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Ethnic Foods

I love trying all sort of different foods, so today I will blog about ethnic foods. If you’ve just started following me, you might not be aware that I’m doing a food challenge called Taste the World. That means I’m cooking a dish (or a few) from each part of the world. As the cuisines are pretty similar to neighbouring countries, I’ve paired a few countries to reach a total of 119 to make recipes from. So far I’ve made 38 and I still have 81 to do. It’s been amazing, as I’ve tried some recipes I loved so much that I’ve made again and again.

One of the amazing aspects of multiculturalism is the food diversity. There are a few shops I buy from international ingredients, spices, and even ready made foods. In the next picture you can see one of these food shopping hauls.

Ethnic Foods

The foods you can see in the picture are: zacusca (a dip/spread made with grilled veggies), spices, aloe juice, mint tea, tapioca starch, pomegranate molasses, halva (a sesame seeds based dessert), salt roasted chickpeas, Arabic food, Arabic bread, pepper paste (similar to tomato paste), tahini, camel milk (only once, I was curious about it), roasted aubergines, pickled veggies, and wafers.

Some of these I’ve known since childhood, like zacusca and halva, others I’ve bought for many times, like tahini, pepper paste, and pickled veggies. On top of that are the new things, the ones I haven’t had before, like the Indian salt roasted chickpeas, that are so good and I’m going to buy again. I will not like all of them, but I still love trying new stuff.

If you want to try something new and you are visiting an ethnic shop, read the labels if they are translated into English. You can get something and search for how to use it at home. Don’t be afraid to ask someone from the shop details about the product you are looking at.
One time a lady was looking at spices, particularly sumac. I was buying sumac and she looked at me, but didn’t ask what can be used for, most likely as she was embarrassed to ask. I wanted to tell her, but I thought it would be pushy, so I didn’t. In the end she only got a pack of black pepper, as I saw when she paid for it in front of me at the till. If you are like that person, be more brave, ask a customer that buys what you are looking for. Buy it and see at home if you like it or not. It was a shame, as sumac, the spice she was looking at, is versatile. It is a bit lemony and it can be used on salads or sprinkled on top of houmous.

Do I get it right each time? Of course not, there are things I wouldn’t eat again because they are too salty or too fatty or because I don’t like the taste. But considering how many of these ingredients appear now on my regular shopping list, I think it is worth trying stuff out.

There are ethnic aisles in some supermarkets, depending on their location and you discover new things in there. It is easier, as all the labels are translated in English and you can pretty much know if is something you’d like to try or not. If we are in another part of the city or in another city and we are heading back home, we might stop to a supermarket and see what goodies we might find. This is how we’ve had some pretty interesting Indian desserts I haven’t heard of before seeing them on the shelves.

Do you like trying new ingredients and recipes? Are you looking for ethnic foods or are you too scared to give it a try?

6 Comment

  1. I should definitely add more ethnic foods and spices to my diet, it’s a wonderful way to discover other cultures through what they eat. I never go into those shops because I’m not sure how to navigate there, but that really shouldn’t stop me and I should follow your advice instead and just ask! 🙂

    Julia x

  2. This is a great challenge! I used to have several international markets round the corner from where I lived in East London and I loved the versatility of what I could buy there! In fact, there are several near my school so I must go and buy some Tahini for Hummus!
    Have you tried Tempeh?

    1. I bought Tempeh from the supermarket and I loved it. It is so good. 🙂

  3. That’s a wonderful challenge and it will be a delicious one too! I love eating various ethnic foods and not averse to trying, but less courageous about tackling them in the kitchen. I suppose it’s because to do them, one often needs special ingredients that are either difficult to find or expensive when you’re not sure. I’ll be curious to follow your challenge!

  4. I totally love what you have done and I am not as food adventous as you! This sounds like great fun! You should try asia food soon!

  5. I’ve gotten much braver about trying new things. As you said, I don’t always get it right, but at least I’ve tried and sometimes found new favorites! I have that same brand of pomegranate molasses on my shelf.

    I checked out your Taste the World page and am glad to see you’ve made several things from the US. Different parts of the country have quite varying types of food.

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