  Taiwan might be claimed by China, but I can bet it has different eating habits.

Politics, out.  Not interested.  Food, yes.

And so, to add to the fun.  After considering political maps and all the rest of it, and thinking about how the UK is actually four countries, it made me think of the USA, Canada, Russia...  One country, yes...  But waaaaaay massive to have ONE dish.  So, what I am hoping to do, is break them down - the US I will break down into States (so there's another 50 things needed!), and Canada & Russia broken down into their various regions (I'm ignorant as to how they break down to be honest), no doubt adding another shed-load to be done...  But still...  I am also considering doing the UK by County, or as near as dammit, anyway.  But then, as with the counties of the world - that's a list that varies, depending on the source.  It would appear to be 86 - but THAT list is the counties of England, Scotland and Wales...  I think that list might be left for a while maybe ;)  I suspect I might have to poke around and see how different the "local dishes" are between the counties, and go from there.  Perhaps have a list of Honourable Mentions at a later date for the "County Dishes".

You can see, my mind has been busy on this for a while ;)

The next hurdle - because I see many - will be the availability of ingredients.  Oh yes folks, not only am I compiling this list, but I will also be cooking and eating these dishes.  The drawback to this of course, is sourcing the ingredients.  What might be the staple food of one culture, it might be like gold dust over here, and I don't want to bankrupt myself getting something.  So, if need be, I will be looking at alternative ingredients.  If something calls for Monkey Butt, I will need to figure what is the next best thing...  I'm fairly sure that nipping to London Zoo and slicing off a monkeys arse won't go down too well.  So, in place of Item X, I'll have to use Item Y.

I intend to get everything as close to authenticity as possible, and will be using markets, ethnic stores and probably hunting around online for things I need.  I am sure between Kellie, Gemma and picking the brains of people online, I can source everything I need.

Let's just hope Monkey Arse isn't a key ingredient to something.

And then there is YOU, dear reader.  Yep, I intend to pick your brains, especially if you happen to live abroad, especially-especially if you have friends flung out around the world that you can hassle.  Of course, this, I suspect, is going to take up a lot of space - which means I will be creating another blog for the purpose of this project.  And before anyone says "Actually Dan, this has been done - go here and see!" I don't want to know.  I want to do this for me, for the experience, and even for you to be entertained by having to eat squid testicles and monkey arse.  I will be posting every recipie I get that is decided to be the idea national dish for each country, get it cooked, eaten and let you know what it's like!

I wonder if squid have testicles...  Hmmm...
(Edit: Yes.  Yes they do.)

So, there we have it.  My slightly strange mind has once again come up with an idea that serves no real purpose - but it should be interesting!!

Be on the lookout for a new link to a new blog, and be ready for silly questions!  If you have any ideas or comments, feel free to add them here, to the new blog (once it's made), email me, or drop me a line on Facebook!

And apologies for any typos in this - my brain is running all over the shop and my hands are trying to write faster than possible!

Edit: OK Chaps, I have now set up the new home for all this nonsense.  You can now go to Around The World in 80+ Meals! I've added the list of countries I am using, plus the list of Counties and States (just in case!), and will get working on it fairly soon.  Now to find out which countries actually have people that cook!!

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