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What Athletes Eat Around the World

What Athletes Eat Around the World


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Though the practice is becoming increasingly common, not all athletes fuel up for games with protein shakes — especially not athletes in places like Kazakhstan or Kenya, where protein powder is hard to come by. But they have to eat something in order to perform so well during the Olympics and other challenging events, right? What are their secrets? Here are nine things athletes from around the world eat in order to stay at the top of their games.

Click here for What Athletes Eat Around the World

Every time the Olympics roll around, there is a lot of buzz around the diets of these seemingly superhuman sportsmen and sportswomen. Michael Phelps’ legendary 12,000-calorie-a-day diet captured many headlines, as did Usain Bolt’s confession that the secret to his speed was Chicken McNuggets. We researched the special requests of various teams during the 2012 London Olympics, as well as the training diets of various athletes when they were in their home countries. Unsurprisingly, there are many little-known power foods from around the world that help athletes perform well.

Chia seeds, a health food favorite, have actually been eaten by Mexico’s indigenous Tarahumara people, known for their ability to run extremely long distances in mountainous terrain, since precolonial times. In the early 2000s, a lot of money was spent on researching the diets of Kenyan runners, because before athletes began posting photos or videos on social media, it was necessary for researchers to actually travel to Africa and survey their eating habits. Many athletes abroad have not fallen prey to the foods that athletes should never eat, although,with the popularity of fast food chains internationally, that is changing fast.

Tie those shoelaces and let’s take a gander at what athletes around the world eat in order to maximize their performances.

Bone Broth (USA)

The secret to the Los Angeles Lakers’ strength and agility is a trifecta of butter, bacon, and bone, according to Grantland. The good fats are an efficient source of energy, and the broth helps fortify the tendons and ligaments due to a nutrient called glycosaminoglycans that you cannot find anywhere else outside of supplements. Brodo in New York serves the stuff from a take-out window.

Callaloo (Jamaica)

Originating in West Africa, callaloo, a leafy green stew of callaloo leaves (amaranth, or “Chinese spinach”), is consumed in various ways throughout the Caribbean. Unlike many other leafy greens, callaloo actually becomes more nutritious when cooked, as the water turns some of its fiber into starch, providing iron, calcium (four times the amount in broccoli), and antioxidants in addition to energy-boosting carbohydrates. No wonder athletes in Jamaica and Trinidad like it so much. Long Beach, California, residents can get this superfood any time at Callaloo Caribbean Kitchen.


This Is What Brunch Looks Like Around The World

For Americans, brunch is defined by hangover-nursing egg dishes, stacks of pancakes and boozy, bottomless drink deals, but other countries have a different idea of what that glorious weekend meal should consist of. Lastminute.com pinpointed the most popular brunch dishes and drinks from various cities around the world, and provided some etiquette tips to help us fit in amidst local diners.

"Steamed and fried dumplings make dim sum a real crowd-pleaser. Fillings commonly include seafood, pork and vegetables. For something more exotic, try the chicken feet."

Etiquette: Don't spear dumplings with chopsticks or leave them sticking up in a bowl.

"The ultimate caffeine hit, in short. Coffee meets Hong Kong milk tea &mdash a blend of Ceylon and Pu'er tea leaves and evaporated milk. Drink hot or on ice, the morning after a big night."

Etiquette: Pour tea for others before pouring for yourself.

Oeufs en Cocotte au Saumon Fumé

"A small yet mighty bake of eggs, crème fraîche , smoked salmon and garlic. Not complete without a hunk of crusty French baguette, obviously."

Etiquette: Bread should only be broken by hand and into bite-sized pieces.

Bloody Mary

"Hailing from '20s Paris, the Bloody Mary is a hard-hitting formula of tomato and lemon juice, vodka, Worcestershire sauce and tabasco."

Etiquette: Don't drink until "à votre santé " has been said.

Ackee and Saltfish

"A traditional Jamaican dish combining cooked ackee fruit and scotch bonnet chilies. The result is a sweet yet spicy dish that's often served with sides such as boiled plantain, breadfruit and, on occasion, rice and peas."

Etiquette: Eating outside is popular but it's considered inappropriate to eat while walking.

Hibiscus Ginger Punch

"Hibiscus-infused water is combined with ginger, agave syrup and rum to create the ultimate Caribbean cocktail. If avoiding alcohol, it can also be made into a refreshing tea."

Etiquette: Don't leave the table in the middle of eating.

Nasi Goreng

"One of Malaysia's most enduring dishes. Nasi goreng blends traditional flavors such as sambal belachan (chili paste) and kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce), with stir-fried rice, eggs, meat, garlic and onion."

Etiquette: Only eat or pass food with your right hand. It's disrespectful to leave food on your plate when finished.

"This 'pulled tea' is a heady concoction mixing water, fragrant black tea leaves and condensed milk. It's then poured between jugs a minimum of six times to create its signature frothy top."

Full English

"A time-honored British tradition and weekend favorite of Brits everywhere. The hearty fry-up is a formidable combination of fried goodies: bacon, sausage, eggs, mushrooms, tomatoes and bread, along with optional extras such as baked beans.

Etiquette: Break bread with your hands rather than with a knife. Don't mix food around on your plate.

