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'Foreign' food that's better in the US

I'm curious - what cuisine do you like more at home (here in the states) than in its country of origin?

I like the Indian at Bombay Grill & Taste of India more than the food I actually had in Bombay or Goa. I realize this is a matter of taste & upbringing (and probably luck while traveling), but I'm still curious. I also had a West African meal in France that I can't imagine would have been better anywhere in the world.

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  1. I've mentioned this before - I've been to Din Tai Fung (the famed Chinese dumpling house with branches now scattered all around the world) in both Los Angeles and Taipei, and I thought the L.A. branch had better execution. Incidentally, I did not have any wait time at all at the original branch in Taipei. Do the locals now know something I don't? Or was it just a case of high expectations, combined with the uncomfortable 90-plus degree weather outside?

    Still, the best dumplings I've had were in Shanghai, not the U.S. :-)

    1 Reply
    1. re: HungWeiLo

      There are no good dumplings in Shanghai; xlb, maybe. But dumplings no.

    2. My filipino friends generally agree with me that filipino food in the US can be better than in the Philippinies--less greasy and less salty, more vegetables, spicier, lighter cooking, hot dishes served hot.

      8 Replies
      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

        Also, deep fried dishes fried at a higher temperature, and cooked longer so that they're more crisp while still being flavorful, or cooked the same time but not tired and limp.

        The variety of ingredients is simply broader in America.

        But this could be said for a lot of cuisines, not just Filipino.

        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

          Ditto for American food here in Canada. ;)

          1. re: mrbozo

            That is possible... at least in Vancouver in noticed 2 things:

            1) The overwhelming dominance of "American" dishes in the mainstream Canadian bars & grills etc., (Has Vancouver ever invented its own dishes.... or is like Canadian actors in the Hollywood... you just wouldn't know they are really Canadian until you read the Bio).

            2) The average quality of many ingredients (Lettuces, Bread etc.,) and attention to execution of simple things like Frittes...

            I would certainly agree that Vancouver's take on American standards seems superior to say Seattle's take on American standards... you might have something.

            1. re: Eat_Nopal

              The Bars and Grills here are essentially copycats of American Bars and Grills. The portions are smaller...but in a good way. I'm always blown away by the HUGE portions at the American versions of these types of places. I just can't imagine actualy finishing anything...I feel guilty for leaving half my plate unfinished.

              Vancouver inventions? I don't know if there are any that have turned into a "classic" like Gumbo, Philly Cheeseteak etc. Perhaps some sushi & izakaya constructions or dim sum fare.

              Wait...there is one: Japadog. I'm pretty sure this thing is unique to this city...someone correct me if I'm wrong.

              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Disagree completely. Canadian versions of American regional cuisine is always a pathetic failure, and Vancouver is the worst among them.

                Somebody (a Vancouverite naturally) fed me some snark about how he loves chicken fried steak but he'd "never move to Calgary just to eat it." Ha ha, Calgary cowboy rednecks in Canada's "most American" city luuuurve their chicken fried steak, ya hooo! Except he was 100% WRONG. The only place I've seen this delicacy on the menu here is at horrible chains like Montanas. We don't do "American" right in Calgary and they sure as hell don't in Vancouver.

                Sorry for the rant but unless you've LIVED in both countries you have no idea what you're talking about. I lived in the US to age 33 and have been in Canada for 11 years. Canada (its cities at least) has spectacular ethnic diversity and with an immigration proportion that is twice that of the US, we have more and more authentic ethnic options than most countries in the world. We do NOT have good "American" food. We have US chains and US-inspired chains. That's it.

                1. re: John Manzo

                  I have never had CFS in Vancouver..... but things like Grilled Salmon over Salad Greens, Sweet Potato Fries, Burgers, Sandwiches, Thin Crust Pizza etc., at random Downtown Traps were better than their equivalents in Seattle (for example at Sport or McNemnims sp? etc.,).... none of these places were Chow favorites... just average places... but its clear that Vancouver has an edge on many ingredients & execution.

                  1. re: John Manzo

                    Have to agree with you, John. Lots of great food in Canada, but no good versions of the American classics. Lots of "BBQ" spots, but nothing that touches Texas, Memphis, Carolina, etc. Lots of "Cajun" places, but nothing that touches New Orleans.

                    We used to have a great burger chain in Toronto called "Toby's" which rivaled the best burgers I'd had in the states, but alas, it's gone. And Canada has never produced a unique burger like "White Castle" or "Maid-Rite".

                    CFS? In Toronto, the closest you can get is the schnitzel at some of the old Hungarian haunts like the Blue Cellar room, but they lack the cream gravy of the original. Canada can't even produce something as prosaic as Waffle Hut. (Tim's no longer counts with its centrally produced doughnuts.)

                    Ethnic (especially Asian) foods? I'd put Toronto and Vancouver up against any city in the US for quality, execution, and flavour. We have some very good steak houses, and classic European cuisines like French, Italian, and Greek are very well represented.

                    But overall, I agree; classic American cuisine is not done very well in Canada.

            2. Not exactly on topic but I think a lot of dishes and recipes that Americans associate with a particular country's cuisine are actually American versions of them or completely made up dishes that immigrants made up once they got here and aren't even available back in their home countries. I'm thinking corn beef and cabbage. It doesn't exist in Ireland. It was "invented" by immigrants on the Lower East Side of Manhattan who were living alongside Jews eating brisket. There are lots of beloved Italian-American dishes that are unreconizable to most Italians. I bet any large ethnic wave experienced the same phenomenon. They came here. They either couldn't find or couldn't afford the ingredients to make their traditional dishes like they did at home. So they found simiar things and adapted. These adaptations were introduced to the mainstream. A generation later, an American travels to that country and asks for X, gets Y or Z.

              25 Replies
              1. re: southernitalian

                I have had the best indian food of my life in Nairobi, and best Piri Piri in London.

                1. re: southernitalian

                  You are on spot. This is particularly true with mexican food. Tex-Mex is nothing like Mexican food in Mexico. I think Tex-Mex is a joke! Of course, every state in Mexico has their own unique dishes that most of us here in the states would not even recognize. I live in the southwest so we do cook a lot of Mexican dishes from Sonora, some of which are better than what you would get in Mexico but which is totally unlike the food in other parts of Mexico. I love Mexican food and have learned a lot of recipes, but I still have to laugh at "Tex-Mex". I digress! Sorry.

                  1. re: francelle

                    Why is Tex-Mex a joke? It's not Mexican, that is clear, but it is distinct. What makes it inferior to authentic Mexican? Just curious -- I have to ask when someone disses an entire category of cuisine like that. You seem to be implying that the region (Texas/Border Mexican) has no right to have developed a cuisine of their own -- or at least that is what your post reads like.

                    1. re: RGC1982

                      hi rgc, if i may butt in, i personally do not think tex mex is a joke--i know it has its passionate adherents--but it annoys me to no end when a tex mex place advertises itself as being "mexican". a lot of tex mex places around where i am still do that, though generally, the city has gotten better. if i've borne any grudges against tex mex, it would be for that reason.

                      1. re: cimui

                        Fair comment, but your grudge really needs to be directed toward the chain restaurants who push their product in the same way that Disney promotes the France pavillion at Epcot Center as a similar experience to visiting Paris. It's all marketing, and like it or not, most of the people in this country buy into it. I guess we Chowhounders like to think we know better. It's no different than Bennigan's trying to pretend to be the Irish pub on the corner.

                        I reacted to the joke comment because this kind of thing offends people. Most of us wouldn't dare insult Indian or Chinese or Middle Eastern cuisine with a similar broad statement. (Can you imagine saying "I think Chinese food is a joke" and that it makes you want to laugh at it? How many people would hear that without a challenge?) I really don't understand why the assault on this type of food. I don't have a vested interest in this -- I just want to know why someone can feel that an entire regional cuisine is something to be mocked.

                        1. re: RGC1982

                          >>Disney promotes the France pavillion at Epcot Center as a similar experience to visiting Paris.

                          oh c'mon, it's totally like paris, swamped with american tourists and all! :)

                          not sure saying "tex mex is a joke" is quite comparable to saying "chinese food is a joke." tex mex is about as well developed as hong kong chinese as a separate cuisine, i think. and some folks do denigrate HK chinese as just an awful bastardization of european food and chinese food, both. i happen to disagree. but to each her own!

                          fair point about the need to direct grudge towards chain restaurants (or better yet, get rid of it entirely), though. i fully realize it's irrational to hold an entire cuisine accountable for the sins of a few crap restaurants.

                          what are the really distinctive dishes in tex mex, would you say? the only one i can think of is queso fundido.

                          1. re: cimui

                            Comparing Tex Mex to Real Mexican IS a joke! Of the regional variations of Mexican cuisines its certainly the poor cousin... or as we Mexicans like to say its the lone ugly girl at the party who needs a dance partner!

                            Let the flaming... or as we say... the Queso Flameado begin!

                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                              You know, food is always always an emotional issue and has no tie to "reality." Doesn't matter whether it's TexMex, CalMex, FronteraMex, YucatanMex, BajaMex, or SexySinaloaMex, if you have a strong emotional bond with any of these (or another), especially if it goes back to childhood, THAT will be the best and most wonderful. And it won't matter at all how many black eyes you give or get, nothing will change your mind.

                              But of course, everyone knows that CalMex, and chiles relleno made with Anaheim peppers are the unequivocal best in the world. That's a given. '-)

                              1. re: Caroline1

                                You know... Cal Mex is responsible for the El Torito & Taco Bell chains... two major culprits for the crap that gets passed around as Mexican... the majority of the dishes that get assaulted as Tex-Mex crap were actually created in the Sub-urbs of L.A.... I think Cal Mex is certainly no better than Tex Mex.

                                I do realize food is an emotional issue... but like other things of personal & cultural preference there are ways to come up with measureable criteria. For example, we can look at all the music traditions around the world and come up with 10 to 15 attributes that particular songs, styles, genres & performers that are relevant 50+ years later all share in common. Similar we can do the same with food... I have no doubt that on any metrics drafted by a council of Chowhounds.... Tex-Mex, Cal-Mex, New-Mex-Mex will be obliterated by Mexican.... there is just no comparison in the range.

                                Just like you pointed out earlier... in your experience with Mexican-American cuisine you never once saw a stalk of Asparagus.... Mexican cuisine on the other hand has the depth & breadth that (for those who really have experienced it) put its in the same ball park as other great culinary traditions like Chinese, French, Italian, Spanish, Turkish, Indian etc.,

                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                  LOL! Honeybunch, you need to let your sense of humor out of the box to come and play for a while. You've had your nose stuck to the research grindstone too long! Far as I know, not a soul in a carload here has said anything about Mexican cuisine not being world class... Nobody, no how, no way!

                                  But wait a minute! Talk about bad mouthing! Just WHAT is wrong with El Torito? I *LOVE* their corn pudding or whatever those little squares of stuff they ration out like tires during WWII are... I once ordered five combo plates but only ate those. Deeeeelicious...!!! '-)

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    Sweet corn tamales. The other contender for "biggest combo glop Mexican-ish restaurant", Acapulco, has a buffet lunch in some locations -- like Glendale, CA -- and have these things available. I love them.

                            2. re: cimui

                              You are kidding about Hong Kong Chinese, right? It falls under the Cantonese category and is one of the great cuisines of China.

