taste

Catering to American Tastes and Travel

8 FLAVORS OF AMERICAN CUISINE: Based on a list of common flavors from historical cookbooks mentioned in American books from 1796 to 2000, eight popular and enduring flavors emerged: black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha.

  • Vanilla is here thanks to a 12-year-old slave who figured out a botanical secret no one else knew.
  • Chili powder spread across the country because of entrepreneurial Texan-Mexican women who fed soldiers and tourists — and a clever German immigrant who was looking for a culinary shortcut.
  • Sriracha has seen a meteoric rise in popularity since its debut in 1980. Sales of bottled Sriracha exceeded $60 million in 2014. A Vietnamese refugee combined elements of French and Thai cuisine, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles to make a hot sauce produced entirely in Southern California.

Japanese Chemist Dr. Kikunae Ikeda is credited with discovering MSG. Peter Van Hyning

AMERICAN TOURISTS: Don’t compliment an American’s girth. Answer their children’s questions. Fill your museum tour with fun facts. Because American tourists tend to want a personal connection to the guide, and expect the tour to be interactive and entertaining, foreign guides need special training.

  • GUYANA: some rural guides would give overweight Americans a thumbs-up and say things like, “Ah, packing it on — good deal!” as a compliment, equating an ample waistline with abundant wealth. Americans seem to say “thank you” for everything guides do, a custom that make the local people feel indebted to them.
  • UGANDA: Americans often want to become friends with their guides, and so they will ask questions about the guides’ families, education and homes to get to know them better. In Uganda, trainees sometimes ask, “Why is this person I don’t even know asking me so many personal questions?”
  • ITALY: The guide might need to approach the American tourist not so much as a valued family member but as a less cultured second cousin. It’s easy for a guide in Italy to reference a painter like Bellini or an architect like Borromini. Not so if the clients are Americans, whose knowledge of the Italian masters might stop at Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. While Italians prefer an “academic” tour, Americans want a tour that is “not only informative but also entertaining, filled with stories and fun facts.”

Curated by CLAI

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Food Writer Who Can’t Taste, 3 Engagements, Sleep, and Jim Beam

Curated by CLAI

FOOD WRITER WHO CAN’T TASTE: To not smell the world around me, to not discern tastes, was horrifying. I’d lost all memories of tastes. My first mouthful of bacon was “So tasty!” But each encounter with bacon was like eating it for the first time. It might have been wonderful to be thrilled over and over again except that I felt incredibly stupid. (NYTIMES)

Baklava in Istanbul, Turkey

Baklava in Istanbul, Turkey (Credits: Christine Lai)

LOVE PROPOSAL: Don’t count on anyone else to bring beauty and adventure into my life. The kids are grown; my time and money are my own. Do what I want to do. Go where I want to go. Buy what I want to buy. Be engaged by myself. (NYTIMES)

SLEEP seems like a perfectly fine waste of time. Why would our bodies evolve to spend close to one-third of our lives completely out of it, when we could instead be doing something useful or exciting? As your body sleeps, your brain is quite actively playing the part of mental janitor: It’s clearing out all of the junk that has accumulated as a result of your daily thinking. (NYTIMES)

GOOD BYE JIM BEAM: Iconic American bourbon Jim Bean and Maker’s Mark to be sold to Suntory of Japan for $13.6 Billion. Few spirits are as American as bourbon: Jim Beam harkens back to 1795 in Kentucky. Suntory was founded 115 years ago. (NYTIMES)