See the world one meal at a time.
Travel and dining out are still a precarious and potentially dangerous endeavor thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. That's why we're celebrating the almighty staycation this summer. Admittedly, we don't easily tire of all-American burgers, dogs and barbecue but sometimes taking your alfresco evening meal or small and socially distanced dinner party somewhere outside the States, culturally speaking, can serve as a welcome change.
One way to kickstart a culinary tour de monde is by acquiring a new piece of international cookware. Throw a traditional Chinese hot pot party dinner party, for instance, fit with dum sum and lychee martinis or make tacos from scratch using a cast-iron tortilla press and serve them with margaritas. With globe-trotting plans mostly dashed last year, getting creative with a homemade meal can help bring the world to you, even if only for the night, and chances are you'll discover a new recipe or two in the process. Check out a few great pieces of international cookware, all available online with safe shipping to your door.
This traditional Morrocan cookware achieves a similar result as a Dutch oven. Because some are unglazed, proponents of the clay tagine claim you'll get a taste of the earthenware imparted as well. Tagines are traditionally used over low, slow heat sources like charcoal but since that might not be possible at home you can use it in your oven set on low, not unlike a braise. Tagines look pretty darn cool too and so you could, and definitely should serve food from the base of the pot. This 2.5-quart clay tagine is glazed in blue and white but you can also find classic unglazed tagines without breaking the bank. See this handy guide from specialty food blogger My Moroccon Food to learn more about use and care.
Speaking of cookware that's also perfect to serve in, a steamer basket is the absolute best for making and plating your favorite Chinese dim sum. Steaming keeps flavor locked-in better than boiling but leaves off the excess oil and grease associated with pan-frying. This attractive woven bamboo steamer comes in three sizes. The only other tools you'll need are a skillet, wok or pot wide enough for the steamer to fit in and some water. Plus a few homemade or store-bought dim sum to cook, of course.
Read more on Chowhound: Dim Sum: A culinary odyssey
I likely don't need to explain what a wok is, but you may be surprised at how easy and effective they are -- especially for making a quick stir-fry. The high sloped sides allow you to circulate food for fast and even cooking without falling victim to a flat pan's hot spots. When using a wok -- which originated in Japan -- you'll want to keep things moving and some simple technique is required. Over time, a proper wok will take on deep flavor -- not unlike cast iron skillets. Size is also important when picking a wok since you'll be handling it more than a skillet. This 12-inch steel wok from Scanpan is light enough not to give your wrist much trouble but large enough for just about any job.
Read more: Chowhound's most popular stir-fry recipes
Hibachi is simple Japanese cooking over a small charcoal fire. It's often done communally with folks skewering meats, seafood and vegetables and cooking them over the hot grill. This simple konro hibachi grill from Japanese retailer Korin comes with a sturdy wooden base and metal net screen to rest the skewers on.
There are few more fun and social ways to cook and eat than Chinese hot pot -- called shabu-shabu in Japan. Assemble thinly sliced meats and vegetables for everyone to cook in a steaming and flavorful hot broth and serve it all with rice. Unless you have a free-standing burner, you'll need a self-heating hot pot like this Open Kitchen cooker from Williams Sonoma.
Read more on Chowhound: How to host a Chinese hot pot dinner party
Homemade tortillas are the best tortillas and making them is a lot easier than you might think. You'll benefit greatly from a tortilla press but it's a simple gadget so don't overthink it (or pay too much). This Victoria cast iron number would do the trick. You can press any number of flatbreads with this tool too, including Indian roti or Japanese seaweed crackers.
Read more: Chowhound's ultimate guide to tacos
French crepes are a tricky business and getting them exactly right starts with having the right pan. A crêpe pan, to be specific. The low, sloped sides make it easier to flip and remove your crepes, which is necessary to keep them from burning. This de Buyer pan is made from sturdy blue steel and is just under 10 inches across.
Read more on Chowhound: What is the difference between crêpes and pancakes?
Speaking of skewers, grill some traditional hibachi skewers or Brazilian barbecue on your new grill with these Wusthof stainless-steel skewers. The wide flat profile will keep food in place as it cooks, so feel free to load 'em up.
Read more on Chowhound: Skewers and kabobs for summer barbecue
When you think of raclette, images of oozy, gooey cheese probably start dancing in your head. That's good because a raclette grill features melted cheese a-plenty. It's a bit of a cross between fondue, hibachi and shabu-shabu where grill your meats and veggies on top while the cheese melts below into a perfect dipping sauce, ready to be mopped up or drizzled over the proteins. This self-heating unit is just $50 and has all you need to pull off a raclette party at home. French wine not included.