Best Brooklyn Eaters, Sample food from 192 nations without leaving city
Bloggers (from l.) James Power, Kara VanMalssen, and Dave Cianci
Below is a story taken from The New York Daily News, Enjoy!
Three Brooklyn friends are trying to eat their way around the world - without ever leaving the city.
The Kensington trio began a mission in August to sample in alphabetical order the culinary delights of all 192 countries in the United Nations.
"We can't go to every country in the world, but we can go to all those countries here," said Kara Van Malssen, 30, an archivist.
Van Malssen came up with the idea last summer while eating at a Ghanaian restaurant on Flatbush Ave. with her husband, Dave Cianci, 30, and their friend, James Power, 28.
They started in Hell's Kitchen with Afghanistan, knocking back lamb kebab and fried pumpkin turnovers called bolanee at the Ariana Afghan Kebab Restaurant on Ninth Ave.
Since then, the group's gastronomical grand tour has taken them from Arthur Ave. in the Bronx for Albanian fare to Astoria, Queens, for an Algerian feast.
Working their way through the alphabet, the food lovers didn't leave the neighborhood for one of the countries. They had sturgeon shish kebab - a taste of Azerbaijan - in Kensington.
They sampled Barbadian pudding and souse - boiled pig's head and pig intestines with sweet potato - in Crown Heights, Brooklyn.
"That was probably the most adventurous thing I've put in my mouth in a very long time," said Power, an English as a second language teacher trainer. "It was the only thing I haven't been able to finish."
The Brooklynites launched a blog called Confined Nomad to document their culinary staycation. They've gotten through 17 countries. Most of the meals were at restaurants, but four were home-cooked when they couldn't find an eatery to match the country.
When they couldn't locate an Angolan restaurant in the city, they called the Angolan Mission to the UN and ended up getting invited to the secretary's church in Elizabeth, N.J. They chowed down on some Angolan homecooking - including chicken stew cooked in chicken blood.
"If all else fails, we end up cooking it at home," said Cianci, a law student.
They had to cook at home to check off Andorra, the Bahamas and Bahrain.
Right now, they're stuck on Belize, their 18th country. They haven't found a restaurant yet, but plan to contact a catering business that may be able to deliver them a taste of the Central American country.
Right now, the project is a labor of love. But the group said they are considering trying to turn it into a book.
"We wouldn't mind an expense account," Cianci said, chuckling.
Van Malssen said the trio expects the project to take years, but they are committed to finishing it.
"We're going to try," she said. "That's the goal. We haven't lost steam yet."
Benin, a West African country, is next. Zimbabwe is last.