Where in the world do you cook from?

Besides cooking from your own background/family place of origin, where do you head to around the globe in your cooking, most often? And why?

My background is Russian Jewish, although I can’t say that I cook a ton of that style of food. I certainly ate a lot of it growing up - mostly made by my immigrant grandparents, who babysat us, and made meals, while my parents worked.

I tend to go to Asia when I cook, whether that be Chinese, Thai, or lately also Korean and Vietnamese. Not the entire range of those cuisines, but certain go-to dishes. Why? I don’t entirely know. Partly because all my fam eats it more or less w/o complaint. Partly because I’ve found that I can simplify things and they still turn out ok (think protein/veg stir fries, thai curries with pre-bought paste, cold noodle salads if I bring the herbs and the fish sauce), and other cuisines I’ve tried don’t seem to react well to simplifications or shortcuts.

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Great topic!

Indian from family background, but different kinds (indian cuisine is regionally extremely diverse). But mom is an adventurous cook (and voracious reader of foreign publications) so we ate “exotic” - to us - stuff more than most.

At home I veer mostly to Asian seasonings.

Chinese is considered “local” by Indians (the most common type of restaurants serve “punjabi, chinese, south Indian” lol, and there are street vendors serving noodles and fried rice).

So my pantry and fridge are full of Asian ingredients - sauces, spices, and condiments, and while I may not always look up a recipe, I’ll often cook to a flavor profile of a favorite dish.

If I’m cooking for others, I go indian / mediterranean / middle eastern / north african - familiar and somewhat common (roots anyway) flavor profiles.

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That’s fascinating that Chinese is considered local by Indians.

Yes, I forgot to mention that my Asian dishes are the ones I can sort of throw together w/o a recipe, because I kind of know what goes with what. If I was cooking Indian or Mexican or French, for instance, I’d probably need a recipe to make that successful. And since most of the time I feel too lazy for a recipe, I guess that also hinders me from veering to those cuisines that often.

Yes, there’s a shared border (with much conflict) in the north, and a significant population (hakka I think) in the northeast for decades if not centuries. From there it traveled everywhere. Of course, “indian chinese” is amped up with spices (mostly chillies) and more aromatics, but is well-loved and definitely considered local.

It was (much later) interesting to me to eat some regional chinese foods (uyghur, sichuan) in nyc that have “indian” flavor notes (to me) - like cumin lamb, for example.

And I agree, I mostly riff rather than follow a recipe, which is in line with how indians are taught to cook, by “andaaz” - by estimate/experience, not by formula. So a “recipe” is usually passed down or across as a collection of ingredients and relative proportions (“some onion - not as much as in X dish but enough for a gravy”).

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I really can’t narrow it down much, because I tend to fixate on a particular dish, rather than a cuisine. So I get into ruts, like my recent obsession with cold soba noodles. Or mushroom stroganoff. Or shrimp egg foo young. Or chiles rellenos.

You just don’t play favorites. That’s ok! My younger kid was saying to me, on the topic of food boredom, mom - you know there are hundreds of countries around the world. If you made a meal daily from a different country, we could go more than a year without repeating. To which I replied, if you and your brother cooked once a week from a different country, we could do that for 10 years without repeating :slight_smile: He did NOT take me up on my suggestion.

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American mongrel, here. I’m a pantry cook. See what’s in the fridge and larder and get dinner on the table. I lean toward California/French, Italian, Mexican (as in taqueria), Spanish, Greek. Splurging occasionally with deep fried prawns or chicken “mcnuggets” using real chicken, and French fries. Husband always goes for breaded fish fillets or pork or chicken schnitzel. I don’t have the patience for proper Asian cooking but do love woked pork or chicken with noodles/green onions/soy et al.

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You’re cooking too well. Cook worse, so the kid feels the need to step up!

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I’m actually doing this right now for my family! A meal from every country in the world, in one year. My kids have a love/hate relationship with it :joy:. It’s been busy but so much fun. We ate pretty diversified before this though so it hasn’t been too crazy for them.

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We eat a little bit of everything. Our go-tos are Mexican, Korean, Thai, French, or Indian. Our quick lunches are usually some sort of Tex-mex/Mexican hodgepodge. This is a great topic!

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To answer, the OP, when I cook outside my heritage, I gravitate towards the Eastern Mediterranean (Cyprus & Palestine, for example), or towards South Asia (although I’ve never really got into Sri Lankan food). These are foods I enjoy eating in restaurants so I’ve been drawn to trying them at home. I am a less than average cook and, for most of our meals, my partner cooks and my jobs are to peel & chop, set and clear the table, etc. But these are meals I always prepare on my own. The reason is that there is a simplicity in the preparation and cooking. Much can be done slowly in advance, so I have none of the usual nervousness I get when I try to bring, say, a plate of protein, carbs and vegetables together at the same time. And, particularly with the Eastern Mediterranean food, I can rely on ready-to-eat shop bought items - stuffed vine leaves, torshi, etc.

