The cultural DNA of food leaves tracks everywhere.


The first thing I do in any country, outside of Asia at least, is look for Chinese food. In Venezuela, there are plenty of chifas, but no chaufa, only arroz frito. But there, egg rolls are called lumpia, a prominent Philippine dish, not the rollos or chun kun of elsewhere south of the border. I’ll have to try one to see if they’re actually the same dish. In Peru, soy sauce is known as sillao, similar to the si iw of Thailand and the original shi-yau of Cantonese, from which Japanese shoyu, typical Spanish soya, soy, and all other variations ultimately derive. Venezuelan food itself is typical of the fried greasy fare that defines the Caribbean, poor cuts of meat and an infinite variety of starches cooked in hot melted lard at varying levels of temperatures. The important thing is to soak up as much of that grease as possible to get the most for your money. Women proudly let their bellies hang out in imitation of their British counterparts, no reason to be ashamed of what’s in your genes and jeans. Hell, where I came from, if you didn’t put on fat you’d die, as did all those Roman dilettantes testing their luck in the northern winters.

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