Food & Culture

By Lydia Bach (who makes this great zine)

Italian Nonas. Mexican Abuelitas. Jewish Bubbehs. They all have at least one thing in common. Food. In the U.S. we are taught to believe that borders are important. That if you are from the U.S., you’re totally different from someone who's from Mexico or Canada, even though we are all on the same piece of land. In some ways it’s true, the way we are taught is different depending on where you live, but not who you are. One of the times we don’t think about borders is when it comes to food. Food is just food, right? No, it’s part of one's identity and it brings people together. I’ve asked a few people how food has felt as part of an identity to them and how it’s connected them to their culture.

My Friends' Thoughts

Priya C: For me, food is very important in my family. I don’t live near my extended family, they live in Virginia and California. For Jewish holidays, I’ll have latkes and other special foods. For the holidays with my mom’s side of the family, the Hindu holidays—Diwali and Holi and our birthdays—we eat roti and naan, samosas and palak paneer, mango lassis, sometimes we have aush (Aush is a thick stew common in India, Iran, and Afghanistan.) At holidays like Christmas, we’ll have latkes, aush and naan. When I’m eating food, specifically Jewish or Indian food, I remember the times with my family and the good times. It’s a way to connect to them without being there. Food is important to me, and if you're not a very religious person, food can be a good way to connect to your religion. Food is amazing and something to appreciate.

Ariadne C: I feel connected to my mom when I eat Greek food because that's her heritage and I feel more connected to myself. I feel really connected to cultures when I cook, not as much when I eat as when I cook. I love the experience when cooking food from my culture, it makes me feel part of my Greek culture. I cook foods that I’m representing in Model UN, and it makes me feel like I can represent the people better. Foods that are important to Greek Orthodox are duck on Christmas and souvlaki (lamb on a stick over an open fire) on Easter. It makes me feel connected to both my religion and culture, and my family. I like to just eat whatever I cook. Food is good, you need it to survive, there is a lot of food poverty in the world so we should appreciate what we have.

Reuben M-R: I think food is a big part of my life and eating is a big part of what I look forward to. When I’m eating good food from a specific culture, it inspires me to learn about the food from that culture or that place. I like getting takeout from places I don’t know a lot about, I enjoy trying new food and learning about the food I eat. It’s nice to live in a place where there are good bagels, bagels are a New York food. A good thing about food is that it's a good way to learn about other places and it's a good way to start learning about other people. It doesn’t take that much effort to eat.

Reuben puts it perfectly, it’s not that hard to eat and we all have to do it. So why not learn a little something in the process?