Travel the World with Food
The midday meal has always been the main meal of the day, although the Greeks won’t sit down to eat until about 2pm. Shops and businesses have traditionally always closed at 2pm. At this time, all Greeks would go home to have their main meal of the day. Everyone would come together to sit down and spend some time together at the table, leisurely eating their way through several courses or plates of food.There would be plates of appetizers, salads – the Greeks wouldn’t consider a meal complete without one type of salad or another on the table, and a main meal such as meat, fish or a baked dish such as Stifado or Moussaka. There would be a basket of thick slices of crusty bread. A caraffe of red wine would complete this meal. After this hefty meal, they would have a siesta, and lie down for an hour or two, to rest, to digest their meal and in the summer months to get a break from the heat. Siesta’s normally lasted from 2-5pm. If Greeks were having their meal at a Taverna, they could easily sit there for 2 or 3 hours, taking their time over their food, and enjoying the company. Eating is never rushed in Greece!
Some evenings, shops and businesses would then re-open from 5.30 – 8.30ish. Some would return to work at this time, others may go out shopping, making the most of the cooler weather in the summer months.
Italy is a nation of regions and each village, town, and city developed a way of cooking unique to the area. Sauces, pastas, sausages, wines, cheeses, and breads differ not just from region to region, but from town to town. Authentic Italian food known today came into existence over many years of trial and error, mixing new ideas with old, and creating dishes with the freshest ingredients available.
- February 13th is National “Eat Italian Food” Day
- Prosciutto was banned for export to the U.S. until 1989. Mortadella and Speck were outlawed until 2000. Other meats, including cotechino and zampone, are still banned today.
- Italians do not put meatballs on spaghetti: the average Italian meal is divided in two parts, primo piatto and secondo piatto.
- It was not until the 1700’s until tomato sauce was included with spaghetti in Italian kitchens.
- Italian wedding soup is not a traditional soup served at weddings.
- The term Neapolitan Ice Cream originated in the U.S. in the late 19th century, and is presumably a reference to the 3 layered ice cream cakes of Tortoni, a Neapolitan.
- There are more than 600 pasta shapes produced worldwide.
- In the 13th century, the Pope set quality standards for pasta.
- The average person in Italy eats more than 51 pounds of pasta every year. The average person in North America eats about 15-1/2 pounds per year.1
- Most Italians eat pasta at least once a day. But that doesn’t mean they eat the same thing every day! There so many ways to eat pasta, with a variety of different toppings and sauces, that they never get bored.
- Each region in Italy has it’s favourite ways to eat pasta. In Rome, two classics are the carbonara (with eggs and pancetta, which is like bacon) and the cacio e pepe (with cheese and pepper).
- Approximately 500 million snails are consumed per year in France.
- The legal drinking age is 18 for liquors containing over 21 percent alcohol but just 16 for most other alcoholic beverages. Many teenagers drink wine with their parents at home, although it is often watered down to begin with. Wine is considered a very important part of the meal and the French are the second biggest consumers of alcohol per capita in the western world after Luxembourg.
- McDonalds outlets in France serve beer and you can order a Croque McDuo! The prices are nearly double those in the USA and triple those in Hong Kong but most locals don’t mind as the reason for the price difference is that 90% of all ingredients are sourced locally. Only the best for the French McDonalds!
- The French value mealtimes so much that a two hour lunch break is not uncommon. Outside of the major cities, don’t be surprised if all shops and government buildings are closed between 12pm and 2pm.
- A massive ten billion baguettes are baked and sold each year in France and there are strict laws governing their production. To call itself a baguette it must only contain three ingredients – flour, yeast and salt; absolutely no preservatives – and each must weight precisely 250 grams.
- The French consume an average of 25 kilograms per person, per year, which makes them the largest consumer of cheese in the world. It is unsurprising therefore that the country produces a huge variety consisting of over 300 different cheeses. Cheese is served as a dish on its own as part of a multi-course meal, after the main course and before the dessert.
- An average of two recipe books are published each day in France.
- There are over 5,000 restaurants in Paris alone.
- Some cheeses made from goats’ milk are covered with charcoal ash before being stored away to mature, which helps to absorb any surface moisture and preserves them for long periods.
- French food is extremely varied as each region has its own distinctive cuisine and style, crafted from local produce and determined by the seasons. For example, the Alps region is known for its warming cheese-focused dishes such as fondue and raclette, Provencal food embraces olive oils, fresh tomatoes and wild herbs, and in Normandy the food is rich with butter and creme fraiche, balanced by apples.
Mexico can be classified by region by their indigenous foods.
- The Northern region is well-known for meat and cheeses;
- The North-Pacific coast grows more fruit and vegetables;
- The Bajio region contains more rice, pork, and sausages;
- The South-Pacific coast growing a large variety of chili pepper, chicken, and cheese;
- The Southern region is known for corn and spices;
- The Gulf region has corn and vanilla.
