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Kim Sophie

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At first glance, a hamburger and French fries may seem to be the national dish of the U.S., but a closer look reveals that our
country's culinary influences operate much deeper than our fast food franchises. The consequences of our immigrants

Italians, Germans, Irish, Mexicans, Asians, and South Americans, to name a few

Have been appreciated for over two hundred years. The U.S. is not referred to as a melting pot for nothing. Perhaps the single
strongest influence on American cuisine has been the fact that immigrants kept the center of their states' characters during their
cooking. While Italians continue to gather around big bowls of pasta, both the Germans and Eastern Europeans remain fond of the
dumplings, the English still enjoy their potpies, along with the fast assimilation of the Asians' stir frys to the American
culinary culture caused the cuisine becoming one of our most popular takeout choices. Increased ethnic migration has caused a
concentration of Hispanic and Caribbean cultures in one part of the nation, Asian in another, with the first European influences
still holding strong in pockets throughout the country. This migration, coupled with curiosity about traveling and simple
adventurism, perpetuates experimentation with all the various tastes and flavors of faraway lands by U.S. consumers. From
restaurants into home flats, experimentation with cultural cuisines persists. As a consequence of the experimentation, the
implements used to cook these conventional foods have become an integral component of the American kitchen. "Great ethnic items
have become a norm in the American kitchen in a very short time," said Tex Harrison, owner of Complements to the Chef, a
kitchenware store located in Asheville, N.C."For most Americans, the pasta pot as well as the wok are principles in the kitchen.
And, regionally, many other ethnic items such as the pizzelle, the aebleskiver, as well as the tortilla press are a must in the
kitchen," she explained. Everyday Ethnic Certain"cultural" cuisines, such as Italian, quickly became part of our daily lives,
while some, like French, remained largely something to be appreciated as a particular meal in a restaurant. The Degree to Which
foreign cuisines were assimilated into American culinary practices most likely was affected by the way they were perceived

Italian cooking has been something relatively simple, with French and its sometimes complicated sauce reductions staying a

intimidating cuisine for most. However, the tide is shifting. Retailers are finding heightened consumer interest in
conventional"ethnic" cookware, in addition to special purpose cultural items. Since the ethnic population develops, ethnic
cuisines as well as the resources and cookware required to prepare them become mainstream. For retailers selling cookware, Many
Different things once deemed"ethnic" are now a part of the everyday product mix

The pasta pot, wok, paella pan, crepe pan, and fondue pot, for instance. "Ten to 15 years back, the wok was the very innovative
cultural cookwareitem," remembers Janie Williams, owner of Home & Farm Supply. "Today, the wok is a vital piece from the kitchen,"
she said. Williams' sentiments mirror those of the National Restaurant Association's Ethnic Cuisines II Report

It says that Italian, Mexican, and Chinese cuisines have gone mainstream. Furthermore, it notes that consumers are becoming more
aware of other cultural foods, including Indian, Caribbean, Japanese, Spanish, as well as Soul Food. The wok is simply one of
several cultural kitchenware things which has crossed the line from ethnic to ordinary. "Years ago, ethnic was distinguished
mainly with a people's civilization and in which they dwelt," Williams added. "But now , our country is so diverse in our cultural
makeup these cultural influences, old and new, are far more easily assimilated into everyday American lifestyle. That's really
true that ethnic cookware becomes a part of what we sell every day," she said. Further spurring the rise of ethnic cookware in the
retail level is the current shift in highbrow to lowbrow homestyle cooking, irrespective of its origins. This resurgence of
interest in humble foods from around the world has helped deliver the casual cuisines to the forefront. As a sort of backlash into
a planet Full of fast food, slow cooking is finding its way back into the kitchen

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And are cooking implements like the well-known cast iron French oven that evenly absorbs and transmits low heat to brown and
simmer food slowly on the stovetop or in the oven. As a natural progression to the home cook, retailers can offer many different
cultural cookware products created to generate exactly the identical effect, adding greater depth to the ethnic cookware category.
For slow cooking, the French oven comes immediately to mind, but the doufeu, although a classic favorite in the French kitchen, is
likely to be new to American consumers. This enameled cast iron kettle has an indented lid which cradles ice to condense the
internal steam for long, slow, low heat cooking. The bud's name means"gentle heat" and its popularity harks back to a classic
style of cooking. Other factors for slow cooking are the daubiere, a clay cooking pot made from earthenware which recreates the
salt packs, leaf wraps, or clay seals that were used in bygone days to seal in natural juices, thereby allowing the steam to
generate tender fish, poultry, or beef. Ethnic Endurance As new cultural cookware items hit the retail scene, interest in people
once specialty cultural items like the pasta pot and the wok hasn't waned. Manufacturers continually upgrade and reinvent items to
keep up with the times. New materials or user friendly layouts keep customers interested in new versions of those things for their
own kitchen assortment. The pasta pot is a great example. Five distinct pasta pots are carried at Home & Farm Supply. "The very
first one we transported," reminisced Williams,"was a lightweight stainless steel insert used strictly for pasta. We now have
several pasta pots for several uses

