Whilst such dishes can create a sense of unity and identity, they can also be used to fuel nationalism, or to push a political agenda.
In this edition of The Food Chain, Izzy Greenfield hears the stories behind some of the most famous national foods, some based more on myth or marketing than historical fact.
She speaks to Anya Von Bremzen, author of 'National Dish', in which Anya investigates the origins of foods such as Italian pizza, Japanese noodles, Spanish tapas and Mexican tortillas. The Secretary of the Convention for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage at UNESCO, Tim Curtis, explains why some dishes are recognised for the community practices that surround them. Andrew Crook, President of the National Federation of Fish Fryers in the UK, and food historian Professor Panikos Panayi from DeMontfort University in Leicester, England, explain the complex history behind fish and chips.
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Presented by Izzy Greenfield.
Produced by Beatrice Pickup.
(Image:takeaway fish and chips with a union jack flag on a cocktail stick. Credit: BBC)