- Other foods that a quite popular are sauteed sweet plantains, chicken or beef chimichangas, green chile spinach quiche, Mexian quinoa, flan, sopapillas, and Mexican brownies. These foods are always a good choice when looking for meals to indulge in.
- The Mexican cuisine is uniquely special because it is recreated all over the world. There are Mexican style restaurants in every country because the food is hearty, well-cooked and displayed, richly colorful and full of flavor, as well as simply delicious.
- The possibilities and combinations are endless for the adventurous travelers. The best Mexican cuisine in the world is all around the beautiful country of Mexico. The only problem is deciding on only one meal out of the vast number of choices.
The difference between Spanish food and Mexican food?
Spanish food is considered a Mediterranean cuisine, with influences from the Middle East. Saffron, honey, and tons of garlic and olive oil are used extensively. In Mexico, beans and tortillas make up the foundations of the diet, and are consumed much more often then they are in Spain.
- Spanish food is not spicy! Chile peppers in Latin American countries make food tangy, but Spanish food is seldom hot. Maybe a little garlicky though.
- You won’t find corn or flour tortillas in Spanish food. In Spain tortillas are a very popular and delicious egg and potato dish.
- According to Indian food theory, there are six different tastes: sweet, sour, salty, spicy, bitter, and astringent
- India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person
- 70% of all the world’s spices come from India
- While people often think ‘curry’ when they think ‘Indian food’, many don’t actually know what that means. Truthfully, it’s a blend of spices that Indians often refer to as garam masala, which usually includes tamarind, cinnamon, black and white pepper, cloves, cumin, and cardamom. Additionally, this isn’t used in ever dish, rather it’s only added to some, along with other spices which make each unique.
- The Indian food of today can be traced back 5,000 years to the Harappan civilization, where vegetables were an integral portion of their meals.
- Chicken Tikka Masala, a popular dish in India, is not Indian. It was invented in Glasgow, Scotland!
- Indian food system classifies food into three categories –Saatvic (fresh vegetables and juice), Raajsic (oily and spicy food) and Taamsic (Meat and liquor).Saatvic food leads you to higher states of consciousness. Raajsic food is the foundation of activity and motion. Taamsic food brings out negative feelings.
Cajun and Creole Food
Whats the difference?
Creole cuisine uses tomatoes and proper Cajun food does not. That’s how you tell a Cajun vs. Creole gumbo or jambalaya. A vastly simplified way to describe the two cuisines is to deem Creole cuisine as “city food” while Cajun cuisine is often referred to as “country food.” Cajun and Creole are two distinct cultures, and while over the years they continue to blend, there is still a vast distinction in Louisiana, and both have their own unique stories.
The word “Cajun” originates from the term “les Acadians,” which was used to describe French colonists who settled in the Acadia region of Canada which consisted of present-day New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. The Acadians were an extremely resourceful people who combined the flatlands, bayous, and wild game of South Louisiana with its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico to create a truly unique local cuisine. While many Acadiana residents today have Native American, German, French, or Italian roots, among others (which have all influence Louisiana Cuisine in the their own ways), their way of life is strongly influenced by the Cajun culture. Along with its food, this rural area of Louisiana is famous for its Cajun French music and language. With no access to modern-day luxuries like refrigerators, early Cajuns learned to make use of every part of a slaughtered animal. When a pig is butchered the event is called a “boucherie.” Boudin, a type of Cajun sausage which consists of pork meat, rice, and seasoning stuffed into a casing, also commonly contains pig liver for a little extra flavor. Tasso and Andouille are two other Cajun pork products that use salts and smoke as preservatives. Cajun food is famous for being very well seasoned which is sometimes misunderstood as spicy. Seasoning is one of the most important parts of Cajun cooking, and that comes from much more than a heavy helping of cayenne pepper. Most dishes begin with a medley of vegetables based on the French mirepoix. “The holy trinity of Cajun cuisine” utilizes onion, celery, and bell pepper (rather than carrots) to provide a flavor base for many dishes. Garlic is never far away from any stove, either. Paprika, thyme, file (ground sassafras leaves), parsley, green onions, and much more are also very common ingredients in Cajun kitchens.
The term “Creole” describes the population of people who were born to settlers in French colonial Louisiana, specifically in New Orleans. In the 18th century Creoles consisted of the descendants of the French and Spanish upper class that ruled the city. Over the years the term Creole grew to include native-born slaves of African descent as well as free people of color. Typically, the term “French Creole” described someone of European ancestry born in the colony and the term “Louisiana Creole” described someone of mixed racial ancestry.
