What Is Western Cuisine?

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Western cuisine centers meals around a meat dish, primarily uses wheat, barley and rye as grain staples, tends to base sauces on butter and other fats rather than spices and uses simple herb blends instead of complex melanges. The Western palate tends to be simpler and less spicy overall, leading to complaints from other cultures that Western cuisine tastes bland.

In Western cuisine, meat is generally the centerpiece of any meal, while sweets are reserved for the end of the meal. This is distinct from Asian cuisines, in which rice or noodles are considered essential to the meal and sugary, sweet sauces are common. Cuts of meat are generally larger, with the steak being a very Western tradition. Salt and other spices are used more heavily, but they are used in simpler blends than the complex flavors of African or Asian condiments. Alcohol is often used in Western cuisine as well, particularly grape wines; this may be due to the difficulty of spices penetrating those larger cuts of meat.

Western cuisine also tends to use flavors that are similar to one another: cream and eggs, for instance, or chocolate and vanilla. This is distinct from Asian cuisine, which tends to use flavors that are dissonant in some way. For instance, Chinese Five-Spice uses a surprising (to Western palates) blend of anise, clove, pepper, cinnamon and fennel, while Italian cuisine frequently pairs tomato with Parmesan cheese – flavors that display overlapping qualities.