what does your local cuisine means to you,

Joined Dec 15, 1999
I live now in philly usa, but i moved just a couple of month ago from israel.
Now i thing that being a cook now in israel is fascinating. Israel is just at the point of recognising what is israely cuisine. What makes it into israely.
It's very much the same place the usa was 15-20 years ago. The good thing is that israel is a very intense melting pot. Much more than anywhere alse in the world. We have more than hundred differnet ethnic groups in israel in a space smaller than most of the states in the us and with less people than NYC! And all of this combined with the locale cuisine and produce.

To me the cuisine of a place starts with the land. What comes out of it. That's why a learn and am learning about wild plants and other local food-products. It always seem strange to me to use third grade expensive imported goods istead of first grade domestic produce.
By looking for a food that is israely and also jewish I'm also looking for what is to BE israely and a jew in israel. I'm looking in a way to create food that would be an extension of the anciant jewish culture who lived in israel two millenia ago.

Ironicly i do it by learing the culture and cuisine of the local arabs - palastinians -and neighboring arabs - jordanian, egyptians, syrians etc. They lived on this land and their cuisine comes from the local land.
Cuisine tradionaly is an answar to an equation. What's there to eat and how can you conserve it. You bake pitas to make wheat edible and you cover labane with olive oil to conserve it. Palstinian cuisine is an answar to this land.

It doesn't mean ignoring world trends and international techniques. But growing in the meadst of a sea of olive trees with the sweet smell of figs all summer and the sight of caper flower all around, how can i ignore these? If i lived in a city getting my food in shops it wouldn't differ to me - wasabi and soy sauce and olive oil.

So in the end what i cook is a kind of fusion. Fusion sometimes drift and doesn't work, but I think this is the good fusion. It's just that there's no culinary tradiojn in israel. It's only 50 years old. So no cuisine is right to me. I was exposed to so many differnt foods as a child, that they combine instinctivly in my mind.

I knew a chef once who claimed that he cookes childhood memories.

So what does it means for you to cook in your cultural context?
Joined Dec 8, 1999
I grew up in the state of Wisconsin in the United States. My family's roots are in Germany; they emigrated here in the mid 1800's. The cuisine, if not the culture, lingers still today (Germany having started two world wars killed pride in Germanic heritage for quite some time; understandable, but sad). The climate in Wisconsin, and the products available locally, is much the same as Germany, and the food is generally simple. For me to cook in my cultural context is to keep things simple. This is something I've done no matter what the locale; I could be in a place where I have a wide variety of product available locally, but I would still keep it simple. As it should be, I think; we are all products of the environments we grew up in.
Joined Aug 11, 2000
Sure, It's not only the ethnicity of your own family or "their traditions" but where you are....I've live in Louisiana and the food traditions are strong...I brought those with me to St Louis, where there are wonderful enclaves of ethnic neighborhoods...
I'm a true California baby that grew up with a garden, fruit and almond trees in my yard...vineyards down the road, produce stands and health food stores were where my mom shopped...So my cooking is an emalgamation of all these life experiences and knowing where to access ingrediants...meeting the farmers/producers in my area.
Joined Nov 15, 2000
Aside from the Native American cuisine, which seems to comes from the native ingredients and cooking techniques that seemed to work the best in style and taste for a particular dish, local cuisine in America usually is a combination of what cooking techniques and ideas people have brought to the area from wherever they came from and the indigenous ingredients and different ideas of the area that they must use to create those recipes or recreate similar recipes. Pretty soon you have unique recipes that become the local cuisine.
My background is exposure to world cuisine from the time I was little through a family that came from different cultures and was really into food. Then when I came to America, in this part of the country there is alot of German influence as well as a little southern influence from a large number of people from Kentucky and actually many Koreans, Indians, and Eastern Europeans.
This all melds into the culinary exposure available to the people in this area. Sort of a fusion cuisine in practice, the way it should be. People learn about the ingredients and figure out how best to apply their "imported" techniques and knowledge to the particular dish.If it is well recieved then it becomes local cuisine, using indigenous ingredients and adopted techniques.
Joined Jul 18, 2000
well, im living in sydney aus, i have had experience in cajun (of all things) currently working in a smallish cafe, attempting to create an impact, (during the days) and weekend night work in a lebanese a la carte restaurant.

Beauty, variety and knowledge.

oh, did i add that iam eurasian - half chinese half anglo aus
Joined May 6, 2001
As an Englishman, steak and kidney pies, fish and chips pie and mash, ploughman's lunch, sheppards pie roast beef and Yorkshire pud' with treacle tart or jam rolly polly, (let's not mention my spotted dick!), that my people is food!!!
Joined May 14, 2001
Out here in the Hinterlands (AKA Iowa) we have been famous for many years for pork tenderloin sandwiches bigger than your head and the Iowa White Dinner (pork chop, mashed potatoes, corn).

But things have been progressing very nicely over the last 10 years. We now have a very strong network of local growers providing the produce of the richest soil in the world. This has led to our own miniature culinary revolution, as people who had once never heard of a sun-dried tomato are now asking their servers who grew their mesclun and is it organic.

Also, I should direct all of you to the Cooks Corner section of ChefTalk Cafe and ask you to read my submission there titled "Passing the word about Slow Food". The Slow Food Movement is passionate about local foods.
Joined May 6, 2001
A ploughman's lunch.... A good wedge of cheddar cheese, a hunk of crusty bread & butter. Pickled onions, a small salad & branston pickle (a snappy relish).... The chesse can be replaced by ham or beef, or what ever. This was the lunch served to the men ploughing the fields, thus the name. Go to any British pub it had best be on the menu.... J
Joined Mar 13, 2001
Hey kmf,

The Iowa White Dinner (pork chop, mashed potatoes, corn) sounds pretty good to me. Better than poutine any day!

If you added parsley, would it become the Iowa White and Green Dinner??

Joined May 14, 2001
Parsley? Out here they think it's just the garnish they use at Perkin's. :p

Joined Jan 26, 2001
In a little town 15 minutes from here, you can get the best fried biscuits and apple butter in the state. I have yet to try the catfish, but as far as what it means to me?

It means i'm living in the midwest!!!

Joined Oct 15, 2000
To me, it means that I'm living on the most productive soil on the face of the earth. What the midwest loses in terms of its "sophistication" it more than makes up for it in its amazing produce and meats. In a different forum, someone says they feel sorry for us in the midwest because of a lack of seafood. Oh well! Ever tasted prime, cornfed beef or a perfect,"organic" pork chop, or a chicken that scratched around in a farm yard? Ever picked blackberries as sweet as sugar and as big as half your thumb? Ever started the water boiling or lit the grill BEFORE you picked the sweetcorn? Pure heaven. Besides, being a chef in the midwest means that you are cooking for people who want good food and not just weirdness on a plate. Midwest customers will ALWAYS keep you honest or you will be out of business. Not knockin other places at all, just defending my home turf. :cool:


Staff member
Joined Jun 11, 2001
YES! To many of the above. The beef here is the best in the world bar none. I have a friend who regularly travels between OZ/England/Midwest who eats only beef when he's in the Midwest. Wild Raspberries and grow in my backyard. The deer feed on crabapples 20 feet from my front door.

Midwest cuisine seems characteristic of the people who populate the region, many of whom have farming roots. Simple, good, and honest, and BIG, is how I would describe Midwest cuisine.


[ July 07, 2001: Message edited by: kuan ]
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