A journey through the world’s food cultures

The excitement following the purchase of a ticket, the thrill of getting on a plane and landing in distant lands to immerse yourself in a completely different culture. What once (which by the way seems to be so far away) could have happened after setting aside some money,  planning your holidays at work and combing through every flight and accommodation related website, now, in time of coronavirus, it almost seems like a pipe dream. However, restrictions imposed by governments have not curbed the thirst for exploration of millions of travelers, who keep dreaming of the day when they will finally be able to fly again. 

In the absence of the opportunity to go to another country, one must be creative. If you cannot travel with your body, you can always travel with your mind. As the Italian travel blogger Gianluca Gotto says: “A traveler is always a traveler. When he roams the world, of course, but also when he is at home”. How? By leveraging the senses. By reading travel books, watching films and TV series set somewhere else, listening to traditional music from other places and last, but not least, tasting the representative dishes of a country.

It is precisely flavors that this article will talk about, through a “tasty” journey where we will talk about the typical cuisines of some countries, giving an inspiration for when we crave for exotic flavors.

The first stop of the journey, also to make fun of the current situation a little bit, is China, right there where it all began. The Land of the Dragon is home to one of the largest, most complex and oldest cuisines in the world. Everything is based on the balance of opposites: hot and cold, the “yin” ingredients such as fruit and vegetables and the “yang” ingredients such as pasta, meat and spices. The main cereal of Chinese cuisine is rice, which constitutes the base for several dishes such as noodles, ravioli, cakes and even rice wine. The signature dish is chao fan (fried rice). The most famous version is probably Cantonese rice, stir-fried with scrambled eggs, peas, meat, and to which other elements can be added depending on the chosen variant. The fundamental ingredient is soy, of course, which represents the main condiment.

Moving to Europe, we find one of the cornerstones of the culinary field, especially when it comes to pastry: French cuisine. Home to the most famous cooking school in the world, Le Cordon Bleu, France boasts an immense variety of typical dishes, which take on different feautures depending on the region of origin. This makes it extremely difficult to identify only one signature dish. There is no doubt that if we say cheese, wine and baguettes, we can already picture ourselves at the foot of the Eiffel Tower, in the Champs-de-Mars on a tablecloth lying on the grass like we were in a Manet painting. Quiche of every kind, omelettes, escargot, tarte Tatin. And then the ratatouille, the soups, the fois gras and the coq au vin. There are so many! As for the desserts, we have crepes, le foundant au chocolat and the unreplaceable macarons, which were Queen Marie Antoinette’s favorite.

The third and final stop of the day is India, with its wonderful colors and spicy flavors. If it is true that if we say curry, we say India, it is equally true that Indian cuisine is much broader than one might think. First of all, there is a big difference between the recipes of the North, mainly based on meat, and those of the South, predominantly vegetarian and spicier. A further distinction is made depending on the type of preparation. Oven-roasted dishes are called tandoor, the most famous of which is tandoori chicken. With the terms curry or masala, we refer instead to all those dishes that are stewed in a spiced mixture made of spices and herbs such as turmeric, cumin, coriander, ginger and chilli. Sauces like raita and chutney as well as chapati are definitely a must. Chai, on the other hand, is the typical Indian spiced tea.

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