Share about cuisines less familiar to most Americans

First, there are those cuisines that have, at least in part, penetrated into pretty much all sectors of America-- maybe, Italian, Mexican, and Chinese?

Then there are those that are fairly well-known to more urban people and those who eat out often-- Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Greek, “Middle Eastern”, French, Spanish, etc.

Finally there are those that are still somewhat obscure to many but seem to be gaining in popularity and prevalence-- Ethiopian, Afghani, Russian, Cambodian, etc.

Obviously, these characterizations should be taken with an intense grain of salt; they’re colored by my own experiences and will differ a lot depending on the location and the cultural background of the person. Also, it assumes a certain Angloness, I think, which I’m uncomfortable with (and, personally, am not), but I think it’s safe to say that the average, say, Vietnamese-American is also probably more familiar with Mexican food than with Ethiopian food*. So anyway, the above is just a rough guideline-- if you feel that Chinese food is extremely exotic while Afghani food is a staple for most Americans, feel free to proceed according to your own feelings.

What I want is to hear about the other cuisines! Those that most of us may not be familiar with. So tell us about that killer Ainu appetizer or the amazing things Angolan people do with their vegetables.
*Also, this is obviously America-centric-- unfortunately, to be more inclusive would make the topic basically meaningless.

I like ethiopian food! That sourdough bread/plate/utensil is yummy, along with the nicely spiced meats and veggies.

Those afghani leek ravioli (aushak?) are pretty nifty too. Yogurt, ground beef and mint sauce! Wow!

I wish I could get indonesian rijstafel a little closer to my home.

I once saw a tibetian restaurant, and I still kick myself for not making a point of trying it.

I’d also like to try iranian food, too. I made one of their egg dishes at home, and it was pretty yummy, despite not having all the correct spices.

I was once in a korean restaurant so authentic that I couldn’t read the menu or understand the server. I ended up with big green leaves to wrap around a hunk of flattend meat which I also filled with my choice of about 12 different herbs and spices, one of which was kimchee. The rest were quite varied, and definitely not kimchee. I was given a tinsnips to cut the meat. Tasty but confusing.

How about a good filipino restaurant? I don’t believe I’ve ever run across one. Gimmee some of those fermented unborn duck eggs, yeah! (well, maybe not)

Nigerian food like dundu (think french fries but made with yams), fufu (giant wheat and yam dumpling served with chicken and peanut stew), and egusi (a stew of melon seeds, red meats, chicken, spinach, and seafood) was also delightful. Finished off with sweet yam pie!

Uzbeki is food is quite good. Its a mix of russian peasant food (borscht and chicken kiev) and middle eastern food.
There’s a restaurant I stumbled upon by accident on Sunset and La Brea in Hollywood.

Haitian food is awesome. I went to a great place in Brooklyn, where I had grilled goat, and the best plaintains, along with rice and beans served family style. There was a Haitian family having a birthday party 2 tables over. When the waitress asked if we’d like anything else, I jokingly said,“is there any more birthday cake left?” Didn’t she then bring over 3 pieces of Haitian birthday cake for us to share? Amazing cake, to end a delicious meal.

I am also a big fan of the Ethiopian food. That bread is the best.

There is a Tibetian restaurant in St. Paul, Minnesota, but I’ve never been…and all that other stuff probably was kimchee, which is endless in its variations and not limited to cabbage, garlic and chili…

There is also a Kurdish restaurant in St. Paul that is quite good (very Middle Eastern). Minneapolis used to have the only Sri Lankan restaurant in the country - as I remember, everything was VERY curry hot…the guys used to go and see who could eat it hottest - a bunch of white Minnesotans with very red faces and sweat dripping from their noses. Minneapolis has an Etheopian restaurant (wasn’t too fond of it, myself).

On the European-but-unusual end, we have a Spanish restaurant that is quite good (haven’t been in years now).

Korean food is fantastic. There was a little hole-in-the-wall place on Fireweed in Anchorage back in the 70s that was wonderful. My roommate and I were usually the only round-eyes in the place.

I second Qad’s love of rijstafel. For that matter, how about a pushcart on the corner serving pickled halibut with onions? Makes a great break from hotdogs, although on the downside your breath will peel paint for the rest of the day no matter what you do.

Ukrainian food is quite yummy. I know of a little deli in the Granville Island Market in Vancouver that serves some great dumplings.

The SF Bay Area has a reasonably substantial Filipino population and with at least some Filipino restaurants, including several buffet-style places. There was even one called something like Lumpia Extraordinaire in Oakland that specialized in dozens of varieties of lumpia.

I love lumpia ( basically Filipino take on springrolls ). Adobo ain’t bad either ( sort of a pork stew ) abd they have a noodle dish vaguely akin to Pad Thai which is mighty tasty. My Filipino co-worker is off at the moment or I’d get him to run down a list of common dishes :).

  • Tamerlane

Oh and there’s a Nepalese place near my house that I’ve been meaning to try for a couple of years, but they used to have odd hours. Someday, though.

  • Tamerlane

Have you tried the korean restaurant in Desert Hot Springs? That’s the one I had the adventure at!

How’s the jalapeno summer sausage? Try it yet?

