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When traveling to one country...


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This grows out of the discussion that's been raging on "Tradition v. Contemporary Italian Cuisine" (but not strongly enough to link there).

It came from my own comment that when I'm in a country like Italy or France, I want to make the best use of my meals to experience the traditional cuisines of that country, so not only don't I eat "foreign" cuisines, I don't even eat experimental versions of the cuisine of the country I'm in.

But back to the question I'm posing here: When traveling to one Country, will you eat another country's cuisine?

I've always been tempted to have Chinese food in France, but have never done it. On the "pro" side is the thought that since in America we have a "Chinese-American" cuisine that we feel is 'authentic' Chinese cuisines adapted, or dumbed-down, for American tastes by the people who make them - so if the Chinese people who settled in France and opened restaurants have "Frenchified" the food for the local tastes there, might it not be wonderful? The "con" side holds the thoughts that perhaps they don't do that, and besides, I don't want to give up a French meal when I'm in France on vacation to find out.

I have, however, eaten Italian food in Germany, with very mixed results. In some parts of Germany, the Italian food is as heavy and leaden as the local cuisine. The exception was Berlin, where I had some very good Italian food.

I peeked in a Chinese restaurant while I was living briefly in Mannheim (Germany), where the local cuisine was deadly heavy, and the Italian cuisine was similarly deadly heavy, and was just very afraid to try the Chinese place.

So, when you're in one country on your travels, do you eat the cuisines of a different country?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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I eat anything, anywhere, as I want to have a great food experience, regardless of where I am or what style of food I'm eating. I'm wondering, markk, if you found out one of the best French chefs in the world was in Bangkok, for example, and you knew you would never have an opportunity to eat his/her food anywhere else in the world, would you not want to try his/her food? Peter Green's topic on the WGF in Bangkok is a perfect example of why one should be willing to try other cuisines in countries where those cuisines do not originate.

So no, when I travel, I don't limit myself to the traditional cuisine of that country. If I did that, I wouldn't get to eat anything when I travel to the US...Except McDonald's maybe...

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Can you imagine being in Britain and not having a curry?

I was recently in Kuwait and my fabulous hosts took me to a Japanese/Chinese fusion restaurant which was delicious, but my favorite meal there was Lebanese and was one of the best meals of my life...so far.

So, no, I wouldn't limit myself to a country's cuisine. In fact, I want to eat where the locals eat and, very often, a local community's favorite joint is often some other ethnicity, don't you find?

kit

"I'm bringing pastry back"

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My first meal in Paris was Shwarma (avec frites)of course. Other than that it was all French restaurants and in Bavaria it was all Bavarian food but my husband says we will now try pizza wherever we go. I did have pizza in Iceland actually but I made up for that by having some fermented shark

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

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A lot depends on the country I'm visiting and why I m visiting it. If I am going to Spain, I will not be likely to eat anything other than Spanish food, unless there is a particularly great reason to do so. I have eaten Vietnamese in Paris, Japanese and Indian in London and Chinese in Peru. The latter is special, because Chinese-Peruvian cuisine is an accepted variant of Peruvian cooking called "chifa." Indian in London or Vietnamese in Paris are examples of former colonies that have develop clear associations with the former colonists - at least culinarily. Japanese has become almost synonymous with a global cuisine as its influence has been far reaching in the latter part of the 20th century as well as currently.

Traveling within the US, highly regarded ethnic restaurants are always a consideration.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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I'm wondering, markk, if you found out one of the best French chefs in the world was in Bangkok, for example, and you knew you would never have an opportunity to eat his/her food anywhere else in the world, would you not want to try his/her food?

Well, I might, but then again, I might not. If I was loving the Thai food and hoping to have it as many times as I could before I went home, I might actually think "well, I eat enough great French food" and not, though yours is a very good point.

Can you imagine being in Britain and not having a curry?