"First served at London's illustrious Buck's Club, this cocktail marries the sweet refreshment of orange juice with the sophisticated alcoholic kick of champagne."

Ful Medames

"A spicy broad bean dip infused with garlic, lemon, cumin, tahini and coriander powder. For the full flavor experience, mop up with still-warm pita breads and don't be afraid to ask for extra tahini, yogurt or garlic."

Etiquette: Eat food with your right hand. Don't stare at your dinner companion's plate.

"Brewed from rich black tea, sugar cane and aromatic mint leaves. Shai is such a daily necessity that it's regarded as the national hot drink of Egypt."

"A colorful mix of Brazil's native açaí berries with juiced and frozen fruit. Do as the locals do and add toppings, like granola, seeds and banana, to your heart's content."

Etiquette: Eating with your hands is very rude. If necessary, wrap your food in a napkin first. Eating on the go is a no-no.

"Helping the great nation of Brazel keep its energetic reputation, this filtered coffee is served extremely hot with heaps of sugar to take the edge off the naturally bitter coffee."

Eggs Benedict

"Warm, toasted English muffins are the base for crispy bacon, poached eggs and a generous drizzle of sharp, zesty hollandaise sauce."

Etiquette: It's common to chop food, then lay the knife down and eat with only a fork. Use salt and pepper cautiously, to avoid insulting the chef."

"A curious combo of prosecco and pureed peaces. The Bellini has been a growing favorite amongst sophisticated brunchers since its arrival to New York from Venice."

"Idli, a spongy cake, a little on the sour side, made from rice, dal, fenugreek seeds, salt, sugar and water. The possibilities are (nearly) endless when combining them with a variety of chutneys and sambals. The most traditional combo, though, a coconut chutney with chickpeas, chili, ginger, lime and coriander."

Etiquette: Food served with flatbread is often eaten by hand, but only use fingertips. Only use your right hand to eat and pass dishes.

"There's a good reason this drink has stuck around for more than 5,000 years. Sweet in taste, it combines chai masala, a blend of spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, milk, sugar, black tea leaves and water which is poured from a height to better mix all of those flavors together."

Huevos divorciados

"Not for the faint-hearted, this fiery dish combines green and red salsas over two fried eggs. An accompaniment of tortilla chips and, sometimes, refried beans and cotija cheese give it an unmistakable Mexican flavor."

Etiquette: Leaving some food on your plate when finished is a good show of manners.

"A savory cocktail fusing Mexican beer, chili, lime, Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces for a drink with enough kick that it's not just the food to watch out for."

Etiquette: 'Buen provecho' is a traditional, pre-meal toast.

"With almost endless choices, some of the more popular tapas dishes include tortilla española (egg and potato cake), patatas bravas (spicy fried potatoes) and pan con tomate (garlic, olive oil and tomato on bread)."

Etiquette: Tapas are designed to be shared to don't be selfish. Bread might be used to scoop the last morsels onto a fork but never be dipped into soup.

"A sparkling wine, mainly produced in the Catalonian region of Spain, made to the same recipe as champagne."


What Olympic Athletes Are Eating To Prep For The Winter Games

The Olympics have left us in total, jaw-on-the-floor awe more than once, and the winter games, what with the frigid temperatures, snowy courses and ice-covered rinks, often produce some of the most impressive feats of athleticism. With the 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang quickly approaching, we had to find out how the Team USA athletes achieve their near-superhuman status. We got 14 top-notch competitors to share how they stay hydrated, their go-to pre- and post-workout fuel and what they're doing to bring home the gold for the U.S.A.

Hometown: Crestview, FL

Event: Long Track Speedskating

When it comes to her eating habits, speedskater Mia Manganello has a pretty straightforward approach: "I like to keep it simple," she says. "I focus on what makes me feel the strongest and most prepared for the next training sessions." Growing up around her family's Italian restaurant cemented her love of food and taught her about incentive. "There is nothing better than growing up in a kitchen. The lessons and responsibilities you learn are irreplaceable, with the greatest reward being the amount of pizza you get to eat," Manganello says.

"Speedskating is a very physically demanding sport," Manganello says. Her obsession with pizza and vanilla malts gives her something to work toward during long weightlifting and cycling sessions, which help her gain strength and build the endurance she needs to really bring it out on the ice.

Mia's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Oatmeal and orange juice before morning practice

Lunch: Avocado toast with an egg after practice

Snack: Fruit before afternoon practice

Dinner: Teriyaki salmon with white rice and sautéed veggies

Hometown: Novi, MI

Event: Ice Dancing

Watching Madison Chock gracefully twirl, flip and twist around an ice rink, it's immediately clear how flexible and strong she must be to skate with such power. Chock trains alongside her ice dancing partner (and romantic partner), Evan Bates, and the pair even cook their meals together at home. "It's really nice that we're a couple and we have time to be together. When we're preparing for a competition, we take moments throughout the week for just the two of us to connect and sync up," says Chock.

Chock takes her nutrition and eating habits seriously, making sure that she downs one or two glasses of water as soon as she wakes up in the morning. Last summer, she even adopted a vegan diet to improve her health. She's back to incorporating animal products into her meals, but with a few changed habits. "I don't eat as much meat as Evan does. I try to lean towards a fish diet, and dairy is the one thing that we've been conscious about . cutting back on cheese, milk and eggs ."