Like the people, Creole food is a blend of the various cultures of New Orleans including Italian, Spanish, African, German, Caribbean, Native American, and Portuguese, to name a few. Creole cuisine is thought of as a little higher brow or aristocratic compare to Cajun. Traditionally, slaves in the kitchens of well-to-do members of society prepared the food. Due to the abundance of time and resources, the dishes consisted of an array of spices from various regions and creamy soups and sauces. A remoulade sauce, for example, which consists of nearly a dozen ingredients, would not typically be found in Cajun kitchens. Creole cuisine has a bit more variety, because of the easier access Creoles had to exotic ingredients and the wide mix of cultures that contributed to the cuisine. That’s why you find tomatoes in Creole jambalaya and not in Cajun jambalaya or why a lot of times you find a Creole roux made with butter and flour while a Cajun roux is made with oil and flour.
Soul food is an African-American cuisine that primarily originated in the Southern United States and is very similar to the cuisine of the Southern United States.
1. Soul food is niche within American southern cuisine.
Let’s start with figuring out, what the heck soul is to begin with since the distinction between soul and southern cuisine are hard to make. In the 1969 Soul Food Cookbook, Bob Jeffries summed it up well by saying: “While all soul food is southern food, not all southern food is ‘soul.’ Soul food cooking is an example of how really good southern Negro cooks cooked with what they had available to them.”
2. The term soul food didn’t even exist before the 60s.
With the rise of the civil rights and Black Nationalism movements during that era, many African Americans sought to establish their cultural legacy. So terms like “soul music” made way for “soul food” to describe the food that their ancestors had been cooking for generations.
3. The traditional West African diet was mostly vegetarian!
If you think soul food came from a tradition of cooking a bunch of hog maws and piles of fried chicken, think again! For thousands of years, the traditional West African diet was mostly vegetarian, centered on things like millet, rice, okra, hot peppers, and yams. Big portions of meat were for special occasions!
4. The transatlantic slave trade brought many foods to the Americas from BOTH Africa and Europe.
Rice, sorghum and okra were West African staples while foods like cabbage came from Portugal. Read more about the slave diet here.
5. Only around 4% of all African slaves traded during colonial times went to North America.
Did you know that the largest population of African blood outside of Africa is Brazil? Depending on who you ask, as little as 4% of African slaves went to North America… Brazil absorbed by far the most future soul brothers and sisters. By the way , ‘collard greens’ are called ‘couve’ in Brazil and in Portugal.
6. Collard greens have been eaten for at least 2000 years!
It’s believed that even Ancient Greeks even ate collard greens. In soul cooking, collard greens are typically boiled down in a pot of salted water with a piece of smoked meat like a hamhock or turkey leg, and it’s a soul food classic.
7. That scrumptious broth leftover in the pot after cooking greens is called ‘potlikker’.
Potlikker contains essential vitamins and minerals including iron and vitamin C. Especially important is that it contains a lot of vitamin K, which aids in blood clotting. So, maybe you should concentrate of drinking up that potlikker instead of picking on that ham hock next time? Might save you a heart attack.
8. Black eyed peas are good luck on New Year’s day… and good luck means money to black folks.
Black eyed peas are eaten all over the world, but in the Southern U.S., eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is thought to bring prosperity in the New Year. Cornbread is a mandatory addition in my book: ‘CUZ IT’S GOLDEN since it sops up all the juices… oh yeah it also symbolizes gold… cha ching.
9. The “chitlin’ circuit” was the venues safe for blacks to perform during times of segregation.
The “chitlin’ circuit” was the name given to the string of performance venues that were acceptable for African American entertainers to perform during the age of racial segregation in the United States. The name derives from the soul food dish chitterlings or stewed pig intestines. They are slow cooked and take A LOT OF WORK! but are amazingly good: when done right.
10. The heart of soul food is the notion of ‘slow food’.
It takes a lot of love to make something like pig intestines taste good, which brings me to the term ‘Slow Food.’ Soul Food is the epitome of Slow Food: No short cuts! Patience is a key element in soul cooking. It took a lot of time and creativity to transform the few ingredients poor black southerners had to work with.
Thai food is delicious but spicy and contains lots of heat. Most of the dishes are lightly cooked, but special attention is paid to the flavors of the dishes. This is why Thai cuisine makes use of lots of herbs and spices. There is not one but 4 regional cuisines of Thailand with each one incorporating elements of the cuisines of the neighboring countries. This is why Burmese, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Malaysian influences in Thai cuisine can be easily felt depending upon the region from which the food comes. However, Thai cuisines have also influenced the cuisines of the neighboring countries.
Thai cuisine became internationally known with the beginning of the Vietnam War when American troops arrived in this country. Today Thai food is so popular that it ranks 4th in popularity as an ethnic cuisine after French, Italian, and Chinese cuisine. Normally the Thai meal consists of a single dish, but when rice is served, there are many different dishes served along with it. One ingredient that is very common in Thai food is called Nam Pla. It is a kind of fish sauce. Chili pastes and soy sauces are also used in Thai food. Rice is the staple food in Thailand with noodles too being very popular.
