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May 6, 2012 12:51 AM

Which Two Cuisines for the Rest of your Life?

Recently I have started thinking about the brain as it relates to taste. Charlie Rose has had an interesting ongoing series of panel discussions on The Brain, and through those, I have learned a lot about cutting edge research that physically connects different locations in the brain with various functions. This got me to thinking, "Is there a part of the brain that responds to taste, and are there certain tastes that make the most favorable impact?" And this led me to think about Tomatoes and Soy Sauce. huh?

Here's my beginning question:
If you were to poll the adult American populace and ask them which 2 cuisines they would pick to eat for the rest of their days(if they could only choose 2) what do you think would be the front runners? Without having done any research about this, my own gut reaction would be: Italian and Chinese, or, in VERY reduced terms, Tomatoes and Soy Sauce.

(I have found out that the USA has about 61,000 pizza places and 41,000 chinese restnts.)

Because this is just a nascent idea, I understand perfectly that this does not take into consideration the effect of a person's own ethnic culinary tradition or dna ? in affecting the results. What I mean is> maybe the majority of people would choose the cuisine they grew up with as one of the two(if, indeed, it was a single cuisine.) But, in my head, I am thinking that many people may have favorite dishes from their ethnicity but would not choose the whole cuisine if it meant leaving out Italian and Chinese.

Also, my guess of Italian and Chinese, if accurate, could have nothing to do w/taste preferences/proclivities. It COULD simply reflect economic factors(more people would choose these 2 because they are what they most know because of what they could afford.)

And where I'm ultimately going with this- is>> has anyone done brain research on taste , and what have they found, vis a vis the love for italian and chinese food/tomatoes and soy sauce? ( And btw, what about the ubiquitous love for 'sweet,cold,and creamy'- i.e. Ice Cream!?...)

I look forward to your thoughts on this!

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  1. If the chose Italian they would not be able to eat the pizza they are expecting since most pizza consumed in America is American not Italian style :p My guess is that Chinese would NOT be number 2. I would say American as one of the two (Pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ steak, french fries, etc), the other would maybe be Italian (pasta)... which would still leave you with American - Italian fusion.

    I (not American = Canadian :p) would not chose my "ethnic" (Scotish/Irish/European) food. I would chose Thai food first (it is 90%+ of my diet), then it would be difficult because I do mix in from time to time Mexican (burritos), Italian (pasta, italian style pizza), American (hamburger, hot dog), Japanese (Sashimi).... my guess is it would actually be Italian.

    Never heard of brain research into this - but I would guess it would have been done with government (free money) grants :p

    1 Reply
    1. re: cacruden

      I don't know if it was because I just rose from a nap, but there was some very bad wording/spelling in that response :p

    2. I've read there have been studies on this at Yale Univ. in Conn. using MRI techniques that show different parts of the brain are stimulated through smell and taste.

      This would lead me to believe that you would want to study the nerves which send messages to the brain that would stimulate arousal (Front Lobe would be my guess).

      You probably have three main nerves bringing taste to the brainstem. I'm not sure of the names of the nerves, but the trigeminal nerve is what would carry them all to the brain.

      I think you need to do a lot more scientific research rather than finding out how many pizza and Chinese restaurants there are in the USA.

      1. I would guess you are eliminating "American" as a cuisine, even though foods Caruden identifies
        as American have their roots in Immigrant cultures. It seems all foods become Americanized
        after a few years or more so a few generations.
        This might become another of those authentic threads.
        BTW,I'd say Mexican and Thai just to contribute to the mix. :)

        1. 1. spanish
          2. thai

          it would be hard not to put italian/risotto down as 2 but paella (if I don't have to cook) beats risotto - risotto I can do paella is still tricky

          1. For me it would be N/Central European. Potatoes/meat/veg. That covers a lot of ground,literally. Second would be S. Mediterranean. Fish/pasta/rice. I find I frequently think I'd like to eat Asian but when I do I'm not that satisfied. A little, once in a while seems to go a long way.

            6 Replies
            1. re: Puffin3

              Ick Potatoes..... And I had to suffer through it when living on PEI (they did not know what rice was :o).

              1. re: Puffin3

                If you have a great dislike for potatoes then you would be in disagreement with the majority of Americans since French Fries are the biggest seller in all restaurants. ( I don't have data to back that up, but I have heard/seen that french fries are the most important menu item in the majority of American restaurants).

                1. re: John E.

                  Potatoes, baked potatoes, mashed potatoes - can't eat.

                  French Fries no longer taste like potatoes when cider vinegar and salt are applied. But that was not an option for my parents :o

                  1. re: John E.

                    Evil Americans often don't even have vinegar as an option.

                    1. re: cacruden

                      I don't know if it's our proximity to Canada but I have seen malt vinegar on the table in a few places here in Minnesota. I don't happen to enjoy the french fries that way however.

                      1. re: John E.

                        Long John Silver used to offer packets of malt vinegar. I suppose they still do.