Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lost In Translation

A lot of things lose their spin when they come to America. British humor. French attitude. This applies to food too. What makes for good eats in the mother country could induce gagging here in the States. Many dishes have to be adapted to fit our tastes.

Authentic Chinese and Italian are not what we're used to here in America. Real Chinese cooking doesn't have the sweet sauces that we clamor for. Also the dishes tend not to be as spiced up as what we're accustomed to eating. Some of them are just a little too bland, relying on the meats or vegetables' tastes. That also brings us to veggies. The Chinese are big on them. Our versions are not. While the real deal is laden with bok choi, tomatoes and Chinese broccoli , ours have sliver s of carrots, pieces of florets and wafer thin slices of water chestnuts. Italian cooking again is much different in translation too. Mention ziti to my cousins in Piedmont and you'll get a dumbfounded look. Yet it's a staple of Italian American restaurants here. Most Italian American dishes are from Naples (most of the immigrants from that region came from there). It took a while for the cuisine from other regions to become better known . Still even Italian Americans may not know what salsa verde is and what it's served with (usually with beef tongue) or have had stuffed onions which is a favorite in the North. These are typically Italian specialties but have yet to make it to American tables.There are several other cuisines such as Belgian or French that get lost in translation.

Sometimes what works in one country gets a makeover in America. Like the immigrants themselves who work hard to fit in, native cuisines also becomes remade . Somehow it all gets lost in translation and the original recipe is diminished

No comments: