The wonderful thing about cooking different cuisines from around the world is that each one has some very specific and unique spices which give out very specific aromas and flavors. These aromas make it easy to walk into someone’s kitchen and know exactly what foods and from which country they are being prepared.
For instance – from growing up in an Italian home and always smelling my mothers dishes being prepared, I know exactly what is being prepared in my family’s kitchen simply by smelling the rich aroma of garlic being sautéed in olive oil or the Sunday tomato sauce which always began with the sautéing of the porks and meatballs to release those savory flavors blended with spices. How about the Olio Sauce (Garlic and Olive Oil) for Pasta on Friday nights? Because, of course, growing up in a strict Italian, Catholic family — no meats on Friday! So it was always Olio, Fresh Pizza, and some type of fish. Mmmmm – now i’m dreaming of my mothers Eggplant Parmesan that she always mixed in the same pan – side by side layers with Chicken Parmesan, one of my absolute favorites.
Now, let’s move over to Indian cuisine: walking into an Indian restaurant, those aromas hit you like a ton of bricks in the best possible way. What could ever smell better than dishes being prepared with Cumin, Cardamom, Coriander, Ginger, Garam Masala, and Saffron? You already know you’re going to be eating something full of spice and flavor that leaves you feeling warm and wonderful inside. I can hardly wait to have some Tandoori Chicken with Naan to dip into the sauce.
And as we move across to other Asian restaurant’s, let’s begin with Chinese. Of course there are many different regional Chinese cuisines – still – all in all the aroma’s are the same: the Sesame oil, Star Anise, Chili powder, soy sauce, and many others. Just thinking of those aromas has me dying to order in some ribs, egg rolls and General Tso’s!
Whenever you walk into a Vietnamese restaurant you simply cannot mistake Pho being prepared, delicious Vietnamese Mini Pancakes or the wonderful Banh Boa (ball shaped bun filled with pork, onions, eggs and vegetables). A trip to Vietnam for the food alone is well worth it!
As for Japanese cuisine, now that is a treat! Shichimi, sesame, ginger, and Japanese chili! How about a good helping of Wasabi on my California Roll with some pickled ginger? It can’t get much better that that! Those sweet and spicy aromas and flavors – once again, unmistakable!
One more example that I think is well worth mentioning is our all American cuisine. I know, what could that possibly be? Well it really is easy: what’s more mouth watering than being in your back yard and the smell of the neighbors barbecuing some thick, juicy steaks on the grill or some barbecued chicken and ribs wafts over to you??? Not much in my eyes. One of my favorite activities is being on the beach in Cape Cod, digging a pit in the sand, and gathering drift wood and seaweed to get down and throw clams, mussels, lobsters, corn on the cob, and potatoes right on in. In my eyes – when that is happening – not need for butter – it’s perfect just like that. But I do believe the best, most definitive part of American cuisine is walking into an All-American Burger joint and smelling the burgers waffling out, hitting you right where it counts: your nose and straight to your stomach.
So there it is — the different, yet very identifiable aromas and tastes of just a few of my very favorite cuisines. But, whatever yours is, I know that you know those wonderful, comforting feelings and the anticipation of enjoying those familiar tastes with the extra plus of smelling those sensational spices cooking up just for you. In closing, remember,it doesn’t mater which cuisine you are going out to eat or cooking right in your own kitchen — always be daring, try new things, always keep layering your flavors with spices and always taste. BUT the best advice that I could ever give you is to cook with lot’s of love!