Flavor Sells The Multicultural Palate

With global communications, travel, and food imports, our "world of food" is more connected than ever, offering more ethnic and regional foods. But not that long ago, bagels, pita bread, pastas of every shape, and tortillas were considered trendy, ethnic foods— and salsa was a new flavor experience! Today these foods and many other ethnic foods are now supermarket mainstream.

What sparks interest in and availability of ethnic and regional foods? Perhaps a sense of curiosity and adventure as well as a desire to learn—and the search for nutritious, flavorful alternatives. Celebrity chefs entertain by preparing ethnic foods, even taking us via media to global markets and kitchens. Travel, cooking classes, Web sites, magazines, newspapers, cook books, and restaurants expose us to unique flavors: ingredients, seasonings, and dishes. Supermarkets stock their shelves with ethnic and regionally inspired foods, partly to meet the demand from diverse populations, partly to match flavor trends.

As a result, consumers have more food variety, food combinations, and ways to eat for flavor, health, and pleasure. Many ethnic and regional cuisines offer health benefits, especially those that focus on grains, vegetables, legumes, and fruits. For many nutritious, good-tasting dishes in ethnic cuisines, see "Vegetarian Dishes in the Global Kitchen" in chapter 20.

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