Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Australia - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Today Bite and Booze will take a trip Down Under as we continue to take a look at the cuisine of the World... Cup. Australian cuisine can be traced back for thousands of years when looking at the bush foods of the indigenous people, but these days it is hard to get past the obvious influences of British and Irish food merged with Asian flair that the immigrants to the island continent brought along. Australian cuisine of the 2000s shows the influence of globalization. Organic and biodynamic, kosher and halal food has become widely available. Restaurants whose product includes contemporary adaptations, interpretations or fusions of exotic influences are frequently termed "Modern Australian".

Perhaps what Australia is most known for is the iconic Vegemite. Vegemite is considered as much a part of Australia's heritage as kangaroos and the Holden cars. It is actually an Australian obsession that has become a unique and loved symbol of the Australian nation. A Vegemite sandwich to an Australian kid is the equivalent of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to an American kid - but the taste is quite different!

Vegemite is one of several yeast extract spreads sold in Australia. It is made from leftover brewers' yeast extract (a by-product of beer production) and various vegetable and spice additives. It is very dark reddish-brown, almost black, in color, and one of the richest sources known of Vitamin B. It's thick like peanut butter, it's very salty, and it tastes like - well let's just say that it is an acquired taste! Australian children are brought up on Vegemite from the time they're babies. It is said that Australians are known to travel all over the world with at least one small jar of Vegemite in their luggage, for fear that they will not be able to find it.

I struggled to find a popular beverage for the Aussies other than beer and wine. Bundaberg Rum is a dark rum produced in Bundaberg, Australia, often referred to as "Bundy". The Bundaberg Distilling Company owns its own cola producing facility, which supplies the cola for its ready-to-drink Bundaberg Rum and Cola products. Bundaberg Rum originated because the local sugar mills had a problem with what to do with the waste molasses after the sugar was extracted (it was heavy, difficult to transport and the costs of converting it to stock feed were rarely worth the effort). Sugar men first began to think of the profits that could be made from distilling. Bundaberg rum was first produced 1888, production ceased from 1907 to 1914 and from 1936 to 1939 after fires, the second of which caused rum from the factory to spill into the nearby Burnett River. In 1961, the company introduced the polar bear as its unusual choice of mascot, to imply that the rum could ward off the coldest chill.

To check out the World Cup of Beer - Australia post, visit the BR Beer Scene!

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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Japan - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


What would a tour of the world's bites and boozes be without Japan?  Today, as Japan faces Paraguay for one of the final spots in the quarter finals of the World Cup, Bite and Booze will take a look at the rich culinary history of island nation known as the Land of the Rising Sun. Besides rice, seafood is highly consumed in Japan since the country is surrounded by oceans. Seaweed, fish, clams, fish cakes are essential ingredients in Japanese cooking. Dashi soup stock used in Japanese-style meals is made from katsuobushi (dried bonito flakes) or konbu (kelp). Other essential ingredients in Japanese cuisine include mushrooms, noodles, beans, ginger, and more. Essential seasonings in Japanese cuisine are soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine), miso (bean paste), sake (rice wine), rice vinegar, and wasabi (Japanese horseradish).

Originally, raw fish was fermented in salt to preserve it and eaten with seasoned rice. In Japanese cuisine, sushi indicates dishes that use sushi rice, which is seasoned with a sweet vinegar mixture. Although you can make sushi without using any fish, many kinds of fish are commonly used in sushi dishes. Most Americans think that going out for sushi means you are going out for raw fish, however that is not actually the case. Sashimi is the Japanese delicacy primarily consisting of very fresh raw seafood, sliced into thin pieces and served with only a dipping sauce (soy sauce withwasabi paste or other condiments such as grated fresh ginger, or ponzu), depending on the fish.  When ordering sushi, you are actually ordering dishes with the specially prepared sushi rice which is complemented by any number or fish, vegetables, and other toppings and condiments, that are then often rolled up into what we know as sushi rolls.

Sake is a clear alcohol drink which is basically made by fermenting steamed rice with koji mold and water. Sake has about 15% alcohol. It's said that good water and rice make good sake. Sake are divided into two kinds: futsu-shu (general sake) and tokutei mesho-shu (special sake). Tokutei meisho-shu are categorized by the degree of rice milling and the use of distilled alcohol like Honjozo-shu and Junmai-shu. Namazake is sake which has not been pasteurized. Any kind of sake can be namazake. Sake is often used in Japanese cooking. Leftover sake is suitable for cooking. Sake can be used for cocktails or other drinks.