Madison's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Flaxseed oatmeal with chia seeds and raisins

Snack: Fruit, like mandarin oranges, after practice

Lunch: Often leftovers from the night before, such as three-bean chili with pita chips

Snack: Smoothie with spinach, pineapple, protein powder, orange-mango juice, rolled oats and chia seeds before afternoon practice

Dinner: "Tonight we're getting ready to make some tacos!"

Hometown: Northville, MI

Event: Ice Dancing

For Chock to pull off her routine so effortlessly, she has to count on the strength and precision of her partner, Evan Bates. To keep his blood sugar up during practice, Bates often keeps sports drinks and snacks on hand at the rink. The pair isn't big on restaurant meals unless they're short on time and energy. "We try to cook at home as best we can because it's healthier and more cost-effective," he says.

Although healthy eating is a major priority while training, Bates isn't opposed to the occasional splurge. "When we're competing, just with the stress and nerves, I feel like my stomach shrinks and I can't eat as much during those few days," he says. "As soon as it's over I'm like, 'Give me a cheeseburger.'" Some quality pizza at a nice Italian restaurant is his go-to meal after a competition.

Evan's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Ezekiel bread with almond butter and jelly and a shake with spinach, blueberries, mango, coconut milk, orange juice and chia seeds

Snack: Smoothie with protein powder, spinach and chia seeds after practice. "As soon as we're off the ice or out of the gym we're replenishing and replacing those burned calories," he says.

Lunch: Often leftovers from the night before, such as three-bean chili with pita chips

Snack: Almonds, dried fruit or applesauce

Dinner: Tacos, or another meal cooked with Chock. "Evan makes great Brussels sprouts," she says.

Hometown: Saranac Lake, NY

Event: Luge

If you thought that luge was just a joyride down an icy chute, think again. Chris Mazdzer puts in a ton of time at the gym, lifting weights to perfect the explosive strength needed at the start of each race. Full body coordination drills are key when it comes to steering down the course, and outdoor sports like mountain biking, soccer, rock climbing and volleyball help him in keeping his motions fluid.

If you ask Mazdzer, coffee is not the right thing to wake up your body in the morning &mdash it's water. "It's the elixir of life &mdash during sleep you lose water and your cells always need to be replenished," he says. If he's feeling like something hot, tea is usually the go-to, though espresso makes an appearance occasionally.

Chris' Meal Plan

Breakfast: Breakfast sandwich with eggs and avocado and a bowl of plain yogurt with honey, chia seeds and hemp seeds

Lunch: Sandwich with a side salad, dressed with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

Dinner: "It's always a surprise when on the road, but I try to incorporate some type of protein, starch and vegetable. In Sochi I loved the sushi station," he says.

Hometown: Fremont, CA

Event: Figure Skating

Karen Chen's days are dedicated to two main things: Training and studying. The 18-year-old figure skating is serious about getting her schoolwork done, but nearly every other waking moment is spent stretching, foam rolling, practicing on the ice or exercising away from the rink.

Karen's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Oatmeal with fruit

Lunch: Salmon and veggies

Dinner: Salad

Snacks: Greek yogurt or, her guilty pleasure, homemade banana muffins

Hometown: Steamboat Springs, CO

Event: Nordic Combined

Ski jumping not exciting enough for you? Enter Nordic combined &mdash an ultra-challenging Olympic event that requires athletes to master not only that high-flying sport, but cross-country skiing as well. To tackle both disciplines, Bryan Fletcher puts about 600 hours per year into building his endurance and some 550 additional hours doing weights, plyometrics and runs on the jump hill. Though he needs to remain lean for jumping, Fletcher also requires ample energy to power through a 10 to 15 kilometer race on skis. "You need a pretty big engine and aerobic capacity," he says.

To ensure he's got just enough energy stored to perform in competitions, Fletcher keeps his meals fairly consistent, but he doesn't deprive himself of any one thing completely. "I'm a big believer in everything in moderation, and even alcohol and sweets have a place in an athlete's diet ." Fletcher loves that red wine and dark chocolate have health benefits, but when he's really indulging it's all about nice IPAs, ice cream and his wife's homemade baked goods.

Bryan's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Two pieces of toast with seeds and grains (like Dave's Killer Bread) with organic butter, two eggs over easy, half an avocado and coffee

Lunch: Sweet or savory oatmeal. "It's great for quick energy, or you can make it with protein for longer-lasting, slow fuel," he says.

Dinner: Salad, heavy on vegetables with a 4- to 6-oz. portion of meat, such as steak, fish or chicken

Hometown: Peru, VT

Event: Cross-Country Skiing

Even when she's not tackling long distances on snow, Sophie Caldwell is moving &mdash working on her strength via weight lifting, plyometrics and core exercises at the gym. With all that activity, nutrition is immensely important to keep her on top of her game. "I burn through a lot of fuel between training, racing and being in cold temperatures, and if I struggle with anything it's finding a way to get enough food," she says.