                              1. re: suse

                                no, i'm talking about things like coffee tea (half of each), ham and egg buns, spaghetti served with pork chop and ketchup sauce, that kind of thing -- not straight up cantonese, which is a very different story.

                                1. re: cimui

                                  Stop it, you're making me hungry!!

                                  1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                    *laugh* it all sounds so awful on paper (ketchup sauce?), but some of it is surprisingly good...

                                    i love this thread: http://www.chowhound.com/topics/493453

                                  2. re: cimui

                                    OMG -- those sound awful and disgusting!

                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                      yeah, i know a lot of them do sound pretty bad, huh? the coffee tea is shockingly tasty, though. and the ham and cheese rice is also very good. you get this lovely crust from baking the rice in a casserole dish (sort of like a proper paella crust) while the ham and cheese cooked over top get all bubbly and toasty (like a KY hot brown). i knocked it until i tried it, too. that's not to say that all of these dishes come recommended though!

                                      1. re: RGC1982

                                        Oh no... junjong is delicious -- it's tea made with condensed milk and coffee made with condensed milk, in equal parts, over ice... and a ham and egg bun -- well, picture ham and eggs inside an unsplit Chick-Fil-A breakfast bun (you know, the slightly sweetened kind)... deeeeeeeeee-licious.

                                  3. re: cimui

                                    I am not sure that I know what is "authentic" Tex Mex, but flour tortillas wrapped around brisket are probably up there, if I had to guess. Chicken and sour cream enchildas? Tamales? I can't really say -- as I mentioned, I don't have a personal stake it in and never really gave it much thought. But -- I will admit that will eat ALL of it -- and I live in Texas, so there is a lot to choose from that is not at Taco Bell.

                                    1. re: RGC1982

                                      Have you traveled around the interior of Mexico to compare?

                                      1. re: RGC1982

                                        i think i'd eat almost anything with texas bbq brisket and like it! =) i was reading another post a while back about open faced tacos (sort of like sopes, i guess) he said were invented in texas, but spread back across the border to mexico. if that's true, it's kind of a cool story of cross pollenization.

                                        1. re: cimui

                                          Many things have been cross pollenized South.... Pancakes, Hot Dogs, Burgers, Fajitas, Pies... maybe even some New Orleans cooking... but I can't think of any "open faced taco" that originated in Texas and spread to Mexico.

                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                            yeah, i'll have to dig for that open faced taco post. i think it was on chowhound, but i'm getting a little senile, so don't hold me to it. :)

                                            1. re: cimui

                                              Hi, I think Chilli is texan, correct me if I'm wrong. However, why not call food from texas just that: "texan".

                            3. I think the Pho I have had in the US (and here in Canada) is better than Vietnam's.

                              25 Replies
                              1. re: fmed

                                NO way! Although I haven't eaten that much pho in the US

                                1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                  Sacrilege I know...but that's honestly what I think. It's at least "as good" here....and perhaps tastes fresher and cleaner. (I think I'll put on an asbestos suit now.....)

                                  1. re: fmed

                                    Pho in Vietnam is always fresh and clean-flavored. Plus sitting at those low plastic tables on tiny wooden stools on the sidewalk in the early morning!

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      The ambiance is certainly better there! I'll just have to chalk this up to preferences.

                                2. re: fmed

                                  Were you by any chance in Central Vietnam? Because I also thought that the pho from that area really sucked compared to the US.

                                  My sister even went to say that she ate at one pho joint in the highlands (not touristy in the very least) where the pho broth tasted like dirt water.

                                  1. re: Miss Needle

                                    There is pretty good pho in Hue; although Hue is known for other foods. As you go up through the highlands from Hue (past Hamburger HIll) the people are indigenous and not pho makers or eaters.

                                    1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                      Yeah, my sister and I were not in Hue. We weren't too happy with our pho meals. But after I left Vietnam, she stayed and went down to Saigon where she said that she finally had good pho.

                                      1. re: Miss Needle

                                        wow... they still call it hamburger hill?

                                        1. re: gryphonskeeper

                                          No. But my Vietnamese buddies always tell Americans that it was known as such

                                      2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                        Sam, I never had pho until 1967 in Viet Nam, compared to Spam and c-rations, it was heaven on earth! It is only very recently that I am able to eat it again. There is certainly something to be said, however, to be able to relax and enjoy my pho today in the in the peace and safety of an American restaurant.

                                        1. re: Passadumkeg

                                          keg, I never had pho until 1982, compared to food in the Philippines (para sa mga akin kaibigan taga filipinas, talagang gusto ko ang amin pagkian), it was heaven on earth. I was a junior in HS when you went to Vietnam. As a rice scientist, I was one of the first non-Soviet outsiders invited to Vietnam after you and our troops left and after several years of isolation. When I first went, there were few restaurants and almost no street food places--even in Saigon! I was lucky to work in Vietnam (and Cambodia, Laos, and elsewhere) as people were slowly able to again become Asians in the sense of jubulant street foods and markets. Have you been back? One of the joys is that the Vietnamese, having won the war, almost never look back, but always look forward! Wonderful and warm people with great food.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            You probably mean pagkain, but only the Tagalog speakers would catch that.

                                      3. re: Miss Needle

                                        From all over. South, Central and North. We can get proper regional Pho here in Vancouver where I live....so I can compare as best as my memory serves me.

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          Maybe pho tastes better to some people when they're only paying less than one US dollar. : )

                                          Another thing I have to say tastes better in the US is sriracha sauce. I love Huy Fong but not too crazy about the Thai versions.

                                      4. re: fmed

                                        I grew up eating lots of pho in the Bay Area, and was a bit disappointed with the pho I had in Hanoi. Most American pho is based on southern Vietnam's cuisine, so I thought that maybe the reason I didn't like it as much in Vietnam was because I was in the north.

                                        When I returned, I asked a couple of Vietnamese friends (who frequently return to Saigon) what their thoughts were, and they agreed that they both liked American pho better. Though the ingredients in Vietnam were very fresh, one of my friends' thoughts was that the quality of the ingredients in the states is better, which I might agree with. The beef in N America is generally aged to some degree, whereas in Vietnam, I'd guess that the beef if quite fresh, which results in a tougher meat. The chicken pho I had there was quite bland as well.

                                        Still, far more fun to eat pho on a low stool on the sidewalk.

                                        1. re: fmed

                                          Either you need to tell me where you're getting your pho here in the U.S. (and/or Canada), or you need to find different places to eat in 'Nam.

                                          1. re: ipsedixit

                                            I get my pho phix at a bunch of nondescript places that cater to mostly Vietnamese (which is typical of pho establishments). I have eaten pho in at the same kinds of places in a few US cities (mostly Southern Cal and Bay Area ). In Vietnam - also the same kinds of places - pho establishments that range from humble to garish.

                                              1. re: ipsedixit

                                                If we are going down this road then...the only places I remember by name are places that Das Ubergeek recommended - Pho Thanh Lich and Vien Dong. The others places are places that LA colleagues, friends and relatives have taken me and did not bother to remember. They were good though.

                                                Would you like to know anything else? ;)

                                                1. re: fmed

                                                  That's surprising. The OC/Westminster usually isn't the best spot for pho.

                                                  The best pho in LA is in SGV. Have you tried Pho 79 or Pho Hien? Both in SGV, and both are excellent, but neither can hold a candle to what's served in 'Nam.

                                                  1. re: ipsedixit

                                                    Pho 79 (or some numbered pho place) sounds familiar...that may be the place my Vietnamese friend took me too. Thanks for the tips.

                                                    I'll just chalk it up to preferences. I have had good pho and bad pho in both continents.

                                                    1. re: ipsedixit

                                                      Pho 79 is in Westminster... and if you haven't been to Pho Thanh Lich, you need to get there, because it's the best pho in Little Saigon.

                                                      Vien Dong doesn't, I don't think, serve pho. They do serve cha ca thanh long and bun cha Ha Noi, both of which are excellent.

                                                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                        Oops, Yes you are of course right...we had the bun at Vien Dong. Pho Thanh Lich was great - thanks for that.

                                                        ...And it was Pho 79 that we went to.

                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek


                                                          There's a Pho 79 in both Alhambra and San Gabriel.

                                            1. I don't know about the US, but I know my sister was shocked at the day to day food in Hong Kong as opposed to "Chinese" in Sydney. More on the bone food and skin on, more fatty in HK.

                                              1. i find the "authentic" mexican restaurants run by immigrants in my area far inferior to the texmex fusion places. the authentic stuff just seemed bland and under seasoned.

                                                68 Replies
                                                1. re: beelzebozo

                                                  It's possible that you might be confusing the Mexican places with places run by El Salvadorans and other central American immigrants. Their restaurants serve large helping of very basic, bland peasant food. I've never cared for their dishes, even their "Mexican" dishes for these reasons.

                                                  That said, I've had very limited exposures to proper Mexican cooking, or what constitutes proper Mexican cooking, and so far I find I prefer the Tex-mex.

                                                  1. re: beelzebozo

                                                    I'm also less of a fan of 'traditional' Mexican restaurants - but that's mostly because I'm a bigger fan of CalMex that has less fat. So I would never say it's a case of the food being better, just a personal preference for less grease and a wider variety of veggies.

                                                    And I'm a far greater fan of the way "Irish" cabbage is done in the US vs Ireland. But that again may just be a personal preference about how long it should be cooked for.

                                                    1. re: cresyd

                                                      See that is why knowing about Authenticity is important... Most Food Consumed in Mexico is far lower in Fat, and has a much, much, much wider variety of veggies than Cal-Mex.

                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                        You don't get combo-glop plates in Mexico. Even in the border cities. You might get beans and you might get some rice but you're not going to get a plate of stuff with cheese melting all over it -- does not happen.

                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                          Russian food in the US was so far superior to the stuff they served in restaurants in the old Soviet Union!

                                                          1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                            That's because menus in the Soviet Union were less about what was actually available for purchase and more about what the restaurateur would offer if he only could, if the supplies were cheaper, if the red tape were easier, if the suppliers weren't so crooked, etc., etc., etc.

                                                            I learned very quickly to say "Shto yest' sevodnya?" ("What is there today?") instead of "Khotel' by menyu, pozhaluista." ("I'd like the menu, please."). If I was lucky I'd get a longer-than-usual grunt offering me two choices -- "Marinnovye gruby ili borsch. Kotlyet ili ryba." -- marinated mushrooms or soup, and meat cutlet or fish.

                                                            1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                              Russian food! How could I have forgotten? My grandmother was born in Minsk (technically Belarus). I was pretty young when the Brighton Beach section of Brooklyn started filling up with Russians and was informally renamed Little Odessa. A few times my father would take us all to a Russian/Kosher restaurant and let my Grandma do all of the ordering. It was delicious and after we'd eat he'd ask her if it brought back any memories and her response was always something along the lines of, "Memories? Ha! I just always wanted to know what that tasted like".

                                                              1. re: southernitalian

                                                                My son the chef wanted me to take him into the city for "authentic" Russian food. He was blown away by Brighton Beach.

                                                            2. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                              I've noticed that decent restaurants don't serve combo-glop plates, and I can sometimes swear that the chains specialize in them. If we take lousy eateries out of the picture, your portrayl is very accurate.