For some information on Japanese beer, go to the BR Beer Scene!

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Monday, June 28, 2010

Chile - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Chile squares off against Brazil in the Round of 16 of the World Cup today... a tough match for any nation. Pretty much all South American sides have looked dominant in the Cup, but today one of them will have to go home. As for Bite and Booze, Chilean cuisine stems mainly from the combination of Spanish cuisine with traditional Chilean ingredients, with later influences from other European cuisines, particularly from Germany, Italy, Croatia, France and the Middle East. The food tradition and recipes in Chile stand out due to the varieties in flavors and colors. The country's long coastline and the Chilean peoples' relationship with the sea adds an immense array of ocean products to the variety of the food in Chile. The country's waters are home to unique species of fish and shellfish such as the Chilean sea bass, loco and picoroco. In addition, many Chilean recipes are enhanced and accompanied by wine, owing to the fact that Chile is one of the world's largest producers of wine. The country's immense geographical diversity allows for a wide range of crops and fruits to be present in Chilean food.

A wonderful characteristic of Chilean cuisine is the variety and quality of fish and seafood, due to the geographic location and extensive coastline. The Humboldt current causes a supply of seafood that gathers along the Pacific coast perpendicular to Chilean waters. These include squid, soleidae (sole), albacore, codfish, hake, corvina (salmon), batoidea and tuna. Seafood such as abalone, prawns, clams, crabs, shrimp,oysters, lobsters, percebes, picorocos, and eels are also fished in large amounts. Congridae or in Chile known as congrio can be deep fried in batter, or seasoned and baked. It may also be made into a stew: this popular dish, called Caldillo de congrio, was praised in an ode by Chilean poet Pablo Neruda.

Chile has a long viticultural history for a New World wine region dating to the 16th century when the Spanish conquistadors brought Vitis vinifera vines with them as they colonized the region. In the mid-18th century, French wine varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot were introduced. In the early 1980s, a renaissance began with the introduction of stainless steel fermentation tanks and the use of oak barrels for aging. Wine exports grew very quickly as quality wine production increased. The number of wineries has grown from 12 in 1995 to over 70 in 2005. Chile is now the fifth largest exporter of wines in the world, and the ninth largest producer. The climate has been described as midway between that of California and France. The most common grapes are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenère.

For some info on Chilean micro brews, check the BR Beer Scene!

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Sunday, June 27, 2010

Germany - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


The German side absolutely dominated England today to move on to the quarter finals of the World Cup.  Next up for Germany will be this afternoon's winner between Argentina and Mexico, but for now I'd like to give German bites and boozes their due. Germany is rich with culture, tradition, and football. Generally, with the exception of mustard for sausages, German dishes are rarely hot and spicy; the most popular herbs are traditionally parsley, thyme, laurel, chives, black pepper (used in small amounts), juniper berries and caraway.  As far as beverages go, the most common are obviously all beer, but since that is being covered on the BR Beer Scene, I'll take a look at korn.

German cuisine has often been labeled as stodgy and fatty, which can be attributed to the lack of variety in the rural German countryside until the last 200 years. But Germany has benefited from a close association with Italy and France and adopted many of their spices and cooking methods, always with a German twist.

Schnitzel is fried meat.  And it is tasty.

Korn is a German spirit that is usually made from rye, but may also be made from corn, barley, or wheat. It is usually drunk neat but is sometimes added to Berliner Weiße.  Korn differs from vodka in that it is less rigorously filtered, which leaves more of the cereal taste in the finished spirit.  Korn is very popular in Germany, especially in the northern part. In some places, a beer is often ordered together with a “Kurzen” (“short one”), i.e., with a shot of Korn. This combination is called a “Herrengedeck” (“gentlemen’s cover”) in most of Germany.  Korn is the cheapest kind of spirit available in Germany, which has given it a somewhat dubious reputation. Traditional Korn contains about 32% ABV (64 proof); Doppelkorn (double Korn) has at least 38% ABV (76 proof). A weaker variety of Korn with less than 30% ABV is sold under the name “Klarer” (“clear one”).  Some popular brands of Korn in Germany are Mackenstedter, Berentzen, Nordhäuser, Fürst Bismarck, Dornkaat, Oldesloer, and Strothmann.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Ghana - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


I'd spend a lot of time on a Ghana post but it is Friday night, and I need to get some sleep before the matches tomorrow.  I'll make this quick.


