Gut Rumbles

January 24, 2006

ethnic food

I grew up eating pinto beans, cornbread, chicken and dumplings, collard greens, fried fatback and shuck beans, with damn near everything on the stove seasoned with bacon grease. I never knew that such fare was "soul food" until blacks claimed it as ethnic cooking. (I suppose that blacks also coined the term "miner's strawberries" to describe pinto beans, but I digress...) It was just good, inexpensive, nourishing food to me. I still like it today.

I like a lot of truly ethnic food, too. Mexican is my favorite, with Chinese a close second. I am fortunate to live near Savannah, because around here you can find just about every kind of ethnic food you can imagine. I enjoy most of it, although I draw the line at sushi. I'm not gonna eat raw fish when I have delicious fresh seafood available.

According to a recent survey, italian is the most popular ethnic food in the USA. I suppose that's true if you consider pizza to be an Italian food, even though some people claim that pizza came from outer space. I don't know about counting that Chef Boyarde shit in a can or Ragu spagetti sauce, either.

Time for another reader poll: What's YOUR favorite ethnic food?


Bar B Que, pork ribs or Texas style brisket, either one.

Posted by: Gramps on January 24, 2006 11:02 AM

Sadly I have not found a good Italian eating place in the south. Favorite ethinic food, American I guess.

Posted by: james old guy on January 24, 2006 11:02 AM

Italian. Because of pizza, the single best food in the universe.

Posted by: Steve H. on January 24, 2006 11:04 AM

Mexican, hands down.
I work in an Italian eatery and I married a Goomba.
I get ENOUGH Italian food every day.

Posted by: Maeve on January 24, 2006 11:16 AM

Best ethinc food is chili con carne. A bowl of red. It's ethnic because it's a true American dish. Our gift to the world.
As for Chef Boyarde, I'm sure that the stuff he cooked in his restaurant was far better than what's in the can today. Watched a program on the history channel about the food we eat and it seems he is the one who helped get Americans hooked on spaghetti. Even catered a meal at the White House. Of course I can't stand what comes in the can. Eat only as a last resort.

Posted by: RayH on January 24, 2006 11:30 AM

I am very partial to Thai food, (BTW Rob, if ya can handle the spice, check out the King and I.) A very close second would be Greek. Olympia cafe is awesome, and if I don't feel like going to town I'll eat at Holiday's in Statesboro...

Posted by: Steph on January 24, 2006 11:32 AM

Korean, hands down.

Posted by: Sarge on January 24, 2006 11:35 AM

I really like indian food since last year I got the real deal in England. It's painfully hot, but so good I can't stop. of course the next day it's time for the ring of fire.

Posted by: joe on January 24, 2006 11:42 AM

Italian food -- a Jersey staple.

Posted by: Jim -PRS on January 24, 2006 11:57 AM


Posted by: Otis on January 24, 2006 12:14 PM

I'm with Joe on the Indian food. My wife and I ate at a place on Saturday where we were about the only non-Indians there. You can really hurt yourself on one of those buffets.

But Indian food, however good, has to come second. There's nothing better than the paella at the Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City.

Posted by: Ernie G on January 24, 2006 12:24 PM

Italian is the best!

I admit though that every now and then I CRAVE gyros, with extra feta, tomatoes and cucumber sauce. 'Course, it takes a good week to clear that smell out of the house (and the body)!

Posted by: Jane on January 24, 2006 12:47 PM

Indian food or Japanese tend to war for first place, followed by italian and german. Mexican I like, but not in the top five, same with most chinese dishes.

Posted by: Mythilt on January 24, 2006 12:49 PM

good ol' country cookin, meat&potatoes & any kind of veggie you can cook with butter. mmmmm....
Rob - I used to poo-poo on sushi too, until I realized that it's not all raw. Find some that has cooked crab or shrimp. That sh*t's good!

Posted by: Danielle on January 24, 2006 12:50 PM

Chiny! Chiny! Chiny! Best around here is LittleMao'sChillunsChinkyChowPalace in Clonmel.

Next comes Mex folowed by Spanish (yes children, deys a difference) - Then comes the EyeTye....then ANY NYC JewFood Joint!

Indian just plain sucks!

Dead last? British!

Posted by: James Hooker-ex cracker on January 24, 2006 12:57 PM

If BBQ is an ethnic food that is it. If not it's a toss up between Mexican (not Tex-Mex) and Greek.

Posted by: Titan Mk 6B on January 24, 2006 01:11 PM

Mexican - New Mexico style. Those Hatch green chilis add a special touch.

Posted by: bottlestop on January 24, 2006 01:22 PM

Living in Germany, the ethnic food I miss the most is definitely Mexican. Good Mexican or Tex-Mex is next to impossible to get over here.

Of course, the first place I usually go eat when I fly into the States is Waffle House, so take it with a grain of salt and a hunk of lard.

Posted by: Rube on January 24, 2006 01:24 PM

It's absolutely impossible to pick just one, but I gotta say, my favorite kind of ethnic food's gotta be "Dad food".

