Thinking about the places I have traveled to so far I recently came to an interesting realization: no matter which holiday I think of, the thing I remember best always seems to be the food I had. Either it‘s just me and my foodie-genes or food must really have a meaning that goes beyond satisfying our appetite. Personally, I would even go further and say food is education.
Alongside evolution mankind has made an incredible development considering the meaning of food. From needing food as a simple condition in order to survive, from spending our days on the hunt or collecting we have now arrived at a stage where we are not dependend on merely ourselves for food supply anymore. There is an almost endless variety of ingredients to chose from and a whole industry based around ready made meals, making it easy for us to grab food on the go and sadly also causing obesity along the way. Many people chose to make food their living, reflected by the many restaurants and cafés, supermarkets and cooking shows on television. From Jamie Oliver to Anthony Bourdain, today's superstars are often chefs or gourmets.
As you see the meaning of food has been expanded and defined in an incredible multi-purpose way. But what makes me call it education? In my eyes education has to get across a few basic things: it obviously has to transmit knowledge, whilst learning from the accomplishments and failures of former generations; it should help you to further develop your own identity; it should challenge your perception of things and it should idealy create emotions, no matter if they are connected to a sense of fascination or shock.
So how far does food and knowledge go together? To answer this question I just have to go back to my childhood, to the times I used to spend in the kitchen with my grandma. Although in the beginning I was often frustrated about having to watch her prepare the food instead of being allowed to help, this was what really made me learn about our family‘s traditional cooking and baking. I still feel like I am recreating a part of history whenever I prepare my grandma‘s traditional "Paprika Chicken" that she had once learned to cook from her mother and her mother had learned from her mother and.... It's like the ancient form of social media, sharing knowledge and thereby passing it on from generation to generation.
Hence food also represents a big part of someone's identity. I am for instance convinced that a large extent of what defines a nation's culture is revealed by their eating habits. What does someone eat, how does he eat or when does he eat? These questions tell you a lot about someone's traditions and values. I learned early on in my life, that it is normal to order multiple dishes and share them with your family and friends - everyone has the chance to try new flavours and it also brings a great sense of community to the table. For Germans this kind of habit of "sharing" the food is rather abnormal. Everyone usually orders their "own" meal and is moreover excepted to clear their plate. Luckily, my parents have always been quite obsessed with thai food and thai culture, which caused my brother and me to accept the habit of sharing food as our own. There definetly is some truth to the saying "you are what you eat".
The best proof for food being education however is the fact that whilst we are trying new foods, we are constantly developing our senses. This way eating goes way beyond tasting the food. Smell, texture and appearence are also part of "the food experience".
In the end it is also worth pointing out how food has the ability to create an emotion. I am sure we all have this one dish in our lives, that takes us back to the past whenever we taste it, it makes us think of this special moment and even makes us feel the way we felt back then. It truely makes our memories come to life.
These are the reasons why I want to promote food. Not only as a living condition but also as an experience, as part of our heritage and part of our future and ultimately - as education. Let's be thankful for it!
No matter if you're a homecook or a professional, or if you simply enjoy having food (you can still learn!) - here are a few of my favorite food related shows and Youtube channels.
"Fresh Off The Boat with Eddie Huang" (VICE Youtube Channel) f.ex.: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UBXTxJoRjjM
"Munchies" (VICE Youtube Channel):
"Two Greedy Italians" with Gennaro Contaldo and
Antonio Carluccio f.ex.:
"Bizarre Foods with Andrew Zimmern" (airs on the Travel Channel) f.ex.: http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/bizarre-foods/episodes/germany
"No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain" (airs on the Travel Channel as well): http://www.travelchannel.com/tv-shows/anthony-bourdain
One of the most passionate chefs in the world - Mr. Gennaro Contaldo:
Fun, easy recipes, that anyone can do, "sorted": https://www.youtube.com/user/sortedfood
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