Food in Ghana involves diverse traditional dishes from each ethnic group, tribe, and clan. Ghanaian cuisine involves dishes which are made up of a starchy portion.

Food in Ghana also includes an excellent sauce or soup which is saturated with meat, mushrooms. fish and snails.Ghana cuisines vary from place to place i.e from north to the south and from the east to west.The starchy portion which forms the major part of the Food of Ghana are of various types. They are jollof rice (to the right with beek kebabs), fufu, banku, tuo, gigi, akplidzii, yekeyeke, etew,and ato. Along with this a sauce is a regular feature of their food which is saturated mainly with fish and snails.

Most of the Ghanaian dishes comprise a stew which is based on tomato with different proteins in it.  Among the soups that are consumed the most popular ones are groundnut (peanut) soup, light soup, palm nut soup and okra soup which is also a popular stew.

Akpeteshie is a Ghanaian kind of schnapps. It is made from distilled palm sap similarly to palm wine. In the rural areas, it is common to make a blend of herbs and roots and pour Akpeteshie over it. After one day, the bitters are ready, which is really what Ghana people like.  A very popular one is Alomo Bitters. People claim that this drink is not only tasty, but medicine against all kind of diseases.  The pictures show some Akpeteshie stills.

See what the BR Beer Scene has to say about beer in Ghana.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Pluckers Wing Bar Baton Rouge (USA v Algeria Donovan Goal)

Can you spot me?? USA! USA! USA!

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Switzerland - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Switzerland, a nation known for its neutrality, will be at battle to keep their World Cup hopes alive today against Honduras.  With a win or a draw they could advance outright or on goal differential.  A loss, and their hopes are gone.  The Swiss have a rich and robust history and culture which certainly includes bites and boozes that are world renowned.  Swiss cuisine is heavily influenced by their neighbors of France, Italy, and Germany.  Still, they have managed to create cultural products of their own, notably cheese and chocolate!  As for a Swiss beverage, I would foolish not to discuss Absinthe!

Swiss Cheese is not just one type of cheese when you are in Switzerland.  In fact, there are approximately 450 varieties of Swiss cheese that can be found all over the country.  Around 99% of those cheeses come from cows milk with the small remaining portion mostly from goat and sheep milk.  The most common types of Swiss cheese that we find in the USA are Emmentaler (known in America simply as "Swiss Cheese"), Gruyère, Vacherin, and Appenzeller.  The Swiss eat cheeses by themselves and also in many dishes including fondue and Raclette.

Chocolate might be what the Swiss are known for more than anything else.  It has earned a reputation around the world for high quality.  One famous brand of Swiss chocolate that is readily available in the States is Toblerone which was started in Switzerland by Jean Tobler in 1867.  The industry has had a interesting history with small chocolate makers starting in the 17th century.  In the 18th century chocolate was only produced in a few areas and the more widespread production began in the 19th century.  The 20th century saw a lot of the small chocolate makers being purchased by the larger conglomerates (Nestle, Kraft, etc.).  The major exportation of Swiss chocolate began in the 19th century with the creation of milk chocolate and the invention of conching (distributing cocoa butter with the chocolate and creating a polished look).  Still, the Swiss can boast the largest per-capita consumption of chocolate in the world.  That must be nice!