Saturday night dinner has long been our most important meal of the week. Back in the 1990s, we decided that we would cook a different nation’s food (or, sometimes a regional meal) each week. Took us a couple of years to work our way through. And, whilst I cannot remember what we ate, the Anglo/Dutch dinner is the occasion stuck in my mind as it’s when our teams played each other in the World Cup that weekend. Oh, and then there was the soup I made on Burma night - I don’t think I’ve ever eaten anything so hot from chillis - Mrs H still reminds me of it fairlky regularly.

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I get similar reminders from the missus about the pad krapow I made. I actually used less birds eye chills than I wanted to. I thought I’d nailed it but she said and I quote " it feels like my ears are bleeding". We have very different tolerance to certain chillis. I tried to be sympathetic but I was quite pleased with the result.

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If I had a food passport, it would be absolutely covered in stamps!

For fast and easy, I buy the stir-fry sauces that I see people buying at ethnic supermarkets…tikka masala, Rogan Josh and the like from India (usually Patels), pad thai, red and green curries from Thailand, etc.

Caribbean and Mexican is a staple across Florida, so those show up regularly.

Cold weather (okay, I’m in Florida…cool weather) is soups, stews, and braised from Europe, savoury pies from the British Isles, and heavier fare from my ancestral Germany and Switzerland.

My son’s ex girlfriend hasn’t traveled, and was delighted to get to try all the things that were normal to us but new to her (shes a sweet girl and I give her full credit for being willing to try it all!)

My most favorite compliment was when she commented that mine was no basic-b*tch kitchen. :smile:

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A lot of Mexican, some Italian and French. New England too, ie chowder, baked beans, lobsters, seafood as that was childhood food. I’m the odd one out in that I do not like most middle eastern food. Flavors and visuals are unappealing to me.

Número uno es Latín, followed closely by Asian and Mediterranean, and then the rest of the world.

Italian, Thai, some Tibetan, French, Caribbean, Cajun/Creole, a bit of German, Mexican.

I threaten my wife with lutefisk but I don’t think threats count as cooking Norwegian.

For us, it’s Melting Pot American, Greek, and Mediterranean, East Asian, and Thai, Cajun/Creole, Middle Eastern, and Moroccan. We’re starting to dip our toes into the huge subcontinent of India’s food, thanks in good part to a suggestion by @Saregama, about a good basic cookbook to start. H thought he hated Indian foods and flavors, but not anymore - yay!

@Auspicious, funny you should mention Lutefisk. This area was in large part populated by Norwegians in the early days. Lots of Lutheran churches in the area have annual Lutefisk feasts and celebrations. I’ve never been to one, but there are many old timers who love and crave the stuff. For myself, I’ll pass, but I would give it a try. Just a tiny bite.

Oh, meant to add my posts haven’t been totally reflective, really of the way I like to cook and eat, since health snag, and H taking over the kitchen. I’m working up to cooking again I hope.

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I think for the last couple months. Moving the wagon train from east to the west. Circa 1850 . Whatever looks good with the simplest spices .That will he nourishing and satisfies

I used to travel to Norway on business several times each year. It turns out that most Norwegians don’t like lutefisk much. It’s much like fruit cake. It gets trotted out on special occasions and few actually eat it. To me, lutefisk smells like rotting cod marinated in gasoline in a bucket on the back porch.

There is–or at least was–a very strong government-to-government relationship between our countries. Staffs worked closely together and there was good natured ribbing. More than once we found ourselves facing lutefisk at dinner while the Norwegians stood around and smiled. We told them there were no more Vikings in Norway, that they had all moved to Minnesota.

In truth there was what I can only describe as Viking heritage among some. There were still some guys around who had been in the Norwegian resistance during WWII. One sent his wife off to visit her mother one weekend, got all his buddies together, and they used explosives to break up the granite under his house for a basement. Apparently they had not lost their expertise with shaped charges. The only unintended damage was one picture that fell off the wall. That exercise strikes me as one befitting a Viking.

I think Norway was the first place I ate venison or indeed any game.

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BIL, SIL, and their two very young children lived in Norway for 2 years while BIL was doing Post Doc research in or near Trondheim. They loved it, except for…the food! They found workarounds to make Mexican, and other foods they liked. SIL would go to an Egyptian market for most of her spices, because Norwegians use few, apparently. Their baked goods are different, and spices are used in them, especially cardamom, I think. They called it The Land of the Bland.

I’m sure they tried Lutefisk, but the subject never came up, as we were still in Reno, and hadn’t heard about it then.

Agree that most dislike, and don’t eat it. At the festivals locally, it’s not about the lutefisk, but the culture. Still, there are some old timers that do.

Sorry you had to sit down to a dinner of lutefisk, as I hear it smells ghastly too :scream_cat: I’m sure they loved pranking your team with that.

Very funny story about the explosives to create a basement. Geez, they must have been experts indeed, to knock only 1 picture off the wall.

Great stories @Auspicious!

“Food is a pretty good prism through which to view humanity.”

― Jonathan Gold