Cuisines

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Cuisines

Postby cmsellers » Sun Mar 22, 2015 5:52 am

OK, I'm going to start another food thread, because I'm curious how many food-related threads I can start if I remove the "is this something other people are going to care about?" filter where food is concerned.

Let's talk cuisines.

My favorite cuisine has to be Lebanese. It's full of meat, cheese, bread, and spices. It's a lot like Turkish food, but Turkish food is heavy on tomatoes and onions, which I hate, and Lebanese food is not. It's also more heavily-spiced than most Turkish food.

My second favorite cuisine is Turkish. Turkish cuisine is more meat-heavy than Lebanese, and more creative in what they do with the meat, and of course the Turks prefer onions and tomatoes over spices, though there are plenty of spiced Turkish dishes too. Also, most of what I ate in Turkey were durum kebaps (wraps filled with meat), and I could usually get peppers (pickled in the west, cooked and fresh in the south, sadly uncooked and heatless in the north), oregano or thyme, and sumac on or in my kebap, all of which are delicious. Also, while Turkish deserts are a little sweet to my taste, by Darwin do they know how to make them. There's so much fat in Turkish deserts, and Turkish baklava uses pistachios. Once you've had baklava with pistachios, you'll wonder if the guy who came up with using walnuts was right in the head. Sadly, good, authentic Turkish food seems to be utterly absent from the United States.

My third favorite cuisine is haute American. I love how fancy restaurants have now started making bacon cheeseburgers with local bacon, cheese, and beef, pulled pork sandwiches with local pork, slow roasted ribs, barbecue sauces made with local beers and berries. I'm practically crying just thinking about it. I even had a vegetarian sandwich with a demi-baguette, roasted eggplant, fresh mozzarella, and balsamic vinegar. And don't get me started on how much deserts have improved in the past decade.

My fourth favorite cuisine is Cajun, pretty much entirely for the sausages, boudin, and fried catfish. I don't like shellfish, green beans, and a lot of other things that are essential to Cajun cuisine, but Cajun-fried fresh Louisiana catfish has pretty much ruined catfish for me. I used to eat it twice a day; now I have it less than twice a month, and and disappointed in my own skills, and probably in the freshness of the catfish.

I really loved the cuisine of western Mexico, but even when I went to San Diego and went to restaurants which advertised western Mexican origins, the only dishes that you wouldn't see at a Tex Mex place in New England were a couple of chilis (properly done and called "chile" for some reason), and hot chocolate. They did what they did well, but they didn't have the dishes I was looking for. Two in particular I remember. Duck with "jamaica" (dried hibiscus), and tarascan steak (a flank stake with oaxaca cheese and a spicy pepper sauce. I also seem to recall a good fish dish. I don't know why there seems to be so little room for regional Mexican cuisines in the United States, but it makes me sad.

After Mexican comes Tibetan (which I've only had at one restaurant, I love their steamed bread, mango yogurt drinks, and assorted yak dishes); Japanese (of which I will only eat dishes containing eel), French and Northern Italian (mostly for the duck compotes; I love duck compotes), Americanized Chinese (for General Tso's chicken and various duck dishes), Jamaican (or Jamaican BBQ; I'm not sure how authentic it is), Tex Mex, German, Cuban, Korean BBQ, and Indian, and Thai. I know I don't much like authentic Chinese or (non-barbecue) Korean food, don't much care for southern Italian food (except pizza--which is really American--and cannolis) or bas American food (except Popeye's chicken), and I don't think I've tried enough of any other cuisines to have an opinion.

In case you haven't seen the trend: I like foods with lots of fat, meat, grain, and spice. I like cuisines which do a good job of combining these. I don't much care for overly sweet foods, but will give that a pass if there's enough fat and spice.

I also have a weird thing about textures: I don't like my food chopped up into little bits, unless it's recombined into something large and solid (eg. putting mincemeat into a dumpling, frying mashed plantains); though I'm fine with foods that are naturally in small pieces, such as oatmeal and rice. I won't eat anything that's been mashed unless it would well on buttered toast (good apple sauce: yes; candied yams: no). I also don't like the texture of noodles, which are slimy. I've had some spaetzl I've liked and some I didn't, but most noodles look slimy and are flat out out. I'm definitely weird about food: I will not eat such popular dishes as lasagna, mac and cheese, or even traditional pizza (in the last case because of tomato sauce; pesto pizza is delicious).

