Do border regions have better food? What exactly counts as a border region? The parts of the United States near Canada? The best food in Italy is not obviously at the (rather skimpy) borders. China and India might be the best food countries in the world, but because they are so large most of their cuisine is not “border cuisine.” So I say no.https://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2022/11/requests-from-benedikt.html
As always, read the whole post – and in particular, the Wikipedia link to James Steuart (not a typo). But given my deep love of all things gastronomical, I wanted to expand on this point a bit.
- Tyler’s first question is worth thinking about (what exactly counts as a border region?), and the way I choose to define it more or less defines the direction in which this post is going to go. A border region, for the purposes of this post, is where a confluence of two or more cultures is observed. That is a ridiculously loose definition, I know, but this is a blogpost, so please let’s go with this for the moment.
- Does that definition necessarily mean better food? Well, that requires a definition of the phrase “better food”, but more variety and a greater degree of syncretism can reasonably be expected.
- Think Massaman curry in Phuket, for example. Read this paragraph from that Wikipedia article to get a sense of what I’m trying to get at. This spice, frequently used in both Chinese cuisine and coastal Indian cuisine(s) is another good example.
- Will the food in Chennai be necessarily better than in the interior parts of Tamil Nadu? Not necessarily, but it will be more varied in terms of influences, and especially as a tourist, that’s a good thing. It’s a good thing in general too, if you ask me!
- A confluence of culture is likely to be positively correlated with greater commerce, and that is likely to imply higher rent for real estate. Higher prices will imply a greater incentive to be better at making and selling food, so the quality will likely be higher (so long as you know where to look and how to choose). You could make the same point for costs of labour.
- More trade is also likely to imply fresher ingredients, and therefore better food.
What else am I missing?
So my answer would actually be yes, but it very much depends on how you define “border cuisine”.