F&W contributing editor Andrew Zimmern shares some of his most memorable family meals across the globe.
Food & Wine
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Kenai Peninsula; Soldotna, Alaska
"This was a memorable experience—dinner with author DJ Blatchford and her family. We tried "Muktuk," a dish of frozen whale skin and blubber made from beluga and bowhead whales, which is nearly 88 percent fat, 11 percent protein and 1 percent carbs. They dip it in a whale oil, which is made with whale fat and fermented. Blubbery, pungent...this isn't something I'm looking forward to eating again."
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Qualla Boundary Reservation; Cherokee, NC
"Here's a traditional meal at Qualla Boundary Reservation in Cherokee, NC. The menu was inspired by a Cherokee feast held in 1851—fascinating stuff. We ate trout flavored with sumac, and sochan (a wild spring green closely related to Black-eyed Susans), bear meat, venison stew and Chestnut bread. In the picture, the family is holding hands while reciting a Cherokee blessing. I love this part of the country. It's simply stunning."
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"I had an amazing Cambodian meal in Boston, hosted by a family of dancers (the Angkor Dance Troupe, in case you're wondering). We feasted on yao hon, a type of Cambodia hot pot shrimp soup with vegetables, coconut milk soda and Asian herbs. I also loved the fermented fish-based tripe salad with a bunch of fresh Asian veggies."
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"Home cooks Sachasawilia Wilka and Alejandra Gonzalez invited me to partake in a traditional meal from the Quechua (an indigenous people from the Andes). We enjoyed a pachamanca, a ceremonial feast comprised of chicken gut stew, fermented corn, rotten freeze-dried potatoes and pit-roasted lamb, cooked in an underground oven."
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"Fun fact: 90 percent of Chileans live with extended family, which means they get to enjoy mom or grandma's cooking regularly. I love it. In Santiago, I joined Julio Paraldi and his family (all amazing home cooks) for a meal of barnacles, corn pie, salad made with seaweed and giant black mussels. They grill barnacles and mussels and you have to be very careful to not disturb them too much while they cook; they've been known to explode, spewing boiling hot liquid on whomever is a little too close. Personally, I like the extra element of danger. In case you're wondering, the barnacles taste like crab claw. I became obsessed with them."
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"My guides in the Amazon Rainforest, Efrain Lopez and Donaldo Mamallacta, invited me to join them for a meal with Donaldo's children. We ate coconut grubs, pan-fried in pork fat and served on a banana leaf with plantains. A simple, beautiful meal."
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"The Logan family in La'ie, Hawaii knows how to put on a luau. Vonn Logan, Hawaiian historian and former caterer, cooked a feast for a family birthday. The pork was the star of this meal. The pig is slow-cooked in an Imu, an underground stove heated with stones and coals and flavored with banana stems. It's eaten with poi (taro root pounded into a dough), fresh crab and luau he'e, an octopus dish only served at luaus (it's the green mushy-looking stuff)."
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"I caught up with food blogger Javier Cabral and his family for Mexican food in East LA. They do a killer menudo (the spicy tripe soup, not the Ricky Martin boy group), corn smut (an edible fungus that grows on corn, also called huitlacoche) and a salad made with cactus paddles and grasshoppers. They make everything is from scratch, including blue corn tortillas."
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"Miss Edna Cayasso Burns might be the world's best Creole cook. I sampled her food in Bluefields, Nicaragua along with her husband, eight children, their spouses and grandchildren. Rice and beans, rondon (a rich meat-and-coconut-milk stew), cassava pop and seaweed pop (homemade drinks made with vegetable purees)."
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"Tiger Chen, kung fu film star and food lover, invited me to try some of his mother's legendary cooking in Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province in Southwest China. She makes her own sausage, smoked bacon with pickled vegetables and lots more. So complex and spicy, it made my nose and eyes run like crazy. I love this woman."
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Lwankia Village, Uganda
"I spent a few days with a tribe in Lwankia Village, Uganda. We shared a big meal that I helped prepare, unusual in part because men rarely help out in the kitchen. I think they made an exception for me because I am a mazungo (endearing local lingo for "white man"). Without electricity or refrigeration, cooking becomes a pretty creative process. Cooks often smoke and salt meat for weeks in order to preserve it. We feasted on braised goat, finger millet bread, rice, roasted grasshoppers and matoke, a mush made from plantains peeled and steamed in banana leaves over a fire. We ate everything with our hands, something I love to do."
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