The International Issue
“Food is our common ground, a universal experience.”
– James Beard
Greetings and welcome to the New Year. While I don’t typically make any resolutions, after pulling this issue together, I may have found a pledge that will be easy to stick with and improve my culinary repertoire as well. In 2016, I am determined to really think global and eat local, trying a new type of cuisine every month. Based on content we have curated for this month’s International issue, I’m more than sure my resolution is achievable. The cultural make-up of our region has flavored our food scene and is providing culinary inspiration well beyond our traditional Southern dishes.
What is driving this expansion of food choices in Northeast Florida? Intrepid travel, our region’s experimental chefs, increasing curiosity in the world, perhaps. Over the years, the area has become home to transplants from many parts of the world, either by choice or by chance. From Afghanistan to the Philippines, India to Ethiopia, Colombia to Cuba, new residents have all come to call the First Coast home, while maintaining a connection to their cuisines to help maintain ties to their origins. Along with welcoming new arrivals to the region, we have also embraced their culinary traditions, and added them to our own. Additionally, many in our community have had the good fortune to travel around the world, and often seek to re-create favorite food memories upon their return.
This issue provides a glimpse into how local restaurants and food markets are supporting the transition of refugees and helping them adjust to their new home. We also explore a sampling of international grocery stores in the area, highlighting products that may introduce new flavors to your daily menu. Wonder what some of those exotic looking vegetables are at the markets? We go out into the field to learn how local farmers are expanding the variety of produce grown and incorporating international produce. Curious about curry or sorting through your spice rack? We have some tips to help de-mystify unfamiliar ingredients.
As James Beard once said, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” We hope you use this issue as a springboard to new taste sensations in Northeast Florida. Make a date to try that international restaurant down the way. Take a tour of an international market near you. I am pretty confident I will be able to stick to my resolution for 2016, and hopefully make new acquaintances along the way. Bon appétit.