Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, renowned gastronome once wrote in 1825, “Tell me what you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. ” This goes a long way in describing American culture as well as other cultures in the world. The kind of food we eat, the ingredients and their origin, how we prepare the ingredients to make a certain recipe, and ultimately how we consume and share it, is significant in showing our character, who we are, and where we are from. In America our food shows us the evolution of our society’s character.
This can be seen throughout history in the United States and it continues today. In the beginning the food Americans consumed was based upon each immigrant’s nationality and its melding with other immigrant’s cooking. America was becoming more diverse and so was its food. American food sources were from all over the world. It also had its own unique foods native to the United States to choose from and use to invent American cuisine. In the early stages of the countries foundation the food exposed the future of American society.
The diversity of our country can be seen in the food Americans eat. We can see food customs often correlate with particular religious and spiritual rituals; births, weddings, and funeral ceremonies. For instance, Germany it is believed that a piece of cooked apple must be put into a newly born baby’s mouth to sanctify the baby’s right to live. The thought of a piece of fruit having such an influence or that people would believe this tradition may seem unusual or even absurd to some and yet have great significance for others.
IN the United States these traditions have been continued from many different cultures. For instance in Ireland it was common for a married couple to keep a tier from their wedding cake for the christening of their first born and this was to symbolize good fortune and a long life for their child. This Irish tradition altered slightly in the United States to include the eating of the cake during the couple’s one year anniversary to promote fertility. This is now a tradition all over the United States and even for those with no Irish decent.
The combination of traditions is part of American culture and can also be seen in religious practices also. Religion and dietary practices presents a complex relationship. Various religious groups include food as a vital and inherent component of the expression of their faith. Standards and norms governing food practices may vary from one belief system to the next. Yet the role of food in binding a religious community together is evident. It can be seen in every religion from the Christian to the Hindu faith.
In the Jewish faith a person must eat a kosher diet, and kosher meaning fit or allowed to be eaten. Kosher is not a style of cooking and there is no such thing as “kosher-style” food. Any type of food can be made kosher. Chinese food can be kosher if it is prepared in agreement with Jewish law, and there are many kosher Chinese restaurants in Philadelphia and New York that are very popular. The Jewish religion is more common in these areas and the kosher diet has become a part of other ethnic recipes.
This shows the inner workings of America at its best with the fusion of different cultural practices. The impact of a variety of language and communication styles can be seen throughout America and the same is true of our dietary customs and practices. The impact of globalization and increased immigration has undeniably had a tremendous impact upon the American diet. Our supermarkets represent a small scaled model of marketplaces around the globe. The choice of ingredients and varieties of cooking is extensive.
Americans may find Italian, Mexican, Indian, and French all in the same week. Americans can experiment with diverse foods and sample for the first time another country’s cultural practices. While the variety of different foods and recipes is wonderful it is through an introduction to another country’s food traditions that there is the potential to spark a curiosity in many other aspects of another country’s’ culture like their language or music. For instance it enhances a Mexican resteraunts atmosphere when authentic Mariachi bands play for customers.
Not only do people enjoy the food served but they delight in the atmosphere. This is because food habits and customs seem to represent a microcosm of every culture and may also contribute to our understanding of human behavior. In America a diverse and rich cultural and linguistic background of immigrants migrating to a foreign environment can be seen in its cuisine. Ernest Hemmingway once wrote a set of memoirs that spoke of a moveable feast. In this memoir he spoke of how migrants brought a host culture a multitude of diversities in their ways of living and dietary practices.
When both the newcomer and the host community open up to each other’s’ divergent practices, for instance try out each other’s’ cuisine, an opportunity to enrich the lives of the host community and their own may be achieved. Hemingway wrote that, “If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast. ” By eating foods from different cultural backgrounds and sampling other traditional dishes American identities have expanded and produced intercultural understanding communication.
This has helped to facilitate intercultural adaptation and conversion. The diversity of different cultures across America has built American cuisine, yet the processed and genetically altered food in America is also defining the culture. In the United States most of the food in the grocery stores is processed and chemically enhanced to the point of having little to no nutritional value or they have a contains high amounts of salt, nitrates and other chemicals used as preservatives and flavor enhancers – most of which the typical person knows little or nothing about.
Most have little to no nutritional value. The majority of foods that fill American pantries are full of preservatives, artificial flavorings, artificial colors and other ingredients that do nothing to promote good health. Part of the problem for this decline in recognizing that processed foods are unhealthy is the lifestyle American lead. Americans lead hectic lives and having time to make meals from fresh ingredients is too time-consuming. They rely on the convenience of packaged meals, dry breakfast cereals and frozen dinners in order to feed ourselves. “Technology can be great.
Less food goes to waste because of the preservative. Yet many countries in Europe, preservatives such as BHA and BHT are banned because of research that shows it can cause cancer. The rise in processed food consumption may be a reason why childhood obesity levels are at record highs and conditions like ADHD affect so many children. There has to be a price paid for all these chemicals we are ingesting. ( http://www. helium. com/items/2125388-healthiness-of-processed-foods) “ So this diet of processed food shows thefast paced American lifestyle and that isn’t even the beginning.
Besides the processed foods, Americans also have GMO (genetically mutated organisms) food. The GMO grown in the United States for Americans consumption has begun to ruin its native plants and take over the habitat. “The artificially created mutations in the laboratory are actually unlabelled and untested. Hence they cannot be totally considered as safe for consumption. Genetic engineering of DNA can start to produce Super Viruses, unnecessary bacteria and can also cause cancers. The creation of GMOs may not work out very well and perfectly as desired always.
This can lead to the production of resulting organisms with some unpredictable consequences. The safety about usage of this type of crops or foods is still to be studied in detail. But, the scientists are unable to guarantee the safety of the GMOs http://www. knowswhy. com/why-is-gmo-bad/). ” In America the facts of processed food and GMOs have been covered up by major corporations who produce them. Americans are given false advertising on the safety of things such as high fructose corn syrup in daily advertisements.
These same corporations fight to make this profit even taking it so far as to convince government officials to support their cause. The consumption and production of GMOs reflect American culture and even show how its corporations and government work. While this may seem harsh there is also a light on the horizon for the American food culture. A new American trend seems to be developing; Organic and raw foods are beginning to become more popular. Advertisements for healthier eating are becoming more common place.