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Grand, overarching summations derived from research papers must always be viewed skeptically, but the global organization Oxfam is well-regarded for its research, and its only real agenda is feeding folks, something they've been working on since the 1940s. They know a bit about global food trends, and recently did a worldwide survey asking over 15,000 people about their eating habits. It's a fascinating report, and I'll hack through it later, but I want to focus on one of the more interesting findings: that pasta is the most popular meal in the world--even more popular than meat.
The countries used in the survey included Australia, Brazil, Germany, Ghana, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Mexico, Netherlands, Pakistan, Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Spain, Tanzania, UK and the USA. Notice the obvious gap? East Asia--but given the region's proud noodle traditions, I think it can safely be said that pasta (if we stretch it to its literal meaning) would've retained its crown, and that rice (third on the survey) would've overtaken meat, currently ranking at número two.
Other fascinating findings: pizza is the fourth-most popular food in the world, and the world's most popular ethnic cuisines occupy the seventh through tenth slots: Chinese, Italian, and Mexican, respectively. American fast food? Nowhere to be found.