The first time I traveled abroad—to South Korea—one of the things I enjoyed most was sampling all the different foods available in different regions of the country. Every town I visited had large all-week outdoor markets with tables overflowing with regional, exotic fruits I’d never heard of before, chili peppers and cabbages, whole pigs’ heads, a dizzying variety of squid, bottles of ginseng and jars of fermented vegetables with chili paste, known as kimchi—a national staple.
I would wander through the markets almost every day, exploring new sights and smells, ordering from food stalls, and picking up what I needed for that night’s dinner which I cooked over a little propane stove. At just 26 years old, living this way felt so grown-up, so cosmopolitan!
Because of my experience in South Korea, sampling the different foods available around a country has become my favorite access point for connecting with and understanding a culture whenever I travel anywhere.
So when I was given a copy of And Here We Are at the Table – Grain-Free Meals from Around the World to check out, I was very excited. I get a lot of cookbooks to review, but this particular one was different because it was written by another person who enjoys exploring the world via food and culinary traditions, too.
But once I opened it, what I discovered inside blew me away…
An Uncommonly Wonderful Cookbook
And Here We Are at the Table is not your typical grain-free cookbook. Each of the 80 beautifully-photographed, international recipes reflects not only Ariana’s experience living and cooking in several different countries, but also her deep love of gathering around a delicious meal with friends and family.
Like my experience in South Korea taught me, this book approaches mealtimes as an opportunity for good conversation, connection, and revival—no matter where you are eating or with whom you are sharing your table.
But And Here We Are at the Table is much, much more than an international cookbook. It’s also:
- A travelogue detailing Ariana’s adventures from around the world that lead to the recipes you are preparing.
- A memoir of the most enjoyable meals and people she has spent time with at the table from around the world.
- A guide to foraging, global markets and the basics that all good cooks should know.
To give you a literal taste of what this masterpiece offers, I’ve included one of my favorite recipes from the book, below. But I strongly encourage you to check out the book in greater detail to see just what I’m talking about—including many more photos, recipes and stories.
I mean, just look at how beautiful this book is…
If you like good traveling stories, and enjoy well-seasoned, tasty whole food meals from around the world, you really don’t want to miss this book.
Without further ado…
Coconut Chicken Curry
- 2 tablespoons virgin coconut oil
- 1 whole chicken, cut into parts (I kept the wings out, to use them for chicken stock)
- 3 onions, yellow or white
- 3-4 carrots
- 1 turnip
- 1 1-inch knob fresh ginger, smashed
- 3 cloves garlic, smashed
- 2 tablespoons curry powder
- 1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
- ground black pepper
- sea salt
- 15 ounces coconut milk, not low fat, please!
- fresh lemon juice, lime juice, or apple cider vinegar
- small bunch fresh cilantro
- In a large pot, heat up your coconut oil over medium heat. Put the chicken pieces in, skin-side down, to brown. You will probably need to do this in a couple batches. Give them plenty of time– if you try to turn them too soon, the skin will stick to the bottom. If they release easily, then they are probably ready to turn.
- Brown the other side, too. Remove the pieces from the pot when they’re browned.
- Add your onions to the oil in the pan, and use a wooden spatula to scrape up the bits of chicken stuck to the bottom of the pan. Let them cook for about 4 minutes or so, then add the carrots and keep scraping for another minute or two. Salt a little as you go, to build flavor.
- Add the spices, ginger and garlic in, and stir them with the vegetables and let them toast in the oil for about a minute–you don’t want them to burn, just to get really fragrant.
- Add the turnips, put the chicken pieces back into the pot, and pour in the coconut milk. Add a little hot water to the can to rinse and add that to the pot, as well–the liquid should be about to the chicken on top.
- Cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour.
- Check for seasoning*, and add lemon juice to taste–a nice little acid kick here is important for flavor balance. Add more salt or pepper, if needed. Top with chopped cilantro right before serving.
- *Here’s an extra tip for cooking with Indian spices: If you don’t think your dish is flavorful enough at the end of cooking, you can add a wonderful, pungent kick of flavor by heating up some oil and toasting more spices and garlic in the hot oil to add to the pot right before you serve. This is especially great for dishes like lentils, that can get bland as they cook for a long time.