Absinthe is historically described as a distilled, highly alcoholic (45–74% ABV) beverage.  It is an anise-flavoured spiritderived from herbs, including the flowers and leaves of the herb Artemisia absinthium, commonly referred to as "grande wormwood". Absinthe traditionally has a natural green color but can also be colorless. It is commonly referred to in historical literature as "la fée verte" (the Green Fairy).  Although it is sometimes mistakenly called a liqueur, absinthe is not bottled with added sugar and is therefore classified as a spirit.  Absinthe is unusual among spirits in that it is bottled at a very high proof but is normally diluted with water when consumed.  Absinthe originated in the canton of Neuchâtel in Switzerland. The first clear evidence of absinthe in the modern sense of a distilled spirit containing green anise and fennel dates to the 18th century. According to popular legend, absinthe began as an all-purpose patent remedy created by Dr. Pierre Ordinaire, a French doctor living in Switzerland, around 1792.
Spurred by the temperance movement and the winemakers’ associations, absinthe was publicly associated with violent crimes and social disorder. The general thought was that it made people crazy. Many countries in the world banned absinthe, but in the 21st century it has made a comeback. In Switzerland, the constitutional ban on absinthe was repealed in 2000 during an overhaul of the national constitution, although the prohibition was written into ordinary law instead. Later that law was repealed, so from March 1, 2005, absinthe was again legal in its country of origin. Absinthe is now not only sold but is once again distilled in its Val-de-Travers birthplace, with Kübler and La Clandestine Absinthe among the first new brands to re-emerge.  On March 5, 2007, the French Lucid brand became the first genuine absinthe to receive a COLA (Certificate of Label Approval) for importation into the United States since 1912, following independent efforts by representatives from Lucid and Kübler to topple the long-standing U.S. ban.  In December 2007, St. George Absinthe Verte, produced by St. George Spirits of Alameda, California, became the first brand of American-made absinthe produced in the United States since the ban.  Since that time, other micro-distilleries have started making small batches of high-quality absinthe in the USA.

For a few notes about Swiss beer, check the BR Beer Scene!

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Thursday, June 24, 2010

New Zealand - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes

New Zealand

Finally Bite and Booze will cover the World Cup from the Oceania perspective.  The "All Whites" (because their soccer team wears all-white uniforms whereas their rugby team, the "All Blacks" wears all black uniforms, though today the soccer team is wearing black so maybe somebody can correct me here) have had a great run at the tournament so far including a dramatic draw with Italy which may have been the largest upset of the Cup so far.  However, their days in South Africa could come to an end today at the boot of Paraguay.  Perhaps, just maybe, they can pull out a miracle.  A victory today gives them a spot in the round of 16, and crazier things have happened.  Still, they should not be forgotten on my series of World Cup country bites and boozes, so let's see what this island nation has to offer!

First, Robert Romero, who is a good buddy of mine that writes the blog Dead End, is currently living in New Zealand.  Undoubtedly he is excited about today's match! Hopefully he's had a chance to wine and dine like a king over there. New Zealand cuisine is largely driven by local ingredients and seasonal variations. Occupying an island nation with a primarily agricultural economy, the Kiwis enjoy quality local produce from land and sea. Similar to the cuisine of Australia, the cuisine of New Zealand is a diverse British-based cuisine with Mediterranean and Pacific Rim influences as the country becomes more cosmopolitan.  However, before the British arrived the Maori (New Zealand's indigenous people) had a cuisine of their own with influence from the Polynesian islands.

Central to this cooking method is hāngi, or using heated rocks buried in a pit oven. To "lay a hāngi" or "put down a hāngi" involves digging a pit in the ground, heating stones in the pit with a large fire, placing baskets of food on top of the stones, and covering everything with earth for several hours before uncovering (or lifting) the hāngi.  Traditional hāngi food is pork, mutton, lamb and chicken, with generous portions of root vegetables such as kumara (sweet potato), pumpkin, carrot, potato, onions and cabbage.  With a hāngi, no special preparation of the food is needed besides peeling the root vegetables, but adding herbs such as rosemary, garlic, or stuffing the chicken can add exciting flavors. A Polynesian addition of taro leaves wrapped around some of the food gives it a peppery spice.

There are three main components to the cooking process, all of which can be affected by many variables including but not limited to earth type, amount of heat in the rocks, quantity of food and portion size, type of food and food placement.  Water added at the start of the process creates steam instantly. Once covered, the pit oven becomes a low pressure cooker. Pressures in excess of 4 PSI have been measured.  Direct dry heat from the rocks creates an oven roasting or baking effect. Temperatures in excess of 300°C have been measured.  Finally, fat and juices from the meat drip onto the hot rocks and burn causing smoke which appears to be the key to hangi appearance, aroma and flavor. Often there is also ash and ember smoke that can add to the flavor and appearance.  I want to do this in my back yard!!

Unfortunately the Maori people did not have any form of alcohol.  So for that, we'll have to fast forward to modern day New Zealand.  While it would be easy to discuss the robust and exceptional wine region in New Zealand, I'd rather focus on something else: whiskey distillation.

