Six distinct world centers of food Bologna, Buenos Aires, London, Lyon, Tokyo, and San Francisco (Top left to Bottom right)
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What are the elements that make a city a world gastronomic citadel? In some cases, ready access to superb ingredients and centuries of evolving knowledge about how to use them. In other cases, the specialness of the cuisine is a product of the unique ethnic and cultural blend that results in new flavors and cooking methods. In some cities, cooking traditions are rooted in colonization or conquest, with the conquered often prevailing when it comes to setting the agenda—and the table—as to how people eat.
Food expert and passionate culinary historian Fred Plotkin has identified six very distinct places that are, in their own ways, world centers of food and drink. Three are the capital cities of their important nations, while the other three are extraordinary in that they are surrounded by superb agricultural resources that influence what food is available and how it is cooked. In every case, these cities promise tantalizingly delicious subject matter for Plotkin’s commentary accented with mouth-watering photos.
Plotkin is the author of six cookbooks and has been a finalist for the Julia Child and James Beard awards. His food writing has appeared in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, The New York Times, Food & Wine, FT, and Daily Telegraph.
FEATURED CITY: BUENOS AIRES
The cosmopolitan capital of Argentina draws from Italian, German, British, Spanish, Arabic and native cultures. Its beef is nonpareil, yet Buenos Aires also has superb fruit and vegetables, outstanding wine, wonderful dairy products, and sweets prepared in ways that borrow from the city’s diverse cultural heritage. Less noted is the fact that Argentina has a long coastline teeming with fish, which is increasingly taking its place next to beef and lamb. Few cities benefit so completely from homegrown foods, making Buenos Aires both self-sufficient and also supremely well-fed.
S. Dillon Ripley Center
1100 Jefferson Dr SW
Metro: Smithsonian (Mall exit)