Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I’m not going to lie; I’m kind of a pig. I love eating. I love drinking. I just love food. Eating is definitely, without a doubt, one of my passions.

I also love to cook, and bake. I own several cookbooks and often test out my new recipes on friends. I can make some mean chocolate-chip walnut cookies, and I’ve been told that my pasta primavera is to die for.

I even watch the Food Network (pretty frequently actually). Most Sunday afternoons you can catch me glued to the television watching Molto Mario or 30-Minute Meals with Rachael Ray. And my boyfriend and I usually spend our Saturday nights by dining out downtown and coming home in hopes of catching Iron Chef America or Emeril Live.

I enjoy eating, not solely because food tastes good, but also because it tantalizes all of the senses. The smell and aesthetic presentation of a dish are enough to make me quiver. I love to see the combination of colors and textures on the plate.

And what I enjoy more than anything is trying new ethnic dishes. I like to learn about what spices and flavors the Thai or the Indian or the Italian use in their meals. I like to see what wine, beer, or mixer pairs best with their signature dishes.

For this reason, I have sampled many of Milwaukee’s ethnic restaurants. However, I feel that the majority of Milwaukeeans do not recognize what an excellent assortment of ethnic restaurants Milwaukee has to offer. In fact, I feel as though the selection is completely underrated.

And it’s unfortunate because these restaurants are truly Milwaukee’s best-kept secret. They’re the restaurants that don’t have the huge neon lights screaming at you, but rather are quietly tucked on the corner of a street or embedded in a strip mall.

They’re Abu’s on Farwell Avenue or Apollo Cafe on Brady Street. They may not be the flashiest on the outside, but like they say, you can’t judge a book by its cover. They appear more modest and humble, but their food is anything but.

Another reason these ethnic restaurants are underrated is because people are often so apprehensive to try new things that they avoid them altogether. When I first started dating my boyfriend (2 years ago) he wouldn’t eat anything ‘green’ and that was basically all I ever ate. Now I have him joining me at Sake Tumi for a spicy tuna roll and edamame. And it’s his choice, not mine!

He’s learned to be a little riskier in his food choices and to sample new things. He now understands that Milwaukee has a great selection of ethnic restaurants and he is more anxious than me to try them.

My friends are also somewhat apprehensive to go out and try a new ethnicity. When I am with them I always have to go to Chilies, Olive Garden, or Applebees. They don’t know about any of the great restaurants downtown so they just prefer to go to the same place. Which is fine every once and awhile, but isn’t it nice to switch things up sometimes?

Milwaukee is full of young, hip and trendy ethnic restaurants yet is seems as though most young people are still going to the same boring, commercialized chains. If they would begin to branch out, they would begin to see what a great selection this city has to offer. By doing a little research, reading a few reviews, and digging a little deeper it’s actually relatively easy to find a restaurant to try.

If people tried the amazing Pad Thai at the newly opened Singha Thai, or the fusion style meals that Monsoon offers, or Cubanitas mouth-watering Cuban entrees they would be instant fans!

Plus, the dishes at these restaurants really aren’t that scary or outlandish. In fact, there is something for everyone to enjoy whether you like to play it safe or like to be a little daring in your food choices. If you like it hot, have it hot. If you like it mild, that’s fine too.

By simply going tone of these ethnic restaurants you can learn more about that group of people and expand your horizons. You can learn about what the Chinese commonly use and how their food differs from other Asian ethnicities like Japanese or Thai.

So next time you’re out, just do it. Don’t go out for a boring burger and fries, but instead go out, find a new ethnic restaurant and learn to appreciate different walks of life. Trust me, pretty soon you’ll be sitting in front of the Food Network and talking to your friends about the difference between brie and camembert.

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