My name is Mark Rinaldi, and I write about food and culture. I recently finished my Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and am still coming off the high, so forgive me if my thoughts on cornmeal or amaranth spill into the critical realm. My intent is for this blog to be equal parts Bourdain and Adorno, Zimmern and Althusser.

I enjoy hot peppers, death metal and cold beer.


**To be clear: The pace of this project is and will be unstable. I will not rush myself to meet some illusory deadline – if any particular entry requires weeks or months of planning and work, then so be it. My results will be better-researched and more accurate for it.

My goal, above all else, is to present a snippet of the cuisines of the world as they are, in as sensitive a context as possible – no substitutions and no bullshit.

This blog is, foremost, a reaction to what I have perceived to be a general lack of effort in the re-creation of worldwide cuisine by Western home cooks. Half of the fun of cooking, for me, lies in its cultural archeology. Much of the fun of eating, in turn, I derive from attempting to be aware of the cultural machinery surrounding the act.

In short:

1) I will cook a meal from every single recognized and disputed country in the world, moving alphabetically . (A “meal” shall heretofore be defined as “more than one dish”).

2) I will choose which dishes to cook based on my ability to procure traditional ingredients (either in person or through mail-order). If I can’t find it, I won’t make it. NO substitutions.

3) I will publicly document my research to the best of my ability.

Here is the official list of countries:

Ingredients that have eluded me (to date):
– Flying Fish
– Yak Cheese/Yak Butter
– Pickled Binjai (Malaysian mango)

Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

Copyright – All content and food photos on all pages and sub-pages of this site are the property of Mark T. Rinaldi (author) except as where noted. All non-food photos or those marked otherwise are the property of the original authors or assignees and are duly noted and used under β€œFree License” statutes.

Logo and header designed by Ben Saluti – ben (dot) saluti (at) gmail.com

29 thoughts on “About

  1. Mark,

    Nice idea! I’ve read a few A’s and to be honest, they look and sound appetizing. However, I’ve only seen the first three and I have heard through the grapevine that some of dishes look pretty rugged. Nonetheless, I look forward to moving through the alphabet and learning a bit about the diversity that surrounds us. I too thought Albanians only cooked pizza. I guess we were both wrong.

    Keep up up the good work. Your energy and spirit are admirable. Not bad for a kid from the North End!

    Larry Chic

  2. Pingback: » Week 13: Bahrain United Noshes

  3. Hi Mark,
    We read about you on QueensNYC and love the idea of your project. We wondered if you might be interested in some collaboration w/fellow Astorian food bloggers? Maybe we could feature a recipe from your project on City Spoonful? Hope to hear from you.
    -Anne & Clare

  4. Oh lord! I thought I was the only crazy one, and I’m glad to know you are crazier (lol).

    Your blog is AMAZEBALLS!

    I think you can find the Pickled Mango in an Asian Supermarket (ive seen some pickled mango in jars, not sure if that’s what you are looking for). The Cencaluk episode? OH GOOD LORD, it happened to me after i bought the second bottle. Thing with it is, i dont think it is “supposed to do that” because I had it before that explosion and it smelled different… Plus, when i saw the bottle – it says KEEP REFRIGERATED and i remember just getting it from the shelf.

    I now see Cencaluk in refrigerated sections in the asian market. Maybe I will try it buying it again.

    PS. if you ever need a taste tester/ research person for Filipino Food, ask me. πŸ™‚

    • STELLAAAAAA! (bet you never heard that joke before)

      THANK YOU so much for the nice words, I’m glad you are digging this project. Refrigerating cencaluk is news to me – I remember when i bought it it was just on a non-refrigerated shelf, but that doesn’t mean anything really. The resultant explosion did make my hair silky and voluminous though!

      I will absoLUTEly look you up for help when I reach the Philippines – we’ll need to dig deep, past adobo chicken…

      Enjoying your blog as well!

      • hahaha. no i havent. and im so NEW to this thing – i didnt even think that this message center existed!

        adobo chicken? quite honestly im not good with making that hahaha. i have to practice!

        Thanks! oh, and I wish we both could grow extra arms as we photograph and cook at the same time!