No, of course you're right, but I also would say that for many reasons, I think of Indian as one of the legitimate cuisines in Britain. And Britain isn't a place I go to for "British cuisine", whereas I do go to France specifically for French food and Italy specifically for Italian food.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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No, of course you're right, but I also would say that for many reasons, I think of Indian as one of the legitimate cuisines in Britain.  And Britain isn't a place I go to for "British cuisine", whereas I do go to France specifically for French food and Italy specifically for Italian food.

Ah, well that makes a difference, then. If you're travelling to a country specifically for the food, then it makes sense to only eat that type of food. But people travel for different reasons, and I prefer to have a wider-range of experiences in a country, and sample everything it has to offer, since there's a good chance I won't visit it again (much as I might love to).

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No, of course you're right, but I also would say that for many reasons, I think of Indian as one of the legitimate cuisines in Britain.  And Britain isn't a place I go to for "British cuisine", whereas I do go to France specifically for French food and Italy specifically for Italian food.

Ah, well that makes a difference, then. If you're travelling to a country specifically for the food, then it makes sense to only eat that type of food. But people travel for different reasons, and I prefer to have a wider-range of experiences in a country, and sample everything it has to offer, since there's a good chance I won't visit it again (much as I might love to).

And as a rule, how's the food? I mean, are there countries in which only the native cuisine is any good, or are there countries where all the foods offered are just as good?

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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Since-unlike some on this Forum-I don't consider myself a serious foodie I'll eaten anything if it somehow appeals.

The variations on Mexican I've tasted make for some very funny stories if nothing else.

There was this parking garage in downtown San Jose Costa Rica that was a Mexican place...... :wacko:

Edited by Sam Salmon (log)
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No, of course you're right, but I also would say that for many reasons, I think of Indian as one of the legitimate cuisines in Britain.  And Britain isn't a place I go to for "British cuisine", whereas I do go to France specifically for French food and Italy specifically for Italian food.

Ah, well that makes a difference, then. If you're travelling to a country specifically for the food, then it makes sense to only eat that type of food. But people travel for different reasons, and I prefer to have a wider-range of experiences in a country, and sample everything it has to offer, since there's a good chance I won't visit it again (much as I might love to).

And as a rule, how's the food? I mean, are there countries in which only the native cuisine is any good, or are there countries where all the foods offered are just as good?

Food is an extremely important element and often the most important element for me when I choose a place to travel to. Some places are notable for their indigenous traditions and the quality of the food sprung forth from them. Other places like NYC and London are notable for the overall quality of the food regardless of the originating tradition. Those cities are legitimate foodie destinations, but I wouldn't consider limiting my experiences to the "native traditions" though they would certainly be part of any trip to those cities.

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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In the case of France Vietnamese and Moroccan food are in some ways now assimilated into the culture as a result of French colonialism. I would say the same about Indian cuisine in the U.K. However, I also try to stick with more traditional fare when visiting not only other countries but other regions of the U.S. as well.

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If everybody's raving about a certain place, I might likely try it. As an example, one of the best meals of my life was in a Russian restaurant right by the Russian embassy in Tokyo.

But for the most part, much of my choice depends upon how long I'm in the country. If I were only going to be in Spain for one week, for example, I'd have to get a pretty good recommendation for a foreign cuisine to try it.

On the other hand, I was just in Morelia, Mexico, for 6 weeks. So of course I tried other cuisines.

There was a remarkable Italian restaurant that I went back to at least three times.

Although when I lived in Hong Kong, I never DID understand the appeal of the many visiting Americans that wanted to try the San Francisco Steak House.

:wacko:

Edited by Jaymes (log)

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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I have and will continue to eat a variety of cuisines when I am in foreign countries. I always find it interesting to see how they interpret other cultures' cuisines.

I have had Mexican and Chinese in France, Spain Australia, Greece, Ireland and the US (I live in Canada).

It's always interesting, and sometimes good ;)

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I have a number of views, none of which are really set in stone.