                                                              1. re: RGC1982

                                                                Well, "decent" is subjective -- it sounds like part of your definition of "decent" is "does not serve combo-glop plates". There are places I frequent on those rare occasions when I actually want a combo-glop plate (it does, I'm ashamed to mention, happen), and those range from actually quite good to Chevy's.

                                                                I've even got decent food out of combo-glop places with the admonition "y no pongan queso!"

                                                            3. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                              I don't know...it's pretty hard to beat California produce...

                                                              1. re: Olallieberry

                                                                1) Mexican Dishes as Cooked in Mexico much, much, much more fresh produce than just about anything CalMex

                                                                2) Its pretty hard to beat Mexican produce. If you live in Mexico City or most any urban center in the heart of the country... almost all produce consumed is either organic or much lower in pesticides than what we grow here in California AND consumed within 48 Hours of harvest. No I am not talking about specialty markets.... I am talking about incredibly cheap produce purchased at any mercado. California really can't touch that.

                                                                If you took the best 30 Street Tianguis (combination Farmer & Flea Market) in Mexico City (out of 600 weekly markets)... you would find them all comparable to the very best Farmers Markets in California (Ferry Plaza, Santa Monica etc.,)

                                                                Further... Mexico has no need to import California produce... yet California imports tons of the country's B & C level produce from Northern Mexican states like Sinaloa.

                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                  Eat, I don't like crossing swords with you, but Mexican produce sold in Mexico has some of the highest pesticide residues in the world. And don't ask me to substantiate: I'd have to talk to one of my ex-wives who did her PhD on Mexican produce production (when we were together we both worked on Integrated Pest Managment in agriculture).

                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                    "Mexico has no need to import California produce... yet California imports tons of the country's B & C level produce from Northern Mexican states like Sinaloa"

                                                                    I was told by someone in the industry that most of the herbs that come out of Mexico (into California) are A level since that fetches the highest fees. I can't substantiate this with anything in writing, but I'd tend to believe this since countries generally tend to export their best of something to richer countries willing to pay more. The best Cuban cigars, the best Indian basmati rice, and the best California bing cherries are exported to richer markets for the most part.

                                                                    1. re: aburitoro

                                                                      Clearly the U.S. market has the $ to afford the best produce from Mexico (well at least after the Japanese get their pick as they definitely buy up THE most premium items).

                                                                      However, the prime growing regions in Mexico tend to be in Central & Southern Mexico... for now... transportation is expensive enough (due to lack of roads, expensive toll roads etc.,) that Mexico's largest urban areas are able to retain much of that produce.... even if local salaries can't compete with those NOB. Most people are shocked to see that really good tomatoes in Mexico City sell for $0.30 / lb and Avocados are commonly $0.20 per.

                                                                      Meat on the other is a completely different story.... Beef prices are very similar if not more expensive than in the U.S. for similar grades & cuts. Poultry is cheaper... but some cuts are more expensive (dark meat etc., because the Mex market doesn't bid up boneless, skinless breasts nearly as much as in the U.S. etc.,).... Seafood can be substantially cheaper in Mex (very nice huge shrimp about $5 / lb etc.,)

                                                                      1. re: aburitoro

                                                                        In an econ class our professor explained that it makes economic sense for an exporter to ship their best products overseas, even from one "first world" country to another. His example was French wines. The idea is that if you're going to be spending the money to move a product, you should offset that by reaping the most profit.

                                                                        I don't know if this is a perfect analogy, but I'm a window washer, and if I have a client that's an hour away, it had better be a big job that's worth my transit time. On the contrary, I'll happily do a small job around the corner because it doesn't cost me much to get there.

                                                                        This doesn't necessarily apply to fresh produce, of course. Shipping your tomato 1000 miles probably means it's a tomato that will last on the shelf a long time, not necessarily one that's the highest quality.

                                                                  2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                    Eat Nopal, I'm not an expert in Mexican cuisine. Can you give us some examples of vegetable Mexican dishes (excluding "veggies" like corn and beans)? Are there differences between regions? Because when I was in Puerto Vallarta a couple of years ago, I was dying for some veggies when I got back (and we ate in local establishments as well as more touristy places).

                                                                    1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                      Nopales (cactus pads), squash blossoms (and squashes in general, including chayote), jicama, etc.

                                                                      1. re: xanadude

                                                                        Yeah, I've seen those dishes but I felt that they comprise a small minority of the menus. I remember eating a bunch of meat and carbs there and not much else. If I ate vegetetables, it was just a small percentage. Perhaps I'm used to the Korean and Chinese way of eating where meat constitutes a small percentage of the diet and vegetables are abundant (what people do at Korean BBQ does not reflect what Koreans eat on a daily basis).

                                                                        1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                          Needle, you're right as always. Japanese food that I grew up with was mostly vegetables with just a bit of meat (sushi, sashimi, and tempura being a small part of our diet, although adopted elsewhere as "Japanese"). I've also found that getting sufficient vegetables to be difficult throughout Latin America (and many other parts of the world, perhaps especially in the Philippines and much of sub-Saharan Africa). Fortunately, the produce sections in the grocery stores here in Colombia are fabulous.

                                                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                            The availability of vegetables/fruits is an interesting topic. By far and away, the "best" selection of fruits and vegetables I have seen have been in very high-end grocery stores in rich countries. I have to assume that this is because only rich people can afford to ship in the variety and quality of fruits and vegetables from around the world.

                                                                            In farmers markets, you get whatever is in season and available. So you'll get a lot of peppers, or tomatoes, or whatever is being harvested at the time, in the place you are in. It is easy to be "disappointed" by the selection in these local markets, because many of us are spoiled by the choices in supermarkets in the west. Isn't it interesting how warped our perceptions have become!

                                                                            Good produce is a real luxury. It is much easier and cheaper to buy carbohydrate fillers like potato, rice, manioc, etc. Produce is expensive, seasonal and short-lived. Or it should be. But I am guilty of wanting my banana and orange in the middle of winter in Canada.

                                                                            So food that is based on good produce is often better in the U.S. and other rich nations. Certainly it is more consistently available.

                                                                            1. re: moh

                                                                              Our supermarkets here in Cali, Colombia, have better and greater variety of fruit and vegetables than I've seen anywhere in the US or Europe, and at better prices. Both temperate and tropical produce. I'm always puzzled because the normal Colombian diet doesn't feature that many vegetables. I've had people ask me what certain vegetables were and how to prepare them.

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Sam, in your supermarkets in Columbia, is the produce relatively local? Or os it shipped from other countries/continents?

                                                                                I was just in this crazy high-end grocery store in TO, and the fruits and vegetables were beautiful but ridiculously expensive. I bought a Hawaiian papaya (one of the best I've had away from Hawaii), some incredible lytchee and a donut peach from North Carolina. I paid some terrible sum for these products, and I feel guilty as hell, but I have to say they were beautiful fruit. I've seen better fruit, and seasonally ripe fruit at markets all over the world, and I'd much rather shop locally. But I have never seen the range and quality of produce except in these rich markets. You pay through the nose to get this kind of selection. (I've chopped off my nose now...)

                                                                                1. re: moh

                                                                                  Almost all of our produce comes from different areas within the country. Pears and apples come from Chile.

                                                                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                    Ah then you are lucky! These are the benefits of living in a warm climate. I love my country, but the winters make eating local a tough thing to do consistently (another turnip anyone?)

                                                                                    That being said, we are almost upon summer berry season! First the strawberries, then raspberries, then wild blueberries. Yay!

                                                                            2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                              It's funny how some people assume that Japanese food only consists of sushi and tempura and Korean food is all about BBQ. I've met so many people who say they hate Japanese food because they don't like raw fish.

                                                                              1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                Gee, Sam, my wife is from Zamboanga City in Mindinao, and some of my favourite pictures are ones I took in the market there. Besides the incredible array of fish and shellfish, the fruits and vegetables were plentiful and varied. My shots were just a riot of colour, filled with exotic (to me) fruits and veggies.

                                                                                1. re: KevinB

                                                                                  KB, you're right. When I lived in Los Banos, the local market (plus going into Makati) had all I needed for home cooking.

                                                                                  On the other hand, when I worked elsewhere in the Philippines, getting vegetables at restaurants was not easy. As is the case here in Colombia, there is a lot of produce available in the Philippines, but who eats it? Doesn't appear much in home cooking or in restaurants.

                                                                              2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                I haven't travelled far into the interior of Mexico, but have had friends who originally came from all over Mexico, and I would have to say, based on personal observation, that the vegetables of Mexico are corn (in all its guises), beans, peppers, onions, and tomato. All the rest are minor compared to these five.

                                                                                1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                  Hi Caroline,

                                                                                  You should travel to central and south Mexico, there are loads of veggies and fruits you have probably never heard of, loads are exported to europe and asia. You've got to remember Mexico is in no means a small country but the product varies greatly from state to state and region to region due to differences in altitud, humidity, temp., etc. , I'm quite sure you would enjoy them.

                                                                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                  In my 31 year experience eating Mexican cuisine, and comparing it with my exposure to American (24 year experience), Chinese, Korean, Indian etc., (very brief exposure by insiders) I would note the following:

                                                                                  1) Mexican Vegetable Consumption is not going to approximate that of East Asia & Central Europe. The Mexican ecosystem is much more adept at producing fruits than vegetables (I think that is true when you compare all Tropical places to higher Latitudes). Also, the Mexican diet revolves around whole grains (Corn & Beans) for a bulk of Protein... wheras East Asia has typically eaten refined Rice which has no fiber (takes up less bulk & necessitates more vegetables)... and Europe has its white breads.

                                                                                  > The typical Mexican weekday delivers about 8 to 12 servings of Fruits, Vegetables & Legumes (it is going to vary based on the meals... but even without Nutritional knowledge... the culinary tradition seems to balance out the varies food items... and you consistently get a very nutritious variety of produce & colors). For example... some days people might eat more meat... and as you result you see a little bit more vegetables & fruits... but the beans might be cut out etc.,

                                                                              3. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                hi there, Rick Bayless is the only guy I've seen in my favorite restaurants in Mexico (and that excludes Tijuana) , he's actually quite good, check out his website:


                                                                                1. re: ensenadian

                                                                                  I love Rick Bayless. Last time I was in Chicago, I couldn't get a reservation to his restaurants. But I will try my hardest on my next trip.

                                                                                2. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                  First... you have to learn to distinguish the following:

                                                                                  > Restaurants for Toursists... where the majority of diners are going to be reluctant to have fresh produce. Also there is a market decision... most Americans particularly from the areas where places like PV & Mazatlan get their bulk (Pacific Northwest, Minnessota, Illinois etc.,)... don't eat much vegetables in their regular diets and aren't going to choose them on vacation.

                                                                                  > Specialty Restaurants for Locals.... you aren't going to find much vegetables & fruit at these places because low meats are the everyday reality for Mexicans... when people go out they want to splurge (within their means).... and in PV that means Shrimp, Spiny Lobster, Fish... maybe even Birria and various Tacos etc.,

                                                                                  So what does that leave us? If you want to eat everyday Mexican cooking, you have to either find a neighborhood Fonda that serves Comida Corrida.... not always easy in a touristy place like PV where people don't have stable work hours. You need to find a neighborhood with some kind of manufacturing, wherehousing, office type jobs... and if people have to commute far enough that its impractical to get back home for comida.... then that is the right conditions to find what I call the real deal.... everyday Mexican cooking.

