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THE SUBTLE ART OF GLOBAL CUISINE
Flavor trends from around the globe are increasing in popularity—but they require a delicate touch.
Every year we hear about the next big global flavor trends from Scandinavia, Korea or Africa. These trends are usually generated by restaurant chefs and authors who are looking to highlight something new or add a personal twist to a menu item they’re creating. These twists slowly and continually blend flavors from around the world into an amalgamation called global cuisine, where ethnic flavors can become the mundane.
Trends come and go but having globally inspired dishes on a menu can be exciting for the customers, although it does require some thought to properly execute a dish.
If you are looking to add a new trendy global cuisine dish to your menu, you need to pay attention to the following details. Be cautious of not transforming a dish into something that’s not recognizable to an educated customer or to someone scared of trying something new.
I can’t say enough about doing research by tasting dishes created by those who grew up cooking and eating them. Eat Korean BBQ in a restaurant that cooks over coal and try every side dish. Experience a meal in a Southeast Asian home versus a commercialized Indian or Chinese restaurant. Tasting the raw ingredients and condiments is highly educational in terms understanding a cuisine. For instance, the differences between Japanese, Indian and Jamaican curry are very stark in nature. Even though they have the same basic spice components, they are completely different dishes with unique balances of heat, sweetness and consistency of texture. Service style is also key, not everything is served on a plate with a knife and fork.
Know your customer:
As soon as words such as spicy, curry, chili, galangal or even fermented black beans show up on a menu, there’ll be some push back as most consumers are not used to these ingredients or profiles.
Cooking a dish from another country and trying to incorporate the flavors and techniques into a workable and easily executable menu item takes time. The goal is to offer a dish that opens a window into flavors and ingredients from another country. It needs to be approachable by many but provide excitement to create that sense of “Wow. That was really good. I would order that again.”
In this world of cuisine there are many convergences of similar processes and techniques used to convert ordinary ingredients into uniquely different dishes. The most telling factor of what will end up on your plate is where you are in the world. Onions, potatoes and tomatoes are now commonplace in kitchens around the world. Depending on who you are and where you live, a chef can transform them into curries, soups, side dishes and entrees. This is the beauty of global cuisine.
I know how tempting it is to hop on the next big flavor trend, but the difference between adding new flavors to your menu and creating genuine global cuisine is some deep thought and a little experimentation.