I would never avoid a local cuisine if I had never tried it before. However, once having tried it, if it's not good, I see no reason to stick with it. Example:Mongolia. The only country with horrible food that I really want to return to. How I yearned for a vegetable.....when we returned to Ulan Baator we confined ourselves in a Korean run shabushabu place and had to be forcibly ejected.

If the local food is good, and I'm only there for a brief time, I would probably concentrate on that. But I would still have my ears open for anything out of the ordinary. On our China trip, we just missed the top Austrain chefs cooking for the local Chaine in Shanghai. Not only would the food have been something I am not likely to have in the near future, but there's the opportunity to socialize with people of a similar interest in food as I.

Also, there is a period with a cuisine when it's all passion and lust, and you can't keep yourself away, coming back panting every meal for more. The danger is in losing that passion. With the cuisines I love, I do have to intersperse other foods, just to keep the texture. In Bangkok we'll try to have one Thai meal each day, and something else to balance. This keeps the fire burning for Thai food, while also keeping variety alive, with fine chefs coming and going in the City of Angels on a regular basis (Keller, Santamaria......these are people that visit and cook!).

And, as has been discussed above, at what point does something become "local cuisine"? Los Angeles is reputed to have the best Korean food in the world. Japanese fly to Vancouver for the sushi. The French cuisine in Hanoi is getting more and more attention. The Bund in Shanghai is coming back to its original roots as a focal point of Western dining. I wouldn't miss these for the world.

Hmmmm.......I think I've strayed out of my blog again.

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when the children were small we spent several months of the year in Thailand and as there were no alternative cuisines at that time (yes, it was ages ago) I would get back to HK longing for nothing but baguette and cheese, so, yes, it is nice to intersperse cuisines unless the trip is very short.

Ha Tracy you said

but I made up for that by having some fermented shark

which triggered the very unhappy recent memory of trying to remove said fish smell from my son's car, as his chef at the time (from Iceland, and BTW now opened in London at Texture, to instant 2 star standard and rave reviews, give it a go)

had hidden some under the flooring for a joke...thanks Aggie, there goes the resale value :raz:

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Let's not forget about storytelling value and general acquisition of knowledge. If you don't eat Chinese food in Oporto, you're never going to be able to tell the story of the worst Chinese restaurant you ever ate at. If you've never been to a McDonald's in Europe, you lack basic McDonald's cultural literacy. Pizza Hut in Cairo is an experience you simply don't want to miss. If I ever go to Beijing, of course I'm going to check out KFC there. Of course.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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when the children were small we spent several months of the year in Thailand and as there were no alternative cuisines at that time (yes, it was ages ago) I would get back to HK longing for nothing but baguette and cheese, so, yes, it is nice to intersperse cuisines unless the trip is very short.

How long ago was it? My mother talks for going to the German Club for German food, and eating Hungarian food in Bangkok--this was in the late '60s. Not important, really, but I'm just wondering...

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when the children were small we spent several months of the year in Thailand and as there were no alternative cuisines at that time (yes, it was ages ago) I would get back to HK longing for nothing but baguette and cheese, so, yes, it is nice to intersperse cuisines unless the trip is very short.

How long ago was it? My mother talks for going to the German Club for German food, and eating Hungarian food in Bangkok--this was in the late '60s. Not important, really, but I'm just wondering...

it was in a very rural seaside village, and yes, there was a cafe nr the beach run by an German expat and his Thai family, but the ingredients were locally sourced, eg buffalo meat, but not complaining, just NO CHEESE.....seems to me the Germans 'discovered' Thailand long before anyone else.

actually the resto was an experience as the marriage was stormy to say the least and on one memorable occasion there was a violent disturbance followed by Gert emerging from the 'kitchen' with noodles all over him, saying 'ze spaghetti is off' hahahaha, well the kids enjoyed it,...they also enjoyed the wife's 2 brothers arriving on motorscooters shorrtly after carrying cleavers...ah, memories.....

Edited by insomniac (log)
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And as a rule, how's the food?  I mean, are there countries in which only the native cuisine is any good, or are there countries where all the foods offered are just as good?

