Sunday July 21, 2019
Home India Chef David Ro...

Chef David Rocco: Indian culture reflects in its cuisine

0
//

New Delhi: David Rocco, Italian-Canadian chef visited India five times in the last three years and calls India his “second home”. It’s interesting how the culture of the country reflects through its cuisine, he said.

Rocco has explored India as part of a TV show for channel FOX Life. For the second season of the Italian-Indian culinary adventure “David Rocco Dolce India”, he returned to the nation and visited lesser-known locales to uncover some hidden gems.

“It was really cool discovering these unique and diverse communities throughout India and seeing how their cultural influences are reflected in the cuisine,” Rocco said in an email interview from Toronto.

Through his show, which airs in over 150 countries including India, he introduces viewers to the Portuguese influence in Goa, the Chinese community in Kolkata and the holiest of Punjabi traditions in Amritsar, while sampling plenty of culinary delights along the way.

“I was first introduced to Indian food many years ago, but having Indian food in India is a totally different experience than outside of India. And of course making my first Indian dish was a little intimidating, but I’ve learnt a lot since then in terms of ingredients and technique.

“In season two of my show, I’m much more comfortable with the process and I really start to play around with certain dishes, combining flavours that north and south Indians might never have even thought to work with,” said Rocco, whose first attempt at Indian food was a ‘dal’ (lentil) and he found it “pretty straightforward” in making.

The author of three cookbooks, Rocco has travelled the world over. But he said “I’m attracted to India for its diversity and the warmth of its people”.

He is also fascinated with the importance given to food and family in the Indian culture, which he finds “so diverse, from region to region”.

In his show, he says he fuses his own style of cooking with Indian ingredients as “inspiration”.

“You could call it the easy Indian approach. I’m really being an ambassador to the people outside of India, helping them see how accessible Indian cooking can be,” he added, stressing that localisation of global cuisine is “an incredibly common thing around the world”.

“For instance, McDonalds is different everywhere you go! If you look at Italian food, you can get it pretty much everywhere in the world lasagne, pizza and pasta are probably some of the most universally liked dishes that you can get in any major city across the globe. Is it authentic? Most likely not.

“But if someone truly enjoys the taste of the ‘local’ version, or it inspires them to take up cooking or even take a trip to Italy some day, I don’t see anything wrong with that.”(IANS)(image:davidrocco.com)

Next Story

Scientist Turned Chef Yunan Yang Ditches Lab to Experiment with Food

Yunan Yang never intended to open a restaurant when she first arrived in the United States from China 10 years ago

0
Chefs work with peppercorns shipped overnight from the owner's hometown of Chongqing, China, said Yunan Yang, the owner. VOA

Yunan Yang never intended to open a restaurant when she first arrived in the United States from China 10 years ago. Her plan was to study cancer. As a post-doctorate cancer researcher, she spent six years in Madison, Wisconsin, and worked to publish her findings in scientific journals.

She used radiation and chemicals in her research, which took a toll on her body. She said her job affected her platelet count, which made her bleed easily.

“After I (lost) two babies when (I was) pregnant, I had to make a big decision. My doctor told me, ‘Yunan, you have to write your last words (will) because we don’t have time to save you. Your body, whole body (at any) moment could be bleeding,’” Yang recounted.

For her health, and to prevent future miscarriages, Yang chose a second career as a restaurateur, moving in the opposition direction of many immigrants in the United States. Instead of entering the restaurant business first in hopes of sending her kids to college, Yang began working in the restaurant business after her life in research.

Scientists, Chef, Yunan Yang
Pepper Twins owner Yunan Yang left her career in cancer research and started her first restaurant four years ago in 2015. She now has six Sichuan Chinese restaurants throughout Houston. VOA

Her inspiration for opening a restaurant came during a trip to a conference in California, where she saw an hour-long line of hungry patrons waiting to get into a Chinese restaurant.

In Madison, the small city where her lab was located, she said “We don’t have a good Chinese restaurant.”

Yang did not start a restaurant in Chinese enclaves like many other immigrants across the U.S. She opened restaurants outside of Chinese communities, in affluent neighborhoods. In Houston, the most diverse city in America, she said its residents’ tastes in Chinese food have become quite discerning.

“American guests, they can find out which one is authentic Chinese restaurant.” Yang continued, “They travel a lot around the world. They know (what) original Chinese food looks like.”

Also Read- Why U.S. Women’s Soccer Dominates on World Stage while Men’s Game Continues to Falter

Ravi Chawda is a diner who loves spicy food. He has never been to China but knows the difference between the so-called American Chinese food and something more like what he would get in China.

“I’ve done a lot of business with the Chinese, so I’ve been to some pretty authentic places. This is by far one of the most authentic,” Chawda said.

Yang said one key ingredient in her restaurant is fresh peppercorns from her hometown of Chongqing, China near Sichuan, a province known for its spicy dishes. The peppercorns are shipped overnight to Houston and create a flavor called “mala” in Mandarin meaning numbing, tingly, and spicy.

The hometown flavors are also drawing loyal Chinese guests, such as Yan Xiang Yu, who attended university in Chengdu, a city in Sichuan.

Scientists, Chef, Yunan Yang
Some of the popular dishes at the Pepper Twins restaurant, clockwise from the upper left: Golden Eggplant (top), Spicy Persian Cucumber (right), Crystal Pudding (left). VOA

“I think the biggest highlight is they can really deliver well the ‘ma’ (numbing/tingling) feeling. The peppercorns are very flavorful,” said Yu who would eat at Pepper Twins when he craves the “mala” feeling in his mouth.

Yang started her first restaurant four years ago, since then, she’s expanded to six locations throughout Houston.

Also Read- Leaders of Texas Abandoning Proposal that Would have Essentially Banned Abortions in Their Community

Not only does Yang have a successful restaurant business, she also now has two children who inspired the logo for Pepper Twins. (VOA)