What is 'international food' anyway?
Welcome back to Elle's Kitchen. In the May round of the "30-Day Blogging Challenge" , Emily posed the question - Are you the type of person that arrives early, late or on time? My answer, in short, is that I'm always late, to everything. This is not the first of these newsletters to be late, and I have no doubt it won't be the last, but I sincerely hope I won't ever be quite this late again! Okay, moving swiftly on.
I promised my readers a newsletter about international foods. This led to a discussion between Dodgy Steve and myself, on what exactly constitutes international food. Clearly your definition of international food depends on your location. If you're in Korea, you wouldn't consider kimchi to be an international food. However, if you're in New Zealand, you would definitely consider it an international food. Perhaps it is more correct to use the term 'ethnic food' rather than international? Because although lasagne and pizza may have originated in Italy, you can now find them in many countries around the world, and they are rarely considered Italian anymore. Perhaps that is a more correct definition of 'international food', a food that is now international rather than ethnic? Hmm, you see my dilemma. I know that my American friend Beth thinks nothing of a roast turkey or sweet potato with marshmallow, but those are both exotic (ethnic? international?) foods to me. Yes, we have turkeys here, I grew up gathering turkey eggs for my mum to use in her baking, but we rarely eat turkey and if we do it's usually on Christmas Day. I have never tried sweet potato with marshmallow. Here sweet potato is call kumara and is eaten like a potato - roasted, mashed, as hot chips or cold crisps, etc. And pumpkins are roasted or mashed and eaten as a side dish to dinner, much as potatoes are...not baked in a pie.
So how does one go about preparing a newsletter on international foods for an international audience?
Part of what we do with our writing is share our own thoughts and experiences with others. When it comes to food, I think we need to remember that there is more to a dish than just the recipe. Yes, I know I've mentioned this before, and will again. A recipe has a context - where did it come, where did you personally first encounter it, what memories do you associate with it? Foods that are unique to your country or culture are a perfect opportunity to expand beyond the recipe and share a slice of your country and culture with the reader.
Anzac Biscuits are a great example of a dish that can teach. Did you know there is a recipe for Anzac Biscuits on a New Zealand government website? The biscuits were created during WWI, using basic ingredients that were available back in those days of shortage (no eggs), and they were designed to last a long time so that they could be shipped to soldiers serving overseas. Anzac is an acronym that stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps and our two nations have a history of standing together, brothers in arms, and supporting one another. Except, we do like to fight over recipes. Both countries claim to have invented the Anzac Biscuit, and both countries claim to have invented pavlova. Today, Anzac Biscuits are a classic that can be found in any supermarket in New Zealand or Australia, and they are often sold in commemorative tins around Anzac Day (25th April) to raise money for returned servicemen and women. I like to make Anzac Biscuits with my children on Anzac Day after we've been to the Anzac services and paid our respects.
See, you learned a little something about my country and the history of this food and its importance to us, and I didn't even give you the recipe! If you're curious, it's here: "Anzac Biscuits" . Next time you're sharing a recipe that is unique to your country or culture, share its history or meaning, or its place in the culture. Teach your reader.
These two recipes below come from Lebanon. Brother Nature shares stories of his grandparents and his first memories of these foods, suggesting that you make the Zaatar and mix it with olive oil to spread on the Syrian Bread. Sounds beautiful.
I love the combination of history and personal experience that Lapin Agile shares in this item. Beautifully written too, and yes, there's even a recipe for you at the end.
samueldelemos made me realise that sometimes leaving one's country of origin isn't a choice. And food is such an integral part of a country and a culture, that it can be that one true link to home.
That's all for this week! I hope you've enjoyed this international edition! Next week I'll be looking at foods suitable for those with food allergies. If you have a story or dish to share that relates to food allergies, please share it, and if it's featured in next week's newsletter, I'll award a food / cooking merit badge.
Don't forget, if you have a question for Steve, an item for inclusion in a future newsletter, a topic for me to investigate and discuss, or if you'd like to be a guest editor for an edition, please let me know here: "Elle's Kitchen Newsletter Suggestions" .
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