Blending Eastern and Western Foods

When you are in an AMWF relationship, you not only share the cultures that you came from but also the foods that are part of it. I was raised to believe that taking the time to share a meal with someone was a way to connect, to get to know, and to enjoy someone’s company. It was over a big bowl of pasta that my family and I would share stories about our day, talk about the trials and tribulations of our lives, and generally find comfort and love from one another. So when it came time to experience Asian foods, I wanted to know what this was all about.

The first difference to me in comparing East Asian to Western foods was the way the food was prepared.  From the very start Asian foods are cut into bite sizes, and then stir fried or steamed, and served to you family style. In contrast, my experience with Italian/western cooking was different. All the ingredients were usually in larger pieces and we always cut the food on our plates with knives and forks. It’s not that things were not family style, because there would often be items like salad, pasta, meats, or etc, out on a table, but you just selected the portion you wanted and placed it on your dish. Another difference was the food choices used in the dishes. There are some ingredients or seasonings in Asian cuisine that Western cooking seldom uses, like jelly fish, sea cucumbers, shark’s fins, bean curds (tofu), oyster sauce, black bean sauce, salty shrimp paste, soy sauce, etc.  In western cooking there are also, like Asia, lots of sea foods, meats, and etc, but herbs like rosemary, dill, sage, oregano, thyme, basil (etc) are used, where Asian cultures add ginger, spring onions, mints, corianders, and white pepper.  Sometimes you can find Asian foods that contain cheese, butter, cream or milk, but I rarely see it.

So even with these differences, I found that I enjoyed trying all the culinary delights that East Asia had to offer… well almost. One of the most common problems when trying foods from Asia was not taste, but texture. For me anything with a spongy or jelly like texture just freaked me out, and just eating it would send a shiver down my spine.  So, when I would share a meal with anyone Asian, they would give and a smile and laugh because they know I don’t like the texture and that the western palate is just not used to it.

At home, when I look at the foods I eat every day, I realize that it’s always a blend of the best of the east and west. In America you can find any foods you want, Asian, European, or more traditional regional US foods, but I always find myself drawn to either Asian or Italian cooking. One day its chicken parmesan with ziti and homemade sauce, the next day its Korean BBQ beef, rice, and broccoli. Other times I will fuse the two together creating something I never even thought of before. Sticky rice goes with just about anything and for example often I use it as a replacement for the crust that is found in a chicken pot pie recipe. Yes really.. Just make your pot pie base like normal ie:  creamy stock, vegetables, onion, garlic, pepper, and chicken. Instead of putting that base into a crust and baking it, just place it hot over sticky rice…and there you have it!. a creamy, vegetable chicken, mock risotto like meal. Yum yum.

To me food is a way to show how much you care about those around you, and this feeling is probably true for all cultures around the world. I often find that I feel so privileged to be part of an AMWF relationship because I am able to enjoy the foods that represent a culture(s), its history, and an experience that I would otherwise have not considered.

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3 Responses to Blending Eastern and Western Foods

  1. Albert says:

    Interesting article. I find that food is one of those great things in life that brings people from different cultures together. As an asian male, the Food Network is one of the very few shows here in America that I enjoy watching, simply because they treat members of every race with such high regard =]

  2. AMWF Love says:

    This is so true for my Caucasian friends. They stay away from the jelly-like substances for textural purposes, maybe with the exception of sashimi when we go for Japanese. Growing up in an Chinese family, it is very typical to eat out at Chinese restaurants for Sunday night dinner. Perhaps I became accustomed to the jelly-textures. I do enjoy eating cold jellyfish salad a lot actually!

    – Brian

  3. Sarah says:

    Jelly textured? My boyfriend is from the south of China, I don’t think we have ever eaten any jelly textured food, He usually cooks pork or fish dishes or soups. Sometimes we combine eastern and western dishes together like pasta and stir fried vegetables. or lasagna with Chinese spices

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