After trying our hand at the foods of Taiwan and Cambodia to gain a better understanding of the cuisines, we have reached a decision in their first qualifying round matchup for The World Cup of Food.
Taiwanese food, with the country’s long history of various invasive foreign rule, displayed a wide variety of tastes and influences, most of them working quite well together. This eclectic set of influences was evident in the stir-fried pork and bok choy with mushrooms we made. We even tried out a Taiwanese beer, you know, to be thorough.
Cambodian food was spicy, and a little funky. We made fish curry-custard in banana leaf bowls and bok choy with garlic oyster sauce, both dishes opening our eyes to food combination possibilities we had never considered. The flavors of fermented seafood products were front-and-center in the flavor profiles of the national dishes.
Which do we think is most worthy of future exploration? We are fascinated by the combinations of Chinese, Japanese, and even some lingering Dutch methods and ingredients come together in the food of Thailand. On the other hand, the Cambodian penchant for stinky yet somehow pleasant, palatable foods has us wondering what else they have up their national sleeves.
All said, we select Taiwan to advance to the final qualifying round in The World Cup of Food. Taiwan will meet Lebanon for a spot in the round-of-32 group stage.