Food, Tip Tuesday

Favorite Flavors Of The World

When it comes to individual cultures, one can always look to the local food to uniquely reflect it. Afterall, as the late, great Anthony Bourdain stated “Walk in someone else’s shoes. Or at least eat their food. It’s a plus for everybody.”

Food can be an intensely personal and cultural act. What we eat communicates to others our beliefs, cultural and social backgrounds and experiences, and as the perfect metaphor for life –  how many new things, experiences, tastes we are willing to try. Our good friends at Bitten – a bi-annual food conference in NY/LA – state ” food is a pillar of culture” and we couldn’t agree more. Food memories contribute greatly to the narratives of our lives, probably more than we are aware. But one smell, one flavor can bring back a flood of familiarities we secretly long for. Just a few weeks ago, before his untimely passing, I had actually tweeted at legendary food critic Jonathan Gold, as I was desperately searching for the sopapillas like my mother used to make for us when we were kids (not the savory kind, but the sweet dessert version that you eat straight from the oven and dip in honey. I am salivating just thinking about it!). He so kindly responded:

For some it is a spice, for others a bland but hearty feast, from a high end restaurant or from our mom’s kitchen, but what we know for sure is that that there are myriad possible combinations unique to each person on earth. So why not seek out that flavor that makes you happy and comforted more often? Or try something completely new, in a new place, to make a new memory? For some fun, we put together a list of popular (traditional) meals around the world, and also stumbled across an interesting list on the websites Food In Every Country and Tasteessence.

1. INDIA: It is believed that between 20 per cent and 40 per cent of India’s population are vegetarian – a statistic made difficult to pinpoint due to the fact that Indian Hindus do not consider people who eat eggs to be vegetarian. Therefore, Indian dinners can consist of a carbohydrate of rice, rotis or naanserved with daal lentils or meat and cooked vegetables. But an average dinner will depend on the dozens of regional variations.

2. CHINA: When a group dines together many dishes are served at once at eaten from a small plate. With eight major regional cuisines in China, what is served can vary wildly. Dishes can include Pkeing duck, Xiao Long Bao dumplings, Chow Fun noodles consisting of seafood or meat, Hong Kong-style bundles of minced shrimp and egg noodles served in a wonton broth, or a fondue-like hot pot. Dishes are served with lashing of soy sauces, vinegar, or hot pepper oil.

3. JAPAN: With one of the world’s longest life expectancies, and very few case of obesity, the longevity of the Japanese people is mainly attributed to their healthy diet which is largely made up of fish, vegetables, and plants. One defining quality is that Japanese cuisine emphasizes quality and not quantity. The seven pillars of the typical Japanese meal: Rice, Noodles (ramen, soba, somen, and udon), Vegetable including sea vegetables and daikon radish, Soy (soy sauce, tofu, miso,edamame), Fish such as salmon, mackerel, Green tea, Fruits, like tangerine, persimmons and Fuji grapes

4: KOREA: A typical Korean meal consists of a bowl of rice, a bowl of soup or stew, and some side dishes as accompaniments. But within that basic structure, there is a deliciously wide variation of dishes for every season and palate. Koreans use a huge range of vegetables from wild greens to the leaves of flowers, everything from the sea including seaweed and jellyfish, and all types of meat and poultry in diverse preparations. Koreans may have hundreds of ways to pickle vegetables and wild greens for long storage, but they also prize raw fish and raw meat dishes.

5: THAILAND: The Thai (pronounced TIE) people migrated to their present homeland from southern China about 2,000 years ago. They brought with them the spicy cooking of their native Yunan province, as well as its dietary staple, rice. Other Chinese influences on Thai cooking included the use of noodles, dumplings, soy sauce, and other soy products. Like the Chinese, the Thais based their recipes on blending five basic flavors: salty, sweet, sour, bitter, and hot. From nearby India came not only the Buddhist religion, but also spicy seasonings such as cumin, cardamom, and coriander, as well as curry dishes. The Malays, to the south, further shared seasonings, as well as their love of coconuts and the satay (a dish that is similar to shish kebabs). Since 1970, Thai cooking has become extremely popular in both North America and Britain.

6. BRAZIL: Brazil’s national dish is feijkoada – a thick stew with pork and beef that is prepared in a clay pot and served with rice. Yams or tapioca are also eaten as the carbohydrate component in dishes. A light dinner could consist of coffee, bread, cheese and cold cuts of meat.

7. MEXICO: Though Mexican cuisine is a blend of indigenous (Indian) and Spanish influences, most Mexicans continue to eat more native foods, such as corn, beans, and peppers. Corn It can be found in almost every meal, usually in the form of the tortilla (flatbread). Popular fruits and vegetables are tomatoes, tomatillos (green tomatoes), squash, sweet potato, avocado, mango, pineapple, papaya, and nopales (from the prickly pear cactus). Though beef is consumed, chicken and pork are more common. The variety of chilies includes the widely known jalapeño, as well as the poblano serrano , and chipotle . Chilies give Mexican cooking a distinctive flavor, which is often enhanced with herbs, such as cilantro and thyme, and spices, including cumin, cinnamon, and cloves.

8. IRAN: Steamed rice is the centrepiece of Iranian cooking, and is often seasoned with saffron, apricots and currants – known as jewelled rice – or with dill. Heaps of rice are served with earthy curries – often made with ground nuts – with meat stews, or alongside kebabs and fish. Aash, a type of thick soup sometimes containing noodles and barley – is also popular.

9. ITALY: Italy is known for its myriad types of pasta and pizza, but dishes of meat, vegetables and fish are also enjoyed as the chief component of main meals. A traditional Italian mean consists of a small antipasto starter; a first course of pasta, soup, rice or polenta; followed by the secondo main course alongside a platter of vegetables, known as the contorno.

10. FRANCE: A bouillabaisse, a baked camembert with pears, and a classic coq au vin are only few of the entries on our list of traditional French food recipes. Traditional French food relies on simple combinations that enhance the rich, natural flavors of basic ingredients. Anyone’s first step into the world of French cuisine should start with experimenting with diverse French cheese and wine, which France is renowned for. From simple, traditional recipes to complex dishes, it’s not difficult to find a top French food to suit your taste.

11: ETHIOPIA: Ethiopians are rightly proud of their culture and take pains to preserve traditional foodways. Ethiopian is one of the best cuisines for vegetarians and vegans, since these traditions mean there’s always a large variety of veggie options on the menu. You can’t go wrong with the bayenetu, a colorful smorgasbord of vegetable dishes arranged on a round of injera.

12. NIGERIA: A hugely diverse country, Nigeria does not have on particular national dish. But spiced boiled yams, or isu, stews with fish, and spicy jollof rice make up many Nigerian dinners. Cassava, corns, beans and plantains also often appear in Nigeria food.

13. USA: Meat and potatoes of various styles dominate dinner plates in the US: be it hamburger and chips, fried chicken with mash potatoes, or steak with baked potatoes. However, different parts of this enormous country vary greatly – traditional dishes somewhere like New Orleans will be very different (and spicer) than Chicago, and certainly more seafood will be eaten in California than Iowa. Not to mention, particular immigrant history will inform each City uniquely.

 

Author: Carrie Mitchell

Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)