I have no idea, but for a long time, I have wanted to get my thoughts about the subject on this blog, in the hope that it might spark debate… Here’s to hoping!…
I suppose the only way you can approach answering this question is by defining what exactly is meant by ‘favourite’. Do we mean specific foodstuff (e.g. broccoli)? Do we mean a specific meal (e.g. chilli con carne)? Do we mean specific cuisine (e.g. Italian)? Do we mean the favourite food or item that works best as an offering to others (eg. a chilli gift box or a casserole)? Do we mean favourite according to Western tastes, or some sort of snapshot of the whole world? Let me answer that one for you: we are looking for the favourite specific meal (e.g. chilli con carne) for Europe and America. To put it bluntly: the meal that, if the whole of Europe and America were on death row, was asked for the highest number of times as a final meal.
Right, tough one…
The reason I started writing this article was that I was doing some reading up on emergency preparedness (as you do), and I stumbled across an emergency food website specialising in freeze dried food. So I started thinking if I found myself amid a zombie apocalypse and I had to raid my stash of emergency food, would I be happy with chicken korma? This particular website offers the following meals: chicken tikka, chicken korma, spaghetti bolognese, lasagne, chilli, ‘Mediterranean’ pasta, and macaroni cheese. Is it fair to say that this ‘menu’ is a barometer of what we as a developed race all secretly want to eat all the time? I think so. It is staggering to see the influence that Asian and Mediterranean cooking has had on us all.
But what about hamburgers, pizzas, and hot dogs!? Surely THEY are our favourite foodstuffs, right? We are nearly all obese or something ridiculous, and American fast-food chains probably have more money than lots of small African countries put together. Are we being turned off food like this as we all become more aware of the longer-term damage it might be doing to us all? No, I don’t think so. I live in London, and there has been an explosion in the popularity of hamburgers, pizzas, and hot dogs. Just NOT from the standard offenders: McDonald’s, Burger King, Dominos, etc. I believe ‘gourmet’ is the expression. Gourmet hot dogs! You better believe it! In fact, hot dogs are so trendy now that they serve them with fine champagne! (Bubbledogs – I’m talking to you).
Unraveling the enigma of the West’s favorite meal is indeed a nuanced exploration influenced by diverse tastes, cultural shifts, and evolving culinary trends. While the traditional allure of hamburgers, pizzas, and hot dogs remains steadfast, the surge in gourmet variations and the adoption of diverse global flavors indicate a dynamic and ever-changing gastronomic landscape. The popularity of Asian and Mediterranean cuisines, as reflected in offerings like chicken tikka, pasta dishes, and chili, underscores our collective inclination towards diverse and rich flavors.
The paradox of embracing both traditional fast food and gourmet renditions reveals the intricate relationship between familiarity and culinary innovation in Western preferences. Whether seeking comfort in a classic cheeseburger or indulging in an artisanal hot dog, the West’s culinary choices continue to evolve, driven by a blend of nostalgia, health consciousness, and an adventurous palate. The diverse menu offerings showcased in emergency food kits serve as a testament to the eclectic and ever-expanding tapestry of tastes that define the contemporary Western dining experience.
Personally, I think the West’s favourite meal is the hamburger, whether it be Maccy’s most basic or the blue-cheese-and-truffle-oil variety from your local gastropub. Filling, satisfying, nutritionally balanced (yeah, I said it), and portable. Any thoughts?