I think in certain developing countries, you're much better off sticking to the local food. Like Yemen. Except in Yemen, the local food for tourists wasn't very good food. But if you were fortunate enough to be accompanied by locals, you could eat very well. Yemen is a very poor country, so I can't imagine there were many top French restaurants around (for example) for me to try, since it would be difficult to find enough clientele to support such a restaurant.

And certainly not all non-native cuisine will be good in a particular country. In Japan, for example, I have had excellent Italian, French, Turkish, Indonesian, Thai...etc food, but I have not yet had Cantonese food that I thought was any good. This includes the food at some high-end places I've dined at. It might be good food, but I don't think it's particularly good Cantonese food.

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Definitely! Especially if I'm there for a while. Or even if I just get a little bit bored with the local cuisine. When I visited Italy with my parents, we did eat at a Chinese restaurant one night just for a change of pace..and also because we mostly eat Asian food at home (despite not being Asian.)

How was the food? Not half bad, although we were amused to note that they brought out the fried rice as a second course, Italian style. The flavors were definitely executed with a more subtle hand then I'm used to in the states. It was a fun experience, and I imagine I'll find myself inexorably drawn to Chinese restaurants next time I'm in Europe. My parents still rave about the incredible Vietnamese food they had in Paris.

I spent six weeks in China over the summer, and I fully admit that about four weeks in, I was pretty happy to find an excellent American restaurant...where I messily devoured a BBQ chicken sandwich for lunch. That night I ate (and enjoyed immensely) squid on a stick and ultra spicy rice noodles right off the street, but you can't over-value the occasional taste of home. Getting really and truly down and dirty with local cuisine is probably the primary reason why I travel, but it's still hard to do almost 24-7.

Anyway, I figure I'm doing better then some of the people at my language school who point-blank loathed the local food, including the French guy who subsisted primarily on KFC....

By the way, "Chinese Restaurants" on the International Channel is a really interesting look at how one cuisine has traveled the world. It features a different family-run Chinese restaurant in a different country in each episode, and tells the story on how the family got there and how the restaurant came to be. It's fascinating stuff.

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While living in Japan, I ate at a couple of french and italian restuarants that were revelatory for me. The chefs did their time in the countries and mixed with japanese discipline the experience is still vivid 20 yrs later.

And later , living in Paris, I often had vietnamese, chinese, and some sort of north african all of which were of a much higher quality than what I had previously had.

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Let's not forget about storytelling value and general acquisition of knowledge. If you don't eat Chinese food in Oporto, you're never going to be able to tell the story of the worst Chinese restaurant you ever ate at. If you've never been to a McDonald's in Europe, you lack basic McDonald's cultural literacy. Pizza Hut in Cairo is an experience you simply don't want to miss. If I ever go to Beijing, of course I'm going to check out KFC there. Of course.

This is an interesting subset of the topic as it represents trying interpretations of one's own food culture in other countries. I have to admit though, that aspiring to any degree of cultural literacy regarding McDonald's has never been important to me. :raz:

John Sconzo, M.D. aka "docsconz"

"Remember that a very good sardine is always preferable to a not that good lobster."

- Ferran Adria on eGullet 12/16/2004.

Docsconz - Musings on Food and Life

Slow Food Saratoga Region - Co-Founder

Twitter - @docsconz

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Let's not forget about storytelling value and general acquisition of knowledge. If you don't eat Chinese food in Oporto, you're never going to be able to tell the story of the worst Chinese restaurant you ever ate at. If you've never been to a McDonald's in Europe, you lack basic McDonald's cultural literacy. Pizza Hut in Cairo is an experience you simply don't want to miss. If I ever go to Beijing, of course I'm going to check out KFC there. Of course.