This fine profession started early in New Zealand's history. The British, and particularly the Scottish, had a large influence on alcohol in New Zealand.  Owen McShane is credited as the countrys first moonshiner turning out Chained Lightning at Oue near Riverton in Southland from 1850. His range of whiskies, gin, brandy and rum were all produced from Cabbage Tree root. Moonshine distilling became a cottage industry and grew mightily until the government of the day, alarmed at the potential tax loss introduced the Distillation Act in 1865. This effectively barred all distilleries that failed to produce 5000 gallons (23000L) annually. However, two companies did receive licences: the New Zealand Distilling Co of Dunedin and Crown Distilleries in Auckland.

The Dunedin distillers went to great lengths to make a good product, importing Islay peat, Spanish Oak Sherry casks and a three year maturation period. But mistakes were costly, the resin from Kauri Pine vats ruined the first 100,000L of spirit. Later the distillery added 8 foot and 4 foot diameter copper stills, used American Oak shavings for ageing and produced 400,000L in 1870.

In Auckland by 1872 the Crown distillery was producing 18000 gallons (80,000L) annually using 2000 gallon wash stills and 500 gallon copper spirit stills. Wholesalers apparently purchased this spirit in bulk then sold it in reused (and presumably already labelled) whiskey bottles as the Crown distillery never had a bottling line.

Vogels Government in 1879 (perhaps in response to demands from the Scottish banks who were financing the countrys new railways) effectively closed both distilleries by increasing local duties to equal imported prices. For the next 83 years there was no official local distilling industry in New Zealand until in 1962 a gin distillery licence was approved. The plant was jointly owned by the two brewery giants Lion and DB (I'm sure you can read more about them on the BR Beer Scene. A new company, Hokonui Distillers Ltd (formed November 3, 1961) thinking they may get a similar licence also applied but Customs Minister Sheldon refused it stating ‘good Whisky needs blending’.

However just two years later after much lobbying by AO Davies of the Otago Development Council, Wilsons in Dunedin (known for their malting plant) and the Greggs Company obtained a licence on October 3, 1964. Stills were purchased in Scotland and installed by 1969. The first run used locally grown and malted barley and the peat was cut especially from the Winton area. After aging in Bourbon Barrels for the requisite 4 years ‘Wilson’ and ‘45 South’ went on sale in February 1974. That year Whiskey imports totalled 3.5 million litres and Wilsons target was 10% of this total.

History shows that they never did achieve this target, a glut of cheap Scotch Whiskey, hotel and wholesale licence ownership and brand loyalties all limited the success of the Wilsons and 45 South brands. Under Seagrams ownership, the last bulk whiskey was shipped overseas during the 1990’s and the plant was finally dismantled.  Today the scene is reminiscent of the 1850’s with many thousands of private stills quietly going about their task, in homes, workshops and small factories throughout the country, perhaps a small victory for free enterprise.  But significantly, Hokonui Whiskey is now legally available for the first time and its legend is celebrated every February at the Hokonui Moonshiners Festival in Gore.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Algeria - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Algeria is yet another African team in this year's World Cup. The Muslim nation on north coast of Africa borders many countries, the Mediterranean Sea, and contains a significant portion of the Sahara Desert. By land mass, Algeria is the 11th largest country in the world, and they have a population of 35.7 million. Today they square off against the U. S. of A. in a match where the winner has a chance of advancing and loser is guaranteed to go home. This is what the World Cup is all about. Pull those belts tight boys, it's time to rumble! Today Bite and Booze eats the Algerians!

Couscous, the national dish, is often mistaken as a grain itself, rather than pasta. The pasta dough is a mixture of water and coarse, grainy semolina wheat particles. The dough is then crumbled through a sieve to create tiny pellets. Algerians prefer lamb, chicken, or fish to be placed on a bed of warm couscous, along with cooked vegetables such as carrots, chickpeas, and tomatoes, and spicy stews. In Algeria it is also served, sometimes at the end of a meal or just by itself, as a delicacy called "seffa". The couscous is usually steamed several times until it is very fluffy and pale in color. It is then sprinkled with almonds, cinnamon and sugar. Traditionally, this dessert will be served with milk perfumed with orange flower water, or it can be served plain with buttermilk in a bowl as a cold light soup for supper.
Mechoui , a roasted whole lamb cooked on an outdoor spit, is usually prepared when a large group of people gathers together. The animal is seasoned with herb butter so the skin is crispy and the meat inside is tender and juicy. Bread and various dried fruits and vegetables, including dates (whose trees can thrive in the country's Sahara desert), often accompany mechoui. There really is nothing quite like eating whole spit-roasted animals. I wish it more customary in the United States than it is. Maybe I can start a trend!

Being a rather strict Muslim nation, Algeria is not home to an abundant drinking culture. Still, there is no mistaking the Algerian impact on wine. While not a significant force on the world's wine market today, Algeria has played an important role in the history of wine. Algeria's viticulturalhistory dates back to its settlement by the Phoenicians and continued under Algeria's rule by
the Roman empire. Just prior to the Algerian War of Independence, Algerian wine (along with the production of Morocco and Tunisia) accounted for nearly two-thirds of the total international wine trade. With as much land under vine as the countries of Germany and South Africa, Algeria continues to maintain a wine industry with over 70 wineries in operation. During the peak of Algerian wine production, the main grapes of the region was Carignan, Cinsaut and Alicante Bouschet. Despite not having Pinot noir or otherwise resembling Burgundian wine, blends of these grapes were often labeled as burgundy. In recent times, Clairette and Ugni blanc have become the dominate grape varieties with some smaller plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Merlot, Mouvedre and Syrah. Algerian wines are characterized by their overripe fruit, high alcohol and lowacidity. The grapes often go through a short fermentation process and are bottled after little to no oak aging.

For info about Algerian Beer, visit the BR Beer Scene.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Nigeria - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Nigeria goes into its final group stage match with a mathematical chance of advancing in the World Cup despite having 0 points.  If Argentina defeats Greece and Nigeria can pull out a decent win against South Korea, the Super Eagles could be moving on to the round of 16.  Yes, it is a tall task and they do have to score some goals to win the tiebreaker, but they could possibly do it.  In celebration of their attempt, we will now take a look at the bites and boozes of Nigeria!

Suya  is meat kabob that is coated in ground peanuts and other delicious seasonings and local spices.  The meat on a stick, which we can always use more of, is usually cooked on a grill or pit like in American barbeque or over open flames on their skewers.  Suya can be found all over Nigeria in restaurants, homes, and from street vendors.  Most suya is made from beef, though occasionally chicken or veal is used.  This may actually be something that I try to make for myself, so let me know if you want to enjoy some Nigerian cooking one day!

Ogogoro, also known as emu and several other names, is the Nigerian version of palm wine that is very popular in Western Africa.  Ogogoro is typically brewed locally when in Nigeria it is known as the country's home brew.  The beverage is brewed from the sap and juices of the Raffia palm tree.  Incisions are made in the trunk of the tree and a day or two later the sap is collected.  The sap is the boiled with the steam being collected, then the steam is allowed to condense and be used for fermentation.  The process produces high levels of ethanol which certainly works at getting the locals drunk... sometimes too drunk.  How can I say too drunk?  Well, with an alcohol content ranging from 30-60%, depending on the home brew, it is said that hundred die every year from alcohol poisoning and over-consumption of amateur-brewed ogogoro.  Oops!

For more on Nigerian beer, visit the BR Beer Scene!

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Honduras - The 2010 FIFA World Cup Bites and Boozes


Bite and Booze hasn't represented CONCACAF in the World Cup posts since Mexico on post two. Today we pay a visit to Honduras, a small Central American nation between Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua.  Honduras belonged to the Mayan civilization before the Spanish conquistadors arrived following Christopher Columbus's discovery of New World. Obviously, both the Mayan and Spanish cultures carry through to their cuisine of today.  An original and notable dish is a baleada, and the accompanying beverage of the day is a liquor called Gaffity.

Baleadas are made by taking a thick flour tortilla, folding it in half, and filling it with mashed fried beans. Basically it is like a bean soft taco, but with a larger and thicker tortilla.  From that basic form that every baleada uses, other ingredients are up to the eater.  The most common baleada fillers are crumbled cheese, scrambled eggs, sausage, plantain, avocado, chicken, pork, tomato, onion, and bell peppers.  Baleadas are so popular in Honduras that there are restaurants devoted to only serving various baleadas.

Gaffity is a Honduran liquor that contains various herbs and spices.  The fiery beverage cannot be found in grocery stores and little is written about it.  From best I can tell, it is concocted by the Garifuna people on the tiny Cayos Cochinos (The Hog Islands).  The islands are an archipelago north of Honduras' Caribbean coast.  From the pictures and few quotes about the place and the beverage, I'd sure like to give it a try!

For more on Honduran beer, check out the BR Beer Scene!

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