How about you guys? What kinds of cuisines do you lot like?
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Re: Cuisine

Postby OrangeEyebrows » Sun Mar 22, 2015 6:08 am

I love South Indian cuisine. It's very different to what most people think of as "Indian food". Tends to use more tamarind, plaintain, coconut, cassava; less in the way of tomatoes, onion and dairy (so could be up your street, sellers). Heavy on the seafood. Rice rather than bread as a staple. Very spicy, but with lots of complexity rather than just being hot. Not as sweet as Thai food (which is an element of Thai food I don't particularly like).Om nom nom.

I also like "haute" anything...which sounds silly, but I think you probably know what I mean. Gourmet burgers. Ordinary English foods made with care and attention and an emphasis on quality rather than quantity. Plain food with a twist. Anything fusion. (Well...not anything, but I like playfulness in food.)

I'd really love to try Cajun food. I've always heard about it as a culture that's really serious about good food, and seafood is always a winner with me.

By the way, I don't think you're going to manage to exhaust this topic - there are a lot of foodies on the board.
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Re: Cuisines

Postby Dr. Ambiguous » Sun Mar 22, 2015 7:23 am

cmsellers wrote:OK, I'm going to start another food thread, because I'm curious how many food-related threads I can start if I remove the "is this something other people are going to care about?" filter where food is concerned.

My opinion on this, if you have something you want to talk about, and it doesn't fit in a pre-existing thread already, then just start the thread. If nobody cares, then it won't go anywhere, and that's about it. Which yeah, that's a bummer if you wanted to talk about it, but that's also the worst of it. Generally speaking, the only time you shouldn't start a thread for something you want to talk about is if it belongs in a thread we already have. (Obviously, there's a few more cases than that, as we don't want spam, or threads that violate the site rules, etc).

That said, I have nothing to contribute to this thread, as I haven't tried too many types of food. So the rest of you, carry on!
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Re: Cuisines

Postby LaChaise » Sun Mar 22, 2015 10:02 pm

cmsellers wrote:In case you haven't seen the trend: I like foods with lots of fat, meat, grain, and spice. I like cuisines which do a good job of combining these. I don't much care for overly sweet foods, but will give that a pass if there's enough fat and spice. ?


Man, have you tried Korean cuisine? That must be my favorite. It manages to both be varied, good, spicy, healthy, balanced, filling, and feels fat without actually being fat. That's a perfect combo in my book.
What's interesting with Korean food is that in addition to the basic dish + bowl of rice, you always get tons of side dishes in small plates, going from gyoza to brined vegetables, as well as kimchi (obviously).

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The main dishes are pretty varied. You can get bibimbap, a big bowl of fried rice covered with vegetables, meat and an egg as well as some sesame seeds.

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Or bulgogi, a generic term that means something like sautéed meat. My favorite is osam bulgogi, where you use squid and pork marinated in sesame oil, gochujang, soy sauce, ginger, sugar and garlic.

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There are lots of other things, but I'll let you look them up.

The second place for favorite cuisine is tied between South Indian and French. Which is why I tend to mix them together when I feel creative.
Apart from the traditional dishes (beef bourguignon, veal blanquette...) I mostly cook stuff from the east that is either very rural or close to traditional German cuisine, as I learned from my grandmothers who come from Alsace and Franche-Comté.
If there's one thing I can say to describe my cooking, it has to be this family saying: "There's no such thing as too much cream" (where cream can be replaced by meat, fat, cheese or potatoes).
Here's an example: this is the poêlée Franc-Comtoise, basically a ton of potatoes thrown in a ton of oil with a ton of sausage, a ton of bacon and a ton of lardons. Serve with a small salad on the side (you wouldn't want to feel to heavy afterwards).

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EDIT: Forgot to add, I'm also a big fan of Lebanese cuisine. What I like the most isn't the dishes though, but their adaptability. Just the other day, I made hummus gnocchi with some Lebanese tabbuleh (the one with tons of parsley, tomato and bulgur)

Side note: sellers, you're a linguist and a cooking enthusiast. Know that this puts you pretty high in my list of TCSers I like the most/most likely to end up locked up in my sex dungeon.
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Re: Cuisines

Postby cmsellers » Sun Mar 22, 2015 11:03 pm

LaChaise wrote:Man, have you tried Korean cuisine? That must be my favorite. It manages to both be varied, good, spicy, healthy, balanced, filling, and feels fat without actually being fat. That's a perfect combo in my book.
What's interesting with Korean food is that in addition to the basic dish + bowl of rice, you always get tons of side dishes in small plates, going from gyoza to brined vegetables, as well as kimchi (obviously).


