As you well know, food is a massive part of my life. I am a loud, proud member of Team ‘Live to Eat’ and no matter what conversation I’m having with friends and family on any given day, I’ll always bring it back to chocolate, cheese or chopsticks. As far as I am concerned everything starts and ends with food.
It won’t surprise you that I come from a family with similar culinary values. Although the type of food conversations we have can be quite varied, there’s one topic that we’ve been chatting about a lot lately and that’s our favourite cuisine.
My answer to the “What’s your favourite cuisine?” question changes on a daily basis. It is and always will be dependent on several things, namely; what I feel like eating at the precise point in time when the question is asked, how long ago I had a certain cuisine, who is asking me the question and what type of food that individual reminds me of and what general mood I am in. That being said, pretty much every type of cuisine gets a turn in first place, as I really haven’t ever come across a country whose food I don’t enjoy.
If I absolutely HAD to choose an all time favourite cuisine, independent of my mood, who was asking and how long ago I had eaten, it would be a toss up between Greek, Lebanese and Japanese. I’d like to think I am not biased in my choice, but of course I am. I believe that there is so much more to eating than nourishment and there’s no way I could ever separate my memories and associations of food with it’s nutritional value. For example, when I eat Baklava, the incredibly intense sweetness that hits my tongue scores a ten out of ten on the yummy chart, but what tips it over to an eleven out of ten is the image of my grandmother knee deep in rosewater syrup teaching me how to make it.
Same goes for Greek food. In my opinion, nothing in this world tastes as delicious as salty, garlic-filled slow cooked lamb on the spit. The love I have for this dish however, extends beyond how good it tastes to the happy, early childhood memories I have involving my father and uncle turning a spit for hours and hours on Easter Sunday.
When it comes to my other favourite cuisine, Japanese, the reasoning is slightly different. Whilst I may not have Japanese ancestry, a Japanese partner or memories of growing up in Tokyo (because that never happened) I do have a fond association with the Japanese people. I have been to Japan several times and have always felt at home when I have travelled there. I love the Japanese culture, I love their food philosophies and I was delighted to watch an incredible documentary called “Jiro dreams of Sushi” the other night, which brought it home for me once more. (Note: if you haven’t seen this, I highly recommend that you do!) This aside, I challenge someone to make bean curd more scrumptious than the Japanese do – Agadashi tofu anyone? Yum!
Chinese food is also high up there on my favourite cuisines list, although it doesn’t come in the top 3. That said, without question I think no one cooks crab and lobster as well as the Chinese. So when you break it down, there’s actually more than one question that needs to be asked in this conversation. Lots of different countries create pretty much the same dish all the time, they just put their own spin on it. So whilst a country may not make my ‘top 3 favourite cuisines’ list, a particular dish from that country may make my ‘top 3 all time favourite dishes’ list. Everybody gets a prize!
At the end of the day, we are extremely lucky to live in a country where so many different types of food are readily available (and to such a high standard!) Thank goodness I don’t have to choose only one cuisine to love, and on that note I shall continue to guzzle as many gyozas, soufflés and curries as my heart desires and my stomach sees fit!
What’s your favourite cuisine? From that cuisine, or from another one, what is your all-time favourite dish?