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Italian/Chinese food vs. French/Japanese cuisine

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Beyond the superficial similarities of noodles and pasta, Italian and Chinese foods are not very much alike in taste or in the experience of eating them. But they are very much alike in the sense that everyone likes them. Who doesn't like Italian food? Who doesn't like Chinese? Italian and Chinese are both foods that make you happy you're living a mortal life. They are examples of the best something can get in this fallen world.

(And yes, I'm very much aware that there are various regions of both Italy and China that have very different cooking styles and ideas about food. But there exist general classifications of "Italian food" and "Chinese food" that are well-understood, at least in America. That's what I'm talking about.)

French and Japanese cuisines are a different matter. Again, the two are quite unlike each other, but are very much alike in the sense that they're unaccountably awesome. What the French do with sauces, meat, and pastries has never been equaled, much like what the Japanese have done with rice, seaweed, and seafood (along with other meats). There is something almost other-worldly about French and Japanese foods. They transcend what should be possible on this plane of existence, and subtly hint at much greater things to come.

I love all four of these styles of cooking. And there are other styles I'm very fond of, as well, such as Mexican, or even a good old American cheeseburger and fries. But for me, the four mentioned above represent the best that there is, and they distinctly divide (in my mind) into two camps: The Italian/Chinese camp of buon gusto and the beauty of our existence here, and the French/Japanese camp of bon appêtit that leaves me marveling that any human being could come up with such otherworldly taste. I don't know that one camp is better than the other. I am just so happy that such things exist.

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1 hour ago, mordorbund said:

Meanwhile, @Carborendum stares at his screen thinking....

I simply can't help it if the American palate is so inferior as to recognize the superiority of pulkogi.  But the truth is that I don't think that enough people have even tried Korean cuisine.  All they know of it is pickled freaking cabbage!!!

But to focus on kim chi is a bit like focusing on salsa as the end all and be all of Mexican food. No, there are many more dishes that make up Korean cuisine.  And Mexican food is a great comparison.  So, @Vort, I'd add this third pairing into your commentary.

Mexicans have carne asada.  Koreans have pulkogi.  Mexicans have conchas  Koreans have rice cakes & samoas.  BTW, I had to look that up because they don't label the things at the Korean market. It is interesting that they must be made on site because they change texture very quickly -- they turn hard and crumbly if left in the fridge for one night.

Mexicans have horchata. Koreans have shikhye.

Mexicans wrap everything in tortillas.  Koreans wrap everything in lettuce or dried seaweed.

Japchae is great if it is done right.  It is basically the Korean form of spaghetti.  But it is made with clear noodles instead of solid wheat noodles.  And if you get haemul japchae... hmmm boy diggity.

And don't forget about bibimbop.

Edited by Carborendum

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I actually think Chinese/Japanese food is more similar, and Italian and French food also similar.

I actually do not really care for REAL Chinese and Japanese food.  They are VERY different than the stuff sold in as such in the US.  I am not much of a fan of many of their foods. 

On the otherhand, the fake AMERICAN CHINESE and fake AMERICAN JAPANESE foods are very tasty, but they are anything but authentic.  They do not really taste much like what I've had of the authentic Chinese or Japanese foods for the most part.  I'm not sure Americans would really care for many of the authentic forms of those nations foods.  Black beans, Mochi soup, Bamboo shoots, and other such things are not items I see much call for in the US.

On the otherhand, though still not the same, American Italian and French foods adhere more closely to their European counterparts.  I can find some of the more common ingredients to Italian and French foods in the US, and while seasonings tend to differ from place to place, they tend to at least have more similarities. 


Of the Korean food I've had, I actually liked the authentic Korean foods I ate, which have not been a ton of variety.  The best stuff I ate was by a Korean research fellow we had for a while.  He had a small burner in his office and had KimChi in jars (which, if you think about it could be rather scary, as it was a canning jar and he or his wife probably made it themselves) which he would bring with him.  He would then open a jar at lunch time.  He had it every day, and heated it up on his office over that burner on the floor.  He would sit cross legged and if I showed up (you could smell the stuff throughout the entire building, I think I was the only one who ever joined him for lunch, I'm not sure many wanted to stay in the building during his cooking) he always invited me to stay.  It was ALWAYS the Kimchi, but he would always mix in many different things with it so it was always different as well.  He had all sorts of different items he would combine with it from vegetables to things I don't even know what they were.   He was quite good at making it though, and his lunches were generally very enjoyable.  I don't know what the names for it were though, or what it was called.

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I have a very hard time saying that I have a favorite.  Whenever I visit another culture in another country, one of my goals is to get out of the tourists areas and into restraints favored by the locals or into private homes for meals.  Authentic Russian borscht is off the charts good.  There are things in Greece that are so much better than a hamburger.  Denmark has street vendor hot dogs that are so good (nothing like a hot dog in the US) that it is almost worth it to go to Denmark just for a hot dog.  I am not a fan of sauerkraut but there is lots of good authentic German food.  Israel has perhaps the most healthy food with lots of fresh fruits and veggies but you cannot get a cheeseburger anywhere in Israel - not even at a McDonalds there.  Turkey has some very different dishes as are many of the southern Mediterranean dishes.  BTW there are some Italian  island dishes that are unlike anything from mainland Italy.  I had a lemon that was the size of a grapefruit that was wonderful to eat all by itself like an orange - which reminds me that when I talked about Israel I did not mention the fresh blood oranges that are something that must be eaten when visiting Israel.

No one has said anything about authentic India foods that come in such vast varieties one could go for months of different tastes.  I do love Japanese food with the exceptions of their tofu that I think is to die for but not for any good reason.  I am also not a fan of any eyeballs of any creature - it is not a taste thing but rather a mental thing with me.


The Traveler  

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22 hours ago, Vort said:

Who doesn't like Italian food?


I am a very unpicks and explorative eater. When I got out to eat, I almost always try something I’ve never had before.

That being said, there are a few foods that I dislike. Unless it is pizza, fish or breadsticks (the more Americanized the better) I do not like Italian food. I’ve tried it in all forms many times and have always been disappointed. I cannot stand the taste of pasta.

I do agree everywhere else. Asian food has to be my favorite style of food. I particularly like Indian and Japanese.

I will also add, I have been very surprised at how much I like some authentic African dishes. I’m not well versed in them, but the few times I had it cooked for me on my mission, I have absolutely loved it. They can do something with chicken and rice/Couscous  no one else can.

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