Four Foods I Wish My Western Friends Knew About

Only a fraction of the world’s foods ever makes it to our local stores — let alone our plates.

Omar Sharaki

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Photo by NordWood Themes on Unsplash

As connected as our global trade networks are, one would think the world has effectively shrunk down to the size of a large village, where every commodity is just a drive, walk, or even click away. Although this is true to a large extent — especially when compared to even just a few decades ago — the world still has its fair share of things that you and I have not yet encountered.

Take something like quinoa, for instance, a food grown and eaten for thousands of years in the Andes region in South America that only relatively recently made its global debut when it took the US by storm, even being named 2013’s food of the year by the UN General Assembly. Were it not for that surge in popularity, you and I may never have heard of, much less eaten, quinoa.

Photo by Ella Olsson on Unsplash

I am constantly reminded of this whenever I come across some completely new food, be it a fruit, vegetable, grain, or seed. In these moments, I’m left to wonder how much else I haven’t discovered and am reminded of my own childhood in Egypt and the foods we used to take for granted, which are suddenly hard to come by now that I’ve moved abroad — and that’s assuming one’s even looking for them.

I’m also reminded of it when my friends come to visit and are surprised by something in my kitchen, or when I’m surprised by something in theirs. So I thought I’d share some of my favorite foods that I grew up with in my little corner of the world, and why you should consider giving them a taste.

Carob

Carob is a tree that has been widely cultivated in the Mediterranean basin and the Middle East for its edible pods going back 4,000 years. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians and Greeks used this plant for its wide-ranging benefits as a source of food and medicine.

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Omar Sharaki

Software developer, standup comedian, and guy you wouldn’t mind sitting next to on a plane.