How To Expand Your Palate And Discover New Cuisines

According to research by the National Restaurant Association, 80% of consumers eat an ethnic meal once a month, and 17% of Americans eat ethnic cuisines seven or more times a month. If you’re eating the same old dinner every day, maybe it’s time to join your fellow Americans and expand your palate by discovering new cuisines.  

We all have certain foods and recipes we like to eat, and many of us get stuck eating the same meals week after week. You're missing out on tasty new foods if you have a few favorite meals and don't introduce yourself to ethnic cuisines, healthy snacks and other foods.

If you live in a large or medium-sized city, you’re probably surrounded by restaurants with every cuisine imaginable. You are probably familiar with Chinese, Italian and Mexican cuisines, but you’re missing out if you don’t try other ethnic food.  

discover new cuisines

Here are a few examples of other cuisines, and some of the dishes that can help expand your palate.

Greek Cuisine

Classic Greek recipes include Spanakopita, or Spinach Pie, which is a staple at many old-fashioned diners.  It is made with fresh spinach, ricotta cheese, olive oil, nutmeg and green onions wrapped in phyllo pastry sheets. (Phyllo is a baking dough that is stretched into sheets.)

Moussaka, an eggplant or potato-based recipe, also includes minced meat (usually ground beef. It is similar to Italian lasagna in its look and preparation. The meat filling and layers of eggplant or potatoes are topped with a sauce made of milk, flour, salt, and pepper, though the ingredients may vary.

Tzatziki, a sauce used with grilled meats, can also be used as a dip. It is made with strained or diluted yogurt and mixed with garlic, olive oil, salt, and cucumbers. It's served cold and may contain additional ingredients, such as lemon juice or parsley.  

For dessert, try baklava, a sweet pastry made of layers of phyllo filled with chopped nuts, syrup and honey. 

Thai Cuisine

Thai foods are known for their spicy, aromatic qualities. Dishes include pan-fried noodles, which are made with flat noodles and pork, beef, chicken or vegetables.

Roasted duck salad consists of sliced roasted duck with chili paste, red onion, tomato, and cilantro. A simple Thai salad isn't much different from an everyday American-style salad, but it contains peanut sauce dressing instead of Thousand Islands of other standard dressings.

Pad Thai, a stir-fried noodle dish, may contain chicken, shrimp or vegetables. There are many variations on Pad Thai sauce, but it may be made with chicken stock, rice vinegar, lime juice, brown sugar and fish sauce.

Spicy curry dishes are a staple of Thai cuisine. Curry is a spice mixture that comes in paste, powder or cube form. It may consist of ground-up ginger, lemongrass or other herbs, and the intensity of the spice varies. You can enjoy Red Curry, with beef, pork, chicken, shrimp or tofu spiced with basil and bell pepper with coconut milk. Green and red curries contain the same ingredient choices.

Indian Cuisine

Indian cuisine is as spicy as Thai food and has many health benefits since many dishes contain turmeric. Well-known Indian dishes include chicken tikka masala, which is chicken marinated in yogurt and spices, and then served in a tomato cream sauce.   

Naan is a flatbread made of water, yeast, yogurt milk and cooking fat. It is served with many Indian main courses.

Red Lentil Curry can be served as a main dish if you’re a vegetarian. It is made with red lentils, onion, turmeric, cumin, garlic, ginger, tomato puree and chili powder.

Meats or vegetables may be cooked in a clay or metal oven called a tandoor. This slow style of marinating food over a charcoal fire gives dishes a spicy, grilled taste.  Favorite dishes prepared in this manner include tandoori chicken, samosa, (a fried dish made with peas, potatoes, onions or other fillings) and even tandoori tiger prawns.

Other cuisines you probably haven't thought of include Scottish (haggis, the country's national dish, is made with sheep's heart, liver, and lungs), Austrian, (goulash, breaded cutlets called Weiner Schnitzel and dumplings called Knödel.  

Sample New Cuisines with a Subscription Box

Subscription boxes are an inexpensive way to sample new cuisines or experiment with new recipes. You can receive subscription boxes a few times a week, weekly or once a month. Other delivery schedules and membership programs are available for some boxes.

People who don’t have time to find recipes and buy ingredients, but love to cook, can order a subscription box from Plated. This meal preparation kit provides you with recipes for two to four meals a week. You can choose recipes geared for two, three or four servings.

