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Italy: The World’s Favorite Cuisine

A recent world-wide survey has found that the most popular cuisine in the world is Italian. Although with so much outstanding food in the world, it might initially seem like a daunting task to narrow down one cuisine as the world‘s most popular. The results came as no surprise to us. Even if much of the world only experiences a narrow band of the spectrum of the country’s cuisine, namely pizza and pasta, Italian still came out way ahead of the second place finisher. Additionally, some of the statistics are truly a revelation. In Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom and most surprising of all – France, more than 90% of those polled selected Italian cuisine as their favorite. Obviously, this must have been an anonymous poll, at least in the case of France.

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The same results were recorded in other parts of the world. Australia has vibrant Italian communities in many of its cities, most notably in Sydney and Melbourne, so it is not a great surprise that Italian cuisine recorded the same dominate position – the favorite of more than 90%. What is more surprising is that the same conclusion was reached by those in the Philippines. It does beg the question, “Exactly what is Italian food like in the Philippines?”

To answer the question, we went on line and checked out the menus of 20 restaurants in Manila, ranging from moderate to expensive. We were shocked to see that the high-end restaurants offered dishes that one might find on a menu in Bologna – by that we mean there was no Spaghetti Bolognese to be found. The offerings emphasized traditional Italian products, including Parmigiano-Reggiano, Prosciutto di Parma and we were delighted to see aged Balsamic vinegar served over locally grown peaches offered at one establishment for dessert. Pastas dominated the menus; pizza, on the other hand, is a popular street food in the country.

Where did Italian food rank in the United States? Remarkably, given the popularity across the country of Italian cuisine, it was only ranked in second place. In first place, Americans ranked American food as their favorite, although this seems like a partisan vote. Worldwide, American cuisine ranks seventh.

The survey, taken by a global public opinion and data company, found that the least popular food was Finnish. Favored foods of that nation include Kaalikääryleet (cabbage rolls) and Hernekeitto (pea soup), which for reasons that escape us, is very popular in Finland on Thursdays.

It appears that Finland is the Rodney Dangerfield of the world’s food. In 2001, then Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi claimed, “I’ve been to Finland and I had to endure the Finnish diet, so I am in a position to make a comparison. They don’t even know what Parma ham is!” His sentiments were echoed four years later by French President Jacques Chirac, who gave the country’s food even less respect when he claimed, “After Finland, Britain is the country with the worst food.”

So there you have it – the best of the world’s foods and the worst. Cabbage rolls or pizza? Pea soup or Zuppa di Pesce? If only all of life’s decisions were so easy!



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