United States is a Melting Pot of Cuisines!

CuisinesThe United States is a great melting pot and there are few things as synonymous with a particular culture than its cuisine. Dining at an ethnic restaurant or experimenting with regional flavors in the comforts of your own kitchen are a great ways to experience foreign cultures.  I ENJOY trying to new flavors and understanding how particular cultures came to create dishes native to their country.  Below are excerpts from a report published in the National Restaurant Association review written by Brett Thorn!

Some of the trendiest cuisines in the United States are still unknown to many Americans, who continue to do most of their culinary adventuring within the “big three” ethnic cuisines of Italian, Chinese and Mexican, according to a study released by the National Restaurant Association. Consumer interest in new cuisines is growing.

In its “Global Palates: Ethnic Cuisines and Flavors in America” report, the trade association’s first ethnic cuisine study in 16 years, the NRA asked more than 1,000 adults about their familiarity with cuisines that originated outside the United States, as well as regional cuisines within the U.S.

The NRA found that four out of five surveyed consumers eat at least one “ethnic” cuisine each month, and that two thirds eat a wider variety of cuisines than they did five years ago, with one third having tried at least one new cuisine in the past year.

“Typical restaurant diners are more knowledgeable, sophisticated and experienced than they were two decades ago,” the report said. “Today’s consumer — especially in the younger age groups — generally is more willing to try new foods and expand their taste buds.”

However, the “big three” ethnic cuisines still dominate, with roughly nine out of 10 respondents having tried all three at least once in their lives. Italian is the most frequently eaten ethnic cuisine: 61 percent of those surveyed said they eat it at least once a month.

The NRA found that four out of five surveyed consumers eat at least one “ethnic” cuisine each month, and that two thirds eat a wider variety of cuisines than they did five years ago, with one third having tried at least one new cuisine in the past year.

“Typical restaurant diners are more knowledgeable, sophisticated and experienced than they were two decades ago,” the report said. “Today’s consumer — especially in the younger age groups — generally is more willing to try new foods and expand their taste buds.”

However, the “big three” ethnic cuisines still dominate, with roughly nine out of 10 respondents having tried all three at least once in their lives.

Apart from those three cuisines, the next in line in terms of popularity are regional American, Mediterranean, Japanese, Spanish, Belgian, German, French, Greek and Caribbean, each of which more than half of those surveyed said they tried at least once.

Most experimentation with ethnic foods is done at dinner. More than three quarters of respondents, 77 percent, said they eat ethnic food most often during the evening meal, while 18 percent pointed to lunch as their main time for ethnic eating.

Younger consumers also eat ethnic at breakfast. Although 66 percent of people ages 18 to 24 and 72 percent of those ages 25 to 34 who were surveyed said they mostly ate ethnic food at dinner, 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively, said breakfast was their top time for ethnic food. That’s compared with 0 percent among people ages 35 to 64, and 1 percent of people ages 65 or older.

Younger consumers are also more likely to eat ethnic cuisines related to their own heritage. Fifty-seven percent of 18-to-24 year olds who responded said the ethnic foods they like to eat are tied to their family’s ancestry or heritage, compared with 43 percent of people overall.

Offering ethnic food as a special item can be an effective selling point, the study found. When asked if they would consider trying ethnic food as a special at their favorite restaurant, even if it were different from the type of food normally offered there, 80 percent of respondents said they would. However, 84 percent of respondents said they prefer to eat ethnic cuisine at restaurants that focus on that cuisine.

For the past 6 weeks my husband, myself and good friends have experienced different ethnic food and cultures; Syrian-The Fountain Grille in Westlake, Greek-Greek Village Grille in Brooklyn Hts., Columbian-Moncho’s in Cleveland, Jewish-Menorah Park in Cleveland, and Asian-Pearl of the Orient in Rocky River.  For two years I had tried to enroll in the Tri-C Neighborhood Scholar ‘Ethnic Cuisine – Food & Cultures’ Program.   The program is so popular that the ‘the old-timers’ have been enrolling for years and years in the program making it difficult for newbies to enroll; I am persistent.  This year I succeeded. All the restaurant owners and Chefs we have met through the Tri-C Program have expressed their gratitude to the good olde’ United States for the opportunity to succeed.  So in addition to tasting some extraordinary cuisines it was refreshing to meet people who believe the United States is a land of great opportunity. And a place to share the wonderful flavors of their culture.

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