Chinese food needs no introduction to westerners with noodles and chili chicken being as popular in Chinese restaurants, in US as they are in China. However, it is foolish to treat all Chinese food as being similar as China is a very large country and there are regional variations making foods different. There are 8 Chinese cuisines or culinary styles with Hunan and Szechuan being very well known even across US. Rice and noodles are the staple food items in Chinese cuisine, but Chinese cuisine is also famous for its spicy chicken, and pork dishes. Chinese food is known for the use of soy sauces and soy paste with soy paste or sauce being generously sprinkled over the prepared dishes.
What is the difference between Thai and Chinese Food?
• Thai food has regional variations with the northern region of Thailand having foods that are influenced by Chinese cuisines. This is because Chinese provinces of Yunan border Thailand in the north.
• In general, Thai food is hot and spicy while Chinese food is milder than the Thai food.
• Thai cuisine makes use of more herbs and spices than Chinese cuisine.
• Thai food is lightly cooked but is very flavorful because of the use of herbs.
• Soy sauce and soy paste are used commonly in Chinese food while fish sauce is used in Thai food.
• Thai food has many curries, and they eat soups in large bowls.
• Chinese food is more oily than Thai food.
While in Japan one can enjoy a wide variety of interesting and delicious dishes, including tako-yaki, sushi, sashimi, and tempura. Japanese cuisine has evolved over centuries of social and political changes. Washoku (Japanese cuisine) usually refers to food that was around before 1868, the end of Japan’s isolationist policies. A few aspects that set Japanese cuisine apart from other cuisines are it’s emphasis on using quality ingredients, particular seasonality, and impeccable presentation.
- In Japan, rice is always present in every meal.
- Horse and whale meat are popular and widely available.
- The word ‘sushi’ actually refers to vinegar rice, not fish. The word ‘sashimi’, on the other hand, means pierced flesh
There is an age-old tradition of warm hospitality that exists in Lebanese culture. Lebanese hosts will never believe you don’t have just a bit more room for something utterly delicious that’s been prepared with love. In a Lebanese household, food is life and sharing it is one of the great joys of being alive. Even for simple dinners at home, there are a variety of dishes on the table, the meal starting with small portions known as mezza, which centre around dips and salads. They may be as simple as simple as pickled or raw vegetables, hummus and bread or an entire meal consisting also of meat kebabs, grilled, marinated seafood, salads and desserts.
As well as having great variety, Lebanese food is one of the freshest and most delicious on the planet. Lamb is the meat of choice and appears in many dishes, including kafta, in which minced lamb is rolled into sausage shapes and cooked on the barbecue or in the oven. Poultry is more popular than red meat, but lamb and goat are popular. Generous amounts of olive oil, garlic, lemons are also essential flavours in the Lebanese diet.
Lebanese desserts are pure artwork, as a visit to one of the palaces of Lebanese sweets will attest – there are many variations of filo pastry, combined with nuts and syrup; there are creamy sweets filled with a clotted cream called ashta; plus melting shortbread sometimes filled with a date paste or nuts; and much more. Sweets are generally served separately to a meal with black coffee or tea.
Morocco produces a large range of Mediterranean fruits and vegetables and even some tropical ones. Common meats include beef, goat, mutton and lamb, camel, chicken and seafood, which serve as a base for the cuisine. Characteristic flavorings include lemon pickle, cold-pressed, unrefined olive oil and dried fruits.
Morocco, unlike most other African countries, produces all the food it needs to feed its people. Its many home-grown fruits and vegetables include oranges, melons, tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, and potatoes. Five more native products that are especially important in Moroccan cooking are lemons, olives, figs, dates, and almonds. Located on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, the country is rich in fish and seafood. Beef is not plentiful, so meals are usually built around lamb or poultry.
Flat, round Moroccan bread is eaten at every meal. The Moroccan national dish is the tajine, a lamb or poultry stew. Other common ingredients may include almonds, hard-boiled eggs, prunes, lemons, tomatoes, and other vegetables. The tajine, like other Moroccan dishes, is known for its distinctive flavoring, which comes from spices including saffron, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, ginger, and ground red pepper. The tajine’s name is taken from the distinctive earthenware dish with a cone-shaped top in which it is cooked and served. Another Moroccan dietary staple is couscous, made from fine grains of a wheat product called semolina. It is served many different ways, with vegetables, meat, or seafood.
Sweets play a very important role in the Moroccan diet. Every household has a supply of homemade sweet desserts made from almonds, honey, and other ingredients. Mint tea is served with every meal in Morocco. It is sweetened while it is still in the pot.