Last week, the UK-based aid group Oxfam released its findings from a survey of 16,000 people to determine the world’s favorite foods.

I read the list curious to see what made the top ten–after all, there are so many different cultures and food preferences in the world, and it would be fascinating to see what trends emerged from the study.  (Plus I was hungry and looking for inspiration as to what to eat for lunch).

The top ten foods, according to the survey, were as follows:

1. Pasta

2. Meat

3. Rice

4. Pizza

5. Chicken

6. Fish/Seafood

7. Vegetables

8. Chinese food

9. Italian food

10. Mexican food

After reading the list, it kind of made sense to me.  Have you ever met anyone, for instance, who hates pasta?  The first dish that I ever learned to make was spaghetti with meat sauce, a recipe that to this day I rely on if I need to make a quick and easy dinner.  There are so many different types of pasta too, from ravioli to linguini to bowtie, and on and on and on (apparently there are over 600 shapes of pasta in this world).  Not to mention, for those of you who have been to Italy, a heaping plate of al dente (loosely translated, ‘firm to the teeth’) pasta with a savory sauce that only the Italians can pull off makes you feel one step closer to heaven.

I also found it interesting that, according to the study, Australians were the only ones to name chocolate as a favorite food.  (I agree that chocolate is a food group on its own, one with magical powers).  Also, according to the International Pasta Organization, Venezuelans hold their own against the Italians–Venezuelans reportedly consume 12 kg of pasta per capita a year (Italians consume about 26 kg a year, and can you blame them?)

Looking at the food stats and rankings also made me think about gastrodiplomacy, a fancy term that simply means that countries share and bond over their respective cuisines.  As a student of international relations, I must say that gastrodiplomacy is my favorite form of diplomacy.  The best way to get to know people, especially from a different culture, is to sit down over a meal and enjoy the food.

So, lesson of the day–if you need to make a quick meal for friends, are hosting a dinner party for international visitors, or want to pay homage to the world’s top food, grab a bag of pasta and go for it.  And buon appetito.