Thursday, June 14, 2012

Popular Dishes from Around the World

Meals are an important part of every culture, and the food consumed at these meals typically reflect some part of that culture. For example, farming communities will tend to eat beef and vegetables while fishing communities make their meals and diets consist of fish and shells. Even though cultures around the world prepare similar dishes, such as beef and fish, the way that they prepare these dishes and the spices that they use are also reflection of their culture. In this article, a popular dish from each continent is highlighted, although the thousands of communities on each continent have dishes that are important to them, the dishes below have been chosen because these dishes are likely to be encountered by Americans in their travels.

In South America, Brazil’s Bobó de camarão, also known as shrimp bobo, is a popular dish that Americans may very well encounter if they travel to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup. The dish is made with local ingredients, including shrimp, cassava and coconut. Depending on the region in which the dish is served, the dish may also be flavored with palm oil. The dish resembles a chunky soup, and as many Brazillian dishes is served with rice. Depending on the serving size, Bobó de camarão may either be a side dish or main dish. 

Brazil’s Bobó de camarão

Couscous, a semolina, is an important staple food in the diets of many North Africans. There are variations of the couscous recipe in each country and regions. In Morocco, a small country in northwest Africa, couscous is typically served with meat and vegetables. In Morocco, couscous is made by taking the semolina and sprinkling with water, and rolling it with the palm of the hand until small pellets are formed. This process take a long time, especially if one is trying to make a large batch. Therefore, in some Moroccan villages, groups of women come together and spend hours or days making very large batches of couscous, which can then be stored and served later. When served as a meal, couscous is usually warmed and then has meat or vegetables placed on top of it. Since couscous is lightweight, some people prefer to take it with them when they are traveling to snack on.

The Moroccan dish, couscous mixed with some vegetables

For centuries, potatoes were an important European farm crop, especially in Ireland. The Irish developed many tasty potato recipes, including colcannon, to serve at meals.  Colcannon is made with the two staple Irish crops: potatoes and cabbage. The potatoes are mashed and then the cabbage is mixed in. This dish is then flavored with salt, milk, onions and chives. Although colcannon used to be served year round, it is now traditionally served in the fall and winter.

The Irish Dish Colcannon

With many Asian countries being located along the ocean, Asian dishes, such as sushi, are seafood based. Sushi, although originally developed in China, is now a popular Japanese food. Makizushi, or rolled sushi, is the sushi that many Americans are used to seeing. Rolled sushi is made by rolling fish and rice (the staple Asian crop) inside of seaweed. This process is traditionally done on a bamboo mat. Although the rice is always cooked, the fish inside the sushi is either cooked or eaten raw, depending upon the recipe.

Japan’s Rolled Sushi

Australia’s food closely resembles many dishes in America. However, dishes and deserts have been modified to use ingredients found on the big island. Anzac biscuits, for example, closely resemble and American cookie. The biscuits are made of oats, coconut, flour and syrup among other things and are very similar to the American oatmeal cookie. The biscuits were developed during the First World War as treats that wives sent to their husbands. These treats became popular because they did not easily spoil and were easy to travel with. The recipe for Anzac biscuits also does not include eggs, as eggs were scarce during the war. Today, Anzac cookies are sold commercially, especially as a fundraiser for organizations benefiting retired soldiers. 

Australia’s Anzac Biscuits

Travelers to foreign countries will often discover that the foods of the regions they are visiting will represent something important to that community's culture, the main dishes will often include the communities staple food, such as Ireland's Colcannon and Moroccos's couscous, or a food that is somehow signification to the communities history, such as Australia's Anzac biscuits.

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