Is 52 Mediterranean-centric?

I'm pretty new to 52, so I certainly don't have a good grasp on Recipe Contest topics going back very far, and I have a question. I am very excited and inspired by the level of talent i see in this community, but from the recipe contest entries , and the number of views they generate, I see a very Mediterranean, non-East Asian, orientation. Do you see that as well? Occasionally I see a Japanese or Chinese recipe get alot of attention but that does not seem to happen much. What do you think? And, by extension, do you think 52ers would take up the challenge if a recipe contest topic were Asian?(i.e. Nori, or Taro or ...) Thnx for your insight!

LeBec Fin


BoulderGalinTokyo January 25, 2013
I have to admit that after this 10 months of contests, I have fallen into the sin of entering 'Western' dishes. Why bother entering Asian if they don't get picked by the 52 staff? Last week for leeks was a good week, I could enter Sukiyaki which wasn't in the database of recipes. Maybe need to reconsider this topic.

BoulderGalinTokyo April 13, 2012
I also think we have to combat the misunderstanding that Asian is one flavor. After all, Tokyo is about as far from China as Rome, Italy is to Copenhagen, Denmark. But their cooking isn't lumped together.
LeBec F. April 13, 2012
In the Maple recipe contest, there were no Asian CP or winner recipes. (One recipe, the beef, had soy and ginger but it didn't make it Asian for me)I don't know how to access the CPs by contest so I don't know if there were any Asian CPs or Winners for the celery or citrus contests. Anyone?
LeBec F. April 13, 2012
p.s. There is a 'kulfi' in the Maple CPs but even though the name 'kulfi ' is Indian, the ingredients did not reflect Indian, so i didn't count it as Asian.
BoulderGalinTokyo April 13, 2012
The Maple winner was announced at top of maple contest page. Scroll down and on the right will be the maple CPs.
BoulderGalinTokyo April 13, 2012
Well, I finished reading through all 188 responses to the following question (viewed by 5900-wow)

Cookbook suggestion

If you could cook from one cook book and one only...which would it be and why?
asked by skittle 9 months ago

I was one who answered Joy of Cooking-- but it got me to thinking. There really wasn't a lot of variety in the top cookbooks. So this is a call to arms:

Unite! So LE BEC FIN, Kitchen Butterfly, Panfusine, and others-with-a-speciality, we need to educate. Let's go out and inform that there's another Whole World Of Food out there!
BoulderGalinTokyo April 6, 2012
Add your answer here
BoulderGalinTokyo April 5, 2012
LBF, of course I don't have the inside track on the contest. I meant celery. A week to try the winner, runner up and CPs, all really great recipes.

But I was depressed to see so much fennel in the celery recipes. In the winner, and in 2 of 5 CPs.
I can't get fennel here and for 3 years I have tried growing it, but no luck. I even went so far as to try daikon with anise extract... well so much for Med. ingredients.
LeBec F. April 5, 2012
HONTO DES YO. agreed on all counts.
LeBec F. April 4, 2012
i can't find them galin. you have the finalists and CPs for maple?
BoulderGalinTokyo April 4, 2012
So another contest winner and CPs have been posted. Any new thoughts?
bugbitten March 25, 2012
This is a great question. I know that because it's taken me a week to come up with an answer. My answer to your original question is: yes.
BoulderGalinTokyo March 25, 2012
Panfusine , yes a dollar per stalk of celery--that's why they don't buy it so celery becomes a 'rare' category of food.
BoulderGalinTokyo March 23, 2012
Hey Sam, way down here! "Fusion" may be a term you don't like because a mixing of Greek and Southern ingredients is very prevalent in your area. Ok. Agreed. But I thought "fusion" was a little deeper. I haven't labeled my recipes as Japanese because they aren't. For example, My Celery Cheese Pie, there isn't really anything about it Japanese but I wanted to convey a sense, a feel of Japaese sweets in my pictures. Japanese don't tend to use celery and at One $ / stalk, yes, at a dollar or more per stalk, who can afford it?
Costco does sell 4 Bunches for 4 $!!!!!
Panfusine March 24, 2012
WHAAAAT.. $ a stalk?? & ppl in Tokyo buy it for that price?
LeBec F. March 23, 2012
kb, you are amazing! looking forward to more of those Nigerian specialties and learning about them.
Kitchen B. March 23, 2012
I'd like to add African food to the list.......a broad category in cuisine and cooking but I'm hoping that some of the simple variations on regular Nigerian cooking for instance will become familiar in time, first to food52 cooks and then to the world in general :-). And yes, I do plan on posting and tagging more Nigerian and African recipes.

