We recently shared what this year’s National Nutrition Month® theme — Celebrate a World of Flavors — means to SAGE’s Dietitians. (If you missed it, check out the blog here!) To continue our National Nutrition Month® celebration, we asked our Director of Menu Development Rob Coutu to dive deeper into the culinary side of this theme. Below, he shares some insights into different cuisines and popular dishes from around the world.
While Haitian food mostly blends Creole and French cultures, the cuisine is also influenced by Africa, Spain, and the United States. You’ll find starchy favorites, like rice, corn, millet, yams, and beans, in Haitian cuisine, often paired with meats and fish. Vinegar, sugar, and hot peppers also accompany these foods to mix in the flavors of Creole cuisine. Haiti’s national dish is Riz et Pois (rice and beans).
Although Haiti declared independence from France in 1804, French cheeses, desserts, and breads are still an important part of the country’s cuisine and are generally found in local markets and stores. Haiti is well known for its coffee, which grows wild alongside cocoa, coconuts, avocados, oranges, and limes.
In the Western world, the Indian cuisine that’s become so popular is largely from the country’s northern region (think: rich curries and thick sauces paired with naan or paratha). But did you know that the various regions of India each has its own unique cuisine?
Being a coastal region, southern India features seafood, fruit, vegetables, nuts, and saffron. Additionally, the southern area uniquely features curries with a drier consistency. Eastern Indian fare is strongly influenced by Chinese and Mongolian cuisines. The region is known for its desserts, like rasgulla, which is Indian cottage cheese and semolina dough rolled into a ball and cooked in a light sugar syrup. The cuisine in the western region is very diverse, ranging from a variety of vegetarian dishes and chutneys in Gujarat to a unique blend of Portuguese and Indian culinary elements in Goa.
Due to its location, layout of trading routes, and history of colonialism, Filipino cuisine is fusion food at its finest. You’ll experience tastes from over 100 different cultures, including China, Spain, Portugal, India, and Japan.
Sukang iloco, a vinegar derived from sugarcane, is a common ingredient with many uses, including braising, glazing, and adding it as a condiment. Bananas, plantains, and coconuts are also used in various ways in the Philippines. Popular cuisines here include various pork dishes, such as lechón (whole roasted pig), and adobo, a braised chicken or beef meal that’s marinated in garlic, vinegar, oil, and soy sauce, or cooked dry.
Guatemala is home to four cultural groups: Maya, Ladino, Xinca, and Garifuna. Each has their own unique culinary traditions and dishes. Corn tortillas, rice, beans, and meats are everyday staples and enjoyed throughout the country.
Some popular dishes in Guatemala include kak’ik, a turkey soup flavored with spicy chiles; mole, a chocolate and chile sauce that’s often paired with plantains for dessert; and pepián, a chicken stew with chiles, tomatoes, sesame, and pumpkin seeds.