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FSM2065: Food and Beverage in the Hospitality Industry (Buckley): Culture and Religion


Food represents different things in cultures around the world, such as:

  • Community 

                 >In many Arab communities, meals are shared among family members

                  and friends, and food is oftentimes eaten with their hands from

                  communal serving bowls.

                    >In many Chinese communities, food is not usually served in pre-plated,

                  single portions as it is in the United States, rather it is shared amongst

                  those at the table from communal serving platters. 

  • Humanity

                     >Richard Wilk, anthropology professor at the University of Indiana,

                  believes that "the social act of eating, is part of how we become human,

                  as much as speaking and taking care of ourselves. Learning to eat is

                  learning to become human.”

  • Identity

                      >French, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian cuisines each comprise dozens

                   of distinct regional foods.

                   >Chef Dan Barber sums up American cuisine by saying, “The

                   protein-centric dinner plate, whether you’re talking about a boneless

                   chicken breast, or a 16-ounce steak, as an everyday expectation is

                   something that America really created, and now exports to the rest

                   of the world.”

                   >Ellen Gustafson, co-founder of the FEED Project and The 30 Project, 

                   believes that "Every single culture and religion uses food as part of their

                   celebrations. The celebratory nature of food is universal. Every season,

                   every harvest, and every holiday has its own food, and this is true in

                   America as well. It helps define us.”

  • Pleasure

                       >According to Marco Bolasco, editorial director of Slow Food,

                 "In Italy takeout is still relatively rare. Eating fast is not at all

                  part of our culture. Our meals are relaxed, even during lunch


                        >According to Mark Singer, technical director of cuisine at Le Cordon

                    Bleu in Paris, “Cooking and eating [in France] are both past time and


  • Status

                        >The introduction of global foods and brands has compounded

                  food as a status symbol for middle-class Chinese. According to

                  Crystyl Mo, a food writer based in Shanghai, “Food as

                  status has always been a huge thing in China. Being able to

                  afford to eat seafood or abalone or shark’s-fin or bird’s-nest

                  soup, or being able to show respect to a VIP by serving them

                  the finest yellow rice wine, is part of our history. Now it’s

                  been modernized by having different Western foods represent

                  status. It could be a Starbucks coffee, or Godiva chocolates,

                  or a Voss water bottle. It’s a way of showing your sophistication

                  and worldliness.”

                 >Crystyl Mo explains that, in China, "people eat food not

                 necessarily for taste, but for texture. Jellyfish or sliced pig ear

                 don’t have any taste, but do have desirable texture. Foods must

                 either be scalding hot or very cold; if it’s warm, there’s

                 something wrong with the dish."

                 >Crystyl Mo explains that at a Chinese banquet, "the most

                 expensive things are served first, such as scallops or steamed

                 fish, then meats, then nice vegetables, and finally soup, and

                 if you’re still hungry, then rice or noodles or buns."


Food and Culture in China

Breakfast Differences Around the World

Lunch Differences Around the World

Dessert Differences Around the World

Coffee Differences Around the World



       >Jewish dietary law is referred to as kashrut.

       >Pigs, rabbits, reptiles and shellfish should not be eaten.

       >Cows, goats, sheep, bison, and deer can be eaten but must be slaughtered

       according to kosher law. 

       >Birds, such as chickens, ducks, hens, and turkeys, may be eaten; birds

       considered birds of prey may not be eaten.

       >Milk and eggs from kosher animals are okay to eat. 

       >Grape products, including juice and wine, must be produced by Jews to

       be considered kosher.

       >There are several times during the year that most Jews fast, such as

       Yom Kippur. Fasting starts at sundown the night before the holiday and

       ends at sundown the day of the holiday.  


       >Halal (permitted foods)

       >Haram (prohibited foods)

       >Animals must be slaughtered in a particular way and a certain blessing must be

       said during the slaughter process for meats to be considered halal.

       >Muslims are prohibited from eating pork and gelatin, and cannot consume


       >Muslims also adhere to fasting throughout the year. One of the major holidays

       for this is Ramadan. During Ramadan, all healthy, adult Muslims must eat and 

       drink before sunrise (this meal is called suhoorand cannot eat or drink again

       until sunset (this meal is called iftar and is shared with family or the local



      >Eucharist (also known as Holy Communion and The Lord's Supper) is a

      commemoration of Jesus Christ's Last Supper with his Apostles in which he

      stated, "This is my body (signified with bread) and this is my blood

      (signified with wine). Many churches use special wafers and replace wine

      with grape juice when giving the sacrament. The Eucharist is done a bit

      differently depending on the denomination of the church. 

       >Easter and Christmas are Christian holidays that have a traditional feast

       associated with them. Foods such as ham, turkey and lamb are often

       associated with both Christmas and Easter. 

       >Each Fridays during Lent, Catholics refrain from eating meat. Most

       Catholics eat fish instead. Lent starts on Ash Wednesday and lasts 40 days. 


        >Mormons follow a dietary code called Word of Wisdom. According to

        professor Matthew Bowman, Mormon Prophet Joseph Smith said he

       "received a revelation from God forbidding Mormons to consume

        hot drinks, alcohol, tobacco or too much meat. Over the years, the

        meaning of hot drinks has come to mean tea and coffee. But many

        Mormons who read this as a health code look at tea and coffee and

        say well, what do these things have in common? And the conclusion

        is caffeine. So many Mormons then will say well, we should not

        drink any caffeinated beverages. 

       >In 2012, the church released an official statement stating explicitly

        that caffeinated soda is allowed under church doctrine. Still, many

        Mormons will not consume caffeinated drinks.

Seventh-Day Adventists

       >The official Seventh-Day Adventists website states, that "A well-balanced

        vegetarian diet that avoids the consumption of meat coupled with

        intake of legumes, whole grains, nuts, fruits and vegetables, along with

        a source of vitamin B12, will promote vigorous health.

       >Adventists should avoid alcohol and tobacco. 


       >Hindu dietary customs are based in the belief that the body is composed of

       fire, water, air and earth, and that the food you eat can either balance these

       elements or throw them out of balance.

       >Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts are considered Sattvic, and are

       thought to cleanse the mind and body, increasing inner tranquility. Animal

       products and pungent or spicy foods like chili peppers and pickles are

       considered Rajasic foods, which are thought to heighten intense emotion

       and promote restlessness. Tamasic foods are thought to promote negative

       emotions, and include foods that are stale, spoiled, overripe or otherwise


      >Hindus fast on holy days. 

      >Cows are considered sacred and are not eaten. 


      >Buddhist dietary laws pertain more to Buddhist monks and nuns, but can be

       followed by other Buddhists as well.

      >The First Precept, to avoid harming any living thing, means that many

       Buddhists regard killing animals for food as wrong. As a result, many

       Buddhists turn to vegetarianism.

      >The Fifth Precept, to avoid drugs and alcohol, and cultivate a pure and clear

       mind, lies behind the Buddhist habit of eating plain or bland food. 

      >Another way to adhere to the Fifth Precept is to mix your food. The aim of

       mixing food is to obliterate the flavor of any individual part of the meal, so

       everything on your plate or in your bowl becomes simply food. 

      >In many Buddhist cultures, people donate food to monks as a means of

       building good karma and cultivating generosity. The Second Precept of

       Buddhism is not to take what hasn't been given, but to give freely.