Saying that, my Nigerian recipe for 'Suya' did win a contest, an inspiration (and validation, if needed ) to me.
davidpdx March 23, 2012
Why the Mediterranean diet is one of the most healthy in the world:
susan G. March 22, 2012
BGT, don't be shy about using 'rare' ingredients. I think many of us have pantries that would amaze you -- and I do see things creeping into supermarkets, even in my small town, that amaze me. When ingredients are not available locally, I travel periodically to huge Asian supermarkets, smaller Indian or Middle Eastern shops. Because of the internet, no place is without resources, and we can track down and buy just about anything. That's part of the adventure -- world travel in my kitchen.
BoulderGalinTokyo March 23, 2012
World travel in my kitchen-- that's a great phrase! I was hoping food52 would be that.
BoulderGalinTokyo March 22, 2012
About East Asian ingredients being rare--I try to write my recipes with ingredients that can be found in a Colorado King Soopers. I shopped there recently, and for the ingredients I didn't find I exchange with another or I don't enter that recipe.
Vegetarian ingredients can be found at Whole Foods and they have many interesting Japanese products. ZEN Temple cooking is almost always vegetarian.
And after 40 years of eating Japanese cooking I still haven't see that pig's snout yet--color me underprivileged?
Panfusine March 22, 2012
Food does tend to be a subjective topic and depends upon each persons unique sense of taste. A lot of foods from around the world may not be familiar to the testers. (e.g if I was put up for testing recipes, Nothing with OKRA wd ever get picked). thats the reason why the Food52 team puts out a good number of recipes out for the members to test. Its a great w.ay of taking into account variations in tastes & cuisine. Its a great way to accommodate variety
LeBec F. March 23, 2012

Yes, but it is those same 52 team members who have to first CHOOSE those recipes to be put out for members to test. if you catch my drift......
creamtea March 22, 2012
LBF, I don't think there is a Mediterranean bias. Since I've been here there were several Asian-themed recipes that succeeded (okonomiyaki, misoyaki (sp?) chicken, rooster sauce (w/sriracha)--I should link and give credit to the originators, but I'm just going off the top of my head. There was a turkey pho recipe too. There are so many cuisines and options, just submit all that's good! I love your recipes.
susan G. March 21, 2012
There are 2 ways I know to access the contests. Put the cursor on Contests at the top of the page, move to Past Winners on the drop down, and click. There you will see 26 pages of winners and wildcards listed chronologically, and if you click on the contest name you can see the runner up and all the entries. Tedious but complete. Also, randomly, as you look at a recipe, just under the picture you will find the contest(s) it was entered in, and you can click through on those. Not all recipes are contest entries, and (if I understand correctly), wildcards are chosen from those. This will give you a picture of how the contest have worked in the past.
This site has developed a lot in the aprox. 2 years that I've been involved, and continues to change. We're free to post our recipes, regardless of 'contests' -- and the contest guidelines tend to be very flexible. Many of the recipes are works of fusion, or melting pot. Our exposure to other cultures and cuisines inspires many food52 cooks without being representative of their own origin. Others let us all benefit from authentic recipes from their roots. We love them all...
BoulderGalinTokyo March 22, 2012
OK, Susan G, I did as you suggested (thank you) - I scrolled down all 26 pages of past contest winners and all CP and wildcard recipes that have won (really fantastic pictures)
Anyway, I think LE BEC FIN has a valid point. Pasta by many different names dominates. Rice dishes tend to risotto.
Maybe that's the fault of us East Asian cooks of not entering delicious looking ramen, soba, udon etc and rice dishes.
pierino March 21, 2012
Le Bec Fin, this week's theme is "maple season"; about as far from Mediterranean as you can get, and definitely not Asian. We don't have maple season in California but I remain undaunted as I kind of know what I want to do, and it won't be pancakes.
LeBec F. March 23, 2012
you go getum, P! why does your photo tell me that pork may be a part of this venture?:-}
LeBec F. March 21, 2012
Greeks and Lebanese in AlaBAMa?? I had no idea. Mississippi Masala by any other name? That's so cool to learn. I thought that yall were still all white bread down there. While Boston has one of America's most established Italian populations, my guess would be that there are more Greek owned pizza places here than Italian owned pizza places..
Sam1148 March 22, 2012
One of the best 'homestyle' resturants here is "Bright Star" a greek family owned place. Since 1907.
It won a James Beard award recently.
And it was basically a 'meat and 3 place' in the past. But the fish, snapper, shrimp ect are outstanding.

