5 COUNTRIES 5 CUISINES

5 COUNTRIES 5 CUISINES

I LET ALONE THE LEGENDARY TURKISH CUISINE, ITALIAN AND FRENCH CUISINES, AND THE AUTHENTIC FLAVORS OF THE MIDDLE EAST AND LISTED THE MOST UNIQUE AND EXOTIC CUISINES OF THE WORLD THAT LEFT A GREAT TASTE IN MY MOUTH.

The famous Irish writer Bernard Shaw, who lived in the 19th century, stated: “There is no love sincerer than the love of food.” It sounds fair; humankind has covered great distances to capture the popular tastes, flavors, and colors. Passion for cooking is like passion for travel; cuisines contain the codes of understanding a city, geography, and culture. A true traveler does not separate the trip from food. Getting to know a country’s cuisine, understanding its influences is one of the most important steps to learn its history. I’ve made a list of the countries that I’ve been, and their cuisines that I loved. It was never easy. I let alone my country’s legendary Turkish cuisine, Europe’s world-renowned Italian and French cuisines, the Middle East’s unique tastes, China’s tastes and named the world’s most unique, exotic cuisines that have left a great taste in my mouth. My list may be short for this colorful planet but as the journey continues, no doubt our palate will continue to search for new tastes.

PERU

Its dishes dating back to almost a thousand years ago, Peru’s cuisine has left its mark on contemporary food trends, from ceviche to quinoa. Peruvian culture and cuisine are also influenced by immigrants. Indigenous Inca, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Japanese, German and African influences are felt. Peruvian potatoes with more than 3 thousand varieties are sold in different shapes and colors in markets, and more importantly, they are not genetically modified. Everything had started with the Spanish expeditions and then the discovery of the new continent. Explorers who arrived in America took foods home that are unheard of in Europe such as potatoes, tomatoes, and corn. So, long before the quinoa, the Peruvians introduced the world to this humble root vegetable, which is a basic nutrient. Today in Peru there are more than 300 types of hot pepper and they are indispensable for local cuisine. It is used as a spice to give flavor to almost every dish and it is added to sweets, too. Ceviche is indispensable for Peruvian cuisine. Fresh seafood dipped in lime juice, onion, and chili pepper for a few hours is ‘cooked’ in this sauce without being cooked over heat. Every Peruvian family has its own secret recipe. Corn is an important export product of Peru as well as potato. The corn called ‘morado’ in purple tones is the most expensive. You can start your meal with ‘ceviche de lenguado‘ (raw fish marinated in lime juice) and continue with ‘camarones’ (shrimp) or rice with ‘mariscos’ (shellfish) in El Mochica in Trujillo. Club Colonial is one of the best restaurants in Northern Peru with its delicious menu, ranging from the Basque style bass to crepes with tropical fruits…

INDIA

India, the land of spices, has a delicious cuisine and it is as diverse as the country itself. Indian food is not only categorized according to the regions of North India and South India, but also categorized by regional subgroups such as Punjabi, Rajasthani, Sindhi, Gujarati, Chettinad, Bengali, Mughali, Kashmiri and Hyderabadi. India is the country of festivals and there is a unique menu for each festival and important event, changing from region to region. Therefore, Indian cuisine is extremely dynamic and has never been monotonized. The rich diversity, different religions, topography, demography, climate, occupations, regional supply of herbs and spices were influential in this diversity. Most Indian dishes are full of spices, flavor, and color. Bitter, sweet, sour, juicy, deep-fried, the list goes on… Mustard, cumin, curry leaves, green coriander, garam masala (a mixture of spices), tomatoes, onions, garlic, and ginger are among the most used ingredients. Vegetables and lentils should not be forgotten. If you don’t have much time to discover Indian cuisine, especially these dishes are worth trying; ‘thali’, where you can meet multiple flavors, ‘dam aloo’ made with potatoes, Indian bread ‘paratha’ stuffed with vegetables, ‘paalak paneer’ made with spinach and cottage cheese, ‘samosa’ a kind of deep-fried stuffed pastry, ‘biryani ‘ rice with vegetables or meat, a dessert called ‘gajar ka halwa’ and the king of the whole cuisine, also known as street food ‘chaat’.

