So, I am currently on my lunch break for class as well as at work for my school right now and I can think about is FOOD! I had a slice of pizza for lunch and we also were talking about Chinese food regions in Chinese class today. So I figured “hey, why not talk about it”
As you can probably guess, the food that we find in the USA and other big countries in the west are way too dumbed down from the original dishes (things such as General Tso’s chicken and Pizza are examples of this). While they are very much Americanized, they do still have roots in their home country. Tso’s is named after a Chinese general a few hundred years ago and contains techniques you would find in china, while true Italian pizza contains much more tomato and vegetables that the American counterpart. So here are a few ideas of what to do when it comes to food in vacations.
I would to separate these into 3 categories, “known”, “real”, and “what!” categories. You can find all of these almost anywhere that you travel. For this, I will use 3 countries as an example: China, Italy, and Morocco. For the “known” category, it is what you think of when you go to a food place based on Chinese or Italian cuisine. In places overseas, they will have some known foods on their menus for the tourists who don’t know anything about a culture. These can be pretty easy to find and, as good as they can be, I would suggest trying a real dish. Examples of known foods for china would be General Tso’s Chicken, Sesame and Orange Chicken, and eggrolls (they do not have fortune cookies as those were made in California by a Jewish guy). With Italy, you will find Spaghetti, Fettuccine Alfredo, or lasagna. Not many people know Middle Eastern foods so I will leave this category blank for morocco.
Italian Fettuccine Alfredo With Grilled Chicken
Next will be the real foods that you think you know, but with a traditional sense. Almost all of the food I mentioned above have roots in the country they are from. These are how the food is really served. It could add a broth, some vegetables, or take away something that you think is really important to the, adding spice or even a glaze. There are many different ways that these food have been transformed from their real counterpart. For China, Dumplings are probably one of the biggest changes we have made. I have never been a fan of dumplings. Over in the USA, they are bursting with flavor, ready to stuff you with many spices, meats, and vegetables. In china, dumplings are traditionally Boiled in water with beef (sometimes chicken or pork) with no spices and only a few vegetables (cabbage, carrots, celery, and onion) which means not a lot of flavor in a single bite. In Italy, Pasta has many, many more vegetables all over the places, as well as more sauces and spices to give your food an extra kick of flavor. In morocco, the food is typically a rice called Couscous with a few peppers and a spiced meat (a lot of times chicken) which I think is an amazing meal to try.
Moroccan Chicken with Couscous
We now get to the weird part of the food, and one of the reasons people are afraid of travelling. My grandpa went over to china for business and he said he could not really eat over there. These are the foods that you find that make you take a second look and think “why”. They can be anything from whole fish, to intestines, to haggis, to tofu (which I have never really liked). With china, you can find these all over the place. Frog, whole fish, the whole Shebang. In Italy, there is a pasta made from Cow tail, and yet another made from cow brains and intestines. In Morocco, people cook sheep’s head and there is a dish I read about called pigeon pie (which I assume is what it sounds like).
Whole Fish, Lucky food for the Chinese New Year
Like I was saying, these are not reasons to stay home, these are reasons to explore and experience everything. Every culture has reasons for its food. China has a lot of seafood and they wanted to make the most of it, Italy had many cows and didn’t want to waste a tail, and morocco is in the middle of a desert, you eat what you can. I am not saying to try the weird stuff, but explore what you think you know when abroad, and open up your mind to the experience.
Ni Mingtian Jian
Photo Credit: Spices: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/19/3d/ea/193dea8b7b0113757baa33cba28b8760.jpg