A Journey of New Flavors

July 6, 2024

Nelson Aguilera (he/him/his), Low Entropy Volunteer Writer

Cuisine reflects the diversity and cultural richness that surrounds us. I was born in Venezuela, where home-cooked meals are a cornerstone of our society. Later, I lived in Colombia, where I discovered unique variations on the shared flavors. Currently, I find myself in Canada, a melting pot of cultures that has given me a unique opportunity to immerse myself in a world of unimaginable culinary experiences. My name is Nelson, and a passion for cooking and experimenting with new flavors has been a constant in my life. This journey has led me to discover the wonder of multicultural food and how it can transform experiences and broaden our horizons.

Discovering Arepas and the Joy of Fusion

Venezuela is known for its rich and varied gastronomy. One of my favorite dishes is the arepa, a traditional food shared with Colombia. Arepas, made from pre-cooked cornmeal dough shaped into a flat disc and grilled, are a perfect blank canvas for creativity. This versatile dish can be filled with a variety of ingredients, from cheese and ham to shredded chicken with avocado. The crispy exterior and soft interior make them perfect for any meal.

I love creating my own recipes by combining influences from different cultures. For example, I fill arepas with spicy Korean-style chicken. This spicy flavor, infused with garlic, chives and sesame seeds, makes for a delicious mix and a homage to diverse cultures. The fusion of flavors is a celebration of diversity and a demonstration of respect for culinary traditions from around the world.

Exploring Canada’s Culinary Diversity

Upon arriving in Canada, I encountered an explosion of flavors that further enriched my love for cooking. This country’s culinary scene reflects its diverse population, offering a rich tapestry of cuisines. Here are a few that have particularly inspired me:

  • Indian Food: The fragrant blend of spices has been a revelation. Dishes like chicken tikka masala and lentil curry showcase the depth and complexity of Indian cuisine.
  • Middle Eastern Flavors: The aromatic spices and fresh ingredients in dishes like falafel and shawarma have inspired me with their unique combinations.
  • Korean Cuisine: Known for its characteristic spiciness and perfect balance of sweet and salty, dishes like bulgogi and kimchi have captured my palate.
  • Japanese Cuisine: The freshness and elegance of dishes like sushi and ramen showcase a complex simplicity that is admirable.
  • Vietnamese Cuisine: The complexity of flavors in pho and fresh spring rolls has found a place in my heart.
  • Mexican Cuisine: The comforting familiarity of tacos and pozole reminds me of festive family gatherings and celebrations.
  • Colombian Cuisine: The heartiness of sancocho brings back memories of home and family gatherings.

The Importance of Culinary Openness

In the kitchen, it is essential to be open and willing to try new flavors. Every ingredient has its own story and place in culinary tradition. We should not be afraid to experiment, ask about new spices and try unfamiliar recipes. This openness not only allows us to discover new flavors, but also connects us with people and cultures in a deep and meaningful way.

Food as a Tool for Inclusion

Sharing and enjoying food from different cultures can be a powerful tool for inclusion and cultural understanding. It allows us to learn more about the history, customs and values of other communities. Moreover, by enjoying food from other countries, we foster an environment of respect and appreciation for diversity.

Celebrating Cultures Through Cooking

Cooking is a way to honor and celebrate the cultures of the world. By trying recipes from different countries, we not only enjoy a delicious meal, but also show respect and admiration for culinary traditions that have been passed down from generation to generation. It is an act of love and connection that transcends borders.

Multicultural food is incredible because it allows us to explore and celebrate the world’s diversity in every bite. Personally, I have learned that cooking is an open door and a beautiful way to connect with others. So, the next time you find yourself in the kitchen, don’t be afraid to experiment and blend flavors. The magic is in being brave and enjoying the delicious culinary journey that awaits us. Let me know if you have a special dish or something you want to share—maybe I can learn new ones, or we can exchange recipes.

Bon appétit!

Nelson Aguilera loves to cook and celebrate the diversity of culinary traditions. Some of his recipes are available on Instagram @SinManteles.

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