While on the World Cup circuit throughout Europe, Caldwell makes a point of trying interesting foods in all the different countries. She never passes up an opportunity to dig into brunost (brown cheese) from Norway, pasta, gnocchi or spaetzle, and she has a special affinity for European gummies and jelly beans.

Sophie's Meal Plan

Breakfast: Yogurt with granola, bread roll with jam, soft-boiled egg and fresh fruit, plus coffee and juice. "I should wake up and chug a glass of water before drinking my coffee, but I'd be lying if I said I did that," she admits.

Snack: Water and sports drink, energy bar and gummies during training

Lunch: Salad with a carb, like pasta or potatoes, with meat and bread

Snack: Yogurt and cereal, chocolate, cookies, or cheese and crackers are go-to post-workout snacks. "I'm from Vermont and my favorite cheese is definitely Cabot cheddar. You can always find a big block of that in my fridge," she says.

Dinner: Salad with sides of pasta and meat, soup and bread, then dessert


Apple Empanadas

The Spruce / Diana Chistruga

Empanadas are easily found throughout Latin America. That said, the empanadas in Mexico are made from masa, or corn dough, while those found in countries like Argentina are made with pastry dough. These sweet empanadas fall into the latter category and are filled with apples and raisins.


The Road to Rio: What the Olympians Eat to Win

Some of the world's most-elite athletes share their favorite ways to fuel up before competition.

Related To:

Photo By: Alexandre Schneider ©2016 FIVB

Photo By: Bob Davis ©Bob Davis, Reno, NV

Photo By: JOHN TODD ©JOHN TODD

Photo By: Bob Davis ©Copyright: Bob Davis 2015

Simone Biles: Gymnastics

Simone Biles is unstoppable. The most-decorated gymnast in world championship history, this fierce competitor and three-time all-around world champion is an American favorite to be heading home from Rio de Janeiro with gold. To keep her body at peak performance she turns to lean proteins, including chicken, fish, bananas and egg whites. While she is extremely skilled on the mat, she admits she’s not as skilled in the kitchen. “I do not cook, but I am pretty good at breakfast food,” says Biles. “Like pouring cereal into a bowl, and I can also make a great grilled cheese.”

Photo courtesy of Nike

Cammile Adams: Swimming

This 2012 Olympian and 2016 Olympic contender began swimming laps at age 4 with her twin sister, Ashley. The sisters were taken to the pool by their father Eddie, a swim coach, who imparted to Adams his best techniques. Today, her training involves 7,000 meters per day, up to four hours a day, six days a week — no small feat. Before and after practice, she snacks on protein-packed nuts, preferably almonds. Given that she burns through calories for distance swimming, she allows for flexibility in her diet. “I try to stay pretty healthy during the week and splurge a bit on the weekends,” says Adams. In addition to mixing up her salmon and chicken recipes, she likes to bake. “Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies — just the simple recipe off the back of the box — are my favorite things to cook.”

Photo courtesy of Melissa Lundie Photography

April Ross: Beach Volleyball

Despite being third string on her junior high school volleyball team, this native Californian nabbed a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London. To keep in top form, blocking and spiking with her partner Kerry Walsh Jennings, Ross starts the day with toast and protein-packed eggs or oatmeal, followed by a sandwich or wrap. Come dinnertime, it’s all about the vegetables. “I have a big salad and maybe some vegan chili,” says Ross. “When it comes to food, I’m a creature of habit.” Part of that regular repertoire? A daily dose of avocado.

Photo courtesy of FIVB

Nico Hernandez: Boxing

This light flyweight boxer and self-proclaimed milk lover was drawn to the ring when he was just 9 years of age. Now, at 20, he’s heading to Rio for his very first Olympic Games. To maintain a weight between 108 and 112 pounds, he offsets his healthy appetite with more time practicing his uppercut and jabs. “A typical eating day for me is something like oatmeal for breakfast, a cheeseburger for lunch, chicken quesadilla for dinner and ice cream or Jell-O for dessert,” says Hernandez. After a winning bout there’s one thing he craves above all: a nice juicy steak.

Photo courtesy of Bob Davis/USA Boxing

Jessica Hardy: Swimming

Swimmer Jessica Hardy, a 2012 Olympic gold medalist and three-time world championship gold medalist, had a competitive streak from a young age. To glide through the water with ease, Hardy sticks to foods that are “neutral” on her stomach — lean proteins and vegetables — and eats several small meals throughout the day. “I need to cram food in the right amount at the right times,” explains Hardy. Though she doesn’t have a routine meal of choice, chocolate milk is a staple in her diet. “I have it after every single workout and every single race,” she says. Why chocolate milk? “Within 20 minutes after finishing your exercise, it’s super-important to replace the glycogens that you’ve lost and repair muscle damage,” explains Hardy. “They’ve proven that it’s the best recovery drink, better than any sports drink.”

