5 Underrated National Cuisines

9 Dec

Wherever you go in the world, there’s often at least some degree of international cuisine. Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and Japanese restaurants are ubiquitous throughout the world’s cities. This is for a reason: they are the world’s greatest national cuisines. They all have very good combinations of flavors, a variety of dishes, and ingredients that vary from region to region of their home country.

I think that many national cuisines, however, are still underrated and yet to be discovered by the world at large. These are five nations that have cuisines which I think deserve greater recognition.


1. Hungarian




To quote countless travel books, you’re unlikely to go hungry in Hungary. Hungarian cuisine is varied, hearty, and bursting with flavor. The iconic dish is Goulash, served in a soup form in its home country, unlike in some of the neighboring countries where it is served as a stew. There are many other dishes too though, many of which make use of Paprika, which Hungary is known for.

Many travelers consider Hungary to have Central Europe’s best cuisine. It is a major standout among the meaty, hearty, but bland cuisines of the region as a whole. The world outside of Europe, however, has yet to discover this cuisine.


For Hungarian recipes, look at http://www.junemeyer.com/recipes.html

2. Nigerian


I haven’t had much Nigerian food in my life. I’ve only eaten once at a Nigerian restaurant, but I loved the food. Upon further examination through various online sources, however, I think Nigerian food deserves far greater recognition. The food is generally starchy, spicy, has a lot of flavor, and features lots of variation from region to region. Various stews and soups are common main courses, but they vary tremendously, as the different tribes traditionally used different ingredients.

Many Americans are not familiar at all with African food (besides maybe Ethiopian food in some major cities). But most importantly, it is important to recognize that, even if you don’t often see African restaurants, Africa is a huge continent with a wide variety of cuisines. No other continent gets treated as a singular culture or place to the degree Africa does. In reality, Africa is the most culturally diverse continent there is, as its cuisines show.

A great web resource for Nigerian food is http://www.allnigerianrecipes.com/

3. Indonesian


Outside of the Netherlands, it is hard to find Indonesian food, which is surprising given that Indonesia is a huge country with a hugely varied cuisine. Indonesian cuisine is generally simpler than Chinese or Indian food, but just as tasty in my opinion. Like some of the other cuisines on this list, it varies tremendously from region to region. What is found in Bali is very different than what is found in Borneo. Of the dishes that can be found all over Indonesia, however, the most prominent is Nasi Goreng, Indonesian style fried rice.

A good resource online is http://indochef.com/

4. Cambodian



Thai food is well known across the West, and Vietnamese food is increasingly so. Lesser known is Cambodian food. The Cambodian cuisine, like those of Thailand and Vietnam, has a huge variety of tasty dishes, including many noodle dishes. Fish Amok, a type of curry cooked in leaves, is a well known dish. A variety of Cambodian dishes also make use of insects, which is exciting for adventurous eaters. But those with a more conventional appetite are also well covered.

A good online resource for Cambodian food is http://www.khmerkromrecipes.com/

5. Brazilian


In the United States, Brazilian cuisine may be more somewhat common than some of the other cuisines on this list. However, it still doesn’t get nearly as much attention as Mexican cuisine. Brazilian cuisine is extremely variable from region to region, but a unifying national dish is Feijoada (pictured above), a delicious meat stew. As in many Latin American countries, rice and beans are key ingredients.

A good online resource for Brazilian food is http://easybrazilianrecipes.com/


THE BOTTOM LINE: Just because you don’t see restaurants for many countries’ cuisines doesn’t mean those countries have no cuisine. Many countries cuisines have yet to be discovered by the world outside their home region. This list is of only five cuisines, and there are still plenty of other cuisines that have yet to catch on in the globalized cities of the developed world.


Sources: all pictures from wikipedia.

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