For my first cooking day of international food month, I picked the first country that came to my mind – Venezuela. I have no idea why Venezuela, but considering I had no idea what Venezuelan food was, I thought it was a great way to start. I found JustVenezuela.org with recipes of some of the traditional dishes, deciding on Pabellon Criollo (shredded beef with rice – Venezula’s national dish) and Torta de Jojoto (corn cake) for dessert.
Traditionally Pabellon Criollo is served with black beans, but I didn’t realize the importance of them and decided not to make them because I was running late. A bad decision, followed by many other bad decisions.
I learned a few lessons from yesterday’s meal. First, I need to check out more than one recipe to find the best way of doing it. Secondly, I should do my research about the food before, not after, I cook. I’m not sure whether I just don’t love Venezuelan food, whether I didn’t choose a good recipe, or whether I cooked it wrong, but it was sort of bland and the beef was more steak and less shredded beef. And the corn cake was less cake and more like rice pudding. The photos of it looked delicious. The result: not so much. I’m not going to include the recipes I used, because they are not the best ones, but if you want more information about Venezuelan cooking, there is a great blog that has tons of information (and better recipes – I found it after cooking, hence the ‘do my research before, not after, I cook’): venezuelanfoodanddrinks.blogspot.com. One quick fact I learned: Pabellon Criollo is sometimes made from baby shark or capybara, a large guinea pig like rodent.
I will experiment a lot this month, but it might be easier to have someone who is an expert in cooking that country’s food with me, to help me along, instead of just following from the internet. Or maybe the fun of it is the experimentation on my own and how disastrous it can get! Not a bad attempt, but not great.
My history with cooking
For those of you who don’t know the story, my first major attempt at daily blogging was last year when I was feeling ill and knew I needed to be eating better food. I decided to do a whole month of only eating home cooked food (everything from scratch) and blog about it on 30dayshomecooking.wordpress.com. I learned a whole lot about how to cook and every day since then I’ve been trying to teach myself more. I am not an expert. I am always learning and have been known to overcook a beef roast until it tastes like sand (I’m getting better every time I try). So any time I’m attempting to cook this month could turn into a really funny story involving meals gone wrong and people I’m feeding it to trying to convince me it’s not that bad! Or they could turn out amazing and show how much I’ve learned!