Photo courtesy of Melissa Lundie Photography

Becky Sauerbrunn: Soccer

Women’s soccer co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn is up on culinary trends. Case in point: She’s currently creating meals in bowls. “Lately it’s been brown rice, a protein and a vegetable medley all tossed in together,” says Sauerbrunn. “Healthy, easy and tasty.” The defender says the most-important need for this endurance sport is consuming enough calories. ”I always have oatmeal before training or a match,” says Sauerbrunn. “It’s easy on the stomach, offers so many vitamins and minerals, and is slow-burning, so it won’t leave me hungry at half-time.” During the tournament, the women will be eating what their nutritionist deems best, but this foodie hopes to get a chance to hit up a real Brazilian churrascaria. “I bet they do an all-you-can-eat barbecued meat restaurant right!” exclaims Sauerbrunn.

Photo courtesy of ISI Photos

Shakur Stevenson: Boxing

This Newark, N.J., native and oldest of nine brothers and sisters has boxing in his blood. The bantamweight (up to 123 pounds) was introduced to the sport by his grandfather, a coach at a local gym, and first put up his dukes at the age of 8. To be sure he is ring-ready, Stevenson stays hydrated with plenty of water and sports drinks. He’s also not without his pre-match food rituals. “I like to eat a lot of fruit — especially kiwis — before I fight,” he says. “They give me a little extra energy in the ring.” Outside of the ropes you can find this 19-year-old fighter at IHOP. “I love their chicken fajita omelets,” proclaims Stevenson.

Photo courtesy of Bob Davis/USA Boxing

Phil Dalhausser: Beach Volleyball

After playing competitively for two decades, Team USA’s Phil Dalhausser has been named USA Volleyball Beach Male Athlete of the Year four times. It would be natural to assume that this 2008 gold medalist — his team trounced Brazil for the win — would follow a complicated diet, but Dalhausser has one simple rule he follows. “I try to eat more carbs during competition for the energy,” he explains. That’s understandable, considering the 6-foot-9 athlete needs to fly back and forth across the sand on a court measuring 26 feet, 3 inches by 52 feet, 6 inches. When he’s home, he snacks on blueberries, raspberries and blackberries from his fridge and admits to having a big sweet tooth.


Photo courtesy of FIVB

Natalie Coughlin: Swimming

Swimmer Natalie Coughlin is no stranger to the games. With 12 Olympic medals under her belt, she is the first woman in the history of the Olympiads to win back-to-back gold medals in the 100-meter backstroke. When it comes to cooking, she’s also in command. “I have a huge backyard garden filled with fruits and veggies and hens,” says Coughlin. “I cook what is in season, and I love experimenting in the kitchen.” Growing up, she was always a fan of her mom’s chicken adobo, but in her house it’s all about her Bolognese sauce. “I make a huge batch and freeze extra portions so that I have it on hand when the craving strikes,” she says.

Photo courtesy of Melissa Lundie Photography

Nick Lucena: Beach Volleyball

Rio de Janeiro is synonymous with beach volleyball, which is why winning the top spot would be the sweetest of victories for Nick Lucena. Like his partner, Phil Dalhausser, Lucena doesn’t have a regimented diet he simply loves to eat. A regular at the grill, the volleyball champ is a fan of his better half’s culinary creations. “My wife [Brooke Niles] is a healthy eater, so she does most of the cooking,” explains Lucena. But when it’s taco night, Lucena takes the reins. His signature recipe blends fresh guacamole, Greek yogurt and taco seasoning to create a cool topping.


Photo courtesy of FIVB

Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Tennis

Four-time doubles Grand Slam champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands is looking forward to her first appearance at the games. Leading up to Rio, this tennis player will reduce her red-meat intake and supplement her diet with healthy fats. “I’m a stickler for having plenty of good fats,” says Mattek-Sands. “I seem to feel a bit lighter by using other protein and fat sources, such as fish, seafood, lentils, pork and dark poultry during competitions.” Once she’s off the court, she’s ready to give her body a break. “When I finish a tournament I love a good cheat meal, or cheat day, for that matter,” says Mattek-Sands. “More often than not I’ll fall into a food coma!” At the top of her list of cravings: pizza.


10 New Year’s Food Traditions from around the World

Before the confetti and the fireworks glitter through our skies, our global neighbors teach that we must first take a little time to dream. You see, if we imagine our futures as bright and as shiny and as real as the stars above us, we come that much closer to realizing our dreams. It’s called positive thinking. And all around the world, people accomplish this through a brilliant collection of New Year’s food traditions.

These food traditions aren’t just another nice meal with a game attached they’re a way to represent everything we want for ourselves and our loved ones. When we eat symbolic meals, it’s the best kind of positive thinking (hello, happy tummies and hearts).

Here are my favorite New Year’s food traditions from around the world, with recipes pulled from our archives. Try one this year to make your very own Global New Year.

1. “RING” in the New Year

Rings are a symbol both of continuous love and of “coming full circle.” Any food made in a ring shape is a great choice to celebrate the New Year because it is said to bestow upon the people a promise of love and completeness in the year to come. While donuts and bagels fit the bill, many cultures, especially in Europe, are particularly fond of ring cakes.

I adore the Scandinavian Ring Cake we made for our Norwegian Global Table. This cake is make from chewy almond paste cookies “glued” together with icing. The end result is an epic tower worthy of weddings, birthdays, and – yup – New Year’s. While many recipes use special pans to accomplish this geometric beauty, I did the math so that all you need is a couple of baking pans and a ruler.

