food perspectives

Through the power of Google+, I randomly read all sorts of things. Sometimes, I am a bit overwhelmed by it, since it is one more thing to look at on the internet–and I am already quite addicted. But there are also some really interesting things you’ll find on there. For example, I read this Quora answer, and it made me think about how Americanized our food is. But at the same time, now that I’m living here in Australia–food is a similarly Australianized.

Grinchy and I think that one of the best things about the US is that there are immigrants from all over the world–and they bring their food with them. This means we get to try food from almost every country, with varying degrees of authenticity. Grinchy is from Mexico, and so I’ve been lucky to have true Mexican food. Which is amazing. But, I have to admit, there are times when I want the very Americanized version of Mexican food–with the chips and not-very-spicy salsa, and a giant veggie burrito.

[Grinchy insists that burritos are not from Mexico. I think there is some debate about it. But he doesn’t remember ever seeing them as a kid. And if you talk with other Mexicans, they would agree with him.]

Now that we’re in Sydney, we similarly have the fortune of being able to try food from around the world. But we have definitely noticed that food here is designed for a different palate. It took us 8 months to find a Thai restaurant where the food was actually spicy. We learned to specifically request more spice in our Thai food–and even so, rarely would it more than mild. While I understand that not all Thai food is intended to be spicy, I also have been to Thailand and have seen first-hand the chili sauce that people liberally put on their food.

I was a bit surprised that condiments here are sweeter. Everyone knows that Australians love their Vegemite–which is actually savory/salty. But the ketchup here (which they call tomato sauce) is sweeter than in the US–and I think the mayo is too. French fries (called chips here) often come with sweet chili sauce and sour cream. The sweet chili sauce has the color of chili–but has no semblance of heat.

I think this sweetness pervades the other cuisines. If an Indian restaurant wants to keep their customers happy, they need to give their diners what they want. Which in Australia means less spice and more sugar. I think Americans probably have a similar palate–but I knew how to get the food that I wanted. Here, I’m still learning.


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