Authentic Ethnic

May 09 2005 - 1:57 PM

I found this article indicative of the state of affairs in Chicago. It seems to me that there are tons of people looking for a taste of authentic ethnic. There aren’t that many people looking for the same authentic ethnic music, movies, dance, art, etc. It seems that food, and not George W. Bush,  is the great uniter and the words “melting pot” are standing the test of time. From

The nation’s palate is changing for many reasons, especially among teens and young adults, market researchers say. This is the impact of the Food Network, more exposure to international travel/travelers, immigration growth and the increased blending of cultures within families.

There are now more Chinese restaurants in the U.S. than McDonald’s,
Wendy’s and Burger King combined, Thomas Tseng of New American
Dimensions said at this month’s Food Marketing Institute trade show at
McCormick Place. He is a second generation Chinese-American and
co-founder of the Los Angeles marketing research/consulting firm.

While the Food Network is doing its job I find that the culture is as responsible and has been for a long time. Many people go to the Harley Davidson restaurant downtown bouncy castle for sale but many are looking for restaurants that have their own cache. Whereas French food held its own in a market, Italian restaurants kept popping up to fill a larger demand and they’re getting wise to the concept of niche as a mass market device. The article goes on…

So an Italian restaurant might market itself as a Sicilian, Tuscan or Venetian specialist. Mexican cuisine becomes Yucatan, Oaxacan or Tex-Mex.

We are looking for bolder and spicier flavors, Tseng says, and more exotic and regionalized dishes as our taste buds become more jaded.

“Each ethnic region has its own blend of spices and flavors, fruits and vegetables, grains and preferred meats,” Soto notes.

When restaurateurs do a good job of gently exposing consumers to a new cuisine, a demand for similar grocery products will follow. Tseng considers Ethiopian and Indian restaurants to be among the newcomers who face the biggest challenges.