THAILAND

Thai cuisine is one of the most popular cuisines in the world. It is a unique cuisine with texture, healing properties, aroma, and flavor. Chili peppers that ignite your tongue, fresh lemongrass, and coriander are essential ingredients. ‘Tom yum goong’ (chili shrimp soup), ‘som tum’ (spicy green papaya salad), ‘tom kha kai’ (chicken soup with coconut), ‘gaeng daeng’ (red curry), ‘pad thai’ (fried noodles), ‘khao pad’ (fried rice), ‘yam nua’ (spicy meat salad), ‘kai med ma muang’ (chicken with cashew nuts) are among the popular dishes. Healthy and healing properties of the cuisine with rich content are also remarkable. Until 1939, the country we call Thailand now was known as Siam. The fact that it was the only Southeastern Asian country that had never been colonized by the West helped maintain its own cuisine. Thai dishes are famous for their unique spice combinations. Although it is bitter and spicy, it is planned to be balanced in order to distinguish each of the different flavors. In addition to curry and hot pepper, fish sauce, shrimp paste, lemongrass, coriander, basil, garlic, ginger, cumin, cardamom, and cinnamon are also used often. Many dishes are served with sauces such as ‘nam pla prig’. Coconut milk and grated coconut are used in many dishes, especially desserts. For dessert, there are tropical fruits such as mango, papaya, Indian quince and ‘jackfruit’ which is big and prickly with yellow flesh. Dishes may vary from region to region. Seafood is popular in the southern coastal regions. Thailand is also one of the countries that promise exquisite street foods.

SPAIN 

There are many reasons to love Spanish cuisine. This cuisine was influenced by many occupations of Spain and the conquests of new regions. The complex history of Spanish cuisine has made it one of the largest and best in the world. Some traditional Spanish dishes and recipes belong to hundreds of years ago. Every region of Spain, where a number of different kingdoms were once gathered, boasts about its own unique cuisine and flavors. Each regional specialty in Spain is worth a try and it is popular knowledge which of the most popular Spanish restaurants’ foods belong to which regions. Major Spanish cities include Basque, Galicia, and Valencia (paella) restaurants. These are among the most famous regions when it comes to local specialties. From tapas to paella (rice with seafood), the dishes of Spanish cuisine could make even the most experienced gourmets dizzy. Other mouth-watering typical Spanish dishes are spicy tortillas, churros with chocolate sauce, Spanish sardines on toast, Spanish style chicken pot pies, chicken and chorizo (Spanish sausage), Spanish rice. Spanish dishes are healthy as well as having rich content and sauces. For example, olives, Manchego cheese, ‘tostadas con tomato’ (shredded or crushed tomatoes on Spanish bread), ‘pintxo’ (Basque style mini sandwiches) or Spanish bravas (french fries with spicy tomato sauce)… The cities of Valencia and San Sebastian are of a great Spanish cuisine experience…

VIETNAM                                                                                                                            Vietnam, like many other Asian countries, has a kitchen that emphasizes the balance between ‘yin and yang’ based on the philosophy of unity arising from contrasts. For example, when Vietnamese eat seafood as they describe ‘cold’, they usually serve it hot with peppers, ginger, and lemongrass. In most parts of Vietnam, mainly herbs and vegetables are used. The country is divided into three separate regions: North, Central, and South. The cooking style, main ingredients and flavors in each region vary. However, they have many common features. The importance of rice and by-products, as well as some traditional sauces such as fish sauce, shrimp paste and soy sauce, are undeniable. While Vietnamese cuisine exhibits an excellent synthesis of Chinese, Indian and French cuisines, it preserves its national identity with all its features. In general, Vietnamese dishes consist of three elements: taste, color, and presentation. A single colored meal is rarely found in Vietnam. Meals are always a color symphony. The population of Vietnam consists of more than 54 minorities. Each one has a very distinctive culture of food and, as a result, different traditions. There are hundreds of versions of noodles called ‘pho’ in Vietnamese cuisine. The most delicious ones are ‘pho hanoi’ and ‘pho nam dinh’. A kind of French-Vietnamese sandwich ‘banh mi’,  a type of pancake stuffed with chicken and shrimp ‘banh xeo’, yellow rice made with noodles and turmeric ‘mi quang’, sweet, sticky rice ‘xoi xeo’, caramelized fish cooked in earthenware pot ‘ca kho’ are the jewels of this rich cuisine…