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Road to Rio on your stomach
Liberty Foodie
Patty Leon

The 2016 Olympics starts this week and I plan to run in my own Olympic sport — eating my way around the world. By the time the 2016 games end I will have earned my gold medal.

Well either that or 20 new pounds.

Let’s start with the host venue Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

I’ve heard of a traditional Brazilian dish that is popular among the locals called feijoada. Basically it is a thick and hearty black bean stew that also has cuts of pork meat and chunks of sausage. If made the traditional way it takes a solid 24 hours to meld those flavors together.

Let’s venture off to another competing country and savor and exotic taste – Fiji.

Populated by native Melanesian and Polynesian islanders, as well as folks of Indian and European descent, Fiji offers a flavor explosive palate of foods. It’s also a seafood lover’s paradise.

A popular Fijian dish is kokoda. Perfectly diced and cut raw pieces of fresh fish are marinated in lime juice for 30-45 minutes which allows the juice to “cook” the fish. The juice is drained and then the fish is mixed with coconut milk, shallots, red and green capsicum, tomato, cucumber and a host of herbs and spices.

OMG, only two places in and already loosening the belt.

Let’s stay truly exotic and venture to another country for a quick taste of Iceland. Here is another place where bountiful fresh arctic fish like cod, haddock, herring and salmon make up the mainstay of diets.

But if we want to try something different, hit up something Icelanders tend to eat for either breakfast, lunch or as a snack and sometimes drink (think smoothie not liquor this time). Skyr has been part of Iceland’s cuisine for thousands of years. It is a cultured dairy product that most would consider something like yogurt but in fact it is more like a soft cheese. Much like yogurt, Icelanders tend to serve this by adding flavors like vanilla, or topping the skyr with fresh berries and fruit.

Well so far I’ve loaded up on a bowl of feijoada, followed it up with a small bowl of kokoda and hit my sweet tooth with a serving of skyr. Time to wash that all down with a beer, of course.

And not just any beer. Nope for my trip around the world I am getting my beer in the same place you wouldn’t expect to have a bobsled team from — Jamaica.

While the most well-known beer from Jamaica is Red Stripe, I am more partial to the dark and creamy Dragon stout with its hints of caramel, coffee and chocolate. Another favorite of mine is Kingston beer. And many may not know this but Heineken is actually brewed in Jamaica.

So drink up, ya man!

Of course while in Jamaica hit up the spicy jerk chicken dishes or some well stewed ox-tail over savory spiced rice.

Staying somewhat remote and exotic, my next dish takes us to Senegal. Flavorful soups stews and rice dishes abound and many tend to use peanut butter. One such dish is mafe.

Chicken, lamb or fish is simmered in a peanut butter sauce and cooked with yucca, potatoes, turnips and other hearty vegetables.

After all the food grab a quick pick-me-up with a traditional Senegalese drink called touba. The coffee beans are ground along with a spicy black pepper and served with lots of sugar. They say it will not only wake you up but helps settle the stomach.

And after eating through the first few countries I will definitely need something to settle this full belly.

I have tried a few of these dishes. I’ve eaten feijoada, plenty of Jamaican food and of course all the beers. Skyr can be ordered online and I plan to try that this week. Other dishes I plan to recreate at home in my quest to eat around the Olympic village.

If you had a chance to eat your way around the world where would you go?

Send me an email and let me know what exotic foods you would like to hear about. Maybe they’ll be featured in the next Liberty Foodie.

You can reach Patty Leon at

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