                                                                                  You can always find some proper Mexican cooking at Sanborns etc., yeah they are chains and because they cook from scratch on premises, and procure locally,... there is some variability in their quality but many Sanborns can be rock solid... offer Vegetable Soups, Salads, Guisados & Fruit Plates like most Mexicans would eat at home.

                                                                                  The other option.... and many savvy North American regulars already know this.... get a house, hire a cook... and ask the cook to prepare home cooking with a "locals" budget... and the cook will go buy all that wonderful produce at the Tianguis that you are rarely going to see at the Touristy or Specialty restaurants.

                                                                                  So what is a typical day in the Urban Mexican diet?


                                                                                  > Whole Beans, wedge of Queso Fresco, Salsa or Roasted Chiles, Tortillas


                                                                                  > Eggs (either Fried, Poached in Sauce, or Fried & Sauced), Refried Beans and/or Chorizo with either Nopales, Calabacitas or Potatoes. Tortillas.


                                                                                  > Chilaquiles (made with leftover sauces and/or meats), Refried Beans & Fruit Plate (Papaya, Banana, Mango, Oranges, Watermelon, Canteloupe etc.,)


                                                                                  > Vegetable Soup
                                                                                  > Guisado of Vegetables & Meats in Sauce; Sides can be beans or sliced Avocados, Tomatoes, Cabbage, Fresh Lettuce (Orejona which is kind like a blend of Romaine & Butter)
                                                                                  > Refried Beans & Tortillas served after the Guisado
                                                                                  > Candied Fruits, Coffee etc., maybe Strawberries & Cream to finish off

                                                                                  Snacks might include Fruit and Root Vegetables with Chile, Lime & Salt etc., Licuados, Straw

                                                                                  Supper is usually left overs, grazing or Pastries with Hot Chocolate etc.,

                                                                                  Common Vegetables in Mexican Cooking

                                                                                  You have to understand that most Mexican sauces start with a pile of Tomatoes or Tomatillos, Onions, Garlic, Chiles & Herbs... when I cook at home 1 serving of sauce usually represents about 2 cups of fresh produce.

                                                                                  Native Vegetables

                                                                                  > Quelites, Verdolagas, Quintoniles, Chaya / Wild Greens typically added to sauces or antojitos when in season
                                                                                  > Nopales
                                                                                  > Calabacitas ("Zucchini")
                                                                                  > Calabaza (Squash... dozens of seasonal varieties )
                                                                                  > Tomatoes
                                                                                  > Tomatillos
                                                                                  > Avocado
                                                                                  > Jicama
                                                                                  > Chiles
                                                                                  > Mushrooms
                                                                                  > Potato
                                                                                  > Yuca
                                                                                  > Edible Flowers

                                                                                  Non-Native Vegetables

                                                                                  > Carrots
                                                                                  > Celery
                                                                                  > Cauliflower
                                                                                  > Brocoli
                                                                                  > Watercress, Chard, Spinach

                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                    I am current working on an essay about Mexican cooking, and in the process I compiled produce statistics on the popular Mercado de la Merced (Mexico City). This is the list of Mexican Grown produce sold at this market in 2006:

                                                                                    Artichokes - 432639 lbs
                                                                                    Asparragus - 10870363 lbs
                                                                                    Avocado - Criollo - 7677192 lbs
                                                                                    Avocado - Hass - 193600343 lbs
                                                                                    Avocado - Other - 5524523 lbs
                                                                                    Beets - 3592696 lbs
                                                                                    Bok Choy - 20056 lbs
                                                                                    Broccoli - 45184119 lbs
                                                                                    Brussel Sprouts - 1301697 lbs
                                                                                    Cabbage - 37246960 lbs
                                                                                    Carrots - Baby - 310135 lbs
                                                                                    Carrots - Emperador - 433533 lbs
                                                                                    Carrots - Nantes - 54638292 lbs
                                                                                    Carrots - Other - 10048642 lbs
                                                                                    Cauliflour - 10345874 lbs
                                                                                    Celery - 4386038 lbs
                                                                                    Chard - 1285574 lbs
                                                                                    Chaya - 2188 lbs
                                                                                    Chayote - 21460200 lbs
                                                                                    Chayote Root - 820828 lbs
                                                                                    Collard Greens - 408773 lbs
                                                                                    Corn - 118190070 lbs
                                                                                    Courgettes - 78360826 lbs
                                                                                    Cucumber - Chio - 58620106 lbs
                                                                                    Cucumber - Other - 26427243 lbs
                                                                                    Cucumber - Winter - 5381815 lbs
                                                                                    Eggplant - 7767055 lbs
                                                                                    Fava Beans - Green - 9227886 lbs
                                                                                    Garlic - 7924675 lbs
                                                                                    Green Beans - 18076952 lbs
                                                                                    Green Peas - 11795247 lbs
                                                                                    Huazontle (Aztec Spinach) - 397469 lbs
                                                                                    Jicama - 34808323 lbs
                                                                                    Kale - 178679 lbs
                                                                                    Leeks - 429558 lbs
                                                                                    Lettuce - Baby - 318522 lbs
                                                                                    Lettuce - Orejona - 3635391 lbs
                                                                                    Lettuce - Other - 8320803 lbs
                                                                                    Lettuce - Romaine - 37688722 lbs
                                                                                    Malanga Root - 18233 lbs
                                                                                    Mustard Greens - 109395 lbs
                                                                                    Napa Cabbage - 57615 lbs
                                                                                    Nopal Cactus - 123269324 lbs
                                                                                    Okra - 6860453 lbs
                                                                                    Onion - Other - 5709964 lbs
                                                                                    Onion - Pearl - 477984 lbs
                                                                                    Onion - Red - 5079881 lbs
                                                                                    Onion - White - 191056266 lbs
                                                                                    Onion - Yellow - 8396067 lbs
                                                                                    Potato - Other - 34608425 lbs
                                                                                    Potato - White - 240743684 lbs
                                                                                    Potato - Wild - 2258004 lbs
                                                                                    Pumpkin - 7515112 lbs
                                                                                    Purslane - 1784324 lbs
                                                                                    Radishes - Large - 1247946 lbs
                                                                                    Radishes - Small Round - 3234501 lbs
                                                                                    Rapini - 58344 lbs
                                                                                    Romerito Greens - 962859 lbs
                                                                                    Spinach - 3093062 lbs
                                                                                    Squash - Kabocha - 6182113 lbs
                                                                                    Squash - Other - 7583554 lbs
                                                                                    Tomatillo - 146877604 lbs
                                                                                    Tomato - Cherry - 8109780 lbs
                                                                                    Tomato - Mexican - 72250751 lbs
                                                                                    Tomato - Rio Grande - 39020818 lbs
                                                                                    Tomato - Roma - 641274 lbs
                                                                                    Tomato - Saladette - 181365579 lbs
                                                                                    Turnip Greens - 643608 lbs
                                                                                    Turnips - 298467 lbs
                                                                                    Wild Greens - 99368 lbs
                                                                                    Yuca - 3767017 lbs

                                                                                    Apples - Golden Delicious - 49251041 lbs
                                                                                    Apples - Mexican - 7703099 lbs
                                                                                    Apples - Other - 3820553 lbs
                                                                                    Apples - Red Delicious - 42812760 lbs
                                                                                    Apples - Rome Beauty - 4390811 lbs
                                                                                    Apples - Starking - 1693307 lbs
                                                                                    Arrayan - 14040 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Dominico - 11325282 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Enano Gigante - 251177891 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Manzano - 3822306 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Other - 3443710 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Pear - 6323865 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Plantain - 61035393 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Purple - 1982807 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Tabasco - 28937427 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Valery - 13187593 lbs
                                                                                    Banana - Wild - 19177681 lbs
                                                                                    Black Berries - 7748177 lbs
                                                                                    Blueberries - 48134 lbs
                                                                                    Cashew Fruit - 577079 lbs
                                                                                    Chinese Passion Fruit - 236943 lbs
                                                                                    Chinese Plum - 1958614 lbs
                                                                                    Citron - 2725245 lbs
                                                                                    Coconut - 18639322 lbs
                                                                                    Custard Apple - 67351 lbs
                                                                                    Dragon Fruit - 480463 lbs
                                                                                    Figs - Black - 1116641 lbs
                                                                                    Figs - White - 39419 lbs
                                                                                    Grapefruit - Marsh - 388900 lbs
                                                                                    Grapefruit - Ruby Red - 4930579 lbs
                                                                                    Grapefruit - Wild - 390541 lbs
                                                                                    Grapes (Green) - 53024 lbs
                                                                                    Grapes (Red) - 27086002 lbs
                                                                                    Guanabana - 3198145 lbs
                                                                                    Guava - China - 109395 lbs
                                                                                    Guava - Media China - 19895669 lbs
                                                                                    Guava - Other - 36340571 lbs
                                                                                    Guava - Wild - 343019 lbs
                                                                                    Jackfruit - 1038505 lbs
                                                                                    Limes - Italian - 9996552 lbs
                                                                                    Limes - Key - 232164657 lbs
                                                                                    Limes - Persian - 95528506 lbs
                                                                                    Lychees - 2494516 lbs
                                                                                    Mamey - 2272062 lbs
                                                                                    Mandarin - Dancy - 90890 lbs
                                                                                    Mandarin - Mexican - 58983 lbs
                                                                                    Mandarin - Murcot - 1804289 lbs
                                                                                    Mandarin - Other - 30963987 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Ataulfo - 56255287 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Haden - 42381666 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Keitt - 14795182 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Kent - 30052133 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Manila - 78655999 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Manililla - 6133162 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Mexican - 30347800 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Obo - 790051 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Oro - 9305504 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Other - 6894635 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Petacon - 523820 lbs
                                                                                    Mango - Tommy Atkins - 40155955 lbs
                                                                                    Melon - Cantaloupe (French) - 90141929 lbs
                                                                                    Melon - Honey Dew - 4641010 lbs
                                                                                    Melon - Mexican Honey Dew - 604773 lbs
                                                                                    Melon - Other - 6072517 lbs
                                                                                    Mexican Plum - 10864105 lbs
                                                                                    Nance - 1065794 lbs
                                                                                    Nectarines - 309180 lbs
                                                                                    Oranges - Hamlin - 22852479 lbs
                                                                                    Oranges - Valencia - 696019974 lbs
                                                                                    Oranges - Mexican - 17956180 lbs
                                                                                    Oranges - Navel - 2933227 lbs
                                                                                    Oranges - Other - 18144073 lbs
                                                                                    Other Citrus - 910218 lbs
                                                                                    Papaya - Hawaiian - 232009 lbs
                                                                                    Papaya - Maradol - 139435019 lbs
                                                                                    Papaya - Red - 5627954 lbs
                                                                                    Papaya - Wild - 16410 lbs
                                                                                    Papaya - Yellow - 291356 lbs
                                                                                    Passion Fruit - 44050 lbs
                                                                                    Peaches - Diamante - 17531780 lbs
                                                                                    Peaches - Mexican - 12171235 lbs
                                                                                    Peaches - Oro - 964576 lbs
                                                                                    Peaches - Other - 9820089 lbs
                                                                                    Pears (European) - 5462044 lbs
                                                                                    Pears (Kieffer) - 499115 lbs
                                                                                    Persimmons - 52419 lbs
                                                                                    Pineapple - Other - 12796116 lbs
                                                                                    Pineapple - Smooth Cayena - 102564085 lbs
                                                                                    Pineapple - Wild - 187704 lbs
                                                                                    Pomegranate - 442505 lbs
                                                                                    Pomelo - 64911553 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - Yellow - 8448212 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - Alfajayucan - 31699536 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - Other - 9917912 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - Red - 7995510 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - Sour - 1829814 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - White Burron - 3283218 lbs
                                                                                    Prickly Pear - White Cristalina - 5871905 lbs
                                                                                    Quince - 1302020 lbs
                                                                                    Raspberries - 1704909 lbs
                                                                                    Spanish Plum - 559264 lbs
                                                                                    Star Fruit - 111073 lbs
                                                                                    Strawberries - 34977772 lbs
                                                                                    Sugar Cane - 21476245 lbs
                                                                                    Sweet Potato - 10995292 lbs
                                                                                    Tamarind - 5930799 lbs
                                                                                    Tangelos - 7293 lbs
                                                                                    Tangerines - 30911791 lbs
                                                                                    Tejocote - 662460 lbs
                                                                                    Watermelon - Charleston - 21496652 lbs
                                                                                    Watermelon - Jubilee - 25850072 lbs
                                                                                    Watermelon - Other - 76341990 lbs
                                                                                    Watermelon - Sangria - 54401399 lbs
                                                                                    Yellow Cherries - 54313 lbs
                                                                                    Yellow Chirimoya - 105658 lbs
                                                                                    Zapote - Black - 116703 lbs
                                                                                    Zapote - Chico - 3105447 lbs
                                                                                    Zapote - White - 2371 lbs
                                                                                    Zapote - Yellow - 1915 lbs

