What's your national dish - or, is there any such thing?
In doing research for an article I’ve been writing, I was a bit surprised to find out that the two most popular dishes in Japan - often referred to as the “2 big national dishes” (二大国民食) - are not the foods that Japan is most known for elsewhere, like sushi or miso soup. They’re actually two fairly recent imports, albeit heavily adapted and changed from whatever original dishes inspired them: ramen and curry. But I guess their popularity makes sense, since both are filling and fairly inexpensive comfort foods.
I did find it interesting that curry, introduced sometimes in the 1870s or so, and ramen, which was most likely brought to Japan by Chinese immigrants in the early part of the 20th century, have become so familiar and ingrained in Japanese culture that almost no one questions their positions at the top. (When it comes to no. 3 on the list, there’s quite a lot of debate, though the majority opinion seems to go to sushi.)
The relative newness of ramen and curry may actually help them have nationwide appeal. A lot of older foods came into existence in various regions in the days before mass communication and advertising and transportation and so on, and in some cases their appeal remains regional. For instance, while natto is available anywhere these days, people in the eastern part of Japan tend to like it a lot more than people in the west, who didn’t grow up with it. There’s actually many kinds of regional sushi too - the kind that’s become universally popular is Edomae, or Edo (old Tokyo) style. Even the kind of rice people prefer varies by region. People in the Tohoku area tend to prefer rice that’s less sticky, while people in southern Kyushu favor sticky, slightly sweet rice.
I then started looking into what the “national dishes” of other countries were. And again, you run into the same problem I think. For example the Wikipedia article on national dishes lists pot au feu and crêpes as the national dishes of France. I know plenty of French people who would beg to differ with that. Crêpes (or the savory version made with buckwheat, galettes or galettes bretonnes) are a staple of the diet in the Bretagne (Brittany) region, but you barely see it at all in say, Provence…unless you go to a special crepe restaurant. Or how about the Wikipedia listing for Switzerland, fondue? Sure, fondue is popular - in certain regions of Switzerland. And fondue is what tourists expect when they visit the country, so that’s what they often do get in restaurants. But in the Zürich area where The Guy was born and raised, traditional dishes are things like sausages with bread or rösti (shredded potato pancake) or Zürigschnätzlets, a creamy stew with veal. Or how about the U.S.? Again, Wikipedia lists hamburgers and apple pie - but really? What about pizza (but what kind? Deep dish Chicago style? New York style?) or barbeque (what kind again?) or… You get the idea.
Anyway - what, in your opinion, should be regarded as the National Dishes of your country? Is it even possible to select just two or three such things? If so, what would you select, and why? To make this tough, let’s limit it to just three items. ^_^