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Cross-cultural affinities


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I've noticed that nearly every Chinese-American I know in Texas loathes Mexican food -- which is probably just Tex-Mex and not real Mexican -- and most like Italian.

I'm not sure why Tex-Mex is disliked, certainly not because of the spice as the Chinese that I know love Sichuan cuisine, which is often much hotter than Tex-Mex. Maybe the beans and cheese are turn-offs.

I'm also uncertain about the affinity for Italian. We have noodles and rice in common but not tomato sauces. Or it may simply be that everybody loves Italian.

I also find that there is a surprising amount of dislike for Southeast Asian cuisines as well. In my experience Westerners like Thai, Vietnamese, etc a whole lot more than Chinese do, even though you'd think we'd be more used to it. I theorize that we're more closed-minded about Asian cuisine having grown up with it, while Westerners approach it with a tabula rasa.

I'm curious if there are other cross-cultural affinities. What do Italians like, do Mexicans like Chinese? How about the French?

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A lot of Asians are lactose intolerant, so maybe it has to do with the cheese. You can avoid it to a certain extent with Italian cuisine...

I've noticed that nearly every Chinese-American I know in Texas loathes Mexican food -- which is probably just Tex-Mex and not real Mexican -- and most like Italian.

I'm not sure why Tex-Mex is disliked, certainly not because of the spice as the Chinese that I know love Sichuan cuisine, which is often much hotter than Tex-Mex. Maybe the beans and cheese are turn-offs.

I'm also uncertain about the affinity for Italian. We have noodles and rice in common but not tomato sauces. Or it may simply be that everybody loves Italian.

I also find that there is a surprising amount of dislike for Southeast Asian cuisines as well. In my experience Westerners like Thai, Vietnamese, etc a whole lot more than Chinese do, even though you'd think we'd be more used to it. I theorize that we're more closed-minded about Asian cuisine having grown up with it, while Westerners approach it with a tabula rasa.

I'm curious if there are other cross-cultural affinities. What do Italians like, do Mexicans like Chinese? How about the French?

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Describing Indians vis a vis other Asian cuisines:

There are many Indians who travel widely and

enjoy a wide variety of cuisines (though I suspect

most harbor a preference for 'the spicier the better').

The large Indian metros esp Delhi and Mumbai

have several very authentic and excellent

Italian, Japanese, Thai, etc. restaurants.....

But there are many who dislike other Asian foods:

e.g. they will like "Indian-Chinese" but not authentic

Chinese; or not care for many Thai/Vietnamese/other

SE Asian dishes) because of the perception that

fish sauce lurks in everything....

And middle/upper class, traveling Indians

are often not open minded to sampling unfamiliar

meats (e.g. cat/bat/dog/snake, etc.)

Many won't care for Japanese food ("raw fish!!" or

"Looks pretty but tastes bland" are common stereotypes).

Definitely the stereotypes and dislikes work both ways.

I've often seen/heard people of other Asian origin

make fun of Indian food or the 'eating with hands'

customs....

Middle-Eastern foods (e.g. the felafel/hummus/tabbouleh/kababs

genre) are the most acceptable to Indians as there are

so many familiar elements

(subtext: sighhhh if only they were a bit spicier :wink: )

Italian food:

widely enjoyed, whether authentic or

desi-fied (e.g. chhole pizza)

African:

Many have not tried Ethiopian food but those who

do almost always love it, the similarities are self-evident....

Other regions of Africa have had large Indian populations

historically who have injected their elements into the local

foods....

Mexican food:

also widely enjoyed because of the similarity

of so many ingredients and techniques -

beans, cumin and other spices, cilantro, etc.

American:

Many people chow on McD, KFC etc because of the

globalization thing. They enjoy the Indianized versions

(e.g. McD vegetarian menu) as served in India or UK,

and when traveling are sometimes baffled by the

monochrome US versions.

Those living in the West have adapted to US foods

and will be gracious guests, and younger generations

are adapting more and more.

But I feel there's always a lingering preference for

spicer, jazzier versions of the local foods

(e.g. Mac and Cheese spiked with cumin and

red pepper)

etc.

Milagai

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[...]I also find that there is a surprising amount of dislike for Southeast Asian cuisines as well. In my experience Westerners like Thai, Vietnamese, etc a whole lot more than Chinese do, even though you'd think we'd be more used to it. I theorize that we're more closed-minded about Asian cuisine having grown up with it, while Westerners approach it with a tabula rasa.[...]

I'm not sure that's true in New York. I've seen a lot of Chinese people eating in Malaysian restaurants, and I think a lot of them are just people who live in Chinatown or Flushing. I've spoken with customers who were not from Malaysia, Singapore, or Indonesia, but just like the food. I also found that a significant percentage of the clientele in the Flushing branch of Woo Chon, a very good Korean restaurant specializing in barbecue (galbi, bulgogi) were ethnically Chinese. And that's not to mention how much many Chinese Malaysians like food that's thought of as Malaysian, not Chinese. Go for dim sum in a place like Xin in the Concorde Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, and you can have some fabulous curried chicken dumplings, which use such aromatic flavors as galangal (if I remember correctly).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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The Chinese aversion to cheese is probably not connected to lactose intolerance. For one thing, most cheeses have very little lactose. Moreover, there are other Asian cultures with the same intolerances who incorporate dairy into their cooking, through the magic of bacteria. (And my understanding is that there is cheese in northern China. Haven't tried it, though.)

There are probably all kinds of historic and cultural reasons for the lack of dairy in Chinese cooking: use of land for intensive rice/cereal production rather than cattle, resistance to influence from Central Asian pastoralists, etc.

And, like a lot of things that are delicious but that cause cross-cultural eyebrow-raising, cheese is an acquired taste...

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My Chinese parents don't like the taste of cumin, which would explain why they don't like Tex-Mex (they like cheese though). But give them a bowl of Malaysian or Singapore-style curry which has plenty of cumin, and they're all over it. On the other hand, they can't stand Thai curry because they think it's too sweet.

And they love Italian food & have travelled extensively in Italy. And they love French food too. When they entertain, they almost never serve Chinese food.

I, on the other hand, like Mexican, Malaysian, Thai, Italian, and French. Hmmm.... :hmmm:

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My husband is Chinese (born in China) and I am Italian (born in Italy).

We both dislike Mexican food or better tex-mex food since I never been in Mexico, but I have a feel I wouldn't like it either.

We basically met in our early twenties so our tastes grew very similar. I don't like tex mex food because it's too messy for me, same or even more for my husband. We like small dishes, each dish made with few ingredients. The only think we probably like is faijtas but without the fixin's

And my husband will not eat stinky cheeses but he loves parmigiano/grana or any hard cow cheese, so I don't think it's because of it.

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Originally from New York and now living in Arizona, I have seen a broad difference in Mexican food.

AZ has a very large mexican population and I think the mexcian food here outshines places I have gone in other states (even Mexico itself)

So, maybe they just are not getting the good stuff :wink:

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I'm a card-carrying member-of-the-Tribe, so naturally I like Chinese food. :laugh:

Also, I'm a HUGE fan of Greek cuisine. All the garlic and lemon in that cuisine just tantalize me so. Jews as a rule like to eat, but I'm not sure we favor one cuisine to the exclusion of others.

There are two sides to every story and one side to a Möbius band.

borschtbelt.blogspot.com

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