With Plated, you'll receive recipes and ingredients for dishes including chopped kale salad, seared pork chops with cider gravy, roasted butternut squash soup and seared steak and potatoes. High-quality ingredients and easy-to-follow recipes make this an excellent subscription box for many people.

You can try a subscription box full of healthy treats if you want to avoid eating salty or sweet snacks from the vending machine at work. Healthy treat boxes are available in plans for individuals or for the whole office. Healthy snacks include trail mix, nuts, seeds, kale chips. Specialty juices, smoothies and soft drinks without sugar or artificial sweeteners like high-fructose corn syrup are also featured in some of these services.

People who like meat and potatoes can subscribe to a carnivore box, with cured meats from all over the world. In addition to pork, bacon, and ham, you can also sample terrine, a French meat similar to pâté, and made with coarsely chopped game meat like hare or pheasant.

As you can tell, subscription boxes are significantly cheaper than going out to a trendy restaurant three times a day. You can expand your palate without dealing with servers, tips and long waits at busy eateries.

Vegetarian and Healthy Cuisines

Even if you watch what you eat and avoid processed foods, you may still miss out on new and delicious vegan, vegetarian or semi-vegetarian recipes if you're not a foodie. Chefs and restaurants are always devising variations on recipes using fruits, veggies, and other healthy ingredients.

It’s not always easy to prepare good-tasting, veggie-oriented dishes at home, and finding a skilled vegetarian chef or high-rated restaurant can be challenging.

Subscription food delivery services may solve this problem by offering delicious options, which may be based on the customer’s food preferences, or be designed to help them lose weight.

Some favorite vegetarian and vegan recipes from across the U.S. include Emerald Rice Cakes, a vegan dish made with squash purée, unrefined sugar rice cakes, orange juice, lime juice and cauliflower florets. Vegan mac and cheese, made with soy milk and nutritional yeast, is a dairy-free version of the traditional comfort food.

Sometimes it's hard to find tasty, meat-free dishes. Many vegetarian recipes rely on spices and several ingredients (seeds, nuts, two or three vegetables) to provide taste and nutrition. That's why sampling dishes from delivery services or established restaurants is essential - so you can find out what you like without wasting time on sub-standard dishes.

Candy, Carnivores and Other Specialties

Expanding your palate isn't exclusive to vegetarian and ethnic cuisines. You can indulge in new sweets, seafood, and cuts of meat. There's a lot more to ice cream, candy, and cookies than what you find in the supermarket aisle. Unusual sweets range from expensive sundaes to penny candy.

Meat and poultry eaters who crave something new can explore options besides beef, pork, chicken, and turkey. Most people have heard of venison, quail and pheasant dishes but never eaten them. Expensive cuts of beef include Black Angus, Kobe and cote de boeuf.

Many people have special dietary needs, and it can be hard to find tasty foods that are gluten-free or appropriate for people with diabetes. You can find gluten-free dishes in some vegan restaurants. People with dietary restriction or allergies need to know what they can eat and can't eat, and not rely on servers or chefs to have the same knowledge.

People with dietary restrictions learn how to enjoy tasty foods by checking out health websites and magazines. Many online sources offer a list of appropriate ingredients and recipes.

Eating a Variety of Cuisines Can Affect Your Health

Getting stuck in an eating rut does more than rob your taste buds new experiences. When you don't eat a variety of foods, you can also deny yourself essential nutrients needed for good health. Some spices, like garlic and cayenne pepper, help lower blood pressure. Indian, Thai and Italian cuisines consist of dishes with many of these spices.

Recipes popular in the Mediterranean include lots of fish, olive oil, nuts, and seeds. These ingredients are known to help with weight loss and improve the cardiovascular system.  

Eating a wide variety of fruits supplies you with Vitamin C and fiber, and broccoli, spinach and kale supply magnesium to keep muscles healthy. Many Americans have a magnesium deficiency. Include more recipes containing these ingredients to stay healthy, or eat raw fruits and or cooked vegetables as a side dish. 

Final Thoughts

Sampling new foods can expand your palate and introduce you to an entire world of cuisines you may not have even been aware of. If you’re tired of the same meal types and are stuck in a food rut, consider trying a few of our ideas. You might be surprised at what you like. 

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