                                                                                    Amaranth - 601983 lbs
                                                                                    Barley - 158494560 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - American Pinto - 6493383 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Azufrado (Yellow) - 17102488 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Bayo (Tan) - 9614102 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Cacahuate (Brown) - 44761 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Canario (Yellow) - 4099409 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Flor de Junio (Purple) - 23423906 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Flor de Mayo (Purple) - 30722529 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Garbancillo (Yellow) - 8816 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Jamapa (Black) - 18968762 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Mayocoba (Yellow) - 17691807 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Mexican Pinto - 25826787 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Other - 6967647 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Other Black - 25381384 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Other Brown - 4708456 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Other Pale - 2840790 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Peruvian - 6822276 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Queretaro (Black) - 934219 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - San Luis (Black) - 49682549 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Veracruz (Black) - 164968 lbs
                                                                                    Beans - Zacatecas (Black) - 944408 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Corn (For Pozole) - 8448004 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Corn (Green, Red, Purple, Blue) - 12344384 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Corn (White) - 365759943 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Corn (Popping) - 116233 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Corn (Yellow) - 313287562 lbs
                                                                                    Fava Beans - Dried - 4133037 lbs
                                                                                    Garbanzo (White) - 29606353 lbs
                                                                                    Guaje Seeds - 1505166 lbs
                                                                                    Lentils (French Green) - 1277798 lbs
                                                                                    Wheat Berries - 45217 lbs
                                                                                    Dried Peas - 693434 lbs
                                                                                    Rice - Morelos Variety - 7116364 lbs
                                                                                    Rice - Other - 3518499 lbs
                                                                                    Rice - Phillipine Variety - 50854173 lbs

                                                                                    Nuts & Seeds
                                                                                    Chia Seeds - 6838 lbs
                                                                                    Macadamia - 595375 lbs
                                                                                    Melon Seeds - 1824 lbs
                                                                                    Peanuts - 12442314 lbs
                                                                                    Pecans - 12261244 lbs
                                                                                    Pine Nuts - 44524 lbs
                                                                                    Pistachios - 794 lbs
                                                                                    Sesame Seeds - 3876748 lbs
                                                                                    Walnuts - 171805 lbs

                                                                                    Dried Chiles
                                                                                    Ancho - 5912142 lbs
                                                                                    Arbol - 111128 lbs
                                                                                    Chile - Other - 821424 lbs
                                                                                    Costeno - 235284 lbs
                                                                                    Guajillo - 3674187 lbs
                                                                                    Mulato - 153883 lbs
                                                                                    Negro - 30859 lbs
                                                                                    Pasilla - 1956949 lbs
                                                                                    Puya - 196911 lbs

                                                                                    Fresh Chiles
                                                                                    Agua - 328623 lbs
                                                                                    Anaheim - 11925149 lbs
                                                                                    Arbol - 604043 lbs
                                                                                    Bell Pepper - 49427579 lbs
                                                                                    Caloro - 1709230 lbs
                                                                                    Chilaca - 24533758 lbs
                                                                                    Chile - Other - 14876205 lbs
                                                                                    Cristal - 101556 lbs
                                                                                    Guajillo - 141849 lbs
                                                                                    Habanero - 1290262 lbs
                                                                                    Invernadero - 2214483 lbs
                                                                                    Jalapeno - 119015696 lbs
                                                                                    Mirasol - 4095881 lbs
                                                                                    Piquin - 60441 lbs
                                                                                    Poblano - 38822919 lbs
                                                                                    Rocotto - 150419 lbs
                                                                                    Rocotto - 484529 lbs
                                                                                    Serranos - 34465081 lbs
                                                                                    Soledad - 2097832 lbs
                                                                                    Sweet Pepper - 2767557 lbs
                                                                                    Wild Green Chiles - 45035 lbs
                                                                                    X-catic - 40477 lbs

                                                                                    Basil - 31853 lbs
                                                                                    Basil - Organic - 178697 lbs
                                                                                    Chamomile - 278156 lbs
                                                                                    Ciboulletes - 14613209 lbs
                                                                                    Cilantro - 9417276 lbs
                                                                                    Epazote - 230003 lbs
                                                                                    Eucalyptus - 25783 lbs
                                                                                    Garlic Chives - 428100 lbs
                                                                                    Lemon Grass - 45035 lbs
                                                                                    Marjoram - 11487 lbs
                                                                                    Mexican Mint - 63905 lbs
                                                                                    Mexican Oregano - 36265 lbs
                                                                                    Papalo - 1159350 lbs
                                                                                    Parsley (Flat Leaf) - 648388 lbs
                                                                                    Pipicha - 25708 lbs
                                                                                    Rosemary - 41571 lbs
                                                                                    Savory - 5698 lbs
                                                                                    Tarragon - 1824 lbs
                                                                                    Thyme - 4194 lbs

                                                                                    Anise - 16309 lbs
                                                                                    Annatto - 139238 lbs
                                                                                    Black Pepper - 327383 lbs
                                                                                    Coriander - 25708 lbs
                                                                                    Cumin - 3282 lbs
                                                                                    Dates - 544715 lbs
                                                                                    Green Pepper - 568822 lbs
                                                                                    Hibiscus (Dried) - 987227 lbs

                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                      As to your list, Nopal, my gocery store has more fruits and vegetables, but lacks as many beans and chiles and doesn't have... nopal!

                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                        Ten million plus pounds of ASPARAGUS???? Whoda thunk it? I don't see a listing for fresh corn. Is that an oversight? An amazing piece of research. Bravo!

                                                                                        1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                          I should have mentioned that while La Merced is by far the largest retail Mercado in Mexico City - including its very own Subway Station ( http://www.extramsg.com/modules.php?n... ) it is the city's historical Wholesale Market as well (it has recently been replaced by the absolutely massive Central de Abastos in the southern part of the city http://www.ficeda.com.mx/ as Central Mexico's primary produce distribution center).

                                                                                          La Merced still functions as the key wholesale distribution point for restaurants, mom & pop stores, roving produce vendors, street market vendors... anybody who just wants to buy a few flats of seasonal produce.... there are more than a thousand wholesale shops aside from the Public Market.

                                                                                          I don't know what percentage of the city's produce is moved through La Merced... but it is a significant #..... 10MM lbs of Asparagus is not that much in a metro area of 20MM +

                                                                                          I like bringing up La Merced because it represents the actual purchases of working class, urban Mexicans. There are many other avenues for specialty & exotic products... Mercado San Juan (with the best prices on things like Pata Negra, fine wheels of Roquefort etc., in a decidedly downscale environment), the high end boutique shops like the La Europea chain... the mega Super Markets... Commercial Mexicana, Wal Mart, Costco... the farmers markets selling stuff grown within the Mexico City delegaciones like Xochimilco & Milpa Alta etc., etc., etc., but La Merced is where your "Median Mexicans" the middle 80% of income distribution go to hunt for quality bargains.


                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                            My reaction to the asparagus was based on the fact that I have never never never SEEN a stalk of asparagus in Mexico, and certainly not in any Mexican restaurant, be it TexMex, CalMex, NewMexMex, or just plain old MexMex. Buuuutttt... I am aware that Cuidad Mexico has it's fair share of French restaurants, etc. Do you think they may contribute to the higher-than-I-was-prepared-for use?

                                                                                            Gorgeous markets! Shopping in those produce areas looking for inspiration for dinner must lead to massive headaches brought on by confusion and indecision. It all looks so good!

                                                                                            1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              I won't say that Asparagus is common throughout Mexico but in my dad's hometown (San Jose de los Reynoso, Jalisco) it was grown (really just harvested wild) & consumed extensively (while in season)... so I grew up eating Asparagus and it wasn't until I was in my twenties that I realized lots of regions in Mexico don't do Asparagus.

                                                                                              Mexico City of course has everything from Sushi Delivery to 19th Century Franco-Mex (and my gawd I can't think of two more opposite traditions)... lots of people consume Asparagus outside of the French context. My grand aunt (whose parents spoke Nahuatl) commonly prepared Asparagus in a variety of "Traditional" ways... roasted then served over Mole Verde, snuck into a Mixiote or Molcajete, in Tortilla Soup, Capeado (in tempura batter) etc.,

                                                                                              She also prepared her own Mayonaisse (which she learned how to make in a government funded Home Economics course)... and served it with lightly poached vegetables like Aparagus, Artichokes, Tomatoes etc.,... a very French approach if there is one. The funny thing is she had no clue... and I think she would laughed because in her mind French food was suppossed to be complex & sophisticated.. but she regarded this type of eating as very basic, inexpensive, peasantish eating.

                                                                                              La Merced will blow you away & overwhelm.... I would expect most U.S. based CHers to leave without buying much on the first trip... it is supreme overload but a must experience. Central de Abastos is even more overwhelming (and of course less pedestrian & consumer friendly). Some of the Tianguis (Street Markets) are also daunting with close to 1,000 stalls.

                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                I've bought and been served asparagus in Baja California. They had huge mounds of it at the new fancy Comercial Mexicana in Rosarito and people were buying it up.

                                                                                                1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                  Last time I was in San Diego, I was listening to Public Radio broadcasts from Baja.... low & behold Commercial Mexicana was running ads for their House Made Fresh Mozarrella, Marinated Artichokes & Chipotle Stuffed Manzanilla Olives! Blew me away.

                                                                                            2. re: Caroline1

                                                                                              Fresh corn is up in the vegetable section.

                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                So it is! One hundred and eighteen million pounds! How did I miss it? Thanks.