I think it’s going to be part of breakfast Sunday. The omelette idea sounded interesting.

Plov! That’s about all I remember culinarily from my trip to Uzbekistan. It wasn’t terribly interesting, but the kebabs were really good.

What I do love from the former USSR which is not too well-known is Georgian cuisine. Chakhobili, khachapurri, lobio, etc… The food usually features a very interesting combination of fresh herbs. Most common are cilantro/coriander, mint, summer savory, dill, and basil – all often mixed together in the same dish. I’ve never come across quite the same combination in any other cuisine. There’s a certain blend of Turkish and Russian in the food, yet flourishes that are distinctly Georgian.

I have to say, I love Cambodian food, which was easily obtained in urban New England, but is not so accessible in the Pacific Northwest. I’ve been looking for a Cambodian place in Portland for a while, but everywhere I’m referred turns out to be Vietnamese.

As for Ethiopian food, I like a nice bowl of foofoo with palm oil.

There is a Peruvian restaurant in Indy that I need to try.

It’s called injera. It is good, isn’t it? My Bulgarian teacher told my class a story about how she used to be a server for a catering company when she was a college student in Berlin, and once was hired to work a party at the Ethiopian embassy. It was all Ethiopian food, and there was not a single eating utensil in the building. A number of snooty German attendees absolutely refused to eat with their hands, forcing some of the embassy employees to go out searching for eating utensils. Apparently it was quite late and the stores were closed, so they ended up borrowing forks and knives from restaurants.

Anyway, I am a big fan of Ethiopian too. I’ll let you know when I find an Ethiopian restaurant in Bulgaria. (No, really, I’ll post a thread in MPSIMS entitled “OMG I FOUND ETHIOPIAN FOOD IN BULGARIA!!!” because it will be that big a deal.)

Bulgarian food is actually very good. It’s somewhat similar to Greek food. My favorite dish is chushki byurek, which is sort of like rellenos - it’s peppers stuffed with seasoned rice and baked. Delicious!

Cape Cuisine (as distinct from other South African cuisine) features such delights as bobotie , waterblommetjiebredie, Braaied Snoek and for dessert, some koeksisters or a slice of melktert or some malva puuding . There’s a heavy Malay influence on curries (often with dried fruit in them) and spice use in general, and the other bases are Dutch and French Heugenot.

I’ve never heard of a Cape restaurant outside SA, though.

Do people in the Southern USA, or at least Florida, eat conch salad and conch fritters? That is part of the Bahamian cuisine.

Riijstafel is pretty hard to find in the USA-there used to be an Indonesian restaurant nearby, but it closed up. Generqlly, it has to be well done(everything freshly made, not reheated) to be good-otherwise its pretty bad. The best I’ve had was in the Netherlands, in a small restaurant in Eindhoven (the Pom Lai). I’ve had Tibetan-it is like Indian, and ASlbanian 9a lighter version of Greek). I want to try Russian cuisine-I’m told its good.
German food is excellent, but unless you live near german-americans, it is pretty hard to find. I love weinder shnitzel, but its almost impossible to find in the Boston, MA area.

Which seems so odd. I’m in Minnesota, so German food is NOT hard to find…better out in the small towns or deep in Wisconsin than in the Twin Cities, but there are a few decent German restaurants in the Twin Cities. In a city the size of Boston, you’d think between the Irish pubs, Italian restaurants and seafood places, there would be room for ONE German restaurant.

I think you had the wrong plov. Plov is sort of like chili in that everyone thinks their own recipe is the only “authentic” one, as you can see here. If you’re ever in NY, there are a ton of Bukharan Jewish places in Queens, near my dad’s house. The plov recipe I use is pretty much like this one, except with safflower oil instead of olive, and I have no idea where to find the appropriate kind of rice, so I use basmati. If you want to try it with barberries, I found a Persian grocery that sells them (I can’t remember what it’s called, but it’s on Clark St. between Foster and Bryn Mawr). You can find them in the refrigerator.

You may be glad to know that there is a place in Chicago to get Georgian food, but you have to know to ask - Turkish Cuisine & Bakery. I found out totally by accident - I host a monthly Russian language dinner through a local NGO, and we had it at the Turkish place. One of the regulars showed up early and saw a bunch of swarthy, not terribly Slavic-looking guys in the back speaking Russian, and so he went up to talk to them. He asked where they were from, and they were Georgian. Being a lover of Georgian food as well (he worked in Russia for several years), he asked if they knew where he could find good Georgian food in Chicago. “Right here!” they responded - apparently the Turkish owner’s wife is Georgian, and on request she will make all sorts of Georgian dishes - she told us that with proper notice, she will do a full-on Georgian banquet. Be forewarned, though - the place fills up with former Soviets on Saturday nights, with cheesy synthesizer music, disco ball, and all.

I got addicted to Tibetan food in grad school in Bloomington, Indiana, of all places - apparently the Dalai Lama’s brother is a retired Tibetan Studies professor there, and he opened a kickass restaurant there. One of the few culinary things I miss about Bloomington is momos, though I’m guessing they didn’t make theirs with yak meat.

Tamerlane, if you’re around, any idea what I can expect at a Serbian pig roast? I’m not entirely sure how this happened, but I’m going to one tonight.