After a fantastic food-filled weekend, I woke up Monday morning with mountains of amazing leftovers.
I therefore did what any self-respecting grad student would do: I ate leftover Romano (Italian) food for breakfast, tupperware Moroccan soup for lunch and a hodge-podge of Greek spreads for dinner.
Each dish was distinct, yet all were Mediterranean. And they were delicious, even days later. That got me thinking:
If I had to choose only one cuisine to eat for the rest of my life would it be Mediterranean?
Definitely, I concluded. (Though I was admittedly cheating by lumping together Italian, Greek and North African).
Problem is, just 2 weeks ago I had decided 100% for sure that Southeast Asian foods–specifically Thai and Vietnamese–would be the best choice for a lifetime of dining. There was also a time in college when Japanese cuisine was the unequivocal champion. And strange as it sounds, when I lived in Italy all I could dream of was Mexican food.
Keep in mind, I am not talking about my favorite food. Favorite is a term I associate with a single meal or dish. And it almost exclusively considers flavors and taste, with a slant toward indulgence.
Instead, choosing a single regional cuisine for the rest of your life requires careful balance of taste, variety and health.
I did this as a thought experiment, and my conclusions (which seem to change quarterly) reflect my own personal tastes. To get a better idea of how others might deal with this question I asked my Twitter followers.
I got a flood of responses ranging from brilliant to hilarious. Here are some of my favorites:
Interestingly, some people clearly chose health over all else:
Some picked taste:
Others found conflict between health and taste:
Variety was also a big factor for many people, while others seemed to be influenced by the cuisine they grew up on:
Some people asked if “American” counted and I think it certainly does, though only when American originality is clear as in the unique dishes created in the South.
For me a harder question is whether or not “California cuisine” counts. I decided it does not, but would love your opinion. The way I see it food in California is defined by fresh, seasonal ingredients and brilliant cutting-edge chefs–things that cannot be exported easily. I might give California credit for the burrito, but that hardly represents an entire cuisine.
Now tell me what you think.
What cuisine would you choose if you had to eat it for the rest of your life? Please tell us your answer in the poll then expand on your reasoning in the comments.
Would health be a factor? Variety? Taste? Tradition? How does your choice fit your healthstyle and what other ethnic cuisines would you consider?
To make it a little easier, I’m going to unfairly lump vast regions under single blanket terms such as Latin or Southeast Asian. This is not meant to stereotype but to help make a single choice more diverse and appealing. Trust me, I feel awful about the amazing cuisines getting lumped into “Other.” If yours is there please elaborate on your choice in the comments.
On a final note, the most common complaint I got when running this experiment was the difficulty of making a choice.
Needless to say, I completely agree.