Another great option is the King’s Cake from our Global Table for Liechtenstein. These soft, sweet rolls are made with fresh citrus zest, a twinkling of sugar, and raisins. Traditionally served for Epiphany on January 6, an almond is tucked inside whoever receives it is crowned King or Queen for the day. Due to the ring shape of the cake, I think it would be a fun addition to a Global New Year’s buffet.

2. “Hidden Future”

Speaking of hiding almonds… there’s an entire quadrant of New Year’s food traditions that revolves around hidden treats, especially in rice pudding. The hidden prize (usually an almond or raisin) is a symbol of how we don’t know what the future holds, but it also promises that whoever gets the lucky token will receive a year of good fortune. We’ve made several rice puddings over the years, including a Mango Coconut Rice Pudding from Laos, a Macedonian Rice Pudding with cinnamon, and an epic Chocolate and Coconut Rice Pudding from Samoa.

3. Soak up the “bad”

If you’re planning a rough night out on the town, the answer might be Russian Potato Salad, a.k.a. Olivier Salad. This bad boy is a three course meal in one bite. Russians love bringing the ham, pea, carrot, and egg laden salad to any celebration, but especially to New Year’s because of it’s ability to soak up a boozy belly. Speaking of which, some people like to press the salad into a bowl and then flip it over. The resulting dome shape is said to be the pillow upon which a drunken fool can sleep. Really.

4. “Pass the Plate”

Need a bit of jingle in your pocket? If you seek prosperity in the New Year, legumes are the answer. In Italy this means Lentils, while in the Southern parts of the United States this means eating a hearty serving of Black-eyed Peas. Why not set a Global Table this year… and try an African recipe featuring this beautiful bean? Just be sure to eat at least one bean for every day of the year. That’s right� beans, my friends. We’ve made two neat dishes with black-eyed peas…

There’s Red Red, which we cooked for Ghana. This recipe featured Black Eyed Peas in red palm oil (hence the name). The flavor of red palm oil is rich and unique to West African cooking… and a really fun with the added peppers, onions, and tomatoes.

Then there’s Pureed Black Eyed Peas mashed with butter (lots of it) from Benin. This creamy, addictive recipe comes from the early days of the blog (pardon the photography and lack of stovetop travel photos), but if you can handle the task of peeling a pile of beans, you’ll be rewarded with the most comforting puree around.

5. “A bite of Gold never hurt”

While we’re talking about good luck and prosperity from “coin” beans, what about good-ol’ fashioned “gold”? Have no fear… if you’re looking to bring more gold into your life, you simply need to eat some cornbread (traditionally served with the black-eyed peas). We’ve made two great cornbread recipes during this Adventure… both of which would make a delightful addition to any New Year’s spread.

The Paraguayan Cornbread, loaded with peppers, onions, real corn, and tons of cheese, is Mr. Picky’s favorite. The Albanian Cornbread, made with feta, green onion and paprika, is one of mine.

6. “Pork for Progress”

Have you ever watched a pig walk? They root their snout into the soft earth, and inch their way forward. This habit has created yet another New Year’s food tradition around the world: “roast pork” for progress in the year to come. Why not try a Roast Pork with boozy Prunes from Lithuania, or a Milk and Herb Braised Pork Roast from San Marino (that tiny country inside of Italy) to help you make progress on that DIY project or workout goal?

7. “Noodle Ahead”

In Asia, long noodles represent a long life… as long as they aren’t cut. Why not invite some friends over for a noodle slurping night? We’ve made some really awesome noodle dishes, but my favorites are Laos Rice Noodle Soup (a DIY soup made with fresh herbs, raw beef flash cooked in the hot broth, limes, and more) and Lagman Shurpa (an amazingly simple but flavorful lamb, carrot and turnip soup with homemade noodles and seasoned with basil, from Central Asia).

8. Get your Grape on

Spanish and Portuguese folk have been eating 12 grapes for good luck on New Year’s for more than a hundred years. The game is to eat them all before the stroke of midnight. Apparently it all started as a way to use up surplus grapes. You don’t need a Global Recipe for this idea, just some sweet produce and an appetite for the good life. Pay attention to which grapes taste sweet and sour though: if the 8th grape is sour, August will be a sour month.

If, however, you do want to cook something a little tricky, try this Grape and Walnut Candy from our Georgian Global Table… Maybe make strings of 12 walnuts per person? A little creativity is the name of the game when it comes to a Global New Year!

9. “Think Green”

Turns out it pays to eat your greens at least one day per year… Foods like kale, collards, and cabbage are eaten the world around to symbolize wealth… the green representing dollar bills. Try Rwandan “Agatogo” with Collard Greens (made with a simple combination of plantains, peanuts, and collard greens) and Kale to “Push the Week” from Kenya, a fresh and flavorful side.

10. Put some Booze in It

I’m not sure it’s an official New Year’s food tradition, but pretty much any food with booze in it seems to fit the bill for a great New Years. My vote? Guinness Chocolate Cake with Bailey’s Buttercream from Ireland. Either that or Midnight Mocha Rum Cake from Panama (bonus: it’s ring-shaped!). Both cakes are so amazing, you won’t even miss the champagne.

Unless you wanted to eat them with champagne.

