The Ultimate World Cuisine Smackdown! Or, How We Earn Our Keep.


If we haven’t said it enough times already, we are pretty damn fortunate when it comes to the caring family and friends we have.

We’ve been jetting around the province, trying to soak in as much time with everyone as possible. It’s been fantastic, we’ve been so generously provided for – with comfy beds, great food, and even better company. We have loved every minute of it, but are truly and utterly exhausted!

And so when we arrived in Gull Lake, Alberta (another beautiful place you won’t see in any Lonely Planet guide books) to visit our good friends Sharon and Daren, we had a feeling we would be staying a little longer than we anticipated.

Last summer we visited them in the same location, but their home was just being built. We wandered the skeleton of a house, and they showed us where the “Dalene & Pete room” would be.

Fast forward to the present and we were able to happily test “our” room. We originally planned to stay only for a few days, but after a couple days of relaxing, sublime lakeside living, kayaking, and some intense card playing, we invited ourselves to stay for an entire week.

Dalene Kayaking Gull Lake Alberta

Dalene in her happy place.

We were determined to earn our keep, and found a few ways to do so. (Their kayaks desperately needed a workout, and their TV wasn’t going to watch itself, right?) Most importantly though, we figured that the perfect way to treat them would be to cook some of the international cuisine we had enjoyed over the past year. At the end of the week, they would vote on which country they would choose to visit based on the food they ate.

Our International Menu


Monday: Turkey


Turkey Food


Spending 3 months in Turkey gave us plenty of ideas of what to prepare. The meal consisted of Gözleme (a pastry-like dish that is stuffed with feta cheese and fresh spinach), and Manti (a tasty ravioli-like dish that is covered with garlic yogurt, chili oil and dill). We may have cheated a wee bit with the ingredients based on what we could find, but overall it was pretty close to that which we enjoyed in Turkey.


Tuesday: Jordan

Jordan Food

After learning how to cook at Petra Kitchen, we were excited to recreate the excellent dishes. We prepared Baba Ganuj with fresh pita chips, Hummus (a Jordanian staple with every meal) and Jordanian chicken wraps.


Wednesday: Italy

Italy Food

When you think of Italy, you think of the food, and it is a universal favorite. We made a Caprese Salad with a reduced balsamic vinagrette to go along with a homemade capocollo and basil pizza. Simple and delicious.


Thursday: Ireland

Ireland Food

Ireland is not exactly known for it’s excellent cuisine, but a good Guinness stew is still one of our favorite meals. To go along with the stew we made some cheddar biscuits.


The Result


Jordan won for the best meal! Turkey was a close second followed by Italy than Ireland. Perhaps it was the introduction to new flavors that aren’t typical to Canada which brought both Jordan and Turkey to the top, but the fresh, healthy ingredients typical of Jordanian food are just hard to beat. Even with a good pizza.




Want to include British cuisine in your own “Ultimate World Cuisine Smackdown”? Sample it with a trip to England! Maybe visit Grange Hotel for a London hotel, or book a hotel in Earls Court here.

26 Comments... Read them below or add one of your own
  • October 10 2012

    If you were my family and didn’t share all your wicked food knowledge, I would’ve kicked you to the curb long ago lol

    • October 13 2012

      Pete has had his work cut out for him while he’s here – we have to earn our beds somehow!

  • October 10 2012

    Admittedly, one of the major reasons I want to travel is to learn about cultures through food. There’s so much history and culture in a country’s food, I just think it’s a great way to open a conversation and understand a little better. It’s also something we all need, so it’s a good common ground. Oh, and I like to eat.

    • October 13 2012

      Carmel, if you haven’t heard of it yet, check out the “Food Traveler’s Handbook” by Jodi Ettenberg (@legalnomads) – it is a GREAT book on that exact topic, and I think you would really enjoy it. 🙂

      • October 13 2012

        I follow her too and plan to get the book when it comes out in digital format (so I will have it on our travels) 🙂

  • October 10 2012

    I would pick Jordan from those choices as well. Italy does have amazing food, but after living here for just 3 months, I was ready for some variety. And 3 1/2 years later, I get more excited to eat anything other than Italian whenever we leave the country.

