The Caribbean archipelago encompasses more than 7,000 individual islands in an approximately 1 million-square-mile area. There are 13 sovereign island nations and 12 dependent territories, with close political ties throughout the region to Europe and the United States. Another 10 Latin American countries include Caribbean coastlines and the predominant languages are English, Spanish, French, Dutch and Antillean Creole. The entire region is often referred to as the West Indies (it was originally mistaken for western India during early expeditions). The political history of this region may be colonial, but the culture of the Caribbean Islands is a colorful amalgam of traditions from the many ethnicities found there, both native and from away.
Any place called “The Spice Islands” has got to have an amazing cuisine. Indonesia’s got that and then some. The culinary influences of India, China, the Middle East, and Dutch colonists have melded with the use of local spices and herbs to create a distinctive blend that makes Indonesian cuisine one of the world’s greats.
Indonesian dishes have complex flavors that combine tastes of sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. Most Indonesians favor spicy food with sambal, a spicy chili sauce with various ingredients (notably hot red chilis, shrimp paste and shallots) which is a staple condiment at all Indonesian tables. Creamy coconut milk can be found in most dishes.
West Africa is the westernmost region of Africa and consists of 16 countries. The area historically sat at the intersection of trade routes. While the region’s flavors have been influenced by the colonizing nations and the slave trade, those influences have been minimal when compared to other cuisines due to the area’s strong culture and traditions. As a result, West Africa has an significant culinary influence outside its borders, especially in Brazil, the Caribbean, and the American South.
The main “offshore” ingredients adopted into West African cuisine are corn, tomatoes, peanuts, chili peppers, plantains, and cassava. The additional use of red palm oil, fish, and other local ingredients makes West African cuisine unique and flavorful.
The Southeast Indian state Andhra Pradesh is known for its hot and spicy cuisine and rich cultural heritage. Not only does it include the original Andhra vegetarian-based cuisine, but the sensational food of its “City of Pearls”, Hyderabad. For years, the city was known as the trading center of pearls and diamonds. Hyderabad’s cuisine is a princely legacy of the Nizams and their royal kitchens. 400+ years in the making, the cuisine is heavily influenced by the cuisines of the Turkish (Biryani), Arabic (Haleem), and the Mughal dynasty (mutton and techniques), combined with the native spices and herbs of the Andhra area.
Argentina is, first and foremost, a beef lovers paradise. The cuisine is also a fascinating mix of indigenous foods like Locra (hominy stew), humidas (tamales), and yerba mate (tea) with grilled meats from the cattle introduced by the Spanish in the mid-1500s. Dishes like pizza and breaded cutlets which are also popular, were brought later by Italian immigrants. Social gatherings are commonly centered on sharing a meal. he national dish of Argentina is beef. There are huge cattle ranches in Argentina and many dishes contain meat, all made with a unique Argentine twist.
The cuisine of Vietnam is truly magical- a wonderful mix of textures, exotic flavors, and the enticing crunch and fragrance of fresh green herbs. The cooking techniques and ingredients are mostly familiar and straightforward, but the delicate balance of the dishes helps make this cuisine a sophisticated world treasure.
Southwest France is home to some of world’s greatest wines and foods. 2,000 years ago when the Romans first cultivated wine, the region’s culinary profile began to take form. Around the port city of Bordeaux, a flourishing wine trade emerged and was followed by a culinary scene showcasing the tastes of the earth which paired well with the wine.
Mountain ranges crisscross the Mexican state of Oaxaca, creating natural geographic divisions and tropical microclimates. Oaxaca’s unique geography has led to the development of multiple distinct cultures, where local food traditions have thrived for centuries.
No other state in Mexico comes close to Oaxaca in the number and variety of unique cuisines found within its borders. In fact, many consider Oaxaca to be the gastronomic capital of Mexico.
Sichuan food, originating from the Southwestern region of China, is the most widely served cuisine in China. The dishes of the Sichuan region are known for their deep and rich flavors, especially the taste of Sichuan pepper which is unique to Sichuan. There are 23 distinct flavors identified in Sichuan cooking.