"One man's grits is another man's polenta;
one woman's stollen is another woman's panetone"
I have an obsessive urge to learn, experience and experiment with various cuisines. Striking similarities and ingenious use of ingredients in the cooking techniques from various cultures never cease to amaze me. I have been studying various techniques and experimenting with them: kind friends guinea-pig themselves, all to be a part of this mammoth effort to understand the relationship between ingredients and taste buds. This quest has produced a foodbook available for your perusal/experimentation pleasures. Check out the book.
On the practical side, I follow Rumsfeld's approach: I cook with what I have in the kitchen and not what I wished I had. And, my kitchen is WYSWYU (what-you-see-is-what-you-use).