Italy is one of those countries that can itch any culinary scratch. Feel like something light and refreshing for a hot summer’s lunch? Pull up a plate and pile it with antipasti. Need something stodgy to soak up an inadvisable amount of alcohol? It’s time to stagger to your nearest takeaway and order something large, circular and covered in cheese. Do you have a sudden craving for something sticky and sweet? Ice creams of every conceivable flavour will keep you covered. All told, it’s a pretty exciting place for anyone who likes to eat.
Of course, stacking up one country’s cooking against another is an almost impossible task. Asking someone to choose between curry and a kebab is tantamount to deciding which of your children you’d like to leave in the airport while you go on holiday. However, an extensive new study has finally given us some insight into how we really feel about some of the world’s most famous foods. The results are telling.
The new research, commissioned by polling experts YouGov, sought to find out how different countries feel about a number of different culinary traditions, including their own, by asking subjects whether or not they “liked or disliked” the food. The study comprised over 25,000 test subjects from 24 different nations and asked them to evaluate 34 separate cuisines. After all the data was collated, it was Italian food that stood out from the crowd.
According to the numbers, not only was Italian liked by a overwhelming 99% of its own citizens, but it was also enjoyed by the Spanish (94% of those who have tried it say they like it), the French (92%), the Australians (90%) and the Filipinos (90%). In fact, the only people who seemed unconvinced were the Chinese, who registered a mere 59% approval rating. Overall, a whopping 84% of participants in the survey said that they liked Italian food.
Although Italian came out on top, it wasn’t the only style of cooking to enjoy international acclaim. It emerged that other popular cuisines included Chinese, which scored on average 78%, Japanese (71%), Thai (70%) and French (70%). Interestingly, many of these styles enjoyed higher approval ratings in Asia than Italian, but Italian numbers were far more consistent across the board.
As in any competition, where there are winners there must also be losers. Bringing up the rear of the table, Peruvian cuisine scored a shockingly low 32% approval, including a mere 16% from Japanese patrons. However, these low scores may well have been due to the fact that no Peruvians were asked to participate in the survey, and that the Japanese were found to be the nation least likely to enjoy food from abroad.
The answer to “what’s best food on earth” will be drastically different depending on who you ask. But what the new YouGov poll shows is that, if you look at broader patterns of what people like and dislike, an answer begins to become clear. It will obviously disappoint many people, but for now Italian remains at the top of the world food tree.