Cultural cuisines are deeply influenced by the ingredients available in each area. Your local supermarket may stock tomatoes from California, avocados from the Mexican coast, and oranges from Florida or Spain. But even though these foods are all eaten in your local city, they will taste different because of the diverse regions where they were grown. The same goes for spices too-every cuisine & food culture has their own signature combination of dishes that are not found anywhere else!
In this article, we’ll be discussing how our cuisines are deeply influenced by the ingredients available in each area as well as what those common ingredients might be for a particular cuisine.
One quick note – this list is by no means comprehensive. Additionally, every cuisine has its own caveats, traditions, nouveau fusion, and subcultures. For example, our team is from the Deep South in the USA and cannot emphasize enough the divisions over “southern BBQ” – among other things. This list is purely inspirational to help you find or try something new or simply get a sense of the wide variety of food cultures around the world.
Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, this site earns from qualifying purchases. Thank you!
Southeast Asian cuisine is known for its bright and bold flavors, which are often achieved by using a combination of chili peppers, lemongrass, ginger, and shrimp paste. The most common ingredients in Southeast Asian dishes include: rice, coconut milk, fish sauce, tamarind paste, and Thai basil.
Malay cuisine is known for its use of a variety of fresh produce and seafood. The most common ingredients in Malay dishes include: shrimp paste, pineapple chunks, coriander, chili peppers, and eggplant.
Cambodian cuisine is known for its use of fresh produce to create a variety of interesting cooking techniques. The most common ingredients in Cambodian dishes include: noodles made from rice flour or mung beans, fish sauce, soy sauce/galangal/turmeric/lemongrass.
Filipino cuisine is known for its use of a variety of seafood as well as rice dishes. The most common ingredients in Filipino dishes include: shrimp, squid/calamari/cuttlefish, fish sauce, coconut milk, and garlic.
Indonesian cuisine is known for its use of a variety of seafood as well as rice dishes. The most common ingredients in Indonesian dishes include: shrimp, squid/calamari/cuttlefish, fish sauce, coconut milk, and garlic.
Some popular Indonesian dishes include: nasi goreng (fried rice), mie goreng (fried noodles), rendang (beef stew), and satay (chicken or beef skewers).
Thai cuisine is known for its use of fragrant spices as well as its focus on fresh vegetables and seafood. The most common ingredients in Thai food dishes include: lemongrass, shrimp paste, coconut milk, fish sauce, and lime juice.
Vietnamese cuisine is known for its fresh vegetables as well as its use of fish sauce. The most common ingredients in Vietnamese dishes include: rice noodles, rice vinegar, bean sprouts, cilantro, lemongrass.
East Asian cuisine is known for its use of light soy sauce-based condiments, generally in combination with fresh vegetables or seafood. The most common ingredients in East Asian dishes include: rice, tofu, scallions, ginger, garlic, sesame oil.
Usually, East Asian meals are served with a bowl of rice on the side and meats omitted from the dishes themselves. This may be due to the prominence of Buddhist principles in certain East Asian cultures or it could be because of Japan’s traditional emphasis on the purity of the five basic flavors (sourness, bitterness, sweetness, pungency/spiciness, salty).
Chinese cuisine is known for its complex flavors and use of unique ingredients like soy sauce, rice wine, and sesame oil (and many stir fry sauces). The most common ingredients in Chinese dishes include: eggs, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, scallions, tofu/seitan/mock meats , rice or wheat flour (for frying), mushrooms of all kinds (fresh or dried). Pork features heavily along with birds such as duck. We are huge fans of a good dumpling or Chinese sausage.
Japanese cuisine is known for its emphasis on seasonal ingredients, as well as its use of umami flavors. The most common ingredients in Japanese dishes include: sushi rice, nori (seaweed), wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger.
Korean cuisine is known for its use of fermented ingredients, as well as its focus on grilled meats. The most common ingredients in Korean food dishes include: soy sauce, garlic, ginger, sesame oil, and gochujang (red chili paste).
South Asian cuisine is known for its use of spices and fresh ingredients. The most common ingredients in South Asian dishes include: rice, lentils, vegetables, and chicken or beef.
Some of the most popular South Asian dishes include: chicken tikka masala, biryani, samosas, pakora, and vindaloo.
