Two holiday meals down with thanks to all who made them possible.

In this time of food uncertainty for so many, we need to remember to be grateful for what we have. I’m always a bit curious about those holiday dinners because I know people who avoid the traditional turkey, ham or lamb.

My sister in Ohio serves lasagna and tacos. A friend here went with tortilla soup. A niece and another friend are poultry-averse so they bring out the roast beef.

We Americans consider ourselves as living in the land of “plenty” but it seems that “plenty” of food does not always translate into “best.” A quick Internet check showed that eaters from other countries chose only three of our more common dishes as meeting their standards of taste and quality. Those are burgers, Philly cheesesteak and Texas barbeque. I was startled to think that something doused in Cheez Whiz would be so popular.

In a longer and more reasoned study, TasteAtlas has ranked the 100 best “traditional” foods in the world. Those foods were rated by website viewers and, since I’ve never heard of some of the dishes named, I’m clearly not one of those participating.

Voters chose margherita pizza as best in the world. It’s certainly pretty with its red, white and green colors, and it’s a simple dish. Best, though? Let’s think about that. Number two is from Turkey — a spiced ground lamb kebab called adana kebap. That’s fun to say and, apparently, good to eat. It’s inclusion, though, makes me wonder about the voters and their knowledge of world cuisine.

The list continues through Japanese ramen, (not the kind microwaved in a cardboard cup) to a Lithuanian beet soup called saltibarscia. That soup is served over a dish of shredded cucumber and hard-boiled eggs. I can’t quite understand its appeal.

Plodding on, I finally find the USA representatives beginning with number 21. Wouldn’t you know, it’s that Texas barbecue again, this time the ribs. They are smoked as they were in the old country, seasoned and eaten without sauce. Encouraged to go on, I found fajitas at 31, cheeseburgers at 56 and fried chicken (Southern-style, of course) at 86. Three remained.

New England clam chowder showed up at 87, New York-style pizza at 89 and jambalaya in the last spot at 100. That’s four out of seven dishes from our South. A trip to the bayou, anyone?

The raters claim that the listed foods are, indeed, both regional and worldwide. I’m not so certain. In fact, I wondered if some of them had been fabricated, like khachapuri. Nope. Googled it and found it to be cheese bread topped with an egg. That doesn’t sound like either best or international, and it wasn’t and won’t be on our holiday table.

We are thankful for what we have and most grateful to agencies and volunteers such as those at PACA and the Osawatomie Food Pantry. Those mission-driven entities assure freedom from the fear of hunger in both traditional and non-traditional ways. We celebrate all that they bring to the tables and tummies of Miami County.

Margaret Hays is a longtime Osawatomie resident who writes a weekly column for The Miami County Republic.

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