This is an interesting subset of the topic as it represents trying interpretations of one's own food culture in other countries. I have to admit though, that aspiring to any degree of cultural literacy regarding McDonald's has never been important to me. :raz:

except that recently my friends in China (both local and foreign) have been more reticent about eating local,i.e. polluted water = suspect seafood, pesticides, food sanitation, duff food products,... and at least MacDs imports its food....so you takes your chances :smile:

latest scandal, don't drink the free tea, it's mainly leaves swept from the floor

and I don't doubt it as daughter was at a 'secret factory' last month where people were employed to piece together shredded documents found in rubbish, so if they can be bothered to do that....

caveat emptor

ps. my kids, born and raised in HK, feel Chinese

sorry, edited for spelling

Edited by insomniac (log)
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This is an interesting subset of the topic as it represents trying interpretations of one's own food culture in other countries. I have to admit though, that aspiring to any degree of cultural literacy regarding McDonald's has never been important to me. :raz:

Well, I would never want to try interpretations of my own food culture in other countries! I get bad enough interpretations at home in New Jersey :wacko: . So when I saw that Strasbourg (France) had several branches of "Hippopotamus", which looked like a Houlihans of TGIF, and specialized in baby back ribs and the like, I chuckled and passed.

But partly out of a fascination I have, and partly because I don't eat a big lunch, I always try the local McDonalds...

If you've never been to a McDonald's in Europe, you lack basic McDonald's cultural literacy.

And the McDonald's in Europe certainly aren't bad! I've been to some where they grill the hamburgers fresh to order.

But one year during the Mad Cow experience, we flew into Frankfurt, Germany, and drove directly to Strasbourg, trying to hold out until lunch. But we couldn't, so we stopped at a German McDonald's just a quarter of a mile from the French border, starving and needing to 'facilitate'. There, we discovered the glorious "McFarmer" sandwich - two all pork sausage patties, on a whole grain bun, with melted cheese, tomato, and a sauce that I don't actually remember"

gallery_11181_3155_56711.jpg

And wow, was that ever good. We couldn't wait to cross the border and try the French version. But alas, there wasn't one. The McD's in France were serving "Le Croque McDo" as their answer to Mad Cow, a round croque monsieur, toasted ham and cheese.

gallery_11181_3155_72162.jpg

It was pretty tasty, though not nearly as good as the sausageburger across the river, and we may have been the only people known to man to cross back from France to Germany for lunch, and we did it on a semi-regular basis.

Let's not forget about storytelling value and general acquisition of knowledge. If you don't eat Chinese food in Oporto, you're never going to be able to tell the story of the worst Chinese restaurant you ever ate at.

Ah, but I am. I can always tell the story of being a born-and-raised New York City Jewish kid spending four years in upstate NY at college, and weeping (did I say "weeping" - that just came out - I meant "eating") eating at the local Chinese restaurant there. I believe you that the Chinese food in Oporto is hideous, but I'll just assume that they brought over the Chinese chef from Upstate NY, or vice-versa.

Overheard at the Zabar’s prepared food counter in the 1970’s:

Woman (noticing a large bowl of cut fruit): “How much is the fruit salad?”

Counterman: “Three-ninety-eight a pound.”

Woman (incredulous, and loud): “THREE-NINETY EIGHT A POUND ????”

Counterman: “Who’s going to sit and cut fruit all day, lady… YOU?”

Newly updated: my online food photo extravaganza; cook-in/eat-out and photos from the 70's

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And the McDonald's in Europe certainly aren't bad!  I've been to some where they grill the hamburgers fresh to order. 

But one year during the Mad Cow experience, we flew into Frankfurt, Germany, and drove directly to Strasbourg, trying to hold out until lunch.  But we couldn't, so we stopped at a German McDonald's just a quarter of a mile from the French border, starving and needing to 'facilitate'.  There, we discovered the glorious "McFarmer" sandwich - two all pork sausage patties, on a whole grain bun, with melted cheese, tomato, and a sauce that I don't actually remember"

gallery_11181_3155_56711.jpg

That is a stunning shot! Greatness lies in drawing beauty out of the mundane. And it doesn't get more mundane than McD's!

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