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Aug 6, 2014 05:25 PM

Underrated Cuisines?

Hi y'all,

I wanted to ask a quick question, but before I begin, I'd like to share a story:

I made some maionese de leite one day, which is a milk-like mayonnaise condiment (really) from Portugal. I expected it to be an oily mess that looked like something a kindergartener would throw together. As I poured canola oil into the vortex of the blender, it slowly thickened to the consistency of medium beaten heavy cream. When it reached that consistency, I stopped for a taste. I had seasoned it with salt, pepper, and a dash of garlic powder.

I was shocked at how not horrible tasting it was. It was actually better than most mayonnaises I have had, even at restaurants. I mixed it with honey mustard, ate it on a ham sandwich, and let me tell you-- it was pretty good.

This little culinary anecdote taught me that many foods are out there that taste great but are highly underrated. Do any of you know of any world cuisines that are highly underrated?


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  1. 4
    Answer Selected

    Looks like someone beat you to it:

  2. c

    Depending on what part of the country you live in, Ethiopian cuisine can be underrated. Washington D.C., Baltimore, Chicago and Oakland all have great Ethiopian dining scenes, but for many cities, where there isn't as strong of a presence of Ethiopian ingredients/dishes (such as injera, kibbeh and wat) it can be a bit of a forgotten food genre.

  3. Most people know the really obvious Filipino dishes (adobo, pancit, lumpia) but there are a lot of fresh, delicate things from the Philippines that general eaters overlook: ceviche-like kinilaw, macaron-like silvanas, delicate polvoron. It's a misunderstood cuisine (or cuisines, since there are so many regional variations) and completely underrated.

  4. I agree about the Philippines having an underrated cuisine. Even the "really obvious" ones didn't ring a bell to me. I will give it a try.

  5. 2

    I often feel like "Jewish" cuisine gets short shrift. People think of k'nish, gefilte fish, and chicken k'neidle (matzoh ball) soup as representative of Jewish cuisine. While all of those foods are Jewish foods (and tasty ones, at that) the term 'Jewish cuisine' really should reflect the two thousand years the Jewish people spent wandering from country to country, absorbing the bests of all of those flavors and utilizing them in their kosher kitchens. There are dishes with tamarind and dishes with cumin; potato and paprika stews and Indian curries. It's so much more than your Bubby's potato latkes (although I LOVED my bubby's potato latkes and I'm always trying to aim for their crispy perfection.)

  6. I was just on that forum. I actually posted a nice explanation of Utahan Mormon cuisine.

  7. I believe the cuisine of Myanmar is underrated. Also called Burmese food, it incorporates strong elements of Indian, Chinese, Thai and more.

  8. More on that milk mayo
    from David Leite, author of The New Portuguese Table

  9. j

    I think that Russian food is often overlooked. The assortment of dumpling available in Russian cuisine is staggering.

  10. 1

    Unlike the OP, I wouldnt regard Portuguese cuisine as underrated.

  11. I forgot Hong Kong and Macau as great underrated food destinations. Yes, they are part of a rather overrated food country. But remember- Hong Kong was ruled by the British, and Macau was settled by the Portuguese. When Chinese food is combined with British and Portuguese foods, which are already underrated, interesting combinations occur...

    Egg tarts and milk tea, anyone?

  12. b

    My first thought is varieties of German cooking, which the thread indicated by carolinadawg points to (it varies from South to North, and fades into Scandinavian, Polish, Austrian, Hungarian and other cuisines).

    Then, there's also my beloved German-Turkish Döner Kebabs...

  13. h

    I think the difficulties with Maltese food are two-fold. Firstly, it is tiny country - population of just over 400k. There is, therefore, a very small base from which people might emigrate and spread their cuisine round the world. And second, there are perhaps surprisingly few restaurants on the island serving traditional Maltese food - whilst it's very easy to find, say, Italian food.

  14. This Q and A format makes me insane...!!
    Even if you don't live in nyc this blog is really interesting- the blogger is trying to eat at restaurants from around the world yet within nyc. Lots of amazing dishes and cuisines I've never considered. (Like Malta and Ghana!)


    The blog mentioned Maltese food, which I am very surprised is not more widely eaten. It reminds me of a cross between Middle Eastern or North African food (like Israeli or Moroccan) and Italian food, with maybe a hint or two of British food. It is a quite interesting research trip for people tired of the typical Provencal or Mediterranean fare. In a bread forum, I posted a link to the rather underrated bread called Ħobż (pronounced like "Hobbes" from Calvin and Hobbes, only with a guttural "h" at the beginning). I hope next time I am in New York, I can stop by a Maltese bakery and pick up some.


    Reminds me of the Simpsons episode where Marge and the kids stopped in some weird Ethiopian wonderland in Springfield, and got to try an unpronounceable form of wat.


    Here's a vote for ya Ttrock...


    Funny thing- speaking of Russian, I revisited the bread forum, and posted a link to their Easter bread, kulich. It looks quite good, almost like a pannetone shaped like a tube and drenched in glaze. A tie between that and Paskha, which is a fresh cheese dessert also served every Russian Easter, traditionally at Easter Vigil.


    Adding that blog to my bookmarks page.


    Peruvian anyone? A great blend of spanish, chinese and south american styles.


    Thank you, ahuva, for explaining how the Jewish diaspora really did affect international cuisine. +1 for that. It's very hard to pinpoint 'exactly' what comprises Jewish kosher cuisine, apart from the fact that all kosher dishes adhere to dietary laws outlined in the Torah and clarified by the Talmud. Thus, you have a world of options- literally.


    I agree that the cuisine of the Phillippines is underrated and almost relatively unknown in this country, which is a shame, since their desserts are outstanding and nothing short of amazing.