Food has played a key role in cultivating traditions and cultures throughout the generations.
Family, friends and visitors unite to enjoy regional dishes that speak the cultural language of the people.
“The Italians and Spanish, the Chinese and Vietnamese see food as part of a larger, more essential and pleasurable part of daily life. Not as an experience to be collected or bragged about – or as a ritual like filling up a car – but as something else that gives pleasure, like sex or music, or a good nap in the afternoon.”
Food is an expression of who we are, our heritage and often evokes nostalgia of our home country or travels to foreign lands.
Italian Food Culture
Italian culture is dominated by food with many regions having their own unique dishes most notably Maccu from Sicily.
Northern Italy serves polenta and risotto dishes rather than pasta with veal, game and pork being more popular in the North.
“A tavola perdonerei chiunque. Anche i miei parent!”
(After a good dinner one can forgive everyone, even ones own relations) Oscar Wilde
Traditional pasta, pizza, rich tomato sauces and olive oil ‘The soul of Italian food’ hails from the South.
photo from Stijn Flickr photo stream
Colazione is the traditional Italian breakfast of coffee with bread and jam or with a fette biscottate a sugary Italian biscuit.
Sunday lunch is spent at home with family members. Midday marks the beginning of a long afternoon of eating often into the evening.
Starting with antipasti of meats and cheeses followed by primo and secondo of soups and meat dishes all from fresh local ingredients finished off with a lemon liqueur.
Spanish Food Culture
Music, dancing, and food have certainly created a vibrant Spanish culture.
Food is fresh and often straight from the sea. Coastal Spain serves up fresh fish accompanied by salads, fresh bread and plenty of wine.
Breakfast in Spain is small, often just a coffee or juice with a pastry such as ‘churros‘ sugary Spanish fritters.
Whether to avoid the midday sun or to just spend quality time relaxing with family, La Siesta has been a long held tradition for centuries.
Businesses close down for a few hours allowing workers a long break usually spent with family members.
During La Siesta “the nap” the Spanish enjoy the main meal of the day which is quite often a three course meal with wine.
Evenings are spent drinking, socializing and eating Tapas. Tapas are bite size servings of meats, potatoes, fish providing a variety of dishes for different palates but it is the process of ‘sharing the food’ that makes Tapas so special.
Some cities offer tapas free with drinks.
With the exception of major cities, France is closed for 2 hours every day so workers have time plenty of time to enjoy the Plat du Jour.
The French love of red wine and cheese means they are the biggest consumers of cheese in the world and produce over 300 varieties of cheese.
A popular item of food is the truffle a unique mushroom found in the ground hunted by trufficulteurs with dogs.
from Asbjorn Flickr photo stream
France also has regional specialties such as Gallettes in Brittany and bouillabaisse in Provence.
The food culture is still based around traditional ‘hearty’ food usually pork with vegetables such as ‘sauerkraut‘, beets and turnips.
Traditionally Germans still eat their main meal during the day with a light snack in the evening with Tea and Cake mid afternoon.
photo by Oliver Hallman Flickr photo stream
Japanese Food Culture
The Japanese require far more emphasis on the etiquette of dining together than any other nation.
It is customary to present the host with a nice gift of appreciation when invited to dine in the home.
Once inside the food will be meticulously prepared and exquisitely presented to a high standard showing just how passionate Japanese are about their food.
Japan is best known for sushi but other dishes such as donburi, onigiri, kayu and mochi are very popular.
minato Flickr photo stream
Food is ingrained in the cultures of the world, some have evolved over time, others have remained the same over centuries yet it is those unique dishes that speak to us, welcome us and leave a lasting memory in our hearts.