                                                                                          2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                            Sr. Nopal, Your post is delicious; do you have a favorite mole de guajolote recipe? I used to eat it a lot in Old and New Mexico, but can't find a recipe I like. I prefer ones w/ pepitas (pumpkin seeds).
                                                                                            Thanking you in advance from the icy far north of Maine.

                                                                                                1. re: Passadumkeg

                                                                                                  This is what I have used as a basis.... I cook very loosely from recipes... feel free to subsitute Pepitas for the Almonds.


                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                              Thanks for the informative post, EN. It's very helpful. The typical urban Mexican menu you have posted does indeed have more veggies than probably the typical tourist Mexican diet. However, I think I'm used to eating more veggies than that.

                                                                                              And I think people also differ on what constitutes a vegetable. For example, I remember there was a thread on Chowhound about what your vegetable was. I saw so many responses for potato. While potato is technically a vegetable, in my eyes I don't consider it one as I see it more as a starch. To me vegetables are things like cauliflower, celery, spinach, broccoli, tomatoes (though it's technically a fruit), etc. DH's definition is even more narrow as he doesn't consider anything a vegetable unless it's dark green and leafy and still crunchy. He says that a typical Korean meal has no veggies even though you've got these sides of sprouts, spinach and watercress all around you.

                                                                                              1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                Perhaps pickling and fermentation erases their vegginess.

                                                                                                1. re: Miss Needle

                                                                                                  That is fine.... as I have noted the Mexican ecology & thus the diet emphasizes whole grains like Corn & Beans, as well as a lot of Fruit... and as such there are less vegetables than in Korean or Chinese cooking... but the original question is about how it compares to Cal-Mex.

                                                                                                  My biggest complaint about Cal-Mex places (and they are usually just glorified Taquerias) is that they rarely have Soups, Salads (at least palatable Salads) and Fruit Plates. Somebody please educate me on these Vegetarian best friend's Cal-Mex paradises.

                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                    sorry to break it to you E.N. but beans are not a whole grain, they are a legume.

                                                                                                    i am also curious as to where you get your info on americans in pacific northwest and northern heartland supposedly not eating vegetables-- your quote:
                                                                                                    where the majority of diners are going to be reluctant to have fresh produce. Also there is a market decision... most Americans particularly from the areas where places like PV & Mazatlan get their bulk (Pacific Northwest, Minnessota, Illinois etc.,)... don't eat much vegetables in their regular diets and aren't going to choose them on vacation.

                                                                                                    huh??? not to come down on the scholarship you did above, thanks for that, but i don't see how it connects to your assumptions about regional american diets, which i think is mostly completely off-base. please let me know what you're thinking so i can understand.

                                                                                                    1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                      According to the ADA's research (I usually peruse my wifes copy of the Journal of the ADA) the typical American (the Mode from Stats 101) consumes between 1 & 2 servings fruit and/or vegetable on a typical day (basically if you add the Juice, Burger garnishes, French Fries, Pasta Sauce etc.,).... in certain places like California its up around 2... in places like Minneapolis & Seattle the number is closer to 1.

                                                                                                      Yes you are technically correct Beans are a Legume... I spoke loosely and I shouldn't demerit Beans because they are a super food... and whole grains are merely a solid staple.

                                                                                                      1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                        are you sure you don't mean per meal, not per day??? 1 serving per day just doesn't seem right-- i think i see a cross-section of folks in my area and i sure go through cases of veggies at work faster than cases of meat. nutritional studies of low-income local (minneapolis) people which i have studied have shown an average of 2 servings fruit a day and 2-3 veg servings a day, and the consumption rate rises with education and wealth--so i don't see how your stat could possibly be correct. in any case the local wealthy people who can afford mexican vacations are definitely *not* eating fast food burgers and fries for every meal. they would expect that the food in mexico would have at least the amount of veg as you get in the local mercados and taquerias around here, which is a fair amount, though many dishes are still very meat-heavy. if you've got a citation for what you're claiming i'd appreciate it.

                                                                                                        1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                          The ADA did a major study and created Archetypes... and Archetypal Diets of Americans throughout the country... the findings are fascinating for any one that is interested in Sociology, Anthropology & putting some meanings into statistics. For example here is one of the Archetypes I remember off the top of my head (and I am sure I am not remembering 100% correctly).

                                                                                                          Common Male White Collar Worker in both Seattle and Minneapolis

                                                                                                          > Weekday Breakfast... Pastry or Cereal & Coffee
                                                                                                          > Weekday Lunch.... Sandwich, Fries, Soda
                                                                                                          > Dinner.... Grilled or Roasted Meat, Potatoes, Breads & Starches, Beer
                                                                                                          > Snacks... Engergy Bar, Energy Drink, Coffee, Trail Mix, Granola Bar, Juice etc.,

                                                                                                          For this highly common group the intake of Fruits & Vegetables in a day is usually a couple of preparations of Potato, Garnishes on Sandwiches, Dried Fruit in Cereals & Cereal Bars, Juice etc.,

                                                                                                          They even characterize this Archetype by consumption of Ethnic foods and found that White Collar Males at a Chinese restaurant are likely to order Noodles, Meat (Kung Pao Shrimp, Lemon Chicken) & Rice but stay away from higher vegetable dishes like Brocoli Beef.

                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                            I should also mention that Fast Food consumption is also very common among Male White Collar Workers... commonly comprising about 20% of total meals.

                                                                                                            1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                              Another common Archetype was the Professional Urban Woman... while consumption of Salads was common... they avoid many high fiber foods like Legumes, Cruciferous Vegetables & most Fruits to prevent flatulence... consequently many higher income women supplment their diets with Bran products or digestive products like Metamucil.

                                                                                                              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                okay, i don't talk much about farting with white collar women, and don't know anyone who takes metamucil (didn't know what it was for for ages), so i may have to take your word on that :-P

                                                                                                                seriously, E.N. i think you're off-base on this one, everything i've read about national and local nutrition in the past 5 years is that americans in general need to eat more fruit and veg (duh), but that locally to me the average diet is better than other parts of the country. it's hard to imagine someone managing *not* to eat more than one type of fruit or vegetable all day. i googled the ada and didn't find the study you refer to. here's what i have: from the minnesota department of health fact sheet:

                                                                                                                * Most people do not consume the recommended 5 or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day

                                                                                                                * In 2003, 24% of Minnesota adults consumed more than 5 servings of fruits and vegetables per day compared to 23% of the country as a whole. Approximately 42% of Minnesota adults ate 3 to 5 servings per day compared to 38% nationwide.

                                                                                                                as you can see in the pdf, they are not including fries, chips, pickles etc. in their analysis of fruit & veg consumption. also according to what i've read the rates of fast food consumption are higher in california than in minnesota, and are highest in hawaii. i'm sorry to belabor the point, i'd just like you to back it up when you make sweeping generalizations about people.

                                                                                                                1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                  1) I will have to dig up that ADA Article and Scan

                                                                                                                  2) I bet $100 those statistics from Minnesota you cite are the result of polling & not validated at all. It is a well known fact that when you are asked to generalize about your self over a long period of time... and you know one answer will cast you in a more positive light.... you are going to exaggerate (like how 90% the majority of people think they are smarter than average).

                                                                                                                  3) The Archetypal study was done over time, with frequent Recall and as such much more likely to be accurate.

                                                                                                                  4) Remember I am not making claims about the Arithmetic Average... I am talking about Modes... the most Frequent Archetypes... I am enclosing some studies that show Hispanics & Older People skew Produce Consumption upwards...



                                                                                                                  Also there is some good stuff if you want to mine through it.... do an Advanced Search of the www.pma.com (Produce Marketing Association) site searching for Produce Consumption Statistics.

                                                                                                                  Also other research along the lines of what the ADA reported can be found by searching for "Standard American Diet" "Western Diet" "American Pattern Diet" etc.,

                                                                                                                  1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                    If this were the NFL this is beginning to sound like the DDT Defense (way too much data against a simple assertion). Let's see how it develops and whether it does prove to be a correct assessment.

                                                                                                                    1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                      1. please do. your argument that the avg american eats 2 or less veg/fruit per day does not make sense, since more than 60% of them eat more than 3/day according to the cdc. the usda data also contradicts your generalization. i think you're probably misinterpreting or misremembering a study, switching *meal* for *day.*

                                                                                                                      2. the minnesota *and* the national stats come from the cdc (citation is very clear on the fact sheet) and the stats hold up.

                                                                                                                      3. ditto

                                                                                                                      4. my data skews older folks eating more fruit & veg too. it skews hispanics eating more fruits, but less veg than avg. the links you've provided are a little hinky-- what's up with the yellow crayon-text in the second one? the only legible text is the plug for wal-mart at the very end. i don't think that link is legit.

                                                                                                                      usda stats on per capita american fruit/veg consumption

                                                                                                                      global nutrition/veg consumption from world health org.

                                                                                                                      1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                        My links are solid… I simply linked to Google Search HTML instead of the PPT so that you wouldn’t have any issues with Internet Security settings. In fact that PPT presentation comes form the same UC Davis website you are referencing. (The PMA no longer allows you to view their PDF & PPT without an Account).

                                                                                                                        I like your USDA link because it provides some empirical data. Unfortunately, it doesn’t break out the categories of Processed Food… so it doesn’t tell us how much Per Capita consumption is taken up by Ketchup, Juice Cocktails, Ice Cream etc.,

                                                                                                                        The value in the SAD Archetypes is the richness of the qualitative data… whereas the Empirical data can really fall short. For example here is my 24 hour recall:

                                                                                                                        • Breakfast – TJ brand Honey Nut “Cheerios”, Whole Milk, Lg. Banana
                                                                                                                        • Snack – ½ Mango, 1 Orange, ½ Cucumber, Chile, Salt, Lime
                                                                                                                        • Lunch – Whole Wheat Pasta with “Minestrone Sauce…. Kidney Beans, Zucchini, Tomatoes, Ground Beef etc”
                                                                                                                        • Dinner – Griddled Chicken Thigh, 2 Cups of creamy Poblano-Onion puree, 1 ear of Corn, 2 cups of Pineapple
                                                                                                                        • Snack – 2oz of Cognac, Peach Yogurt

                                                                                                                        If we go by the USDA definition of a serving I had 7 servings of fruits & 7 servings of vegetables:
                                                                                                                        • Banana – 2 Fruits
                                                                                                                        • Spicy Fruit Salad – 3 Fruits
                                                                                                                        • Minestrone Sauce – 2 Vegetables
                                                                                                                        • Poblano-Onion Puree – 4 Vegetables
                                                                                                                        • Ear of Corn – 1 Vegetable
                                                                                                                        • Pineapple – 2 Fruits

                                                                                                                        Many of my work colleagues fit the Archetype I mentioned above… if you grouped my consumption with 3 of “them”:
                                                                                                                        • Average for Sample: 5 Fruits & Vegetables
                                                                                                                        • % of Sample Consuming More than 5 A Day: 25%

                                                                                                                        Sounds a lot like the Minnesota statistics doesn’t it? That brings me to an aspect of the ADA’s study… they found Haves & Have Nots… the Haves being people who generally don’t eat much processed food… and their consumption of Fruits & Vegetables averaged higher than 10 (as in my example)… and the Have Nots which are described by the Archetype… they are people who usually don’t INTENTIONALLY seek to eat Fruits & Vegetables. Unfortunately the Have Nots are the Mode… the more common occurrence, the more common Archetype.

