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Jun 21, 2002 04:50 PM

If you could only eat one type of cuisine. . .

  • j

Calvin Trillin once wrote that every Thanksgiving his family goes out for Chinese food, because the one thing he is most thankful for is the Immigration Act of 1965. One of the things that makes people in the U.S. so lucky is the incredible variety of cuisines available to us because we are a predominantly a country of immigrants and their descendants.

But, if we were like most of the world's people and only ate one cuisine, what cuisine would you pick? What I mean is, if you could have the full range of one type of world cuisine, but that's it, for the rest of your life--which one would you pick?

For me, it would be Mexican. I love the high end stuff, the street food, I even love Pinguinos (the Mexican version of Hostess cupcakes.) I never tire of black beans-I've eaten them for two weeks straight. The only thing I'd miss would be bread and bagels. I do get weary of tortillas at every meal.

So what are other folks picks?

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  1. Lordy, Jessica, having to choose one--or rather, having to OMIT any cuisine would be a living hell! Especially if you always REMEMBERED great carbonara, knish, confit, falafel, soup dumpling, vindaloo, sashimi, bouillabaisse, borscht, schnitzel, banh mi, steak tartare, pad thai, fried chicken, meatloaf, cubano sandwich, tzatziki, pierogi--and on and on--I'd have a complete nervous breakdown!

    That said, I'd probably go with French. But Mexican would be a very close second. . . . God--just be glad you DON'T have to choose!!

    1. I would think most people would pick the food they grew up with. That being said, I would choose Chinese because I grew up with it. I'm glad for all the variety but if I had to eat one thing over and over again, definitely Chinese, Taiwanese especially.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Wendy Lai

        Maybe, but there are certainly exceptions. My parents were born and raised in the Midwest, and theirs is the *last* cuisine I'd choose. ;-)

        Mexican would be very high on my list, followed by Thai.

        1. re: Tom Hilton

          Midwesterners have a cuisine?

          1. re: CTer

            Ha Ha.

            David sums it up beautifully. [See the link.]

            Erik M.
            [My father grew up on an IL farm...]


            1. re: CTer

              Yes, we do. (See thread). And we have others--many others. I work in Dearborn, home of the largest concentration of Arabic population outside the Mideast,...good food, totally authentic Arabic, everywhere!& Vietnamese, plus a number of some of the best regional restaurants in the Detroi metro area. Please cut the stereotypes --we're as interesting as anywhere...for real.

              1. re: berkleybabe

                You work in Dearborn, MI? Have you eaten at Keirnan's Steak House by any chance? One of our favorite places. We live between Detroit and A2 - Berkeley is a nice little town. D. **P.S. I agree with your comments.

                1. re: berkleybabe

                  Well...I wasn't talking about what's *available* in the Midwest--I was talking about a style of food that's *indigenous* to the Midwest: lots of starch, dairy, and meat, not much seasoning, not much fresh vegetable matter.

                  Also, was talking about rural Wisconsin 50 - 60 years ago--not urban Michigan today.

            2. re: Wendy Lai

              The food I grew would be my last choice also. It was my mother's competent, lovingly prepared but banal suburban american jewish mom cooking. From my relatively limited range of other cuisine experience I'd probably choose Chinese, or Italian (as long as Italian included american (?) pizza.)

              I was gonna ask if potato chips are considered a cuisine, but then I thought twice 'cause I figured that's probably a pretty stale and banal joke, especially on a chowhound board.

              1. re: Wendy Lai

                I have to agree completely. Taiwanese food is so varied I doubt you could ever get bored.

                Nothing, but nothing is as much fun as going to a street market and eating your way along a street. The steamed pork buns, guo-tie (open-ended pot stickers served with aspicy chili sauce), bags of cut fruit, xiao-lung bao (those round dumplings stuffed with pork) and of course, the carts that serve shaved ice with fruit and coconut milk. You can keep anything with those awful sweet red beans, though.

                1. re: Wendy Leonard
                  Wendy Leonard

                  However, it would have to be Thai food as cooked in Thailand, not American Thai restaurant food.

                  1. re: Wendy Leonard

                    I know what you mean. We rarely go out for Thai food because it's what my wife constantly prepares at home; however, I am always amazed at the Thai restaurants in this country. Half of the dishes are "peanut sauce" this or that. When do you find peanut sauce in Thailand? Maybe at a wedding banquet where chicken satay is served, otherwise never. And the tom yum here is always made from instant paste. I have found some Thai restaurants that cook up a mean pad thai though.

                2. I'd have to say Italian, hands down - though I think life probably wouldn't be worth living without variety. Italian cuisine is so amazingly versitile and creative (modern Italian cuisine as well as traditional). You get a little of all of European cuisine within it; fantastic cheese, lucious bread, a variety of cooked and cured meats etc. Its possible to have the rib-sticking stodginess of northern and eastern Europe (dumplings such as gnocchi, and mozzerella in caroza) as well as light, savoury things from the south (grilled meats and seafood)plus creative vegetable dishes like stuffed artichokes and melanzane parmigana, and besides, can you think of any other culture that has managed to come up with so many different ways of utilizing a tomato?
                  I don't think life would be worth living without carpaccio, pasta, parma ham and figs, wood fired pizza, pure as the driven snow olive oil, melt in the mouth ricotta, balsamic vinegar, biscotti and most of all...cappucino to wash it all down.

                  1. Thai food. No question about it.