A taste for adventure
On the whole, I’d say today’s diners are quite an adventurous lot.
Admittedly, you will always get your ‘taste traditionalists’ — those who order steak and chips at every meal for the duration of any trip abroad and won’t go near a dish they haven’t heard of back home. But generally speaking, restaurant-goers are increasingly willing to try new things.
From frogs’ legs and snails to roasted crickets and spit-roast guinea-pig, globalisation has made the public aware of a whole new world of food and beverage delights.
This is not to say everyone will enjoy everything (those who have ever owned a pet guinea-pig may find such culinary adventure a step too far) but now we are generally far more willing to try.
As a result, today we are seeing many more exotic ingredients on Middle East menus. A huge amount of the credit for this must go to the region’s chefs and suppliers whose dedication and ingenuity in integrating more unusual food stuffs into their culinary repertoire has really paid dividends.
Another reason for this increased public willingness to experiment with food comes from the global rise of celebrity chefs, who over recent years have used various media platforms to introduce consumers to previously unheard-of ingredients.
This adventurous approach to eating had some unexpected consequences for cheeky chappie of the celeb chef world Jamie Oliver last month.
Filming his latest TV series Jamie’s American Road Trip for UK television’s Channel 4, Oliver was taken to a market in a Mexican community in Los Angeles, where he was given some cactus fungus to taste.
According to a report on the UK’s Mirror newspaper website www.mirror.co.uk, after sampling the fungus, Oliver commented: “I think that stuff is sending me slightly mad. I’m starting to hallo, hullca... I can’t even say it. I’m hallucinating.”
According to the web report, the TV chef then started “singing and acting oddly” before leaving the market.
OK — perhaps we shouldn’t be willing to try everything unusual that is offered to us.
But this sprit of adventure when it comes to food, inherent in the suppliers who introduce new products to the market, the chefs that demand them and the consumers who sample the subsequent creations, is to be commended: long may it last!