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what is your "default" ethnic food?

This may sound silly, but I'm 1/4 English, 1/4 Irish, and 1/2 Bohemian, yet my default is always Italian. Mexican is second. In suburban Chicago I was surrounded by Italians and then in Southern California in the music industry also was around Italians and introduced to Mexican, very often by Italians!!! Go figure!!!!!

I'd love to cook more authentic cuisines, because I drool over so many of your dinners. So, is anyone else here in my same shoes?

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  1. I'm Scots-Irish, German, English, and Cherokee. My default is Mexican. I also go for Italian and vaguely Asian.

    2 Replies
    1. re: sandylc

      I love Indian food, as well...but the hubby does not.....sigh.

      1. re: sandylc

        Vaguely Asian sums it up perfectly. For some reason, I don't sem to consider Italian ethnic.

      2. My default is Thai when done right; So much flavor!

        3 Replies
        1. re: Joebob

          I've never attempted cooking Thai, but enjoy eating it. Maybe that could be a New Year's goal.

          1. re: Barbara76137

            My principal recommendation, if you have access to the ingredients, is use recipes where you make your own curry paste, which makes a BIG difference.

          2. re: Joebob

            Try Laotian fare too for flavor/spice ....

          3. I'm British. I'm not sure I have a default ethnic cuisine. We cook a wide range of foods and, of course, modern European cuisine crosses and blurs national boundaries. For instance, you're likely see a similar treatment of duck or rabbit across several north European countries. Unsurprising really as we're all growing the same produce with the same seasonality.

            I suppose there are two major influences on our traditional cooking. First is derived from the countries we regularly visit for holidays - Spain, Cyprus, Italy, America - bringing back influences from the cooking of those countries and incorporating it into our own. And second is the influence of immigration - by far the greatest group, and largest influence, is from the Indian sub-continent (Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and, to a lesser extent, Sri Lanka)

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              I think Harters needs to adopt me!!! :)

            2. Eating out it would be a good Chinese buffet. I like the ability to pick and choose. The local ones have steamed flounder and other seafood so even better. I definitely prefer this to Mexican, Indian, Thai, Italian, Japanese etc

              1. Looking back at my menu plan file, it seems I often make things inspired by cuisines of various Asian countries, the Caribbean, and Mexico (or nearby countries).. but a lot of the time, too, I don't know that I could pin down an ethnicity for a meal. Oops!

                Going out, I tend toward what one might call modern North American or continental, Vietnamese, and Thai.

                1. I'm in suburban Chicago.
                  For home cooking:

                    1. My default food is eastern european -jewish polish,russian,czech

                      1. Default quick eat out or take out is Vietnamese.

                        1. Both at home and when eating out it's Mexican, Italian and Indian, not necessarily in that order. And I live in west Texas.

                          1. Mine would be red sauce Italian or Asian.

                            1. New Mexican, like the state, not TexMex or CalMex. Big differences.

                              5 Replies
                              1. re: Passadumkeg

                                Just made my first pot of green chile of the new year. The Mrs went on a trip to Denver late fall and was able to fill up a suitcase with about 40 lbs of frozen, roasted, Hatch green. Gonna be a good year. I haven't had any REAL Nm chilies in about 4 years.

                                1. re: gordeaux

                                  I had 90 lbs in the freezer. It's half gone!!! We buy dried red chilies by the 50 lb onion bag. Ones gone, the other has a good dent in it. Red chile breakfast burritos coming right up!
                                  In NM, breakfast burritos are always made w/ potato, not usually beans and never rice.

                                    1. re: sandylc

                                      I'll post it on the Home Cooking Board.

                              2. what is your "default" ethnic food?


                                1. Moroccan or Mexican. The question is about cooking at home, yes?

                                  For eating out, it's Thai or Indian.

                                  1. Italian and Mexican. I absolutely love Chinese food, but don't cook it at home, because I want to thoroughly enjoy the "dining out" experience of something I don't prepare at home.

                                    1. I'm guessing we are talking cooking, since this is the home cooking forum. In that case.


                                      in that order

                                      Now default for eating out tends to be


                                      1. I would say Mexican, but I wonder if having a Mexican-American husband disqualifies my household. We also do a lot of southern/ranch cooking at home, but I wonder if being a Texan with a family history of ranching disqualifies that genre for us.

                                        1. I'm Norwegian,Chinese and Portuguese but grew up in the Caribbean with a Filipino wife and our default is Korean.

                                          6 Replies
                                          1. re: Duppie

                                            No geit ost or lutefisk? Rio de Mar?

                                              1. re: Duppie

                                                No sild? No pannestkt torske tonger? Sikkert lapskaus!

                                                  1. re: Duppie

                                                    My son, born in Norway is married to a Korean, and I have 2 grandsons with them in Korea. I frequently make Korean red chile, chicken, potato and carrot soup and kalbi.
                                                    Yes, I would like the storm soup.
                                                    There is another Chowhound, of Norwegian birth, raised in the Carribean and is married to a Phillipina, honest! I thought you were he w/ a new Chow name. He lives in NJ.

