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Learn about peasant cuisine

More insights (cont)


More insights   (continued from page 6)

Be a cuisine explorer

I recommend that you search out peasant dishes on your next trip abroad. It's an excellent way to experience the rural way of life.

How to meet peasant cooks

Some of my tried-and-proven methods:

Simply inquire

I ask a friend or acquaintance who lives in the country I am visiting to arrange a trip to the home of a skilled peasant cook (not all peasants are good cooks, mind you).


I hop in a car, drive through the dirt roads of the countryside, make inquiries, and leave fate to serendipity. It works most of the time, at least.

Local cabbie

If I can't rent or borrow a car, I try to find a local cab driver who is related to a great peasant cook. I then do my best to negotiate a fair rate for him to drive me to his relative's home. The trip turns out to be a one-day paid vacation for the driver to visit his relatives in the country and a splendid opportunity for me to learn more about peasant cooking.

Express a genuine
interest in their food.

This is one of the quickest ways to win a heart and help from a peasant cook. Take Spain, for instance. If you go to the hinterland and tell the typical peasant that you enjoy reading the works of the Spanish author Juan Valera, you won't arouse his interest. If, on the other hand, you tell him that you enjoy one of the peasant dishes of his region, his eyes will gleam.

Ask a restaurant that serves
peasant dishes for a recipe?

Your chances of learning how to cook a peasant dish authentically from a restaurant recipe are skimpy. Anyone who has worked in them, as I have, knows that a restaurant - if it is to pay its rent - usually cannot afford to take the time-consuming traditional steps that spell the difference between a passable and superb peasant dish.

Painting by Vincent van Gogh / 19th C


Famous peasant dishes

Arroz Con Pollo  Spain
Cassoulet  France
Cha Chiang Mein  China
Couscous  Morocco
Houskove Knedliky  Czech Republic
Huevos Rancheros  Mexico
Nasi Goreng  Indonesia
Osso Buco  Italy
Oyako Donburi  Japan
Roghan Josh  India
Tom Yam Kung  Thailand
Vatapa  Brazil
Yalanci Dolma  Turkey

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