                                                                                                                        1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                          thanks for the obfuscation. you're starting to contradict your own argument and it's getting confusing. and boring. are you still saying that this statement from your post above is true?

                                                                                                                          According to the ADA's research (I usually peruse my wifes copy of the Journal of the ADA) the typical American (the Mode from Stats 101) consumes between 1 & 2 servings fruit and/or vegetable on a typical day (basically if you add the Juice, Burger garnishes, French Fries, Pasta Sauce etc.,).... in certain places like California its up around 2... in places like Minneapolis & Seattle the number is closer to 1.

                                                                                                                          to me your "archetype" sounds more like "stereotype" and it just doesn't hold up under scrutiny and in the face of real statistical data. when i researched the local fruit/veg servings for low-income people i was surprised that it was close to 5/day, yet my relatives on public assistance and disability eat a similar diet-- certainly the "have nots" in my area are eating about 4 portions more fruit/veg than you'd have us believe the average american eats per day, (and you'd be saying that people living on welfare in minnesota eat 2-3 times as well as average californians, which i also don't buy) and if these people had more discretionary income, they'd eat more fruit/veg. you're counting juice cocktail, ketchup and french fries, and i'm not. how would you explain the disconnect between the data and your statement, unless you are just plain wrong?

                                                                                                                          1. re: soupkitten

                                                                                                                            Do with the information what you want... Archetypes are kind of like Stereotypes except they are grounded in research... it was a fascinating study published by the ADA that followed a certain # of people, for a certain amount of time... which characterized peoples typical behaviors as I have mentioned above. Whether the ADA counts juice or not... I can't remember exactly... but they found that the Have Nots... like your relatives are a common occurrence. The arithmetic average is bound to be higher than their qualitative study for numerous reasons as I have pointed out.

                                                                                                                            The thing that fascinated me about the article is that it actually put numbers (in terms of frequency etc.,) to something we all already knew about the SAD. You have relatives.. I have friends & in-laws that all fit into to the Have-Not mold and when I look at all my personal acquaintences their Archetypal model seems to have great predictive power... I don't care if you are offended, threatened or upset about it... and I don't care for your tone which was obviously aggressive from your first post... find the ADA article yourself (I am sure they must have Public Libraries in Minessota) and then decide where you want to put it.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                                              calm down, please. i was trying to point out an error. it just isn't true: what you said, that the average american merely consumes between 1 and 2 servings of fruit&veg/day, and i'm sure that i'm not the only one who noticed that a statement like that just doesn't sound right. it just so happened that i was able to pull up local data i was recently looking at when you picked out my regional area on the low end of your estimate. unfortunately the data doesn't jive with your theory at all.

                                                                                                                              the real number the average american consumes is probably 4-5 servings, still relatively pathetic, if you ask me, but at least it makes sense from common observation of americans' eating habits, shopping, nutrition, ailments, etc. 1 veg serving per day makes no sense at all. i'm assuming you've 1)misinterpreted/exchanged the term *day* for *meal* in the study you supposedly remember, and that 2)you are confusing *fresh produce consumption* with *overall fruit&veg consumption* (which would include frozen, canned, etc), and yeah, then i could see that the average denizen of seattle is eating *one* fresh apple a day (as it were) in frigid january, and eating the rest of their veg frozen or canned. *that* would make sense, wouldn't it?

                                                                                                                              cooking for a living means that i probably eat a lot more fresh fruit & veg than my average neighbor, so it's not that i think my own diet is typical for my area. it's certainly better than average for my income level. i'm not personally offended by your assertion, it doesn't apply to me. but since it's part of my business to study what the folks around me are eating, i noticed when you made a statement that does not jive with any other data, and i've got to call you on it, especially when you can't back it up with anything. sorry.

                                                                                                      2. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                        As you know, I work in Mexico (and Guatemala, Nicaragua, ...) quite a bit. I work in non-tourist areas, eat in markets and un-named comedores, eat street food, and small restaurants in the more remote towns we stay in. Getting enough vegetables has always been a bit difficult. I patronize the chain Pollo Campero in Guatemala just to get their salads--often the only fresh leafy greens I get on working trips there.

                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                          Could it be your dining choices? I know I haven't been to the remote villages you have been to on your agricultural projects... but almost anywhere I have been in Mexico.. I have not had any problem having meals with 5 or 6 servings of fruits & vegetables... between the Soup, Guacamole, little garnishes or escabeches, & fruit plates.... or even vegetable based entrees like Chile Rellenos, Coliflor Capeados, Palmitos en Huevo, Nopales en Mole etc.,.... I have never had any trouble finding vegetable dishes.

                                                                                                          What you will NOT find in Mexico is your typical American setup with compartmentalized dishes... 50% meat, 25% starch, 25% vegetables etc.,... instead every dish from the Soup, to the Guisado, Salsas, Garnishes, Small Salads & Fruit Plates has sto contribute... and then end you easily have 5 or 6 servings.

                                                                                                          However... yeah I have been to Tropical settings & remote villages where they only get vegetables during the rainy season.... but usually fruit is extremely plentiful in those places... and I think its just the balance of the place. And further so many of those "exotic" fruits like Mamey, Zapotes & Sweet Squash are more like vegetables anyway.

                                                                                                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                                            I don't count guacamole and escabeches. I eat everything on offer. What I usually do to balance things out is to buy and eat a lot of fruit--so I can pig out at the plaza in bliss on tacos that are basically meat, onions, and lots of chiles en escabeche! You might just have to concede that (older?) Asians are simply after a diet that is mostly vegetables.

                                                                                                            There are no fruits that are any longer "exotic" to someone who lives in Colombia and also works quite a bit in Brazil. [Brazil, now THAT'S a country in which people eat a lot of fruit!]

                                                                                              2. I'll have to turn this around -- the best burger I ever had in my entire life was in Berlin, Germany. Fresh-ground Argentinian beef, done every 2 hours or so, is hard to beat. I have NEVER had a burger in the US that comes even close.

                                                                                                The resto is owned by two boys from NYC, so no need to freak out :-D

                                                                                                1. Ready to be flamed in 3, 2, 1. . .

                                                                                                  French food is better in the US than in France. I think, in general the ingredients used in French restaurants here are higher-quality than in France, exhibit A being the beef, the price points typically knock out the dreck (there aren't many $10 brasseries in the US looking to feed the LCD at the lowest price), and more attention is paid to the execution.

                                                                                                  Exception: turbot and legally purchased cheese.

                                                                                                  OK, go!

                                                                                                  9 Replies
                                                                                                    1. re: sailormouth

                                                                                                      I think what you said about the price point is a great point. The fact is, French restaurants in America (naturally) tend to be more formal, with a higher price point. There isn't the sea of cheap brasseries and cafes that offer 13 euro entrecote.

                                                                                                      Having said that, I think to say flat out that "French food is better in the US than in France" is pretty dicey. When you look at the top level restaurants in France, they are often fanatical about their ingredients. I can't even remember which product is Label Rouge and which is AOC, but many of these products mean quite a bit to a number of chefs. I say this having tried poulet de bresse and not understanding on that occasion how to justify its cost.

                                                                                                      Having not been to Daniel or the French Laundry, it's very possible that these are, in fact, better than any restaurant in France. However, the food I've had at some of the better restaurants in Paris has been absolutely stunning, and I am sure plenty of attention was paid to its execution. I think comparing equal price points (a bistro to a bistro, a grand restaurant to a grand restaurant) would be more fair than comparing the aptly described "$10 brasseries.. looking to feed the LCD" to the normally finer restaurants in America.

                                                                                                      As a personal side note, when I came to France years before I had any idea that I would ever live here, I was definitely disappointed with the level of food I found at most restaurants. I remember sitting at Brasserie Bofinger, the oldest brasserie in Paris, thinking, "Is this it?" I think finding out where to go for what has a lot to do with it, especially here in Paris where plenty of mediocre restaurants continue making plenty of money because of the tourist population.

                                                                                                      Also, since you bring up cheese, I think you must include France's breads and pastries. I don't think I've tried anything that lives up to an Ispahan cake at Pierre Herme or mini financiers at Eric Kayser.

                                                                                                      No need for flaming, sailormouth, but I think France's French food is pretty darn good.

                                                                                                      1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

                                                                                                        I posted more to inspire conversation, and I think an apples to apples at the highest point would likely be even (I've been to only one 3 star in Paris, and while very good, I wasn't blown away completely but it was very good though, and I haven't been to any of the really big dogs over here, more than a few places that I would hazard a guess are equivalent to two and one stars though). Overall, I was quite impressed with the brasseries I went to for the most part.

                                                                                                        1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

                                                                                                          Having been to Daniel and Per Se and to a couple of 3 stars in Paris, I have to say that the 3 stars I went to (Pierre Gagnaire and L'Arpege) were really outstanding, with Pierre Gagnaire surpassing my experiences at Daniel and Per Se. In fact, if you look at my profile, it's my all-time favorite meal. L'Arpege was excellent as well, but just not to my taste as things were generally too sweet for me. L'Arpege specialized in vegetables, and they were the most precious vegetables I've ever had in my life. But everything at L'Arpege was exquisitely prepared. Tons of tableside presentations, with a waiter skillfully making a one-handed quenelle of mustard ice cream into my gazpacho. But it was also the priciest meal I've ever had in my life -- made Per Se seem like a bargain. I like good food and will gladly pay for it but have a certain point where I feel uncomfortable crossing (and I've definitely crossed it with L'Arpege).

                                                                                                          And I agree with LikeFrog about the pastries. I haven't had the Ispahan cake at Herme, but LOVED their macarons. They are the most delectable desserts I've ever had in my life. It was quite a revelation about how wonderful life could be. I haven't found anything in NYC that compares to those macarons.

                                                                                                        2. re: sailormouth

                                                                                                          whoosh! ;)

                                                                                                          i can't make the comparison, since we were trying to travel frugally in france and didn't get to eat at any of the really nice places (i.e. we survived mostly on cassoulet joints in bordeaux and paris, which were delicious, but foie gras they were not). in the US, i get to be more decadent.

                                                                                                          however, i will say that i think french desserts in tokyo are the best french desserts in the entire world. and i did get a fairly decent sampling.

                                                                                                          1. re: cimui

                                                                                                            Well, I think there is a Pierre Herme in Japan. There should be a shrine for that man!

                                                                                                            1. re: cimui

                                                                                                              It's funny you mention French desserts in Tokyo, cimui, because after my first visit to France, I repeatedly told people that I found Japanese desserts to be superior to those in France. Having spent more time here (and having had the Ispahan (seriously, go eat it as soon as possible)), I think they are both excellent. In Japan, I think I find that most pastries are of a very, very high quality, but there are fewer chef-driven establishments with unique offerings. I haven't done a CH worthy tour but I grew up there and have been back a few times. I will say that between a pastry bought at a Japanese train station or a French one, I will pick a Japanese one every time.

                                                                                                              1. re: LikeFrogButOOOH

                                                                                                                that's a good point, LFB-OOOH. i suspect that the best of tokyo and paris (and nyc and london, etc...) are fairly evenly matched. but like you said, it is probably more likely that one will, knowing nothing, stumble across a good pastry / mousse style dessert in Tokyo than across a similarly sell made preparation in Paris. at least that's what happened to me, knowing nothing. :)

                                                                                                          2. Amercian food better in Canada? Bah. I challenge you to name one decent place in Toronto to find southern style BBQ or fried chicken, or even Tex Mex. But some of the true delights of American cuisine escape us. I wish it weren't that way. But it is.