                                          2. Though we both are of British descent (and perhaps because of this....kidding!!!!) Italian. No question.

                                            1. American heritage - as in too far back to have kept any remnant of my ancestral food. I guess you could say Mormon heritage, but despite my and my husband's casserole, meat and potatoes and jello is a salad upbringing, we love ethnic food.

                                              Eating in... Mexican no doubt is the default, just because I can riff better than any other. i feel like I can put together a decent mole without a recipe.

                                              1. I normally cook French, but for whatever reason I don't think of French food as ethnic food since it seems to have entered into American Cuisine fairly pervasively.

                                                I grew up in Southern California (with parents who grew up in Texas), so Mexican is the cuisine I'm most familiar with. I live in Chicago, with access to some great hispanic grocery stores. I love making both authentic Mexican food as well as the CaliMex I grew up with.

                                                I'm Colombian, German, and English, and I know very little about those national cuisines. Maybe that's something I should look at during 2012.

                                                1 Reply
                                                1. re: caseyjo

                                                  Wow. I entirely forgot about French. Add that one for me. You're right, French stuff has invaded American cooking pretty solidly.

                                                  So, now I'm thinking....China has opened up more to the rest of the world...are the Chinese eating ethnic food? Are they eating beans on toast or pancakes with maple syrup or spaghetti and meatballs? How about other Asian countries?

                                                2. Italian. It's all I need, really.

                                                  1. It depends on what I'm craving, whether I am eating out or cooking.

                                                    I don't really have an ethnicity.
                                                    I've been on a Mexican kick of late, but I get on Italian and asian (chinese and thai) kicks as well. Also Indian. It just depends.

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: IndyGirl

                                                      I should add that, as vegetarians, I make mostly ethnic foods of some sort at home. It's just more viable than "american" food, at least as I grew up knowing it.

                                                    2. For me, I love to cook and eat Asian (Thai, Vietnamese, Cambodian, Chinese especially Sichuan) and Middle Eastern/Med (especially Greek and Lebanese). For E, he'd love if I cooked more Italian and French. We both agree on Mexican though.

                                                      1. I'm a mongrel, so genetics don't much help me pick a "default." But I lived in Africa for over 20 years, and I cook a lot of African dishes of diverse types. My current favorite cookbook is Marcus Samuelsson's "Soul of a New Cuisine" -- which is not so much authentic African but more "African fusion" (that's the "new cuisine" in the title).

                                                        1. To clarify, I'm talking about cooking at home, not eating out. I just find I have so many ingredients on hand at any time that lend themselves to either Italian or Mexican and I can create a meal in a hurry.

                                                          1. Italian for dinner, usually pasta. Mexican for lunch, a tortilla with beans and something

                                                            1. Mexican across the board; second runner up: Caribbean

                                                              1. Indian, 'cause hubs is from there, so not sure that counts.

                                                                When my friends come for dinner, I almost always make Italian (pasta), 'cause Mr. P. does not like pasta, so I eat it rarely at home. Therefore, I invite my friends often!

                                                                1. If we are talking about what I like, then I like southern barbecue as my ethnic food. If we are talking about what I actually get to eat, then I say Mexican foods when I was in California, and more Indian foods when I am in New Jersey/Pennsylvania

                                                                  Oh crap, I just read what you said about "cooking at home". Ok, in that case, I say Indian foods.... maybe.

                                                                  1. I generally cook vaguely Italian, since that's my background. But over the years, I've picked up a lot of Korean and Indian favourites, too, so they're in heavy rotation.

                                                                    For restaurants, I lean towards Asian foods. I rarely go to Italian places.

                                                                    1. I am Scots-Irish and my default cuisine is Thai, hehe. I cook lots of American classics but I cook Thai food more often than any other type of cuisine. I gew up in Thailand so that's almost a comfort food to me.

                                                                      1. I am Russian- American. I live now in New Mexico. I have 90 lbs of green chile in the freezer and 2 bushels of dried red chiles in the utility room. New Mexicann food is my life, right now.

                                                                        1. i am of italian descent. my seasoning palate generally tends towards the mediterranean, and north africa, by way of trips to morocco and loving paula wolfert.. culinary school grad and restaurant lifer, so well versed in french techniques.

                                                                          i rarely attempt chinese and eastern european foods hold no appeal to eat so i never make them.

                                                                          eating out is generally sushi or southeast asian.

                                                                          1. I am Irish-Canadian with a Croatian grandfather- and live in a community with lots of European influence. Italian- Indian- French. But goulash, spaetzle, perogies and cabbage rolls are frequent.

                                                                            1. I live in southern New England. I root for the Yankees and the New York Football Giants.
                                                                              We're all mutts here so my "goto" ethnic food is fresh seafood: oysters, lobsters, clams, fresh corn and so on. Italian food in the winter: lasagnas, braises always work but Italian food works in all four seasons, too.