Asian cuisine styles can be broken down into several tiny regional styles that have rooted the peoples and cultures of those regions. The major types can be roughly defined as: East Asian with its origins in Imperial China and now encompassing modern Japan and the Korean peninsula; Southeast Asian which encompasses Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and thePhilippines; South Asian states that are made up of India, Burma, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan as well as several other countries in this region of the continent; Central Asian and Middle Eastern.
In much of Asia, the term does not include the country’s native cuisines. For example, in Hong Kong and mainland China, Asian cuisine is a general umbrella term for Japanese cuisine, Korean cuisine, Filipino cuisine, Thai cuisine, Vietnamese cuisine, Malaysian and Singaporean cuisine, andIndonesian cuisine; but Chinese cuisine and Indian cuisine are excluded.
Pacific Islander Food & Culture
Most of the Pacific Islands lying south of the Tropic of Cancer are collectively referred to as Oceania, although Oceania is sometimes defined as also includingAustralasia and the Malay Archipelago. These islands are traditionally grouped into the three divisions of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia:
- Melanesia means black islands. These islands, south of the equator, include New Guinea (the largest Pacific island and second largest island in the world afterGreenland, which is divided into the sovereign nation of Papua New Guinea and the Indonesian provinces of Maluku, Papua and West Papua), New Caledonia,Zenadh Kes (Torres Strait Islands), Vanuatu, Fiji, and the Solomon Islands.
- Micronesia means small islands. These include the Northern Marianas, Guam, Wake Island, Palau, the Marshall Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, and the Federated States of Micronesia, although sometimes Nauru and Kiribati’s Banaba island are listed separately from Micronesia. Most of these lie north of the equator.
- Polynesia means many islands. These islands, mostly south of the equator, include New Zealand, the Hawaiian Islands, Rotuma, the Midway Islands, theSamoan Islands (divided between the Independent State of Samoa and American Samoa), Tonga, Tuvalu, the Cook Islands, Wallis and Futuna, Tokelau, Niue,French Polynesia, and Easter Island. It is the largest of the three zones.
The first inhabitants on the islands of the Pacific came from Southeast Asia more than 20,000 years ago. They were hunters and gatherers who depended on the plentiful supply of seafood from the ocean that surrounded them. They became known for the great fishing skills they developed.
New islanders who arrived around 3000 B.C. are believed to have introduced agriculture to the Pacific region. Bringing with them seeds and livestock from the Asian mainland, they planted and harvested crops and bred animals. They introduced foods including bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, yams, and breadfruit. The animals they