Food represents different things in cultures around the world, such as:
>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.
>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.”
>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.”
>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
>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
>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."
>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 suhoor) and 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.
>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.