It’s wonderful to try new foods. In order to do so, you can always eat at a restaurant that provides the culinary experience you crave. There’s nothing quite like going to a restaurant with a cuisine you haven’t tried yet (India, Mongolian, or Korean, for example) and picking something random off of the menu.
Once you’ve tried some of these foods, chances are you’ll find yourself wanting to learn how to prepare exotic dishes of your own, with lychees and pistachios and ghee and other unusual flavors. But where do you start?
Buy a cookbook or magazine (or go on the internet)
You might feel more comfortable using a cookbook when you’re just starting to cook new world cuisines, especially if that cookbook comes highly recommended. The beautiful photography in many cookbooks is an added bonus, although you shouldn’t fret if your dishes don’t look exactly like those in the pictures on your first try. If you can find the recipe you want in a trusted magazine, you can cook your new dish without the time and money investment of a full-sized cookbook.
Then again, there are millions of recipes easily accessible on the internet. Online recipes are free, and you can compare different recipes for the same dish to see how different people have approached them. Be careful, though, as not all online recipes have been tested and approved.
Visit a “world” or “international” market
You don’t need a cookbook to get a basic taste of international cooking. You’d be surprised how many towns and cities have international or world food markets that cater to the increasingly diverse tastes of surrounding populations. If you don’t have a local world market, chances are your local supermarket has an international section where you can find many of the same foods.
When you arrive at the world market, expect to be overwhelmed. The packaging will often display instructions in the language of the food’s origin, and any English translations may be hard to understand, humorous, or both. Your best bet is to be adventurous. Grab a couple of things that look promising and easy to cook, and have fun experimenting with world cuisines.
Take cooking classes
You’ll find that some world markets offer cooking classes to acquaint new patrons with their different types of cuisines. Cooking classes are a great way to learn about new cuisines. You get the thrill of trying something new, with less of a chance of creating kitchen disasters and wasting money in the process.
In addition to markets, community colleges and some ethnic restaurants host cooking classes. Look online, or check local newspapers for listings.
Make new friends
One of the best ways to learn about new cuisines is to make new friends. Or ask your old friends what kinds of things they like to cook.
Set up a rotating dinner with your friends in which they cook foods from their cultural backgrounds. And of course, never pass up an invitation to a family gathering, celebration, or wedding that might give you the chance to taste home-cooked international foods.