A quick pondering upon cultural identity and food


Not only is this a humongous subject, it’s a tough one at that. One of the first things people inquire about when you come back from your holiday, is the food. We judge Airlines by the peanuts (I like flying BA for their dry roasted nuts, though the nibbles at Air Canada were not bad, either) and their meals (I nearly threw up the parsnip curry Air Canada offered me, but liked the KLM lasagne), though the safety and maintenance aspects are without a doubt of more significance. They’re just a little harder to see for the untrained eye.
On a more troublesome note, we have a tendency to judge entire culture by their cuisine. The negative image of the cabbage gives the whole middle European culture an aura of greyness and peasantry. How can anything refined come out of the domain of the pierogi? Would Arvo Part compose lighter music if he didn’t have to eat al this cabbage and potato heavy food? (and if so, would I still like it?)
One thing that global migration does, is make food from all over the world more accessible to people who aren’t necessarily globetrotters. I’ve been exposed to Ethiopian food, without setting foot on the entire continent. I can cook a relatively decent Indonesian meal, without having travelled there. Within a 1 kilometre radius from my house Dutch, Indonesian, Mexican, Greek, Italian, Indian, Surinamese, Turkish, Moroccan, Ethiopian, Romanian and Chinese restaurants are readily available. I feel like I know a little thing about a country by eating its food. I know it’s only one aspect of a culture, but it’s not an insignificant one. Otherwise, why would so many migrants set up restaurants in their new country of residence? Well, in all likelihood, restricted access to other fields of work because of language barriers and blatant racism might have something to do with it, too.

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