I have, in Korea.
Excluding the Japanese restaurant in Busan (which burnt my food), every restaurant I went to in Korea, including two that this Korean guy took me to, were essentially the Korean version of teppanyaki. In short, I was cooking my food myself, and dipping it in sauces myself, both things I could easily do at home. At the same time, when I was given kim chi on the house (I hate cabbage), or when the Korean guy I'm with confuses eel with fucking hagfish because they're both considered aphrodisiacs, dining at a Korean restaurant was a lot less pleasant than eating at home.

I'll give the Koreans credit for gochujang though. That stuff is amazing. In Korea, I often made pulled pork by buying whatever cut was on sale, boiling/poaching in salt water, pulling apart, and mixing with gochujang. It was delicious on a sandwich with apricot jam, and--after I learned where to get the good stuff--cheese. I don't like tomato sauce, but I bet a pizza with gochugjang (or maybe chogochujang) would be delicious.

LaChaise wrote:The main dishes are pretty varied. You can get bibimbap, a big bowl of fried rice covered with vegetables, meat and an egg as well as some sesame seeds.


My students often listed bimbimbap as their favorite food. I never tried it, because I chopped veggies mixed into rice is one of those things I don't like, mostly because the Koreans eat a lot of vegetables I don't like, such as cabbage, turnip, and onion, but also a bit because of the mincing. To be fair, the only veggies I do like are summer squash, eggplant, peppers, uncooked carrots, potatoes, fried sweet potatoes, and white/yellow cucumbers. Summer squash, peppers, and eggplant in rice might be good, but it wouldn't be bimbimbap.

LaChaise wrote:If there's one thing I can say to describe my cooking, it has to be this family saying: "There's no such thing as too much cream" (where cream can be replaced by meat, fat, cheese or potatoes).

That's a pretty good philosophy, though I'd replace the potatoes with something else. Bread maybe? I eat way more bread than anyone else I know. Everybody else is either doing an Atkins or paleo-type diet or else convinced they're gluten-intolerant.

LaChaise wrote:Here's an example: this is the poêlée Franc-Comtoise, basically a ton of potatoes thrown in a ton of oil with a ton of sausage, a ton of bacon and a ton of lardons. Serve with a small salad on the side (you wouldn't want to feel to heavy afterwards).

Spoiler: show
Image


*drools*

LaChaise wrote:EDIT: Forgot to add, I'm also a big fan of Lebanese cuisine. What I like the most isn't the dishes though, but their adaptability. Just the other day, I made hummus gnocchi with some Lebanese tabbuleh (the one with tons of parsley, tomato and bulgur)

When I think of Lebanese cuisine, I mostly think of the flatbreads (zaatar and maneesh), which are what I mostly order in a Lebanese restaurant. I do remember a Lebanese restaurant in Georgia which had all sorts of goodies. Since Georgian food is basically a fattier, blander version of Turkish cuisine, I seem to recall eating through half the menu at that Lebanese pace. Oddly, I don't actually remember what I ate; just that it was so delicious I stopped bothering with flatbreads.

LaChaise wrote:Side note: sellers, you're a linguist and a cooking enthusiast. Know that this puts you pretty high in my list of TCSers I like the most/most likely to end up locked up in my sex dungeon.

You'd better act soon then. I expect it won't be too long before I cease fitting through normal-sized doors.
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Re: Cuisines

Postby Tuli » Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:35 am

Chinese food
I love real Chinese food. Of course, the Chinese food is actually divided into many different regional cuisines, and I haven't nearly tried them all. Having spent most time in the southwest, Sichuan food is one of my favorites, characterized by the abundant use of numbing peppers and chilies. Funny thing is, the first time I tried something with numbing peppers I hated it, but then it really grew on me.
Mapo tofu (the epitome of numbing and hot):
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Fish-flavored (yuxiang) eggplant:
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Grilled eggplant:
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By far my favorite grilled eggplant was the one sold by Kunming street vendors. I chased that dream in several other places in China, but it was never the same.
Another thing that was great in Kunming was the douhua mixian, which is rice noodles with soft tofu, ground peanuts, chili sauce and a tiny bit of ground meat (man, it had the perfect balance of peppers...):
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Sour and spicy mu'er (a kind of mushroom):
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From other regions I especially like the Beijing duck and also hundun (wonton?) which is even better than other dumplings thanks to its superfine skin:
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Thai food
From Thailand what I love most are the soups, all that Tom Yum stuff. Hot and sour! I like the heat, but also that there's a great balance of flavors where I can feel them all without one overriding all the others.
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And how could I forget the papaya salad:
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Korean food
KIMCHI! I love kimchi so much I've even made it from scratch at home (because like anyone sells it here), with decent enough results. And the best thing to make with kimchi is of course kimchi stew:
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Drooling now... I really need to get off my ass and make another batch.