Indian cuisine is famous for its strong use of spices, which often include cardamom, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. The most common ingredients in Indian food dishes include: lentils, chickpeas, yogurt, tomatoes, onions, and various breads.
Sri Lankan cuisine is known for its use of spices, which are present in many of the dishes. The spices include cardamom, cumin, coriander, and turmeric. The most common ingredients in Sri Lankan dishes include: lentils, chickpeas, yogurt, tomatoes, onions. Other common ingredients are various types of bread.
Nepalese cuisine is known for its use of spices, as well as its focus on fresh vegetables. The most common ingredients in Nepalese dishes include: rice, lentils, vegetables, and chicken or beef (or yak!).
Some of the most popular Nepalese dishes include: chicken tikka masala, biryani, samosas, pakora, and vindaloo.
The Middle Eastern cuisine is a large and varied group of dishes that is made up of local dishes and culinary traditions from the region. Some of their most popular dishes include: hummus, baba ghanoush, and falafel. It also includes pastries such as baklava, as well as dishes from other areas such as Indian or African food.
Arabic cuisine is known for its use of fragrant spices, as well as its focus on lamb and rice dishes. The most common ingredients in Arabic dishes include: allspice, cinnamon, cumin, mint, and parsley.
Turkish cuisine is known for its roasted meats as well as fresh vegetables and spices. The most common ingredients in Turkish dishes include: parsley, dill weed, cumin, paprika, sumac powder.
African cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, due in part to the many countries and regions that make up the continent. Staples include grains, legumes, and vegetables, which are typically cooked in a spicy or stewed sauce. Common seasonings include chili peppers, ginger, and garlic.
Ethiopian cuisine is known for its heavy use of spices and unique cooking techniques. The most common ingredients in Ethiopian dishes include: berbere spice, teff, clarified butter (niter kibbeh), lentils, collard greens, tart green apples. Goat and lamb are common meats.
Nigerian cuisine is known for its variety of flavors and spices. The most common ingredients in Nigerian dishes include: cassava flour, plantains, peanuts, chili peppers, and palm oil.
South African cuisine is known for its use of unique flavors and spices. The most common ingredients in South African dishes include: curry powder, paprika, chili powder, salt, and coriander. For meat, beef and chicken are common, though they are known for ranching ostrich.
European cuisines are known for their use of fresh produce and hearty meats like pork, beef, and chicken, but vary widely across the Mediterranean to Eastern Europe.
Mediterranean cuisine is famous for its use of fresh herbs and spices, as well as for its focus on healthy eating. The most common ingredients in Mediterranean dishes include: olive oil, tomatoes, lemons, garlic, oregano, and capers.
French cuisine is known for its rich sauces, buttery flavors, and focus on fresh produce. The most common ingredients in French dishes include: butter, cream, onions, celery, carrots, white wine, and fresh herbs.
Italian cuisine is known for its fresh seafood, thriving wine scene, and unique pasta dishes. The most common ingredients in Italian food dishes include: tomatoes or tomato paste (for sauces), olive oil, garlic, basil, parsley, and ricotta cheese.
Greek cuisine is known for its use of olive oil, wine, and fresh herbs. The most common ingredients in Greek dishes include: tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, olives, and lemon juice.
Polish cuisine is known for its use of hearty meats (like Kielbasa), as well as fresh vegetables. The most common ingredients in Polish dishes include: sauerkraut, bacon, beef, chicken thighs, tomatoes.
Spanish cuisine is known for its use of cured meats, seafood, and an emphasis on fresh produce. The most common ingredients in Spanish dishes include: paprika, olives, shrimp, anchovies, garlic, saffron.
Swedish cuisine is known for its hearty dishes as well as its focus on fish and seafood. The most common ingredients in Swedish dishes include: lingonberry jam, dill, parsley, dark rye bread, and smoked salmon.
Latin America & South America
Latin American and South American cuisine is known for its use of fresh ingredients, as well as its focus on flavor. The most common ingredients in Latin American and South American dishes include: rice, beans, chicken, beef, and pork.
Brazilian cuisine is known for its use of tropical fruits and spices. The most common ingredients in Brazilian dishes include: malagueta peppers, cilantro, coconut milk, and cassava flour.
