Pick any cuisine you love. Mexican? You can plant avocados, jicama, chili peppers, cilantro. Italian? Tomatoes, of course, and eggplant, zucchini, garlic, basil, fennel. How about North African cuisine? Apricots, lentils, olives, ginger, peppermint, even saffron.
Some of the cuisines that require more specialized ingredients come from the Southeast Asian countries. And to simplify things for you, Steve Asbell has put together a tremendously helpful post on his blog, The Rainforest Garden, that outlines more than 30 vegetables, fruits, herbs, and spices that are commonly used in Thai cooking and other Southeast Asian cuisines. Want to know how to grow turmeric, arrowroot, or yard-long beans? He's got you covered. And what's more, many of these plants are beautiful as well as flavorful, so they can be tucked in among your ornamental plants.
Gardening by cuisine gives you a palette of ingredients to cook with, which makes preparing some of those complicated foreign dishes more accessible and saves you from the trip to the international food aisle of the grocery store to pick up this or that special item. All it takes is planting a bit of the world in your backyard.
Illustration: Steve Asbell