By Shaima AlTamimi (@iamshaima)
If there is one thing that amazes me in this world, it would be the universal language of food. Globally, people can speak different languages, live different lives and lead separate lifestyles. But in the end, food is the one thing we all have in common and one of things that brings us all together. After all, “man’s gotta eat”.
To me, food is not just about curbing one’s hunger or the act of merely dumping fruits and vegetables into your system. It is about so many other things that define us as human beings apart from being a means to survive. The language that food speaks to me is representing culture, traditions and above all love. No matter what part of this earth you are from, you are bound to have a totally unique experience into the culture of a country through food.
In many cultures, food plays a significant part in defining family roles and tradition. More often than not, it is a symbol or token of hospitality, appreciation and respect. Picture an Arabic family gathered on the floor for a feast meal of rice and meat (normally known as Dhebeeha). If the head of a goat is served on a tray, and knowing that it is the most prized part of any livestock, that part would be automatically given to the boss of the family or the most noted person sitting around the meal. It is one of the ways in which the head symbolizes utmost respect, which is why in Arabic we have a saying that goes “Al Ra’s lil ra’ees” meaning “the head for the king”.
Across all cultures however, compassion is what it is when you distribute a hot plate to the needy. It reminds us to always remember the less fortunate and not take our blessings for granted. So always make sure you do not hastily waste it. If you have leftovers, re-create another dish out of it. Be playful, but respectful in utilizing it.
Comfort is what food brings on a gloomy cold day and the only thing that could lift up your damp spirits is a hearty bowl of lentil soup or a cup of hot chocolate whilst you are wrapped under a warm blanket. Food is also comfort when you are mad at the world and suddenly find yourself embracing a bucket of ice cream before plunging to the binge.
Food is love when a loved one spends time in the kitchen to prepare a meal for their family to lunch or dine over. It is certainly love when you gather together as a family to eat and end up sharing stories of your day and cracking jokes.
Food conjures memories when baking brownies with your kids and you pretend to not notice that they licked the sinfully yummy chocolate batter off the bowl whilst you were not looking. It is also nostalgic in that certain tastes and aromas can take you back to a different time or place and make you reminisce over the good old days of your childhood or kitchen disasters in the dorms.
Have you ever thought of all the ways in which food speaks to people and above all bring them together? I guess the reason I am writing about this is to shed some light on the important role the food plays in our lives. That said, it surprises me how nowadays people do not care to go through the length of preparing it. Instead they order take-out and dine out more often than enjoying a home cooked meal. To me, that is like almost stripping off half the fun by taking such shortcuts. Do not you get a sense of achievement after making something from scratch and have everyone gobble it down in minutes?
Ok, so you cant cook well, but like everything else you learned to do, practice makes perfect. If you can make time for certain things in your life, you can certainly accommodate an hour of your time to know what you are feeding yourself. Get back to basics, quitting relying on outsourcing your food and have fun in the kitchen. It is the most powerful way to show love and it creates fond memories like no other.
June 2011’s issue:
Here We Start – Community Talk – Food for Thought – Just Another Undergrad
Living Through The Eyes of Art – Microscopic Me – Scenes From Life
Society of Tomorrow – To The Point – Words, Observations, and Ramblings
Latest posts by Shaima Al Tamimi (@iamshaima) (see all)
- The Business Of Culture And Food With Shaikha Al Kaabi (Founder of #Meylas) - September 8, 2015
- Documenting the Relationship of Khaleejis in London - July 1, 2013
- A Suggestion for Tackling Obesity in the UAE - March 1, 2013