Which one is the best cuisine in the world? And what are the parameters to define a good cooking? Is it the healthy Mediterranean diet? Or maybe the spicy Asian dishes? Could it be the Mexican hot and corn-based gastronomy?
Personally, If I had to choose one special dinner in any place around the world I’d go for a restaurant in a village in the South of Italy. As much as I appreciate international cuisine in the worldwide capital cities, I firmly believe the ingredients of smaller places conserve a genuineness that is impossible to find in big metropolis.
The sweet flavour of tomatoes grown on Sicilian soil are difficult to find in a common restaurant in a city like London. The freshness of the fish, caught in the morning and delivered on your plate is something that, in a big city, you get only in exclusive and therefore extremely expensive restaurants. Whereas in the Mediterranean fisher towns is part of the daily diet.
The speciality of Southern Italian cuisine is that it’s a people’s kitchen; you can find places where the very same elderly Italian woman cooks as if for her guests at home. It’s the love for the soil, the warmth of the sun and of the people that make the dishes one of a kind.
What is most recommendable to eat? Everything from a pizza, to Spaghetti allo scoglio (seafood), including a Parmigiana (aubergine lasagna) and a sea bass cooked in oven. Every Italian region has its own recipes and specialities, so the best thing is to have a local person suggest you where and what to eat. There’s neither a food guide nor a website that could replace the advice of a native. The problem rises when you don’t know the language of the place you’re visiting.
I noticed that in Thailand there are many food places that translate and list all the ingredients of a dish. However, it didn’t satisfy me since the mere enumeration of components doesn’t explain a dish and it may confuse me with another plate that has similar ingredients but is cooked in a completely different way.
I reckon that the name of the dish in the original language needs always to appear on a menu so that if someone suggests us that dish or we want to eat it again we can refer to that name.
However, when we see a dish for the first time and have no clue about it, I think images are an additional support to our understanding, yet, they don’t offer a complete explanation. So what is the solution? Well, learn the language of the place you’re visiting!
While you study, you could also look up an English version of the restaurant’s menu if their site uses website translation. It shouldn’t be just a literal translation, it should explain what the dish consists of , how they prepare it and serve it. Especially, nowadays that everyone’s food demand is becoming more and more specific.
So for example when you’re in Italy and read the Orecchiete alle cime di rapa you’ll know that orecchiette, meaning small ears, refers to a kind of pasta that resembles small ears and cime di rapa, literally turnip tops, allude to broccoli raab or rapini.
In Thailand, Pad See Ew, which is a phonetic translation, is a noodle dish. They use large, rice noodles fried in soya sauce with Chinese broccoli. This is a specific noodle dish not to be confused with the endless variety of other noodle dishes.
The Mexican Chile en Nogada is one of the finest dish of the country. Where we all understand what chile is, the Nogada need at least a paragraph to be explained. Briefly, it’s a white walnut sauce in which the chile is dipped. The dish is also decorated with pomegranate and is typically eaten in July, August and September.
Why all this fuss? It may not matter to you what you eat or you may look for dishes of your countrywhen you’re aboroad. However, for the traveler food is one of the most important component of the journey so we have to get the best out of it, don’t we?