New flavors, or combinations of flavors can be a surprise – or even a shock – to the palate. Familiar foods are comforting and deliver the expected flavors or may have a tweak or two make a traditional dish more interesting. However, I love to venture into uncharted waters when it comes to food! When travelling to new cities or countries, I take the time to research restaurants worth visiting, and enjoy the research and then the real world experience.
Adventures in Food
Searching out new restaurants with creative chefs can open your mind to phenomenal new flavors, with unfamiliar herbs and spices and cooking techniques make a lunch or dinner a journey to the unexpected. I follow a “try it twice” rule – I try a dish twice before deciding I don’t like it. Surprisingly, the second time I try it, I enjoy the experience. If not – there’s always another one to try!
Fusion Cuisine – Blending Cultures for the Ultimate Taste
Fusions of tastes blended from diverse cultures, when a chef with a talented palate gets creative, can be simply amazing. Unusual combinations of Japanese, Middle Eastern, French, and American cuisines are just a few of my favorites. Chefs choose exotic combinations of tastes and textures to create a unique flavor profile. It is said that the original fusion ingredient was pasta, born in China as a noodle, and brought to Italy in the 13th century, and tomatoes from the North American continent – and where would we be without pasta, marinara, and Italian food!
The Beauty of a Plate
Plating creativity is another art, with Japanese cooking tools now becoming commonplace in many American kitchens. Can’t eat gluten or want to avoid starchy foods? Many families now own a Japanese spiralizer tool that can make any firm vegetable into a noodle, satisfying the eye and the stomach. Garnishing with thin strips of citrus, carrot, or ginger can make a standard dish a little more special.
With the instant communication possible with the internet, and travel by air, the world is getting smaller. We can learn from other cultures, not just in traditions, fashions, and philosophies, but in flavors. Middle Eastern spices such as Za’atar, a combination of sumac (a slightly sour powder made from berries), sesame seeds, marjoram, salt, thyme, and oregano, or Baharat, or Lebanese seven spice blend, or rose water, cardamom, saffron, and pomegranate molasses are all found in the toolkits of chefs all over.
Japanese spices such as seven spice blend, wasabi, citrus chili paste, ponzu sauce, and chili oil are appearing in unexpected ways to enhance flavor. Umami, or the “essence of deliciousness,” differing from the other four tastes, sweet, sour, bitter, and salty is the savory facet of a dish, pursued by cooks and chefs throughout the centuries.
I look forward to my next travel adventure, and the opportunity to experience another culture, as well as the culinary arts. Until then, it is parties and gatherings at home with friends and family. Sharing a table with people I love is the flavor I enjoy most of all.