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A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade.
Religious food laws, such as Hindu, Islamic and Jewish dietary laws, can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine.
The vegetarianism practiced in much of India has made pulses (crops harvested solely for the dry seed) such as chickpeas and lentils as significant as wheat or rice.
From India to Indonesia the use of spices is characteristic; coconuts and seafood are used throughout the region both as foodstuffs and as seasonings.
Regional cuisines may vary based upon food availability and trade, cooking traditions and practices, and cultural differences.
For example, in Central and South America, corn (maize), both fresh and dried, is a staple food.
One recent example is fusion cuisine, which combines elements of various culinary traditions while not being categorized per any one cuisine style, and generally refers to the innovations in many contemporary restaurant cuisines since the 1970s.The trade among different countries also largely affects a region's cuisine.Dating back to the ancient spice trade, seasonings such as cinnamon, cassia, cardamom, ginger, and turmeric were important items of commerce in the earliest evolution of trade.In much of tropical Africa, however, cow's milk is rare and cannot be produced locally (owing to various diseases that affect livestock).The continent's diverse demographic makeup is reflected in the many different eating and drinking habits, dishes, and preparation techniques of its manifold populations. Ingredients common to many cultures in the east and Southeast regions of the continent include rice, ginger, garlic, sesame seeds, chilies, dried onions, soy, and tofu.
Culinary culture exchange is also an important factor for cuisine in many regions: Japan’s first substantial and direct exposure to the West came with the arrival of European missionaries in the second half of the 16th century.