Understanding a Culture Through Food

Understanding a Culture Through Food

Understanding a Culture Through Food

Understanding a Culture Through Food

Panamanian Sampler

Do you often wonder how the Spanish came up with paella or why the Japanese prefer to eat raw fish? Whenever I travel to some place new, I read about their history, learn a bit of their language and then I read about their food. My belief is that in order to immerse and understand a culture, not only do you have to inhale the same air they breathe or speak the language they speak, but you also need to taste the food the locals eat. Often times, the delicacies they revere are tied to historically significant events.  For example, in my home country The Philippines, Filipino adobo came about when the Spaniards invaded in the 16th century. When they discovered the indigenous way of stewing dishes in vinegar, they named it “adobo”. Today, Filipino adobo is my country’s most famous national dish. In this case, food tells us about a culture’s historical past.

Understanding a culture through food is an interesting process because once you start asking questions about how it was made, what ingredients are in it, or why it’s called a certain way, the answers you get are almost always and most certainly, more than what you bargained for.What can food tell us about one’s culture? Can we decipher its strengths based on the spices used? Or is the way of cooking somewhat a tell of what qualities they deem important? In truth, learning about one’s cuisine can paint a very vivid picture of one’s culture. Let’s examine for example, a country’s approach to cooking.

Understanding a Culture Through Food

Neopolitan Pizza

In Italy, food served is often only made out of a handful of ingredients, a testament to the simplicity of life the Italians like to live by. It is quite the opposite in France. We associate French culture with artistry and flamboyance and those same characteristics extend to their cuisine. French people pride themselves in knowing how to cook, so much so, that they have turned culinary learning into an art form. In this case, food tells us a characteristic of a culture’s approach to life.

2 thoughts on “Understanding a Culture Through Food

  1. Pingback: Travel Motivations: Keep me on the Road - Go 4 Travel Blog

  2. Pingback: Don Rockwell Revisits Et Voila!, Palisades | DCDiningGuide.com

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