Ethnic Foods – What Are They, Really?


The other day a friend, who is also into gourmet and ethnic food cooking, asked me to list what I considered as the Top 10 Ethnic Foods. And it gave me pause, because I had to stop and think:

Just what is “ethnic” food, really?

If I were asked to define ethnic foods, I finally came to think, I would first have to take into account all the ethnic food types, the many ethnic food groups, and really, when I started to think globally, the idea of being able to select, prioritize, and list ethnic foods in a “Top 10” category became impossible.

(Image Attributed to Author: Urnanabha)

Why, you ask?

Because what is “ethnic” food to me, living in The Great Lakes Region of the USA, is not going to be the same as someone living in Asia, or Africa, or Australia, or South America, heck—even someone from another region within my own country would consider some of the foods I eat regularly as “ethnic” and visa versa for me.

How about referring to The Random House Dictionary’s definition of “ethnic”:

“Pertaining to or characteristic of a people, especially a group (ethnic group) sharing a common and distinctive culture, religion, language, or the like.”

So here again, it is important to remember that what you or I might consider as ethnic will depend on where we come from and what particular culture, religion, language, or the like that we share with others in our specific culture.

If an Englishman were to sit down to breakfast and be served a typical breakfast I might have,consisting of scrambled eggs, hashed brown potatoes, Canadian bacon, pancakes, toast and jam, and coffee, he/she would consider that as an authentic ethnic American food experience.

ethnic foods

(Photo Attributed to Author: Carlos Menendez, San Juan)

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