World city, world cuisine

Generally speaking, I do not miss my old home city of London. Polluted, desperately overcrowded, eyewateringly expensive and a tad pretentious are all descriptions which come to mind. However, one thing I do miss is the huge variety of world cuisine available on every street corner- from Vietnamese to Indian, Lebanese, Mexican and Thai, it’s all there. I am not alone in missing these foods. Out of the many expats who call the Netherlands their home, nearly all of them share the same longing for a good tortilla or an authentic green curry.

Now, don’t get me wrong: there aren’t many countries in the world who can boast such perfect frites, or who prepare asparagus so well. Few countries are so versatile in their ability to take other cuisines and mould them in unique and original ways. There is an abundance of excellent modern European cuisine to be found here, along with Indonesian and more recently Japanese establishments. This is a nation of food lovers and more to the point, a nation of fanatic travelers. A long standing joke among my group of friends is that no matter where in the world you go, you will inevitably come across a Dutch person.

So it is beyond my Dutch and expat friends alike why there is such a lack of quality ethnic cuisine here in Nijmegen. The golden rule is, it does not, and in fact should not, be too pricey. Nothing is guaranteed to get a Brit or American so wound up as an ethnic food court, where you might find a plate of Korean Kimchi or a Mexican Empanada for as little as two euros. These places are often unbelievably diverse and contain upwards of a hundred stalls. This is good for the local economy, good for consumers and quite frankly, we need one in every major city. Urgently.

This is about much more than mindless consumerism. It is about making your mark as a world metropolis, exploring the culinary delights that other cultures have to offer, or at the very least getting yourself out of a dull and repetitive eating routine. A highly trusted source once told me that Nijmegen scores more highly for shop diversity than any other city in this country. So if there are any budding restauranteurs out there reading this, please provide us expats with some real culinary excitement- and let’s add the same level of diversity to this much loved city’s dining options.

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