And multitudes of other Greek and Lebanese places. Some of the smaller places make the best Gyros I've ever had. There's a couple of places here that make "greek pizza" with gyro type meats, feta cheese, olives, and pickled peppers. Along with 'greek nachos" (same game plan with taco chips and tazaki sauce).

It's one of the reasons I hate 'fusion' as the greek places here have fused greek and southern, using gulf seafood and local produce. So, "fusion" for that is something I just shrugg off as it's kinda day to day..and has been for years here with the Greek community.
Tampa FL also has great Greek food.
ChefJune March 23, 2012
FWIW, Cat Cora (very Greek) is a native Mississippian.... and kind of famous for her cooking.
Sam1148 March 21, 2012
Food trends and tastes come and go. It wasn't too long ago that Sushi was unheard of America. Now, it's in supermarkets. In the 60's Italian was the big new thing. Most places in middle America didn't have a pizza joint and "Italian" was fine dining. This was partly because of WWII vets and the 'hipster' of the Rat Pack in the 50's, 60's. Chinese food was engulfed into American culture in the 20's and 30's.

I may have missed the boat on Mediterranean as most old school places here are owned by Greeks and Lebanese families. So to me that's just 'food' and not a region.
Greenstuff March 20, 2012
Using the simplest search, there are 104 recipes on the site that specifically identify as "Mediterranean" and 272 as "Asian." Probably a silly test, but I think it's enough to tell you that you don't have to re-orient your recipes. By the way, your photos are great--every sign that you're a designer.
LeBec F. March 21, 2012
greenstuff, that really makes me feel great; thanks so much!
ATG117 March 20, 2012
I can say that Asian food is not within my comfort zone and not something I tend to cook, but I also noticed that many of your recipes don't have accompanying photos. I know that I do not, for the most part on this site, look at recipes without pictures. For me, being able to see the finished product is important. Maybe you'd consider photographic some of your recipes.
LeBec F. March 20, 2012
thanks for that suggestion. when i first started posting recipes, my camera wasn't working but now it is, so the last 2 contests have had my photos.
LeBec F. March 19, 2012
I have long held that Indian food in the , as far as knowledge of it goes, is where Chinese food was in the U.S. prior -to -Joyce Chen (who brought Szechuan into the general American food vocabulary in the 1970's.) In the Boston area we are lucky to have a large Indian population, predominantly Gujurati, mostly due to the high tech industry here. There are now 2 Southern Indian restnts in Boston and 4 more within an hour's drive. But they exist primarily for the South Indians; most Americans still have no clue as to the complex variety of cuisines in India. So, panfusine, i agree with you completely.

I think I will write a letter to the 52 editors suggesting some contest topics that would nudge 52ers into some unfamiliar territory (seaweed, taro, soybeans/ not tofu and soybeans/tofu, spelt flour, sweet rice flour, wasabi, szechuan peppercorns and star anise, non-wheat flour bread items, sesame oil,red bean paste, dal,coconut milk, bean and vegetable-based desserts, jerusalem artichokes, salsify, liver....) But there's no alphabetical list of past contest topics -for me to check against, is there? Guess I'll just figure that some of my suggestions will have already been covered. It will be interesting to see how they respond. And also interesting, if they do decide to try one of the topics, to see how they respond to fewer 52ers posting entries in that contest (which I would predict.)
The S. March 19, 2012
Add lemongrass, galangal, curry leaves, kaffir lime to that list! I could not agree more!
Panfusine March 18, 2012
THanks so much for the wonderful validation Sdebrango.
Its interesting to see a different perspective, I thoroughly enjoy the plethora of Non asian recipes that F52 offers. (for someone upto their teeth in Indian food, I look forward to the variations of vegetarian offerings that are offered up every week), but I guess I haven't really given it that 10,00 feet view to evaluate if there is a leaning towards any particular cuisine. The Indian food represented in the winning recipes certainly is NOT a measure of the vast range of dishes from the different regions of India. It leans more towards the cliched trap of North Indian Punjabi food.
Sam1148 March 18, 2012
I think it might be an issue of accessibility and simplicity.
I cut my cooking teeth on Asian flavors and ingredients and methods.
It can sometimes be hard to convey that in recipes. (unless really parsed down).
While, Mediterranean flavors and spices are easy available, and the recipes are mostly simple.

