Can food be political? Can it position people within a certain cultural group? Does what you eat say exactly who you are?
For diaspora communities, food is deeply intertwined with a sense of self. It can be an expression of faith, culture, and even politics.
“It’s the last vestige of culture that people shed … there’s some aspects of maternal culture that you’ll lose right away [but] with food … there are more opportunities to connect to memory and family and place. It’s the hardest to give up,” Jennifer Berg, Director of Food Studies at New York University, told TED in an interview.
There is no doubt that food provides a distinct, physical link to one’s culture and history and, according to David L. Weller, Professor of Food Science at the University of Ithaca, “despite variability in the importance that immigrants attribute to food, it remains one of the most resilient tools … [of] identity formation and maintenance.”
Though most people in the developed world are now removed from the production of food, its significance has not diminished. In Europe, sales of fish skyrocket during Lent and, in the Middle East, meat production vastly increases during Ramadan.
In this episode of The Stream, we’ll speak to immigrant cooks about the food they love to cook and ask how it connects them to their history, culture and traditions.