I think it’s easier to list what I don’t like. I’ve found Philipino food to be boring. Ethiopian and Indian seem to have "heat" and not much more than that to me. Outside of that, it comes down to this. I love Japanese (including sushi), Thai, Vietnamese, all types of Chinese, Middle Eastern, Greek, French, Italian, German, Mexican, South American, all types of American regional (special emphasis on Cajun and roadfood) , Hawaiian, Carribean—-as I said—–not much I don’t enjoy![:D]
Grampy – I don’t believe I have ever heard of that before! I wonder why?
The smell of Ivory soap instantly turns me into a child at my Granny’s house.
I absolutely agree with your take on the sense of smell. Particular words conjure up the sense of smell, no doubt rooted in childhood. Close your eyes and think of the word "restaurant." For me I immediately smell Italian food cooking with bread baking. Consequently, when I smell that food actually cooking, I think "restaurant." Of course, with a hooter like mine, it is no surprise that I should attach such importance to smell. On another note — and this is where you will know I am strange — as a kid, I associated people’s names with food. Betty was ravioli and Steven was salami, for example. No, I haven’t been at the gin this early.
Aren’t our memories most strongly related to the sense of smell? Seems like I read that recently in one of my journals while researching anosmia (wouldn’t it be sad to lose your sense of smell forever?).
I think most women who have had morning sickness can attest that certain smells that made them ill at the time can have the same effect even years later. Mine happens to be lemon-scented cleaning products. I suppose the point I am raising is it the scents and smells of certain foods that trigger an instant association with either good/bad, stressful/happy times to each of our individual memories?
I have probably traveled more out of the US than in it. I have barbequed under an umbrella in Switzerland, made pesto in a 16th century mortar in Paris, baked pizzas in an outdoor clay oven in Uruguay, and cooked up a full Thanksgiving dinner on a sweltering November day in Buenos Aires all the while taking in the cuisines of those countries. I always fall back on Italian because the heart of the cuisine is a basic understanding of elementary, seasonal, fresh ingredients. True, that may be said about all cuisines, but Italian food is my heritage, and I begin with what I know best. My first foray into another cuisine was Chinese, but it was really French that refined my sensibilities for cooking. Still, nothing beats a great burger.
More than anything else, I have learned (am still learning) that is that it all comes down to understanding how individual foods taste, no matter the cuisine, but it is not that simple. I am studying Sichuan cooking right now, and I have discovered that the notion of balancing principle flavors is central to Chinese cooking The six flavors of Sichuan food are ma, la, tian, suan, xian, and ku (basically, pungent hot, sweet, sour, and bitter). But the Chinese have merely identified and put into practice what pit masters and chili-heads alike instinctively do all the time: create a harmony out of individual flavors. All of (okay, most of) the threads on this site are about our quest to find the best "honest" foods and eateries and share them with others. I also agree with the Mayor in that A major contribution is in the eyes of the consumer and what they bring to the table in the way of attitudes and values related to the meal itself. We shape the food as much as it shapes us, literally and figuratively. I promise I ll be funnier next time&
Point well taken Jellybeans.
If you’ve eaten the food in restaurants in the States, I might venture to say that chances are, you’ve had the watered-down versions of those cuisines and of course, American food is always going to be great when you’re in America (it’s crap here in the UK). Same with how my eyes opened with astonishment when I had my first bite of Italian food in Italy, German food in Germany etc…
I think that, looking at these posts, most of us are partial from cradle to grave to our native cuisines. Comfort food is always going to be what’s familiar to us.
another cuisine style i would bring up is kosher. For years kosher cooks have had to substitute things to keep within the dietary laws. I am not talking the jewish deli food or anything else people consider to be "jewish". I am talking about a style of cooking where dishes would be made from any type of geographic area and altered to fit the kosher laws. A few examples:
In Europe, while all thier neighbors used pork and pork fat to make their dishes, observant jews used goose. That changed the flavor and and the dishes.
To make "dairy" desserts to be served after a meat meal, kosher cooks use non dairy ingredients such as soy or almond milk.
This style even alters what jews consider for dishes. For example growing up I never even considered lasagna to have meat in it. For me it was always cheese and spinach because you cant mix the milk and meat. Imagine my surprise when I started dining in non kosher establishment and ordered lasagna to find meat in it! It was alien to me.
I expect the same concept applies to someone who needs to be on a gluten free diet. Changing the ingredients changes the taste, texture, and sometimes appearance to create a style of their own.
I’ve tried most of the world cuisines served in restaurants. They include Chinese, Mexican, Thai, Vietnamese, German, Polish, Japanese, Indian, etc. They all have their pluses, but for me, the variety in American cuisine is tops. Sandwiches, platters, bbq, steaks, seafood…they’re all good.
I prefer good ol’ American.
Depending on whom you are talking to, Krispy Kreme is a cuisine within itself [:D][;)]
Paul E. Smith
Interesting topic. For eating out I tend towards Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, and occasionally pizza or American-style breakfasts (around here my big tranplanted-Canadian treat is to drive to Leesburg for eggs, country ham, grits, and biscuits) and other Americanisms – occasional bagels, BBQ, or seafood. I also love Caribbean food and am looking forward to exploring the joys of Southern US food now that I’m down here (or at least closer to the South than I was). I love Italian and French and Sushi and high-end Ameri-cuisine but have a hard time bringing myself to pay for them in restaurants. At home we eat a lot of rice (jasmine, japanese-style brown, sticky white) and quasi-Asian – stir-fries, Thai-style curries, soups, noodles, as well as a fair amount of quasi-Southwestern/Latino – beans and tortilla variants, arroz con pollo, mexican rice dishes, and quite a bit of what I think of my kind of home-style healthy North American – chicken and/or vegetable and/or legume soups, cooked veggie dishes and salads, many chicken and tofu variants. Last Sunday I made awesome Latkes – gotta love Hannukah! In fact I think I may further indulge the culinary imperatives of my cultural tradition and check out that new Krispy Kreme in Rockville this week….
