What constitutes ‘ethnic’ food differs from person to person. Someone of Italian descent may dine regularly on garlic-infused pasta dishes, while a person from another area of the world may find such foods exotic.
In the cultural melting pot of North America, various cuisines representing countries that span the globe are within arm’s length for many people. According to Technomic, a Chicago-based research firm, 77 percent of Americans enjoy ethnic foods while dining out once a month. Around 38 percent order ethnic food weekly. In addition, many more people prepare ethnic cuisine at home.
A growing interest in ethnic foods is fueled by young people. Technomic notes that millennials are more apt to want to try various cuisines and then incorporate them into their regular dining experiences. The National Restaurant Association found that 60 percent of people are likely to ‘tie their favorite ethnic food to their family history.’ Interest in ethnic foods tends to be highest in urban areas where restaurants and ingredients may be more readily available.
When it comes to the top ethnic cuisines enjoyed throughout the states, Chinese, Mexican and Italian rally for the top spots on diners’ plates. While the NRA has Italian cuisine as earning top-billing, Technomic’s list says that Chinese food, at 76 percent, followed by Mexican food (74 percent) and Italian (71 percent) comprise the biggest ethnic draws. Japanese or sushi comes in a distant fourth at 32 percent in the United States.
The percentage of people who cook these foods as opposed to eating them out at a restaurant varies. Chinese food is most widely enjoyed in a restaurant setting, while Italian food is frequently whipped up at home.
As immigration tides change, ethnic cuisine may change with them. However, interest in experiencing ethnic dining is likely to remain consistent.