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Around The World

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Countries and their cuisines.

A cuisine is a style of cooking characterized by distinctive ingredients, techniques, dishes and usually associated with a specific culture or geographic region. Is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. Religious food laws, such as Hindu, Islamic and Jewish dietary laws, also have a strong influence on cuisine.

Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region.

Some factors that have an influence on a region's cuisine include the area's climate, the trade among different countries, religiousness or sumptuary laws and culinary culture exchange.

The area's climate in large measure determines the native foods that are available. In addition, climate influences food preservation. For example, foods preserved for winter consumption by smoking, curing and pickling have remained significant in world cuisines for their altered gustatory properties.

The trade among different countries also largely affects a region's cuisine. Dating back to the ancient spice trade, seasonings such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger and turmeric were important items of commerce in the earliest evolution of trade. Cinnamon and cassia found their way to the Middle East at least 4,000 years ago. Certain foods and food preparations are required or proscribed by the religiousness or sumptuary laws, such as Islamic dietary laws and Jewish dietary laws.

Culinary culture exchange is also an important factor for cuisine in many regions: Japan’s first substantial and direct exposure to the West came with the arrival of European missionaries in the second half of the 16th century. At that time, the combination of Spanish and Portuguese game frying techniques with a Chinese method for cooking vegetables in oil led to the development of tempura, the popular Japanese dish in which seafood and many different types of vegetables are coated with batter and deep fried.

Cuisines evolve continually, and new cuisines are created by innovation and cultural interaction. One recent example is fusion cuisine, which combines elements of various culinary traditions while not being categorized per any one cuisine style, and generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s. Nouvelle cuisine (New cuisine) is an approach to cooking and food presentation in French cuisine that was popularized in the 1960’s by the food critics Henri Gault, who invented the phrase, and his colleagues André Gayot and Christian Millau in a new restaurant guide, the Gault-Millau or Le Nouveau Guide. Molecular gastronomy is a modern style of cooking which takes advantage of many technical innovations from the scientific disciplines. The term was coined in 1988 by late Oxford physicist Nicholas Kurti and the French INRA chemist Hervé This. It is also named as multi sensory cooking, modernist cuisine, culinary physics and experimental cuisine by some chefs. Besides, international trade brings new foodstuffs including ingredients to existing cuisines and leads to changes. The introduction of hot pepper to China from South America around the end of the 17th century, greatly influencing Sichuan cuisine, which combines the original taste with the taste of introduced hot pepper and creates a unique flavour of both spicy and pungent.