                                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                                            1. re: mwarland

                                                                                                              I just had fried chicken and collard greens and mac and cheese at Harlem, a restaurant in Toronto. It serves a slightly upscale version of soul food, but I was impressed! It hit the spot. I'll be writing a report up on the Ontario board soon. I was particularly impressed by the collard greens, which were some of the best I've had in a long time. They weren't classic southern, but they were delicious.

                                                                                                              1. re: moh

                                                                                                                sometimes i'm convinced that parts of canada are really offshoots of the (u.s.) american south. you gave us shania twain, we gave you collard greens. (can i have my collard greens back? ;)

                                                                                                                in all seriousness, i have had really good soul food in canada. i think it was in montreal during some college model UN conference, but i don't remember, since it was many years ago. makes some sense, since the heaviness of trad'l soul food is actually better tailored to cold weather than hot.

                                                                                                                1. re: cimui

                                                                                                                  Totally makes sense about the heaviness of soul food being more appropriate for colder weather.

                                                                                                                  I haven't had soul food in Canada but remember one of my friends from DC visiting me in NY asking for soul food. I was really surprised as I thought she would be able to get great soul food in DC. But she said good soul food restaurants are difficult to find there.

                                                                                                            2. My foreign travel is mostly limited to Europe (including Greece) and Turkey. I don't consider myself at all knowledgeable about a country unless I've lived there longer than six months.

                                                                                                              That said, I lived in Turkey for four years, and in Greece for about eight months, and I have never never never EVER found a Greek or Turkish restaurant in the United States that comes close to the real thing. I have about concluded that some sort of strange amnesia overtakes natives of those two countries when they emigrate because they sure seem to forget how to cook when they come to this country! And four of the five "Greek" restaurants I've tried here in the Plano/Dallas area make their tzatziki with sour cream! blech! blech! blech! Soggy limp baklava. Baba ganoush that Baba disowned, and Imam Beyeldi that made the Imam wake up and run away! Don't know why I keep trying Greek and Turkish restaurants beyond the fact that I must be some sort of incurable optimist!

                                                                                                              I only spent a month in Germany, so I don't consider myself an expert on German food in situ, but I have found German restaurants in this country that served German food that equaled what I had there. But then, when I lived in El Paso, Fort Bliss has a fair sized squadron/wing/whatever of Luftwaffe stationed there, and the German restaurants in El Paso (and Oktoberfest at Fort Bliss) were excellent! The "Bavarian" restaurant here in Plano leaves a bit to be desired. Well, a lot. <sigh>

                                                                                                              Overall, I think that restaurant food depends more on the cooks who work there rather than the country where the restaurant is located. But I will say that in my experience, a whooooooole lot of bad cooks seem to get visas to come to the U.S.! '-)

                                                                                                              2 Replies
                                                                                                              1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                I was on a two month assignment in the Balkans not too long ago, eating out almost every night. I'd add Bulgaria and Serbia to Greece/Turkey, not that it's all the common to find a Bulgarian or Serbian restaurant, well... anywhere in the US, except perhaps Chicago.

                                                                                                                We used to have a place here in Pgh called "Old Europe", that was very good (even profiled on TFC a few years back) that was fairly true to its roots, but even though quality was great, Balkan was never a "hot" cuisine trend and given the amount of meat and dairy, never caught on with the younger crowd.

                                                                                                                I imagine we'll see many Eastern Euro/Balkan cuisines die off in most areas of the States as the we get further away from immigrant roots and the collective dumbing down of palates continues. And we'll all have to go to DC or Toronto to dine at the vestiges.

                                                                                                                Oddly, the whole Mexican conversation above reminded me of my favorite things when I lived in the DF in '93-;94: sushi and Caesar salads with raw egg. I don't know where they got their fresh water unagi from, but it was sweeter than what I've had around NY & DC. Huachinango was quite good as well and I rarely see it in the Northeast. And while most tourists would shy away from lettuce and especially raw eggs, man... they had no idea what they were missing.

                                                                                                                The thing I miss most about Bulgaria? In the late spring, the markets mostly sell tomatoes from Lebanon. Better than any tomatoes I've had that I didn't grow myself.

                                                                                                                But to answer the original question (which has nothing to do with the above), without a doubt it's mussels posillipo. Which are even better in New Zealand ;-)

                                                                                                                1. re: Panini Guy

                                                                                                                  Just had my first taste of Serbian cuisine last night - I truly enjoyed it. Chevapchichi - what a tongue-twister of a dish but tasty and hearty. If you're in the LA area, Metro Cafe in Culver City is owned by two young gentlemen from Serbia. They take a huge amount of pride in their dishes - I don't know how close my meal was to what you'd get in the Balkans, but all I can say is everything here was mighty fine...



                                                                                                              2. Hi,

                                                                                                                What exactly is "american" cuisine? Hamburguers? sorry, no. Hot dogs, sorry, no. Gumbo? sorry, no. Please shed some light on this!!

                                                                                                                7 Replies
                                                                                                                1. re: ensenadian

                                                                                                                  I'd say it's whatever has been assimilated. A veritable smorgasborg.

                                                                                                                  1. re: ensenadian

                                                                                                                    I didn't say anything about "american" cuisine - who are you quoting?

                                                                                                                    1. re: cscsman

                                                                                                                      sorry about that cscsman, someone up there mentioned it.

                                                                                                                    2. re: ensenadian

                                                                                                                      To me, there's two styles of American food: "New American", typified by the cuisine of dense urban areas of California and the Pacific Northwest, and "Classic American" typified by the cuisine of rural areas of Texas and the South.

                                                                                                                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                        You're missing out, then, because there's New England-style cuisine, there's Low Country cooking, there's New Mexican, there's Bayou (Cajun and Creole) cooking, there's Upper Midwest cooking (game, wild rice, ferns, things like that)...

                                                                                                                        1. re: Das Ubergeek

                                                                                                                          New Mexican cuisine didn't strike me as anything more than a variation on a theme, though I do love sopapillas. And I figured Low Country and Bayou cooking as extensions of Southern food, but I agree with you and I definitely think that those are part of the American landscape.

                                                                                                                          As far as New England-style and Upper Midwest, I'll readily claim ignorance, but of course I'd be happy to learn more.

                                                                                                                          1. re: SauceSupreme

                                                                                                                            Low Country = Dutch/German/British
                                                                                                                            Bayou = FrenchSpanish/African

                                                                                                                    3. I haven't been to Ethiopia...and I would understand if "Ethiopian food" they way we get it in the States has been highly modified compared to what's over there. But I wonder if Ethiopian is another cuisine that benefits from the produce available in the states vs Ethiopia.

                                                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                                                      1. re: cresyd

                                                                                                                        Due to poverty and a lack of vegetables and really skinny chickens, most of the Ethiopian food in the countryside is not at all like that found in better restaurants in Addis. I would guess that Ethiopian in the US is like that found in Addis (or Nairobi).

                                                                                                                        1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                                                          Even here in the US, the vegetable dishes tend to be based on pulses (various colours of lentils, for example). There tends to be one leafy green (often collards here in the US), but the vast majority are either root vegetables or pulses. Vegetables as we think of them are not common in USian Ethiopian (and Eritrean) food.

                                                                                                                      2. with so much talk and comparison between cuisines, i've got to wonder why no one has noticed one basic premise of cooking ... the taste of the food is based on where the ingredient was raised or grown. a recipe cooked by a chef in america, will not taste the same if that chef uses the same recipe, say in france because they're using local ingredients. the best way i can put it is, butter tastes better in france because the cows eat different grass. it's time, chemistry and content that makes the difference in food.

                                                                                                                        3 Replies
                                                                                                                        1. re: dogthis

                                                                                                                          I don't agree. Certainly there are some specific foods where your point applies, but not overall. Every year since 1955, my Thanksgiving Dinner has tasted like my Thanksgiving turkey regardless of the city, state, or country where I was living. Change cooks or chefs and you have a point. Same cook or chef, you won't win a cigar...!

                                                                                                                          1. re: Caroline1

                                                                                                                            Hi, I have to agree with "dogthis", particularly in regards to veggies, herbs, fruits and farm animals, they do taste different depending on where they were grown. Although, I guess a turkey is a turkey and it will taste the same if its fed the same pellets.

                                                                                                                            1. re: ensenadian

                                                                                                                              Again I may not have made myself clear, or maybe you just have a difficult time following me? dogthis starts out talking about specific foods, which will taste different because of soil conditions, type of fertilizer, weather, all of the things that go into making an apple grown in Washington state wonderful and an apple grown in Florida not so great. I totally agree on that part.

                                                                                                                              What I do disagree about is whether a more complex RECIPE, as opposed to a single food, will taste all that different when prepared in different areas or countries from local ingredients. Many recipes -- and I'll qualify that further by saying that most of the recipes that I use regularly are failry complex and blend together animal proteins, vegetables and/or fruits, spices, herbs, wines, stocks, broths, whatever -- that type of recipe will taste the same in the hands of a competent cook anywhere in the world s/he cooks it. Which is why classic recipes get to be classics...

                                                                                                                              Hope I've clarified my meaning this time... '-)

                                                                                                                        2. I was kind of disappointed with the tapas in Barcelona after great food in several New York tapas bars. A friend who'd lived in Barcelona had told me before I went there that the food wasn't as good. I was surprised to find that she was right. At least that was my experience. Maybe I was eating in the wrong places.

                                                                                                                          2 Replies
                                                                                                                          1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                            Tapas aren't really such a Barcelona thing -- they're there, and there are good ones (especially in El Born and the Barri Gotic), and they've adopted the Basque idea of pintxos, little toothpickable bites, but by and large they're a little bit like imports, sort of like Mexican restaurants here -- there are good ones and bad ones but it's not the native food. Also, in southern Spain you might find people who just graze on tapas for dinner, but in Barcelona people just eat them as a snack to help with the wine (some of which is excellent and some of which really NEEDS the help) and then go out for a real dinner in a restaurant.

                                                                                                                            What's fantastic in Barcelona is the native Catalan cooking, full of olive oil and garlic and summer vegetables and meat -- or go to one of the million Basque restaurants for even more garlic, and bacalla and unbelievably good preparations of fish, washed down with the best cider in the world (if you've never been to a txotx, you've missed a great experience).

                                                                                                                            What drives me nuts in Barcelona -- and in Spain in general -- is that restaurants really are only open during the normal meal service times, which are unusual to northern Europeans and Americans (lunch is typically served from about 13:30 to about 16:00, and dinner service doesn't really start until about 21:00). Try to eat outside of those hours and you're stuck with McDonalds and the like... and it took me a long time to realise that the Barcelonins eat dessert BEFORE dinner, as a snack -- the lines at Gelats Farggi in the Plaça Catalunya are out the door at 18:00... but oh, so worth the wait, and so worth their refusal to speak Castilian -- just learn "jo voldria un mitjà de _____ i ______" and fill in your flavours and you're good to go.

                                                                                                                            1. re: Kagey

                                                                                                                              New York has some unique taste buds.... there is a very heavy hand with seasonings there... and I have noticed that when NYers travel abroad they often find food to be bland.