Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Art of Eating

As I travel the world and eat meals in the homes of locals, I notice the stark contrast between the ritual of eating in the United States versus everywhere else.

In New Zealand, it is a focus on fresh and local cuisine served simply usually using ingredients from right outside.

In Thailand, it is a focus on family and community. In the cities, everyone ventures to vendors to share meals family style. In homes, food is the same way. Piles of it shared for long periods of time between multiple family members.

All countries seem to use a combination of those two. Remote islands, Latin American countries...except for the United States.

If I was to host my Guatemalan friends in my home, how could I show them my country through its food? We're so much of a melting pot...are there any central traditions? Members of our society don't usually buy food street side, it takes thousands of miles to reach us, is usually prepared by someone else and eaten standing up, driving, etc.

Being a cook, it drives me crazy that I can't define my culture outside of fast food. The passing of a recent holiday answered my question. I would make a full Thanksgiving meal for visiting foreign friends. I can't think of anything else that our country, as a whole, sit down to regularly.


  1. I thought about this over the summer when we had friends from France in town. I settled on something "barbecued" since it was mid-July. It felt very American to eat outside on the back porch with something hot off the grill.

    I also think a Thanksgiving feast would be an excellent choice.

    It is too bad we're a fast-food nation.

  2. That's a fabulous one! Americans really do love a good outdoor cookout, from backyard barbecues to tailgate parties.

    Burger King just recently took the Whopper to remote villages around the world to see if natives liked it. Terrible! The last thing we need to do is introduce fast food to the most remote corners of the world.

    In 2004, no Thai street vendors had processed, American foods. This time, we frequently saw Lay's and M&M Mars products next to mangosteens. Sad.


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