Friday, September 10, 2010

What I learned at the Asian Food Festival

The Asian Food Festival was a celebration of flavors, tastes and traditions from Asia. And that included mainly Indian, Thai, Korean, Malaysian, Sri Lankan, Taiwanese, Nepalese, Pakistani, Filipino, Burmese, Japanese and Chinese cuisines.

Korean Japchae

I may not be an expert in Asian cuisines but I am not an Asian food virgin either. I have tasted plenty in the past and I managed to develop a palate for most of them (my nine years in England helped me explore Indian and Pakistani cuisines, that's the reason I am not so impress with Indian in New York). But my attendance in this multi-cultural festival had an amazing influence on my way of thinking about Asian food. For the very first time I realized that Asian people are unique in their approach to food and cooking both as well as the use of ingredients.

So, this is what I would like to share with you:

1. Chinese eat mostly Chinese food and can't stay without rice more than four days!
2. The five important ingredients in Indian food are: black or yellow mustard seeds, cumin, turmeric, coriander seeds and Cajun pepper.
3. The word curry is an anglicized version of the word kari  which usually  means "gravy" or "sauce" rather than "spices". So, curry is used throughout European culture to describe a variety of side dishes, best known in Indian cuisine or other South Asian (chicken curry etc)
4. Cheese is by large not used in Asian cuisines (I would dare to say that dairy is not popular at all).

I found entertaining the suggestion of Thai Chef Andy Yang: instead of a blue cheese dip why not a thai dip?

Admittedly,  it was a thought provoking festival for me at least. Food was fresh, unique and offered generously. Maybe is time for me to master one of the Asian cuisines - the future will tell!