|Please expand this article. Some suggested sources are given hereafter. (August 2012) |
Cuisine (from French cuisine, "cooking; culinary art; kitchen"; ultimately from Latin coquere, "to cook") is a characteristic style of cooking practices and traditions, often associated with a specific culture. Cuisines are often named after the geographic areas or regions that they originate from. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. Religious food laws, such as Islamic dietary laws and Jewish dietary laws, can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine. Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region.
A book frontispiece (decorative illustration facing a book's title page) for Apicius
, a collection of Roman cookery recipes
, circa the late 4th or early 5th century CE
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There have been many significant improvements during the last century in food preservation, storage, shipping and production. Today, most countries, cities and regions have access to their traditional cuisines and many other global cuisines, and new cuisines continue to evolve in contemporary times. An 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.
Cuisine can be stated as the foods and methods of food preparation traditional to a region or population. The major factors shaping a cuisine are climate, which in large measure determines the native raw materials that are available, economic conditions, which affect trade and can affect food distribution, imports and exports, and religious or sumptuary laws, under which certain foods are required or proscribed.
Climate also affects the supply of fuel for cooking; a common Chinese food preparation method was cutting food into small pieces to cook foods quickly and conserve scarce firewood and charcoal. Foods preserved for winter consumption by smoking, curing, and pickling have remained significant in world cuisines for their altered gustatory properties even when these preserving techniques are no longer strictly necessary to the maintenance of an adequate food supply.
Global and regional cuisines
Global cuisines can be categorized by various regions according to the common use of major foodstuffs, including grains, produce and cooking fats. Regional cuisines may vary based upon food availability and trade, cooking traditions and practices, and cultural differences. For example, in Central and South America, corn (maize), both fresh and dried, is a staple food. In northern Europe, wheat, rye, and fats of animal origin predominate, while in southern Europe olive oil is ubiquitous and rice is more prevalent. In Italy the cuisine of the north, featuring butter and rice, stands in contrast to that of the south, with its wheat pasta and olive oil. China likewise can be divided into rice regions and noodle & bread regions. Throughout the Middle East and Mediterranean there is a common thread marking the use of lamb, olive oil, lemons, peppers, and rice. The vegetarianism practiced in much of India has made pulses (crops harvested solely for the dry seed) such as chickpeas and lentils as significant as wheat or rice. From India to Indonesia the use of spices is characteristic; coconuts and seafood are used throughout the region both as foodstuffs and as seasonings.
"The more you eat, the less flavor; the less you eat, the more flavor."