    By the way, totally drooling over your food pictures. You’re welcome to come to Italy and “earn your keep” just so long as you don’t cook me Italian! 😉
    Jennifer recently posted..Guimaraes: 2012 European Capital of Culture

    • October 13 2012

      There is SUCH great variety in Jordanian food. I dream of plates of hummus thanks to our time there. I was not surprised our friends picked Jordan!

  • Steph (@ 20 Years Hence)
    October 10 2012

    If we had a home to call our own, you would be welcome to it any time to conduct these global taste tests! It all looks amazing, and I hope I can pick up some new recipes and flavor profiles while we’re on the road.

    • October 13 2012

      That really IS why we wrote this post – to get more invites from other people – haha! 🙂

  • October 10 2012

    What a fantastic idea! It’s always hard to answer the question “So, how was your trip? Tell me everything.” Cooking the dishes you enjoyed most while traveling seems like a great way to show your appreciation and enjoyment for the country while serving as a great segue to talking about your trip. I LOVE this idea and will definitely be stealing it! lol Thanks for sharing!

  • Sharon and Daren
    October 11 2012

    When are you coming back??!! The “Dalene and Peter room” needs you! Not to mention we may have become a little malnourished since you left….

    Seriously, thanks for the fun times and AWESOME food! You are welcome back

    • October 13 2012

      We miss our room. A LOT. (Oh, and you guys) 🙂

  • Chrystal McKay
    October 10 2012

    What a great idea! And what a wonderful treat for your friends!

    Although I have taken up cooking and thoroughly enjoy it, I don’t know how well I’d do with cooking international cuisines. I mostly stick to soups because they are easy to make!

    • October 13 2012

      Actually, all of those meals were pretty easy to make – some were time consuming – but nothing too difficult!

  • Ter
    October 11 2012

    I agree with Steph. Anytime you want to perform other culinary smackdowns, our kitchen is your kitchen. 🙂

    • October 13 2012

      Maybe one night this week we’ll come and cook a Jordanian feast! Problem may be getting the kids to eat it… 🙂

  • October 11 2012

    All of the meals look amazing and healthy! The Guinness stew looks like it would be a great meal on a cold Canadian winter day.
    Thomas @ World Wild Travel recently posted..Long Weekend Food-a-thon – Eating Our Way Through Chicago

    • October 13 2012

      That Guinness stew is quite delicious, and like you said, PERFECT for a cold Canadian (or Irish!) winter day!

  • This would also be a great way to select the next destination for a family vacation! I’m sure your friends appreciated this. I know I would. Superb idea!
    Debbie Beardsley @ European Travelista recently posted..Beer & Gossiping during Medieval Times!

    • October 13 2012

      Thanks Debbie! We sure had a lot of fun crafting our menu as well!

  • October 13 2012

    All of the food looks amazing! And I love this idea, so creative.
    Candice recently posted..5 Delicious European Road Snacks

  • Emily in Chile
    October 17 2012

    Umm, please come to Chile. We have a very nice guest room and will happily participate in a food challenge.

    • October 19 2012

      Ooh! Sure, we’ll be right over! 🙂

  • October 24 2012

    Food is the best thing to treat and share with friends or loved ones.

    In Kolkata, India we do a similar dish to baba Ganush. We add a few drops of mustard oil and garnish with coriander, then eat that with freshly made roti.

    Next time, we meet. We’ll do a few recipe exchanges 🙂

    Safe hectic travels.

    • Pete
      October 26 2012

      Thanks Kash, and for sure we’ll trade up some recipes. Better yet, hopefully we’ll have access to a kitchen and we can do a bloggers feast! That dish you describe above sounds delicious, what is the name of it?

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