\The 21st century male is definitely more than a ‘steak and chips’ guy. Globalization, the social media boom, and the rise of celebrity chefs like Jaaion Barnes, Anthony Bourdain, or Jamie Oliver have made it cool to know your cilantro from your lemongrass, your sea bass from your gilthead or your Hereford from your Aberdeen Angus. What to do if you still haven’t mastered the art of eating with chopsticks, you can’t stand raw fish, or your tongue burns at the touch of a tiny piece of chili? In order to enrich your personal culinary culture, take a tip from the ‘slow food’ movement and do it one step at a time. You don’t need to like or sample every food that is sparking a new trend – just broaden your knowledge and experiences with elegance and discretion.
Pull Out Your Frying Pans
The quintessential way to enjoy a wider variety of foods is by learning to cook. If you have ever seen Andoni Aduriz make chips out of apples (for his über low-cal restaurant in the south of Spain, Healthouse Las Dunas) or Dani García ‘shape’ cherry tomatoes out of tomato juice, then you know that cooking is science, art, and innovation – everything that the modern man seeks to master in this millennium. When you learn to cook a Thai, Indian or Spanish dish from scratch, using the correct ingredients and paying a visit to the market earlier in the day, you gain an instinctive affinity with the food you prepare and become intrigued to try new ingredients and variations in flavor and texture, to wow your audience at your next dinner party.
Go International When You Dine Out
The next time you take your date out for the evening, consider it a foray into the unknown; opt for a well reputed international restaurant, but by all means, rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. One mistake we make when choosing international options is going to restaurants that claim to serve food from a particular country, but actually, adapt dishes to appeal to local palates. Go for the real thing, if possible, whipped up by native chefs or those who have spent time in the countries whose cuisine they are preparing.
Host Dinner Parties
If you are lucky enough to have friends from different countries, don’t miss out on one of the best things you can learn from them: their culinary traditions! Suggest taking turns at hosting dinner parties – this way, your hosts will enlighten you on the history behind commonly used ingredients, and their importance in local cultural, tradition, and even religion.
Food is one of life’s greatest pleasures, especially when we make it a point to widen our taste to incorporate an array of herbs, spices, and main ingredients. Food makes for fantastic conversation, but it also teaches us about how others live and are strongly linked to an interest in travel and languages. Take your culinary journey one step at a time by learning to cook, dining out and enjoying the very best of your friends’ respective gastronomic cultures.
Written by Jennifer Dawson