Mexican cuisine is known for its use of chili peppers, fresh herbs, and rich flavors. The most common ingredients in Mexican food dishes include: tomatoes, onions, garlic, chili peppers, cilantro, and limes. They are famous for enchiladas, tacos, mole, and more.
Peruvian cuisine is known for its use of Aji Amarillo chili peppers, as well as its focus on fresh seafood. The most common ingredients in Peruvian dishes include: cilantro, ají amarillo paste, garlic, lime juice, and fish.
Ecuadorian cuisine is known for its use of fresh produce and hearty meats like pork, beef, and chicken. The most common ingredients in Ecuadorian dishes include: potatoes, plantains (tajaditas), avocado, rice, corn.
North American cuisine is a melting pot of flavors, influenced by the cuisines of many different cultures. The most common ingredients in North American dishes include: potatoes, corn, chicken, beef, pork, and maple syrup.
Some of the most popular North American dishes include: hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, tacos, and chicken wings.
Southern cuisine is known for its focus on comfort foods like fried chicken and biscuits. The most common ingredients in Southern dishes include: buttermilk, eggs, lemonade, butter, peaches, and cornmeal.
Cajun cuisine is known for its use of crawfish and chili peppers. The most common ingredients in Cajun dishes include: crawfish, crab legs, shrimp, green onion, garlic, celery.
Caribbean cuisine is known for its hot and spicy flavors as well as tropical fruits. The most common ingredients in Caribbean dishes include: Scotch bonnet peppers, thyme, papaya, plantains (tajaditas), and mango.
Jamaican cuisine is known for its use of exotic spices and flavors. The most common ingredients in Jamaican dishes include: allspice, thyme, Scotch bonnet peppers, ginger, and coconut milk.
Hawaiian cuisine* is known for using a variety of seafood as well as tropical fruits. The most common ingredients in Hawaiian dishes include: pineapple, coconut milk, potatoes, sweet potatoes, shrimp , squid/calamari/cuttlefish.
*Hawaiian is more related to polynesian food than North American food. But it’s been a melting pot of Japanese, Filipino, North American, and Polynesian food for a century.
Oceania & Polynesia
Food cuisines from Oceania and Polynesia are heavily influenced by colonial dishes left to change and evolve in isolation in an environment very different than European roots.
Australian cuisine is focused on using a variety of locally sourced ingredients that are often cooked over an open fire or flame grill. The most common ingredients in Australian dishes include: beef steak, potatoes, pumpkin, carrots , tomatoes. On the exotic meat front, they are a major exporter of camel and emu meat.
Polynesian cuisine includes dishes that are heavily influenced by other cultures, including Chinese, European, and American. The common ingredients in Polynesian dishes include: ginger, cinnamon, garlic, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, rice wine vinegar.
FAQs about Cuisine & Culture
What is cultural cuisine?
Cultural cuisine refers to the culinary traditions that have developed as a result of external cultural influences on the food systems of specific countries or regions. This can occur through processes such as colonialism or immigration, where outside cultures have shaped and influenced the local gastronomy, leading to the emergence of unique and distinct culinary practices.
What is the importance of cultural cuisine?
The importance of cultural cuisine lies in its ability to serve as a representation of our heritage and identity. Passed down through generations, recipes embody the tastes, smells, and sights that connect us to our ancestral roots.
Is cuisine part of culture?
Cuisine is indeed an integral component of culture as it plays a significant role in expressing cultural identity and is often passed down through generations as traditional culinary practices.
What is the food culture in America?
The food culture in America encompasses a variety of iconic dishes such as the hamburger, pie (with apple pie being a traditional favorite), milkshakes, barbecue, and an extensive selection of fried foods. American cuisine often puts a unique twist on dishes from other culinary traditions, including pizza, hot dogs, and Tex-Mex.
Is cuisine a cultural trait?
Cuisine is indeed a cultural trait as it is one of the shared characteristics that define a group of people, along with their place of birth, religion, language, social behaviors, art, literature, and music.
What is American cultural food?
American cultural food is not limited to just hamburgers and fries. In fact, it encompasses a wide range of culinary traditions from various ethnicities, which can be found in restaurants, supermarkets, and specialty grocers across the country.