  5. When you get to Micronesia, head to Kosrae for the soup! It’s the best thing I’ve ever eaten especially if you get Mamaa Sepe to make it for you.

  6. Hi fellow foodie, PhD, and beer drinker!
    Just stumbled upon your site today. A brilliant idea. I have been struggling with finding authentic Indian, Thai and Ethiopean recipes for a while.
    Tibetan yak cheese was sold a few years ago at fairway. I was lucky enough to get a bit of it back then. πŸ™‚

    Feel free to hit me up when you reach Germany and Iran. Most of my fam is still in Germany, and are foodies who take pride in their traditional dishes. Also, I was taught how to cook genuine old-school persian food by a former friend.

    Good luck with your pursuits……

    • Hi Sher!

      Thanks for the kind words, I’m glad you’re enjoying it! How was that yak cheese!?!

      I will definitely be in touch for Germany and Iran, two of my favorite cuisines πŸ™‚ You can be sure that some major mast o musir will be in effect…

      Take care,

  7. Love this idea! It makes me nuts how people feel the need to “play” with every dang recipe they find. Sometimes, try it like the locals made it! Keep going man. πŸ™‚

  8. I’m coming to worship you and your blog. I discovered it months ago as I am on my own global cooking journey. My thing is that I don’t know a thing about cooking and trying to learn through this process. Of course, I’m doing one a week (just finished Bosnia and Herzegovina last night) and think I may be passing your present cooking point (Burundi) in a few months. Thanks for the amazing cooking, insight and photography!

    • Cliff! I couldn’t be more pleased about your nice words πŸ™‚ There is no better way to learn how to cook than to see how the entire world does it, am I right? You are doing something amazing, keep it up and don’t quit! And if you ever need some help or have questions, get in touch.

      Best of luck!

    • I found bitterleaf, cooked Cameroonian dishes, edited the photos, half-wrote the piece… and then my advisor informed me that I have until the end of this summer to complete my PhD. So, that has been my whole life for the last several months.

      I defend at the end of August, and then we’ll get back to the important business at hand!

      Thanks for reading πŸ™‚

  9. Hallo Mark, I was wondering whether I could get your permission to use one of your pictures for the cover of my facebook page (Mama Olave’s Kitchen – 100% Plantbased :https://www.facebook.com/www.mamaolave). The picture in question is of a Burundian dish you cooked and photographed that made me miss home like hell :)!!

    Thank you for your attention and THANK YOU for highlighting Burundi food!!

    Best regards,


    • Hi Olave! Thanks so much for your kind words! I’d be happy to let you use the photo for your Facebook page – all I ask in return is that you post a link to the original article on your feed! That way I might get a few more readers, as well.

      Thanks, and best wishes!

  10. Hi Mark, I was planning on this project of cooking a meal of each country and in alphabetical order. This was purely for my own passion and I just blog to keep myself busy and motivated. I then checked wiki for the list of countries and then googled for the first one – Abkhazia. Viola! i came here and am astonished to see my dream was yours too.. I am so glad I have a fall back in case I need help.. I cannot be as rigid as your ideas of using no alternatives.. mine will be a lot more what I have in the pantry types.. love the blog banner! Eeeewww..

    • Ah! Famidha! Yes, a few people have come across my blog as they begin the very same adventure. Mine has slowed down a lot, life has gotten very busy – but I hope to pick up the pace again soon. You will definitely move more quickly if you allow yourself some subsitutions, or choose simpler recipes than the ones I choose. I guess I am just addicted to the challenge, I want to really test the boundaries of what can be done in the U.S.

      Good luck, and feel free to ask me if you have any questions! And please send me a good recipe for kabsa!!! πŸ™‚


  11. I love this blog! Cooking is one of my hobbies, and this blog exposes me to a whole other world of cuisine. You can never stop learning! Mark is an amazing cousin and I know he will continue to do outstanding things! Keep up the great work!

  12. Hi Mark! I just found out about your blog today and I can’t tell you how much I want to go and try some of the recipes myself. Really like the writing and the extensive research done for each one. As a burundian living in the US (in the middle of Minnesota), I am glad to have finally found a lenga-lenga recipe (LOL) as it’s almost impossible to find any home recipes on the web.
    Thanks again and keep up the great work.

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