Jon Cassie is an educator, writer, podcaster and game designer based in Southern California. See his work at Game Level LearnIlinx and SchoolNEXT.

Top 5! - Cuisines

I'm not an especially adventurous eater, the hakarl notwithstanding. There are, however, a number of cuisines which, thanks to thoughtful friends who could help me navigate the menus when I didn't know what was what, I have come to really appreciate and want to get to know better. They are:

5 - Soul Food
I know there might be those of you out there who might quibble that Soul Food might not be that adventurous (or, if you're a philistine, that it isn't even a cuisine), but for a New Englander like me, it certainly was when I tried it the first couple of times. John and I regularly visit a Soul Food restaurant we love in Palm Springs (Simba's), but I think it's time to branch out.

4 - Vietnamese
A cuisine I really want to get to know better. I've had pho, of course, and other dishes that tasted like lighter versions of Chinese dishes, but I'm pretty sure that there's more to Vietnam's cuisine than I know so far.

3 - Tamil
I have a (now) decades long love affair with the foods of India. It was here that I first broke out of the foodways prison that is New England eating (where salt was a spice, pepper a vulgar corruption and boiling the preferred method of cooking everything). But my Indian food experience has been mostly in northern Indian cuisine. Last year I had the chance to visit a Southern Indian (Tamil) restaurant and have a dosa. It isn't much, but it sure isn't northern Indian food!

2 - Moroccan
Ooohhh...do I love me some Moroccan food, but I don't get to eat it nearly enough, even though there are good Moroccan restaurants in LA. Some of the most lovingly prepared food I've ever eaten was when I was in Dimona, in Israel, on a tour with dozens of other LA teachers. We were invited into a private home and served course after course of the most savory dishes...even though I ate this meal 8 years ago, I remember its fish courses, its fruit-infused lamb stews and its complex sweets like it was yesterday.

1 - Afghan
Afghanistan is such a crossroads anyway, it's no surprise that its cuisine melds qualities of Middle Eastern and Indian food in ways that just explode with flavor. There aren't enough Afghan restaurants in Los Angeles! I'm going to be looking for palao, flatbread, dumplings and kabob this year!

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