Speaking of which… before this Adventure, the only thing that crossed my mind when I heard the words “New Year’s” was champagne. Bubbly. Golden. Ethereal. But once I looked to the world to mix and match my Global New Year’s Table, I realized there are many more beautiful ways to celebrate than just sipping on flutes.

What are some of your traditions?

Wishing you and your loved ones a most Joyous 2013.

See you on Tuesday, when we resume our Global Table Adventure with Saudi Arabia!


The 20 Wildest, Weirdest And Most Delicious Recipes Of The Year

A few of our favorite dishes of 2015

Lordy, I ate a lot this year, particularly since experiencing FR recipe developer Paul Harrison’s patented In-N-Out grilled cheese. It’s not actually patented — you can’t patent a grilled cheese, let alone one that someone else created. Below are Food Republic’s top 20 recipes of 2015, from the trendy (hot chicken) to the highly unusual (Everything Bagel Nigiri) to the just plain awesome (Ukrainian garlic bread). The selections span contributions from A-list chefs like Daniel Humm and Jamie Bissonnette to our own recipe developer team. Here’s to more creative recipes in 2016!

Pork belly is beloved by the Chinese. This is the dish that truly serves up the natural fresh taste of pork — except in Sichuan, they just can’t help but add a garlic and chile sauce to kick up the taste and heat!

While my desire to eat with the utmost of authenticity was a great way to learn, it wasn’t always very fun. Somewhere along the way, I realized that “fun” is just as important as “fine” when it comes to eating and even more so in cooking. With this in mind, I present this highly sacrilegious snack, a tricked-out sushi-bar version of a bagel and lox.

This recipe has sentimental meaning for me — it is an ode to my childhood nanny, Sol. Both of my parents worked full time, so for the first eight years of my life, my sisters and I were like Sol’s adopted children. Sol came to Israel from Morocco in the mid-1950s, and years later, thankfully, she found her way to the Ronnen household. Her cooking was so different from the food we knew. Sol’s was laced with chilies and spices, and her carrot salad was a mainstay on the table.

The culinary and creative minds behind Eleven Madison Park (plus legendary mixologist Leo Robitschek) come together once more for The NoMad Cookbook, a collection of recipes from the beloved New York City hotel restaurant. And hey, just because the food’s fancy doesn’t mean a bacon-wrapped hot dog can’t make an appearance…as long as it’s smeared with truffle mayonnaise and topped with Gruyère and a meticulously prepared celery relish that involves both celery and celery root.

This taco was born out of a shared opinion among my cooks and friends that a tortilla is as worthy of precious ingredients as any piece of Raynaud china. When I thought about making a sea urchin taco, I knew that working it into guacamole would magnify the briny sweetness the spiky creature is known for — the fat in an avocado can help stretch and carry flavors just like a knob of butter. Its lobes (sometimes called “tongues”) show up three times in this taco: mashed with avocado, piled on top of the guacamole in a bright orange heap and combined with chipotle and lime juice in a simple salsa.

James Beard Award–winning Toro and Coppa chef Jamie Bissonnette knows his way around the vast world of preserved meat and fish. He’s a master of charcuterie (coppa is Italian cured pork neck) and an avid collector of canned Spanish seafood — an enviable hobby if you’ve ever loved a smoked mussel or glistening sardine in your life. Equally praise-worthy: his faculty and creativity with ‘nduja, a spicy, spreadable, melt-in-your-mouth fermented sausage.

“I eat this all the time,” says the chef. “I mean, I don’t necessarily start off my day with that much pork fat, but I love avocado toast, and I love the way this avocado mash gets really sour and flavorful from the ‘nduja and lime juice.”

Creamy sauce and earthy mushrooms is a tried and tested combination that never fails. Some might think it’s a little boring and old-school, but I’ve discovered a fun way of pepping up a classic. Replace boring button mushrooms with some exotic Asian mushrooms and the recipe gets an instant face-lift pair them with lots of bubbling cheese and you are on to a winner.

Even though my restaurant Talde is far from an omelet-your-way kind of joint, I knew toast had to make an appearance on the brunch menu. So why not in ramen, my favorite breakfast food? And boom, a new staple was born: perfectly chewy noodles doused in a broth infused with the flavor of buttered toast. Bacon and soft-boiled egg are the obvious extras.

The word pampushka can be used to describe a gorgeous plump woman and is one of my favorite words. Pam-poo-shka! These pampushki are traditionally served with red borscht. In Ukraine, we would use regular garlic, so if you can’t find wet (new) garlic, it will still be delicious. I have used wild garlic and its flowers.

André Prince Jeffries gave me strict orders: no sugar in the hot chicken. But I also believe part of the fun of cooking your own hot chicken comes from figuring out the spice blend you like best. And following the lead of the folks at Hattie B’s, I do like a touch of brown sugar to balance out the heat. I use red pepper flakes for texture and an added layer of spice, and I like a touch of cumin for woodsy depth. Applying the spicy paste after the chicken has been fried keeps the cayenne from scorching, and it allows the cook to customize the degree of heat per piece of chicken. Go ahead and experiment to make your own blend. And apologies to Ms. Jeffries. I’ll always visit Prince’s to taste the original.

