So I’ve recently made a point to learn about new dishes from other cultures – both eating new things as well as making them myself. I find that one of the best ways to learn about a new culture or ethnic group is by eating their traditional dishes.
Being from a Singaporean background, my diet growing up was restricted although my mother was always keen to make other dishes, i.e. pastas and pizzas. She’d dabble in other Asian dishes such as Vietnamese rice paper rolls and sushi. Mexican tacos and burritos also featured every now and then. Dad would occasionally make a BBQ or roast. But nothing that wasn’t already pretty normal/digestable as fast as foods in the Western world go.
That being said, the foods that we would eat traditionally or even day-to-day are ‘exotic’ by Western standards. Funny foods such as bitter melon, bamboo shoots and funny dried mushroom fungus things were ‘normal’.
I love Italian foods and the idea that simple combinations with the freshest ingredients make outstanding dishes. Quite different from Cantonese/Chinese cooking in which there’s a massive complex flavours of sweet and spicy mixed with salty and sour.
Within the last week, I’ve acquired a Spanish and Greek cookbook to properly start this journey to cooking new dishes.
I’ve made paella before, and I’ve eaten Greek salads and souvlakis and baklavas. But not very often. They’re all super delicious though and I’m really excited! The Greek cookbook has great dishes using uncommon (but cheap!) meats such as rabbit and goat!
One of the first dishes that my new boyfriend (!!) made for me was berbere, which is an Ethiopian spice mix which we turned into a curry-styled chicken dish. He even attempted to make injera, a traditional flatbread made up of teff flour (which failed in a very stinky, fermented way). Still it was exciting to make something that I had neither heard of or seen before let alone tasted before!
Expanding my knowledge about new flavour combinations or new ways to cook things i.e. using a tajine is something that I hope will continue as an ongoing journey/mini project for me!
I’m already someone who is keen to try new foods so I hope that I’ll be able to blog new things that I’ve tried as well as encourage others to try new foods and learn things along the way.
What was something new that you’ve tried recently?
Any weird food combinations? Chocolate cheese?
(My friend ‘invented’ this for a science fair in Grade 4/5. It was okay to my 8-year-old palette, I’ve yet to try it since then!)