Whilst of course we all need to eat, as the American author Jonathan Saffran Foer once said ‘Food is not rational. Food is culture, habit, craving and identity’. Traditional cuisine is a central part of our cultural heritage, passed down from one generation to the next. Immigrants bring the food of their countries with them wherever they go and cooking traditional food is a way of preserving culture when we move to new places. Our attitudes to food, the behaviours and customs that revolve around what we eat, how it is prepared, and how we socialise when we share a meal makes up our food culture.
When you travel abroad what food do you miss most from home? With restaurants closed in many parts of the world, what is the first thing you want to eat “out” when the lock-down is over? What is your favourite food?
Does your country have a national dish? What is its history and what does it say about your nationality? Is it eaten in your home? Are there any customs, rituals or special celebrations associated with it?
What sort of food does your family cook and eat? Is it generally the food of your national culture or do non-native cultural influences or preferences shape your main food choices? How much variety is there in the type of food that you eat? How much variety of food from different cultures is available to you?
Now watch this short TED Talk before making some notes about the types of food you eat on the “surface culture” section of your worksheet:
Every Dish Has a Story: Mapping My Food History | Von Diaz
Finally, watch one or more of the popular short films below and consider what the film is telling us about the different types of food eaten around the world. In relation to your own nation’s dishes and other places you have visited, does the film accurately or fully represent your own experiences? What does this tell us about the opportunities and limitations of developing international understanding from these sort of sources and on the basis of perceived national culture alone?
School lunch around the world
What does the world eat for breakfast?
$1 Street Food Around The World
People try food around the world – Part 1:
People try food around the world – Part 2:
42 Foods You Need To Eat Before You Die: