Today, Immigrants proudly use food as means to retain their beautiful cultural identity. People coming from different backgrounds certainly prefer different foods. Interestingly, the preparation methods, ingredients, food types and its preserving methods vary among different cultures. The areas and ancestral origination highly influence the likes or dislikes of food and results in various food choosing patterns within regional or cultural group.
For instance, a cute box filled with chocolates would be highly appreciated as a gift in western countries compared to a box of carrots or cabbage. Whereas, that similar thing would be an inappropriate gift in other countries
Countries and nations associate themselves with certain kinds of food. Like, Italy is known for pastas and pizzas whereas; people in Italy have various other kinds of food, and its preparation methods also vary from nations to nations. “Potatoes and meat” are loved by families in the Unites states although it is not known to be a national cuisine for them. In southern US, grits are fondly eaten by families however, this food item is only available in upper Midwest.
What we are trying to imply here is, regional habits of food do exist but it also happens to change after a certain time. As immigration of people takes place, food preferences and practices are imported as well as exported along with them. Families that newly move to places try and incorporate their preferences with new recipes and ingredients of that nation experimenting to satisfy their own taste. Apart from that foods from New Zealand, United States, or Australia are imported to different countries as people and food both are mobile and hence one cannot characterize people or a country through their food as it would be inaccurate.
Food and culture are hence complex as things that are a delicacy or edible in few places would not be edible in other. However, the food we eat is selected on the basis of our physical need, the kind of beliefs and values a society tries and attach to the potential eating items clearly define the people of a cultural group would eat. For instance, animal and plants both happens to be a reliable source for nutritional requirement like beef, soybeans, dog and horse meat is adequate sources for protein. Yet the symbolic value attached to the animals by certain people, prevent them from eating it.
Some food practices and beliefs are because of religious sentiments, like how Muslims experience fasts during the month of Ramadan, whereas Jews, who are orthodox or conservative follow kosher diet. Hinduism, Jainism, Buddhism are vegetarians as they promote non violence.
Culture plays a great role in food etiquette. Few people prefer eating with spoons and fork or chop sticks, while others find eating with hands pleasant. Among few groups licking fingers is polite while in few groups it is not. South East Asians and Middle Eastern leave food on the plate for portraying satisfaction, likewise leaving food on the plate may indicate bad manners for few.
Hence, food traditions widely vary across the world, even though people who share similar backgrounds, eating habits or food patterns are not so identical. That’s how complex it is when it comes to food and culture nevertheless it paves a way for strengthening and building cross culture relationships.