Food practices such as cooking and eating are often a reflection of a country of culture. Food is made out of the available ingredients hence is therefore connected to geographical locations and their established communities. In most cases, we meet each other in the restaurants and considering what they are eating; we often find ourselves associating them with certain regions or cultures. It is surprising how people from different areas of the world prefer different types of food. The addiction to a specific kind of food by a certain region or group of culture demonstrates how food is an important part of a culture. We often wonder why there are specific restaurants that offer specific cultural dishes, for instance, why we have a Chinese restaurant in the United States. The truth of the matter is that there exists a strong bond between food and culture than people imagine.
The work by Makhijani, Pooja, The Tahri That Binds, represent the exact experience people have with food. People grow up eating the specific food of their culture, and it eventually becomes part of who they are. Most people connect foods from their childhood with warm feelings often associated with good memories. These memories create family ties, holding special and personal values for every individual in the culture. Food from our culture as well as our families mostly become the comfort food we often seek as adults during our hard times such frustrations and stress in life. At times we also seek our traditional foods when we want to achieve self-identity. It is for that reason why Makhijani, Pooja finds herself shifting back to their traditional foods, associated with their Hindu Sindhi tradition.
In a cultural context, what one eats define who they are and who they are not. Food habit contributes to development and transmission of culture in our society. When we define culture, it is said to comprise of belief, values as well as attitudes exercised and accepted by a group or members of the society. It is therefore obvious that culture is not inherited but learned. The food choices experienced across the world among different cultural groups surprisingly are interconnected to ethnic behavior and religious beliefs.
Eating is a daily reassertion of ones’ cultural identity. (Kittler et al.)
Most people associate the food with their tradition, their childhood with warm and favorable feelings as well as memories. The food is, therefore, part of who an individual is and what they become. It links us to our families and possesses a special value in our life.
Food equally forms an important part of the culture. Majorly people cook almost the same type of foods for instance rice from Asia to Africa. The difference is experience in the traditional cuisine that varies from one culture to the other and is passed from generation to generation that makes African Americans cooks differently from White Indian Americans despite living in the same country over the years. The traditional cuisine creates a cultural identity; people cook foods in their traditional ways preserving their culture in wherever they are as witnessed with Makhijani, Pooja’s family and the other Hindu Sindhi diaspora in the United States from Pakistan. Their traditional food, tahri, acts as the link between Hindu Sindhi in the diaspora and the rest at home. It brings memories of belonging to the community and a sign of coping with homesickness. It is also a sign of pride in the culture hence provides easy identification of in a given culture.
In most case, the differences in cultures’ unique cuisines often reflect different cultural lifestyles, cultural values and even different beliefs. For instance, in China, they have a crucial trait of harmony that appears in almost every aspect of their lives. It is equally reflected in Chinese cuisine, with nearly all their flavors mainly salty, spicy, sour, sweet, and bitter is used in a reasonable manner creating a unique balanced flavor that matches their harmony. Also, traditionally, Chinese people possess an ornate style, usually visible in their architectures and costumes as well as their food. The Chinese has a tradition of making food nutritious and looks appealing hence employs more effort in decorating their food, such that they appear colorful with vibrant red as their traditional color. It is a means of Chinese unique identification. It is equally the same as the United States where cuisine reflects vast history. The colonization by European introduced European ingredients as well as their cooking styles while the influx of the immigrants in the 20th century from different regions introduced the rich diversity in food preparation witnessed all over the country.
To sum it up, we have realized that food has a powerful impact on people and groups in our society. Food, memories, identity and culture are linked to one another and relate to individual’s life. Food forms a strong bond that interconnects our societies especially individuals who share the same cultural background. Our eating habit is influenced by our culture as witnessed from the article by Makhijani, Pooja. The geographical or societal settings determine our eating habits and the associated foods. Thus, with our foods, we are easily identified and classified.
Makhijani, Pooja. The Tahri That Binds: How A Sweet Rice Dish Connects A Woman To Her History