Bell peppers are one of those things that people love to throw on the grill, but they usually end up as part of some skewer. That might have been exciting the first time you tried it, but not anymore. And if all the stuff is pressed together tightly on that skewer, the inner part of the pepper might not get cooked through by the time the steak on there hits medium. So I decided to do pepper on the grill a little bit differently.

If you want to be super-extra authentic, you can track down some Filipino-style fish sauce, known as patis, for this recipe. It’s on Amazon! Otherwise, use what you can get your hands on (nam pla, colatura, etc.). Some types of fish sauce are saltier and more concentrated some are sweeter and some are stinkier. Use what you can find. The idea is just to add an extra layer of umami-laden flavor.

Deviled eggs are having a moment in the culinary spotlight. Like other Southern home foods, they’ve moved to upscale restaurant menus and are getting makeovers all across the South. This version, from Shamille Wharton of Nashville, Tennessee, gets a beautiful, brilliant pink exterior from beet juice.

The eponymous “cups” of this recipe denote equal parts soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice vinegar. It’s a potent, salty and savory braised chicken dish with these ingredients, but the dish really gets its signature from the sheer volume of garlic cloves, thick pieces of ginger and fresh basil leaves for flavor. This recipe’s name might underscore the fact that most recipes were passed orally in Taiwan, rather than written, until recent generations.

Indians don’t glorify chicken wings the way Americans do, so I’m stepping in to bridge that inexplicable gap. When faced with chicken and the possibility of high-heat smoky cooking, such as any ol’ charcoal grill, there’s only one preparation on my mind. I’ve tandoorified and char-grilled everything from pork loin and tofu steaks to more traditional fare, like shrimp and lamb chops. Brine and baste all you want, but tandoorification (my word for marinating overnight in heavily spiced yogurt) is the way to go if your end game is “juicy and flavorful.”

Every once in a while we just have to pat ourselves on the back for doing something we haven’t seen in other cookbooks. We aren’t entirely sure we’re the first to make a brisket patty melt using corn bread, but we are sure this is the best version out there. A vast improvement on the close-to-perfect patty melt is enough to make us feel pretty good about this recipe. When you start seeing this on the menu of every chain restaurant in America in five years, just remember who thought of it first.

“I add chicken liver to my sauce for depth and flavor,” says chef Ed Cotton. “Most people can’t put their finger on the flavor profile, but when I tell them it’s chicken livers they are usually like, ‘Ahh, okay.’ It needs to be caramelized with the meats and really cooked out well. The addition of the chicken livers was shown to me by Barbara Lynch years ago when I was her sous-chef in Boston at No.9 Park.”

“This dish was inspired by my love for chicken wings and a popular Filipino dish called Kare Kare [pronounced kar-eh kar-eh],” says the chef. “The traditional Kare Kare dish is a stew made with slow-cooked oxtail in a peanut sauce. This dish works great as a snack or even a main course.”

Except for the time in the oven, everything for this quick-and-easy recipe happens in a blender. And don’t miss the freshly chopped tangerine peel garnish to zest things up. These ribs are so finger-lickin’ good!

Use this recipe as a blueprint for infinite possibilities with many vegetables. The main technique here is to char the vegetable in a small amount of oil and introduce a more robust flavor. Use your favorite vegetables: cauliflower, okra, green beans and artichokes all work wonderfully. The anchovy butter is inspired by flavors of bagna cauda, the Piedmontese “hot bath” sauce. This recipe makes an appearance on the menu at Saffron on a yearly basis. It’s a crowd favorite, even for those who aren’t big fans of anchovies.


Chicken soup with Knaidlach

I have just spent 4 days in London and one of the things I love doing is shopping for items it is hard to get on the Island. I was pretty excited when I saw this box of kneidl mix. Kneidl are dumplings that are traditionally used in chicken soup. Growing up, we were lucky to regularly dine with family friends who made extraordinary chicken soup with dumplings- but the dumplings were very much made from scratch and were exquisite.They were light, puffy and fluffy. I have never tried to re-create them, but bought this box to see if I could approximate them even if only slightly.

The box contained dehydrated kneidl mix. You just add beaten egg.

I love these free-range blue eggs. The shell is a very pale pastel blue and are produced by a breed called the Cream Legbar. I just love how pretty the colour is. It makes me happy.

You then mix the kneidl and egg together then roll into little balls.

I made chicken soup just my standard. I almost always make chicken soup from the leftovers from when we have roast chicken. Just celery, onion and carrots and the chicken meat.

This was the finished result.

The chicken soup itself was very good, but the dumplings were a disappointment. They were tough, stodgy and hit the stomach like cement. A bit of a fail really. I looked up homemade dumplings and it seems that the light and fluffy texture is achieved by whipping egg whites and folding them into the mixture so I will try that at some point in the future.


The secret to the Los Angeles Lakers’ strength and agility is a trifecta of butter, bacon and bone, according to Grantland. The good fats are an efficient source of energy, and the broth helps fortify the tendons and ligaments due to a nutrient called glycosaminoglycans that you cannot find anywhere else outside of supplements. Brodo in New York serves the stuff from a take-out window.


For this quick and easy dinner recipe, cornstarch helps the chicken get a delightfully crisp crust.

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