What is traditional or cultural food?
Traditional or cultural food is defined as food that has been passed down from one generation to the next, encompassing the knowledge, techniques, and practices used in its preparation, as well as the selection and utilization of locally sourced ingredients. Additionally, traditional food reflects the cultural heritage of the community or region where it originates.
What were the 7 basic food groups?
The 7 basic food groups were vegetables, fruits, grains, protein foods, dairy, oils and solid fats, added sugars, and beverages.
Is Mexican food a cuisine?
Mexican food is indeed considered a cuisine, characterized by its intricate and time-honored culinary traditions that have evolved over centuries. It incorporates a diverse range of techniques and expertise that have been refined over thousands of years. The cuisine predominantly utilizes ingredients indigenous to Mexico, while also incorporating elements introduced by the Spanish conquistadors and incorporating some contemporary influences.
Which cuisine is most popular in the world?
The most popular cuisines worldwide are Italian and Japanese. As of 2023, both cuisines have been tagged on Instagram more than 20 million times. Italian cuisine provides a wide range of dishes to discover, ranging from a straightforward tomato spaghetti sauce to intricate risotto flavors.
What is the biggest cuisine in the world?
The biggest cuisine in the world is Chinese, as it holds the title of the most popular cuisine globally. Food is deeply rooted in Chinese culture, and it is often used as a way to greet others, with the common question being “have you eaten yet?”
What type of cultural cuisine is most common?
The most common type of cultural cuisine is Chinese food, which is favored by Americans with an average of over 3.35 million monthly searches in the U.S. Mexican, Thai, Indian, and Korean food are also popular choices.
What are the best cultural foods?
The best cultural foods include 100-Year-Old Eggs from Hong Kong, Deep-Fried Tarantula from Thailand, Fried SilkWorm also from Thailand, Balut (Duck Fetus) from the Philippines, Grilled Dog from Vietnam, Cambodia, and China, Chicken Feet from Asia, South America, and Africa, Hakarl (Rotten Shark) from Iceland, and Cat Meat from Vietnam.
What types of food cultures are in America?
The food cultures in America include Native American, soul food, regional heritages like Cajun, Louisiana Creole, Mormon foodways, New Mexican, Pennsylvania Dutch, Texan, Tex-Mex, and Tlingit, as well as the cuisines of immigrant groups such as American Chinese, Italian American, Turkish, Mediterranean, and more.
What is Americans favorite cuisine?
Americans’ favorite cuisine has shifted from Italian to Latin American and Tex-Mex food, such as tacos, quesadillas, and birrias, according to Datassential, a restaurant-menu consultancy. Asian cuisine is also gaining popularity among Americans.
What are all the different cuisines?
The different cuisines include Mexican cuisine, which is known for its fun, delicious, and spicy flavors. Indian cuisine is also highly regarded and unmatched in its taste. Italian cuisine is another popular choice, while American cuisine offers a diverse range of dishes. Japanese cuisine is known for its unique flavors, Thai cuisine is flavorful and aromatic, and French cuisine is renowned for its elegance and sophistication.
What is considered the best cuisine in the world?
The best cuisine in the world is considered to be Italian. Italy emerged as the clear winner, as people voted for it to have the finest cuisine globally. Italian food has gained worldwide popularity with its uncomplicated and seasonal dishes. Ranging from homemade pasta and cheesy risotto to pizza and delectable desserts, it is widely adored and cherished across the globe.
What is the most diverse cuisine?
The most diverse cuisine can be found in Morocco, where one can experience one of the world’s greatest and most varied culinary traditions. By utilizing seasonal ingredients, Moroccan dishes showcase a fusion of cultural influences.
What are the most loved cuisines around the world?
The most loved cuisines around the world include Korean, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Indian, Chinese, Thai, and Vietnamese.
Why do different cultures have different cuisines?
Different cultures have different cuisines because the areas in which families reside and the origins of their ancestors shape their food preferences. These preferences then lead to distinct patterns of food choices within specific cultural or regional groups.
Between the Internet and specialty food providers, it’s never been a better time to explore all the food that the world has to offer. Even though most cuisine use the same base ingredients, it’s incredible & exciting to try all the different variations.