Prompted by the Anthony Bourdain quote, "The table is the best reflection of a nation and the fasted way into that culture," I couldn't help but nod in fervent agreement.
Food, the way we eat, what we eat, when we eat how we eat, and with whom we eat reveals a lot about a person. It can tell you about a person's family heritage, culture, geographic location, food allergies, and access to food. What we consume can reveal part of who we are.
It can speak to our religious or spiritual beliefs, and our relationship to the Earth. Whether we are farmers who live off of the land or 'freegans' who dumpster dive to recover wasted food, every morsel we put into our mouths defines us.
Food bonds us with one another. It can be a shared love of green tea or a family tradition of fishing, one thing is constant: food unites us. It is the focus of first dates and midnight pantry raids at sleepovers.
Travel taught me the important role that food plays in distinguishing each culture. My culinary adventures specifically during my semester abroad in Granada, Spain, revealed how closely food and culture interlace.
I was able to see first hand what true appreciation for food looks like. The slower pace of Spanish restaurants revealed the importance of enjoying each moment of a meal. Wait staff never ask if you are ready for your check and won't try to rush you out the door at closing time. Coffee isn't served in a styrofoam cup. It's not a food to take 'on-the-go'. It is meant to be sipped and savored accompanied by warm conversation with companions. Every experience is designed to be enjoyed at a relaxing pace as a celebration. Even getting a haircut lends itself to a crisp and refreshing 'cerveza' or beer.
Our tables, the food the hold, the people we share meals with, and cook with are one piece of the mosaic that is our culture and identity.