Another great thing is tteokbokki, it's like really thick chewy rice noodles in spicy sauce:
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From the abundance of red in these pictures you can understand what my tastebuds are most impressed by... it's not often found in European cuisines. Meat is not a big priority for me, and a well made veggie meal (mm, that eggplant) can top it easily. I do like pizzas and stuff too, but it's kind of mundane in comparison. And when I get the opportunity, Mexican is good, I like the salsas and guacamoles and chili con carne.
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Re: Cuisines

Postby Deathclaw_Puncher » Mon Mar 23, 2015 12:44 am

I'm quite fond of Southeast Asian cuisine, especially Laotian, Vietnamese, and Thai cuisine, especially the curry rice dishes. I also like Italian, Japanese, French, Chinese, and Taiwanese cuisine.

There's this little french restaurant in downtown Sacramento called La Bonne Soupe that makes these really good soups and sandwiches. For example, there's a duck sandwhich, a brie and prosciutto sandwich, and a duck liver pate sandwich with warm brie and apple slices, all slathered in a garlic sauce. They also have an amazing French onion soup.

There's this pretty good Taiwanese place in Davis called The Dumpling House that has these pretty good dumplings, wontons, and pot stickers. They're served as a plate of twelve and designed to be one order of many, all shared by the table. They also have full individual meals, bentos, and fish & chip platters for the more stingy types, and make a damn good Thai tea.
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Re: Cuisines

Postby cmsellers » Sun Oct 11, 2015 5:40 am

I've just got to say that having come to Texas: Texas culinary traditions are truly disappointing, at least based on my tastes.

It's true that Texas barbecue is absolutely amazing as long as you stick to beef (never order anything with pork at a BBQ joint in Texas), but this is because in recent decades Texans have started using fatty brisket and cooking beef ribs, neither of which are a traditional part of "true" Texas barbecue. Lean brisket, the original Texas barbecue, is always rather underwhelming (though not nearly as underwhelming as Texan attempts to cook pork).

Then there's TexMex. I'd always thought that all Mexican food in the US is TexMex, since every US Mexican restaurant offers mostly stuff sold wrapped in a tortilla, while many dishes common in Mexico are lacking. In fact, apart from tortilla dishes and tamales (which don't use tortillas but still fit the pattern) US Mexican restaurants generally offer at most only chicken with mole, chiles rellenos, queso fundido, and a chile or two. (Generally I get chile verde if available, chiles rellenos as my next choice and queso fundido or a quesadilla if my first two choices are unavailable.)

Coming to Texas, I realize TexMex is a different thing entirely. To start with, there's the corn tortillas: they are almost flour tortillas. I don't know how they do it, but they have little flavor to them.

Then, I went to a Mexican restaurant with friends, and ordered chile verde (we went because I was craving chile verde). The salsa verde was acceptable, but they used lean pork! Chile verde needs fatty pork, both to get the pork flavor from the fat, and because fatty pork falls apart, sucking in the salsa verde.So I talked to a Texan friend, thinking it was a fluke, and he told me no; that's how chile verde is prepared in Texas, because true Tex Mex always puts lean meat in Mexican dishes.

And then he told me that chiles rellenos in Tex Mex cuisine always have tomato sauce. Why? But then I remembered that Texans invented putting tomato in "chili," to the point that a real Texas chill isn't made without it. So I guess Texans just love their tomatoes.

So essentially, it seems to me that the cornerstones of Texafying food is lean meat and tomatoes. I've just got to say "Thank Darwin out-of-staters have introduced Texas to the importance of fat and non-tomato-based flavorings in cooking!"

Also, I think Texans all miscook pork intentionally, in order to "prove" that swineflesh is an inferior meat to the flesh obtained from the carcasses of cattle.
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