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Cuisine (from French cuisine, "cooking; culinary art; kitchen"; ultimately from Latin coquere, "to cook") is a specific set of cooking traditions and practices, often associated with a specific culture. Religious food laws can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. For example, the American-Chinese dish chop suey clearly reflected the adaptation of Chinese cuisine to the ingredients available in North America.
see also the history of food
The last century has produced enormous improvements in food production, preservation, storage and shipping. Today almost every locale in the world has access to not only its traditional cuisine, but also to many other world cuisines as well. New cuisines are constantly evolving, as certain aesthetics rise and fall in popularity among professional chefs and their clientèle. Nevertheless, French cooking techniques have been a major influence on virtually all Western cuisines.
In addition to food, a cuisine is also often held to include beverages, including wine, liquor, tea, coffee and other drinks. Increasingly, experts hold that it further includes the raw ingredients and original plants and animals from which they come. The Slow Food movement is a global effort to preserve local plants, animals, and techniques of food preparation. It has 70,000 adherents in 50 countries (mainly in the Latin countries of Europe).
There are also different cultural attitudes to food, for example:
- In India, consumption of food is regarded as an offering, a Yajna. Thus the stomach is considered to be a homakunda (holy fire) and all the food consumed is an offering to the holy fire.
- In Japan, tea drinking is a fine art and there is an elaborate ceremony about it. Not drinking tea in the right way is considered to be an act of barbarism.