This isn't to say there aren't great simple recipes from Asia. But things basic in some cultures aren't accessible to some and require a special market trip; star anise, dark Chinese vinegar, Miso,
five spice powder, szechuan peppercorns..etc..etc. Just aren't a part of the normal pantry here in the States unless you really pay attention or live in urban center (g).

But guess what: Things are changing, On a recent visit to wal-mart, I saw Sriracha sauce, Thai Chili paste, and curry paste, and Nori in their "Ethnic Section". The latin American section of supermarkets are now filled with lots of things we never had access too, in the outlands of Americans. And the Asian section is catching up. Trust me; when you see Sriracha sauce, and Mirin at a wal-mart in Alabama, food tastes and demand for 'new food' is catching hold.
HalfPint March 21, 2012
When Walmart starts carrying kimchi, you'll know Asian food has made it big time in America.
sdebrango March 18, 2012
I think Le Bec Fin's observation is absolutely true, I can only speak for myself, Asian cooking does not fall within my comfort zone, but I would love to learn about it. LBF, I have eagerly read all your recipes that you submitted and have great respect for your depth of knowledge and I really look forward to more and more from you and hope to make some of them soon. I feel very one sided at times growing up in an Italian household where quite frankly Italian food was served almost every day. When we went to dinner it was almost always an Asian restaurant. I have learned many Persian dishes and some Indian (we have some wonderful cooks like Panfusine and Pauljoseph) Expanding my cooking repertoire to include Asian is something I want to do.
lorigoldsby March 21, 2012
So agree with Sdebrango here...we do have some amazing cooks including Panfusine, Pauljoseph and gingerroot who give us some amazing recipes!
susan G. March 18, 2012
I think you will find a broad variety of recipes on the site, many of them 'ranked' as Community Picks in the contests. Use the search (upper right of the page) to look for non-Mediterranean, non-Western cuisines. We've had an especially 'healthy' contribution of recipes from India, Pakistan, and the Middle East, many from cooks who originate in those locations.
Part of the burden lies on you: if the contest theme is, for example, leafy greens, submit recipes of your own with leafy greens which will broaden our horizons. I think you'll inspire us.
LeBec F. March 18, 2012
susan, if you go to my recipes you will see that i have done just that! But as I said, "number of views" are very low for almost all the japanese and chinese recipes (and i do recognize that it could also be that people just aren't intrigued enough by those recipe names- to view them.) And ultimately it is the 52 staff that chooses the recipe candidates for CPs and contest winners, and if the staff are not oriented to or comfortable with Japanese and Chinese (East Asian)foods, then that fact alone will skew the direction of the 52 contests away from East Asia.

I certainly love having my culinary horizons broadened, and I'm happy to broaden the horizons of others, but if the interest (shown by # of views and picks) isn't there, then i would probably be better off re-orienting my recipes.
pierino March 18, 2012
I suppose that my own recipes, which tend to be Italian or Iberian because that's where I've spent the most time, could be described as mediterraneo-centric but actually these days I'm kind of crazy about modern Korean cooking too and I'm trying to learn as much as I can. But a theme like "celery" allows for a rather broad canvas. Earlier in the thread I mentioned "fermented fish" which is scary sounding at first but it would cover fish sauce, garum and even worcestershire sauce. Another round of "nose to tail" would also allow for Asia. Bring on the pig snout. Just make it exciting.
lloreen March 18, 2012
I think most members are more familiar with European or Mediterranean flavoured (middle eastern included I guess). that is probably why more good Mediterranean recipes are submitted and win contests here. there are a few notable exceptions like the award winning okonomiyaki recipe and several good pho versions. I, for one, love Asian food and would like to see more recipes...perhaps you have a few to add? a seaweed contest is a great idea!
LeBec F. March 18, 2012
i think i must have been muddy with my question.I'm not talking about where the participants live. I mean that most of the recipes that are submitted seem Mediterranean and almost all of the recipes that get alot of views- are Mediterranean. This is what i have observed for the short time i have been participating. so i interpret 52 as Mediterranean-centric, given my observations. That has not been your experience?
pierino March 18, 2012
Dear Le Bec Fin, I've been participating almost since the inception and the competitions have always been ingredient driven and the participants coming from all over the globe---although I'm not sure we've had any Patagonians yet. Nori as a theme would tilt toward a particular style of cooking where as "seaweed, kelp" would be broader and not a bad theme either for that matter. My favorite was "nose to tail" and I hope there will be "nose to tail 2: the revenge". "Fermented fish" would cover a lot of global territory also.
Mr S. March 18, 2012
Bring it!
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