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May 29, 2010 04:38 PM

Most exotic cuisine

What is the most exotic cuisine you have ever had? For me it's Ethiopian.

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  1. Depends on what you mean by exotic. But I guess I'd have to say that the most esoteric cuisine I've eaten was Afghan food at a restaurant in Manhattan. I think the resto was called Pamir. Excellent food.

    1. For an American, I think Korean food is the most unusual. First off, they bring you about 12 dishes you didn't even order, and most of them are unidentifiable and pickled.

      I love it now, and I can't possibly count all the Korean meals I've had. But it really threw me for a loop the first time I stumbled into a place.

      3 Replies
      1. re: Steve

        Ethiopian food has flavors and textures are definitely pretty far removed from typical North American stuff. And if you sit on the floor and eat with your hands, the exotic factor goes up even more.

        And there are plenty of individual dishes from around the world that would raise eyebrows among the unadventurous. Offal in its many wonderful (and not-so-wonderful: no more spleen for me, please) forms, heads and feet and their constiutent parts, insects and their larvae, fruits that look (rambutan) or smell (durian) frightening. And then there's the one thing I just can't imagine trying - balut.

        But for a cuisine as a whole I have to agree with Steve and give the nod to Korean food. Never mind the pickled unidentifiable stuff, one of the banchan that's readily identified and not pickled is often a dish of whole small dried fish. Crunchy skulls, slightly bitter guts ... yep, Korean food is definitely up there.

          1. re: alanbarnes

            Toasted anchovies.
            Add the candied squid strips, and various other dried, toasted, candied, steamed, braised, or sauteed sea critters.

        1. It would have to be food from the Aztecs. I was at a conference in Monterrey and the organization flew in some famous chef from Mexico City who specialized in truly Aztec cuisine. The ingredients and flavors were truly a mystery to me - I never was able to figure out what some of the courses were. Fortunately, the tequila was flowing as well.

          1. There is a Tibetan restaurant in the neighborhood where I used to work, Manhattan's EV, and we stopped in for dinner one night. The food was an amazing amalgam of Indian style curries, dal and paratha, and Asian style noodle and momo dishes, all with a subtle Tibetan twist. Hijiki was on the menu as well.

            I have to say it opened my eyes, because to that point I was very limited in my understanding of Tibetan cuisine.

            I read recently that the Dalai Lama eats there when he visits the city, which was just about a week ago.

            3 Replies
            1. re: bushwickgirl

              Exoticism is somewhat subjective. We grew up regularly eating lamb brains, goat meat and bone marrow so my bar for exotic/strange is up there. Bland casseroles like macaroni and cheese would probably qualify as exotic to my family and heaven knows I was obssessed with soul food when I first encountered it because of how different it was, but if we are to stick with mainstream definitions, I think Tibetan is likely one of the rarer cuisines I've tried, though I wouldn't qualify it as "strange" or even new since it comes across as a mild amalgamation of Indian and Nepali. I've also had food from Xi'an province in China which has more in common with Central Asian food than it does with the more familiar mainstays of American Cantonese cooking. Fusion cuisines like Thai-Filipino or Pan-Latin-Indian are probably more exotic since they are more original creations.

              1. re: JungMann

                Do you mean Xinjiang province? Xi'an is a city in Shaanxi province.

                I agree on the subjectiveness of "exotic." A few days ago I commented on the CHOW story describing how to eat the "exotic artichoke." I grow them in my backyard and I live in the most populous state in the U.S.

                1. re: 512window

                  I apparently was combining the two in my head. I meant Xinjiang for the comparison I was making, although I've also had food from Shaanxi at a restaurant named Xi'an as well.

            2. some of the french dishes are so exotic for me. once i had a lunch at an upscale french restaurant where everything was written in french. i did not know what to order so i just pointed at the prix fixed lunch. i liked the first and maybe the second dishes but when it comes to the main course, i was like ??. it looked like a cutlet but so white and soft. i did not like the taste so i only ate maybe the half of it. then after a while when i took a french class, the teacher told us that it is common to eat brains in french!! she told that texture was a bit like tofu. then i realized that the strange food was a brain! i was shocked! but soon i thought if you kill the animals, you have to be thankful for them and should eat everything to show some respect. haha. but i do not want to eat brain again to be honest.