Lemme tell you why:

My dad has making hamburgers down to a process so fine I'm pretty sure he could start charcoal fire, season hand-patted patties with black pepper andgarlic powder, cook them 4-minutes-to-a-side, and prep a pot of fries in a quadraplegic coma.

My dad can make some spaghetti sauce that'll be good tonight, better tomorrow, better the third day, and still make a good bowl of noodles and sauce by the end of the week, assuming any survives.

Canelloni (sp?), fettucini, cheesecake, carrot cake, ribeye steak, boston butt, tequila-lime ribs, creme bruleť, collard greens, turnip greens, black eyed peas, chili, egg rolls, pork chops in cream sauce, brandied chicken breast, deep fried turkey, real waffles, real buttermilk pancakes, DROP-DEAD-YANKEE-ICE-CREAM!


I don't much care where it comes from originally, and this is a cheap cop-out of the _real_ topic at hand, but if my dad cooks it, it's fuggin' good, and I'm a braggart.

[SPARE] ~ The Original Extraneous Solution.

Posted by: GunnySkox on January 24, 2006 01:44 PM

My favorites are Greek (moussaka) and Mexican (enchiladas verde).

If I go several weeks without either fare, I develop intense cravings that must be satisfied.

Posted by: John on January 24, 2006 02:08 PM

Mexican. Italian. Chinese. In that order.

Posted by: Bane on January 24, 2006 02:21 PM

American food. Seriously, we take what everyone else starts with, add some American know-how, and out comes ambrosia! Pizza, Hamburger,'s all good, and much better than the original inspirations IMO.

Posted by: Jason Bontrager on January 24, 2006 02:28 PM

Tex-Mex...found your blog...highly recommended by someone who usually doesn't have good taste so I was pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: Texas Lady on January 24, 2006 02:33 PM

I'd say Indian, though I both love and eat a lot of Mexican.

Posted by: Sigivald on January 24, 2006 02:33 PM

Southern. Give me a bowl of mama's chicken and dumplings over any of that other stuff any day.

Posted by: Adam Lawson on January 24, 2006 02:49 PM

I love Cambodian from Chez Sovan in San Jose, CA. The only Cambodian restaurant I've seen outside of, well, Cambodia.

Posted by: bobgirrl on January 24, 2006 03:22 PM

I'm sittin here slaverin' all over my shirt front. I like damn near everything I've ever tried with the exception of eggs scrambled with brains, or boiled okra. Yeccchhh! Growing eggplant is wasting dirt that could be used for mudpies.

Other than those few, I've been on a see-food diet all my life. I see food, I eat it. I love sushi and sashimi, but they're too 'spensive for every day.

Posted by: Gerry N. on January 24, 2006 04:05 PM

Greek for sure. I could eat nothing but gyros for the rest of my life and be happy.

After that, Chinese and Italian. I'll take any seafood though.

Posted by: Grand Fromage on January 24, 2006 04:07 PM

I would happily eat fried pork chops, field peas and rice and cornbread three meals a day for the rest of my life. For variety, I'd throw in a bowl of beef stew or a bowl of chili from time to time.

Posted by: Primal on January 24, 2006 04:14 PM

As long as I don't have to cook it, I like pretty much anything that's well prepared. I don't have favorite categories so much as favorite dishes. Love broiled fresh fish or scallops, good pizza, bakery breads and fine cheeses and fancy olives, S&S bagels (or is that H&H) from NYC -- the only real bagel in the world and fresh guacamole. In general I guess I would say Mexican, Indian and diner comfort food, especially mac&cheese or mashed potatoes and gravy. I like Chinese, don't really like Thai or Japanese. Loathe sushi and miso soup. I'm not a big beef eater but I've had a craving for real Hungarian goulash, the kind you make with sour cream and paprika and serve over noodles, for about the last 5 years. That seems to be the one kind of ethnic food you can't get anywhere since that little restaurant around the corner from my mother's place shut down..

Posted by: Libby on January 24, 2006 04:23 PM

Unless I am cookin, I want Chinese all the time.

You really should try sushi sometime. It can be wonderous.

Posted by: Florida Bill on January 24, 2006 04:31 PM

Meat pie with tomatoe sauce and a cold beer.

Posted by: Don/Australia on January 24, 2006 05:12 PM

Chili dawgs, Bane style. "Pre-lubed bread tubes..."
Oh that ethnic?

Posted by: Lil Toni on January 24, 2006 05:30 PM

I really like Mexican food, followed by Italian as a close second. My 100% Italian grandpa is probably rolling over in his grave...

Posted by: Stephanie on January 24, 2006 05:48 PM

And the proof is that I'm making Italian Quesadillas for supper tonight!

Posted by: Stephanie on January 24, 2006 06:01 PM

I'll take a plate of pinto beans, collard greens, buttermilk biscuit and a handful of hot peppers any day.

Posted by: assrot on January 24, 2006 06:06 PM favourites are
Italian, and Greek...

and now for the food...

just kidding.... those are my favourites along with Mexican...

