From a reader, here's an interesting question I think you readers might be able to answer:
Been reading your site for a longtime and love your food focus. I've been reading 'The Omnivore's Dilemma' and near the end Pollan talks about all cultures being omnivorous but picking a selection of the available foods (forming their cuisine) and about all cultures having rules of eating (whether they're codified concretely or not). This got me wondering if anyone has collected in one place the essence of different cuisines (what are the things that make Japanese food Japanese and what are the tricks, like soy fermentation in this example, that they have used to provide adequate nutrition). I mean cookbooks contain this wealth but you'd need to comb an awful lot of cookbooks to glean many cultures (especially since the marketplace of books covers only a limited set of the world). And also, this got me wondering if anyone has collected the cultural rules of eating (for example not talking during meals in some cultures while lengthy conversations are expected in others).
I'm guessing you've read a lot of books on food. Do you have anything you can recommend along these lines?