If there is one thing that we all have in common, it is food. It has the power to break down all barriers, whether it be race, gender, religion or nationality. Plenty of food on a table symbolizes happiness and prosperity in Asian cultures, or it shows the love that a mother has for her children when she cooks them their favourite meals. Many of our fondest childhood memories have one thing in common – Food. It nourishes our body, mind and spirit.
My Love Story with Food
Food has been the vehicle which has created all my best memories in my life. Whether it be a special birthday occasion, a family celebration, meeting friends, all these moments and stories attached to them are tied to food in some form or other. Through my life, I have connected with some amazing people, sharing our mutual life stories, our experiences and somewhere, somehow, food has always been the link that connected all those stories.
Sitting around a table with family and friends, bonding, connecting, debating and even fighting, is amongst life’s priceless moments. Sadly, with busy schedules living in fast city lives the concept of spending quality time eating is now slowly turning into a ‘grab and on the go’ experience, with a sandwich in one hand and a cell phone in the other.
How Food Connect Us
In our household, we make sure that everyone gets involved around dinner time. Whether it be helping with the preparation of the meal, setting the table, cleaning up afterwards, everyone has a role to play. Then at dinner time, there is no cell phone, no TV, no distractions, just the family around a table talking and sharing their day. The food at our table is always served in big dishes and we all help ourselves and share the dishes. We call it ‘eating family-style’. We serve food the same way when we entertain and have guests. The food dishes are passed from one person to another and it instils a sense of hospitality and is an excellent ice breaker between guests that do not know each other!
I strongly believe in the power of food and its ability to:
Brings people together from different backgrounds and opens the opportunity to celebrate our diversity of
I remember hosting supper clubs during student days when we would all bring and share a dish (that reminded us of our home and we could execute reasonably well) and enjoy an evening together. We used to have an amazing spread on the table where we got to taste food from all different cultures from students from all over the world, from hummus to stir fry vegetables with rice, to Indian curry, to Kimchee, it was a melting pot of dishes! It was a great way of sharing culture with people from different backgrounds.
Food as a catalyst to celebrate peace and resolving conflicts
As a parent, I cannot help sometimes but wonder what kind of world my children will be living in the next twenty to thirty years. I always felt that as a parent, it is my responsibility to encourage my children to:
“Embrace and respect differences rather than be wary or scared of them.”
Food is a wonderful way to do this! Encourage your children to get involved in different festivals and celebrations associated with traditional food, such as Diwali, Chinese New Year, Eid Muburak or Christmas. Here are some tips as to how to go about doing this:
- Make a point to widen your cooking repertoire to incorporate food from other cultures at your family dinner table. This will hopefully promote your childrens’ interest in other cultures and give them the motivation to want to learn more about them
- Reading books that promote cultural diversity. A few examples of books for young children are: One Green Apple by Eve Bunting (for kids 4 years and up), Two Mrs Gibsons, The Colors of Us by Karen Katz (4 to 8 years old)
- Our children are a reflection of who we are as parents: there is no point preaching of how tolerant and respectful they have to be on cultural diversity and race if we as parents do not lead by example. We can lead the way by doing simple actions such as:
- Not limiting our good citizenship deeds to only people of our own community
- Widening our own circle of friends to incorporate friends from other communities and races
- As mentioned above, introducing new recipes and dishes from other cultures at the dinner table or trying new restaurants showcasing other countries’ cuisine is a great way of learning new cultures together with your children
Let us instill in our children, a sense of belonging for self and respect for others. By doing so, we will hopefully create a world of greater tolerance and respect
Food for Better, Not Worse
In the chapter “You Are What You Eat” I talked about good food versus bad food for health. We are living in a world where fast food is taking precedent over fresh food, which is building a generation of obesity and malnutrition due to lack of adequate nutrients in highly processed food. Knowledge is power, and the more we know about what we eat, the better we are equipped to have a relationship with food which is for the Better and NOT for the Worse.
See you soon for another chapter of Health2bfree.com