Posted by: Lisa on January 24, 2006 07:10 PM

Its a toss up between TEXMEX and Chinese but neither are actually ethnic foods-both are as American as pizza and pinto beans

Posted by: GUYK on January 24, 2006 07:21 PM

favs--in order--italian (which is different from eye-talian as served here in colorado),chinese-(not the cheap 6.99 buffet shit), good ole american-steak and lobster,cajun (creole), southern. Things i will not eat even if free--indian (curry and lamb), mexican--hate peppers-sushi-which is japanese btw -not chinese

Posted by: mikeymom on January 24, 2006 08:03 PM

Southern Creole. Cochon de lait.

I blogged it.

Posted by: Pawpaw on January 24, 2006 08:29 PM

I can't narrow down to a favorite ethnic variety; I enjoy them all too much. Sushi's wonderful, when I can afford it. I think it's a matter of the cook; there are restaurants I love and restaurants I don't for most food types I can think of. The rarer ones (like Ethiopian), there aren't enough around for me to say "this one's good" or "this one's bad," just enough for me to say "I like it" or "I don't."

As for Ragu, I tend to use it (or something similar) a lot when cooking Italian. I haven't made sauce from my garden in a few years.

I don't use Ragu by itself, though - you've got to dress it up. Start with olive oil in the pan, throw in chopped onion and garlic, and maybe some finely chopped carrots. Sausage or other meat would go in now, too, unless I'm making it vegetarian. After a couple minutes, pour in the sauce, then add other vegetables (peppers, broccoli, and so on). Simmer for a while.

Another variation I do is to add catfish nuggets before the sauce goes in, then add an appropriate amount (for me, usually about half) of a bag of frozen assorted seafood along with the veggies. I get the bags of seafood at an Asian market, which is also the best place I know of to get cheap ginger and basil year-round.

Posted by: wheels on January 24, 2006 08:32 PM

I enjoy preparing ethnic food - all types, especially those from the Mediterranean - Lebanese, Syrian, Turkish - Hummus, Falafel, Tabolei. I'd like to go to those places, and eat it among the people and aromas of the marketplace. What a gift that would be.

Posted by: Bonita on January 24, 2006 09:03 PM

If it tastes good, I eat it and enjoy it.

Love ethnic Chinese, Japanese,Vietnamese and Greek the best.

Sushi and Sashimi are at the top of the list. You may call it "bait ", Rob, but until you've tried it, you really can't opine on it.

I'll try anything food twice, just to make sure I wasn't mistaken the first time.

Posted by: delftsman3 on January 24, 2006 09:06 PM

Lord, can't pick a single one.

I was about 20 before I knew that tabouli wasn't something from southeast OK. Turned out my grandma learned to make it from a family nearby that originally came from Syria.

"Ethnic food? Does that mean it tastes funny?"

Posted by: Mark on January 24, 2006 09:50 PM

I'm soooo glad that we emigrated to America where there is such a variety of great international foods. You've probably never seen a restaurant specializing in Scottish food. There's a reson.

Top of my personal list is good Italian. You're not gonna get it south of the Mason Dixon line for some reason. The best is, gawd help us, in the northeast.

Chinese is next. Then REAL Mexican. I only ever had that in TX. I haven't found any of that north of the M/D line. Then seafood, especially smoked scallops. (moan)

I haven't had the pleasure of Korean, Indian or Thai but I'm eager to give 'em a shot. I'm not eatin any of that Japanese 'bait' though.

Posted by: StinKerr on January 25, 2006 05:40 AM

Nothing beats southeast Asian food. Thai, Viet Namese...great stuff.

Posted by: Circa Bellum on January 25, 2006 09:08 AM

There are some excellent Serbian restaurants in Milwaukee. I miss them.

Posted by: peggy on January 25, 2006 09:14 AM

I love almost any kind of food. Only a few things I'm neutral on, fewer I won't eat. Tex Mex, Italian, Chinese, Japanese fried rice (the best thing ever out of the far east). Steak, spare ribs, chicken (fried, BBQ'd, roasted or boiled with rice), roast beef or pork roast with mashed potatoes and gravy. I eat pork chops till they're all gone. Turkey with dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy. Lamb chops. Chili. Homemade soup. Bread: sourdough, French, Italian, etc.

I got the drools reading the start of this post. My dear departed could cook like crazy, almost any style and if she didn't know how, she'd learn. Her lasagna or spaghetti were to die for. But what I'd make myself sick on was pinto or baby limas cooked with hambone, corn bread, greens, quartered onions (Vidalia if available), other relishes like cucumbers, sliced tomato, radish, etc. (All her veggies included a dollop of bacon grease).

French is good, but highly overrated. Brit is underrated. German is great. I don't have much experience with Indian, Greek (or other Mediterranean), but liked what I've had.

Pizza was invented somewhere in the American northeast.

Posted by: Larry on January 25, 2006 10:11 PM
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