One with a tri ply bottom and another insert that clients can use for steaming vegetables." Similarly, the wok has undergone
modifications since it came onto the American culinary scene in the mid 1900s. At that moment, clients paid less than $30 to get a
wok. Now they are paying upwards of $169 for types in copper, enamel, or nonstick. "And when clients are spending that much money,
they'll figure out a variety of unique methods to utilize it," added Williams. Specialty retailers have spurred sales in the
specialty cultural items by embracing the varied applications of cultural cookware. "You can take the insert out of a pasta pot or
some couscoussier and use the pot as a stockpot," suggested Jan Marshall, buyer for Sur La Table. "They can also be used to blanch
vegetables." Besides boosting numerous uses for cultural cookware pieces, retailers also have the chance to generate ancillary
product sales. With every pasta machine purchase, Williams's customers are motivated to buy a ravioli rolling pin or a pasta
drying rack,"items that will keep clients returning and thanking us for our excellent suggestions," Williams explained. Ethnic
Diversity Certainly consumer and eating trends help drive the sale of certain things, but what may sell like gangbusters in one
area of the country may generate little interest in another. "If my shop was located in San Francisco, we'd certainly make more
space for Asian inspired items," explained Williams. This category includes such things like rice paddles for mixing and serving
riceJapanese knives; electric rice cookers, a staple in the majority of Japanese kitchens; or even the donabe casserole, an
earthenware pot glazed on the interior that is employed as an alternative to some cast iron shovel. However, Williams does not
completely ignore those bits. Instead of carrying a smattering of cultural items in hopes that customer interest will be high,
Williams listens to the needs of her clients to ascertain which cultural items to carry. "We do listen to those clients who have
been traveling and have demonstrated interest in certain cuisines or items," she explained. Williams also follows magazines,
restaurant trends, and television food displays to help determine which ethnic items her clients are most interested in
purchasing. Beyond these fashion indicators, population demographics are another indicator of the possible success of cultural
cookware. As the nation's cultural population keeps growing, the influx of Hispanic influenced cuisine continues to rise in pubs
and on cooking shows, and is expected to continue to affect the American palate. As this consumer interest grows, the tendency
will diversify into regional differences between many of the Hispanic cuisines, including individuals from the Caribbean, South or
Central America, Mexico, and Spain. Mexican cuisine is just one targeted for continued expansion

Being diversified by areas within Mexico. Products to think about in this category include: a variety of terra cotta bakers

The casuelas for soups and stews, or even the ollas, which are taller and used for beans; distinct sized earthenware cooking pots
which may be used for enchiladas or perhaps casseroles; the tortilla press, generally made of cast aluminum or iron (that's unless
you can get your hands on a traditional wooden selection ); along with the molcajete, a lava rock mortar and pestle used in Mexico
for producing salsa. Ethnic Exploration Exploration of different cultures may enable retailers to champion the cause of cultural
cuisines. "That does not necessarily require seeking out just the complicated or expensive products. Instead, a lot of ethnic
cooking is accomplished using simple tools like the tortilla press, or a Mexican comal, that is similar to a griddle," explained
Marshall. Ethnic cookware mirrors the prevalence of a nation's cuisine. "It's become a true appreciation for a country's regional
specialties," added Marshall. And to truly enjoy the implements required to recreate these ethnic foods in your home, members of
their Sur La Table team make it a point to go to the country and experience the meals the way they're loved in their own locale.
Williams does admit there are particular items which remain specialty in nature, defined as those items which are more special
function. The aebleskiver pan is an illustration with its own round, dimpled surface and small bowl like depressions used to make
dumplings, a Danish specialization. "People are into cultural cooking," explained Marshall. "Whether retailers select one category
or five to represent from the store, it makes ethnic cooking more fun while utilizing the authentic implements. Customers will
stretch their imaginations." Ethnic Ebb and Flow On one hand, particular ethnic items are staples in the kitchen. However, for
some, the tide of many cultural items has come and gone. For Tex Harrison, this thing was the Mongolian hot pot. "As large as
Asian is these days, I am surprised it hasn't seen a resurgence," Harrison said. She does point out that for smaller retailers
getting the genuinely unique ethnic items can be difficult, especially when not sourcing the product yourself You've got to
convince your importers to seek out some of the products. Because of this, Harrison is determined by the ethnic specialty items
that have gone mainstream,"just good ethnic items," according to her. As the propensity to amuse huge groups at home comes back
into fashion, cookware conducive to fun has enjoyed a renewed popularity. One such thing making a significant comeback in Home &
Farm Supply is your raclette, a specialty item Williams had carried for years without much success. But a simple in store
demonstration drew attention to the raclette and earnings have quickly improved. "We are currently selling them on a continuous
basis," explained Williams. The same is true of the fondue pot, a favorite thing from the 1970s. Yet more, demonstrations
highlight the versatility of the fondue pot past the meat and oil mix to chocolate and cheese fondues. Harrison questions whether
clients are actually using some ethnic items to cook in your home. "I wonder if they're actually making tortillas at home or just
using the media for decoration," she wondered. The exact same can be said of the tagine, an extremely popular product for Sur La
Table, and one which has graced the company catalogue's pages numerous times. Marshall discovered that clients were using the
tagine more as a decorative serving slice rather than to actually cook couscous. The company adapted and today offers a tagine
designed for serving rather than just cooking. Authentic Ethnic For years, Americans have welcomed the foods of lands into their
kitchens, while specialty retailers have sought to supply the quickest and also the education on how to replicate those cultural
foods in the home. Whether it is the old stand by rice pot or the exotic cataplana, specialty retailers are finding that as
American home cooks are still adventuresome in the kitchen, cultural cookware more than ever before must be a staple at the shop.

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