Al, that was an excellent write and you certainly put a different perspective on cuisine and quite frankly, I had not thought about it like that.
I recall going through basic training at San Antonio. To this day, every time I am there, I get stressed. Great city but the experience clouded my attitude.
You attitude can certainly taint your perception.
Paul E. Smith
I have to be careful not to let my personal politics come to the forefront on this one, Paul. I wish, at times, that I could generalize about a nation’s or culture’s cuisine without having to include those not-food related emotions or feelings about the area that might have an influence upon my ability to enjoy "It".
No, I don’t go into a pissy-fit about the Illegal Alien problem everytime I eat a taco. Or get caught up in the "Freedom Fries debate" before buying a loaf of French bread. But I do link non-food concepts and feelings to the eating experience. To describe those feelings without making them predjuicial to a culture or nation can be difficult… Say that you are headed to a good ‘steak house’, on the way you get into a disagreement with your companion,then the service at the place is over-bearing, rude, or otherwisw dissatisfying in a manner that could be linked to eliteism for the name of the place,or for an effort on the part of the staff to degrade your "worthiness" to share space with them. The result being that you have a less than happy experience at that meal. If that happens several times, it could have an effect on your attitude towards that "type" of meal.
A real simple example– My experience in Vietnam was much less than satisfactory. I was young, right out of high-school , my ability to react to cultural differences was limited (to say the least). I went thru the trama of the ‘outdoor’ environment with alternate periods of extreme distress and violence, and boredom, that I couldn’t possibly been prepared for, and finally I suffered some relatively minor injuries that got me out of there and into a hospital in Japan for a month before finally coming home. To this day, I cannot ‘enjoy’ a relaxed meal in a Viet food establishment. I am too surrounded by the instilled fear and memories of that youthful experience to allow myself to relax. I can eat and enjoy Viet food…but in a neutral environment…not in the "Little Saigon" area of L A . Should I be able to grow out of that? Maybe… But I haven’t. If I have to force myself not to react to that conditioning, I am not going to enjoy the experience anyway, so I will generally avoid that whole cuisine as part of a larger reaction to something that I don’t care to remember. Linked to that is a desire to find good Japanese places like the ones that we sought out during our Recuperation time in the Post Viet Period.
No, There is more to a cuisine than the food…and only part of it is the culture that developes the cuisine itself. A major contribution is in the eyes of the consumer and what they bring to the table in the way of attitudes and values related to the meal itself.
Like Sundancer, I’ve travelled (and lived in) different countries through my life and I really really learned to love eating adventurously and trying out different cuisines.
That said, my absolute favourite are:
Chinese (because I’m Chinese, I’m predisposed to think that it’s the greatest cuisine on earth!)
Italian–I ate EVERYTHING in Italy and I LOVED it (much to the pleasure of many a mom-and-pop type restaurant that served me: the ‘bella regazza’ can eat! Yes she can!). Doesn’t hurt that I cook Italian better than I cook Chinese.
Indian–Having been brought up where wars were fought over the Spice trade, it’s no surprise. South Indian food is yummy with their unleavened breads, coconut-based curries and all.
Some Middle-Eastern stuff–love Lebanese cuisine especially falafels with salads in pitta bread and drizzled with seasoned yoghurt… plus, I make a mean hummus!
Some parts of American cuisine–I don’t eat beef due to religious reasons and I’ve gone off eating anything deep fried or greasy since I made radical changes to my diet 6 years ago, so I don’t eat fast food, hamburgers, fries, onion rings or anything else deep fried. HOWEVER, I do love your cornbread, green bean casserole, any sort of casserole, southern vegetables, granola eaten with yoghurt, peanut-butter-and-banana sandwiches and creamy desserts [:D]
Some parts of British cuisine properly cooked at home like steamed puddings, roasted potatoes and parsnips, a good roast chicken, crumbles, baked goodies etc
German and Belgian beers–everything else tastes like water.
Curries–Thai, Indian, Malay: you name it I love it!
Southeast Asian cuisine in general–spicy salads, sweet-and-spicy snackfoods, coconut-based cooking etc. YUM!!!
Mexican–again, it’s the spice factor. Since I’ve been brought up with intense flavours (even the broth that my grandmother made would be made from bones left simmering until they literally disintegrated upon touch!) I love the kick to the tastebuds of Mexican stuff.
Food in the south of France–plenty of freshly prepared salads, seafood served with aioli and baguettes
Austria–pastries, pastries, PASTRIES
Germany–Aside from the beer, I loved their plum cake that was made with a base that contained yeast and was allowed to rise, spatzle with tomato sauce and cheese and fried apples with custard.
You could say that when I went backpacking through Europe 3 years ago, I also ate my way through Europe and whenever I go visit my family, I’d have to go on a diet when I got back to the UK. I also think that you could tell how international my diet is based on the types of carbs I eat in a week: rice, noodles, couscous, tortillas, mashed potatoes, pasta. And that’s just one week! [:D]
Sundancer, asking a Roadfooder to list their favorite styles of food is impossible, what do we list first? For most of us, the choices are probably infinite. My favorites are Thai, Italian ( a close tie with Thai, no pun intended) Chinese, American as in seafood and steak, cajun, and good southern style BBQ. Where do I put NY style deli sandwiches (pastrami and corned beef)in there? Lets see, I left out Greek (I love Greek salads and gyro’s).
So many choices, so many calories, too little time.
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