Food: A Culture in its Own (1/26)

The most important aspect of food in my regard is the experience that it provides: taste, smell, and the opportunity to socialize and share an evening with friends or family. I find that my attitude towards food differs from many people. Even though I live in the United States, I grew up with my grandparents, who emigrated from Russia in the 1990’s. This gives me what I think of as a more European culture than most Americans: music, food, and just the general way that I act and think. I tend to notice that many people in the U.S. simply inhale their food without knowing, thinking, or caring what is in it and what it is made of. They do not eat, they simply consume. When I am chewing, I like to appreciate and taste the things I eat. I try not only to consume, but to experience. On the two trips to Europe that I have taken during the course of my life, I noticed (more so in Austria than in England, which is more Americanized) that the atmosphere is much more relaxed, especially during meals. People there like to enjoy their time and place a large value on being able to have a relaxed lunch at a café or restaurant. This is quite a sharp contrast to the United States, where lunch often consists of going through the drive-through of McDonald’s and then devouring a chemical and preservative-filled cheeseburger without thinking or caring what it was.

I guess that the best single word to describe my “food philosophy” is culture. Some of my fondest memories are from New Year’s Eve dinners with family during a snowy night or a summer-evening supper outside in the yard with a bonfire. Food may be losing its cultural value here in the United States, but to me, the experience, the culture that food encompasses will always be the most important part of a meal.

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6 Responses to Food: A Culture in its Own (1/26)

  1. maoismdoesntwork says:

    I think it’s not so much that England is Americanized, but that America has been Anglicized from the start, and that large swaths of your (plural – English needs a “vous”) culture originate in Britain, whereas other European influences, while certainly present in American culture, aren’t as universal.
    I’d also like to point out, while you’re talking about European and American eating habits (which I don’t presume to scratch the surface of – that’s a job for people with the time to write whole books), that portions in American restaurants are shockingly large compared to those in England and lots of Europe. I think this has a lot to do with what you say about attitudes toward food. Having it lying around waiting to be eaten in staggering quantities makes it less something to celebrate, and at the same time more of a focus.

  2. Mr. Sturdy Knight says:

    You make an excellent point, William. Food is not just a nutritional or even an aesthetic experience; it is also an important social experience much of the time. The big afternoon or evening meal is often the most important social event of the day, the hub of family life, in virtually every culture around the world. And yet, if Michael Pollan is to be believed, something like half of all meals eaten in the United States today will be consumed in a vehicle of some kind, on the way to some other activity that is presumably more important than eating.

  3. porteram says:

    It’s a very good point, Popov. The reason most people eat so much is because each individual experience with food is not satisfactory. If everyone treated food as a cultural experience, perhaps the obesity problems in this country wouldn’t be so abundant.

  4. bethanyhartley says:

    I agree, to an extent. I feel that if everyone were to use food as an experience they shared together, more people would use eating food together as the only way to spend time together, which in the end, would be quite negative. That’s sort of extreme, but it could happen.

  5. bensmgb says:

    I think that William makes a very good point, food is slowly losing its place in today’s society. I have a few friends at home who I don’t think even taste their food before eating it. Americans should slow down and embrace food and actually taste it.

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