Food is an essential part of our culture because gastronomy can be considered as some kind of art, particularly the art of eating, whereas culinary is the art of cooking. Frequently this cultural aspect of the food we eat is not taken into consideration because many people perceive the food no more than a physical necessity of the human organism.
Dealing with the research question about the ways how food shapes us and our culture let us focus on several interesting examples: food taboos and cultural food habits that provide us with cultural symbolism of the food that goes far away from the concept of its nutritious value for human body.
Food taboos are cultural and religious prescriptions to abstain from particular kinds of food and drinks. The most prominent cases are connected with meat: prohibition of pork in Islam, prohibition of beef in Hinduism etc. They are caused by different reasons of practical or/and religious nature but their consequence is that they shape the distinguish people who follow these rules from the other who do not follow them thus shaping them as a distinctive community. Eating habits contribute a lot to the way of life and play a particular role to define one’s identity through the adherence particular rules.
Another interesting aspect is represented by cultural food habits where people with the common background prefer some kinds of food to the other kinds of food. Sometimes the preferences may be so different that one’s food habits provoke aversion from the others. A good example is the presence of the meals from dog meat in the Korean cuisine that is unacceptable for people from Western cultures where dogs are companion animals or from Islamic cultures where dogs are “impure”.
Therefore the food often has more symbolic than practical use in many cultures.
HYPERLINK "http://www.google.at/search?hl=uk&tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=inauthor:%22Pamela+Go yan+Kittler%22&source=gbs_metadata_r&cad=8" Kittler P.G., HYPERLINK "http://www.google.at/search?hl=uk&tbo=p&tbm=bks&q=inauthor:%22Kathryn+P .+Sucher%22&source=gbs_metadata_r&cad=8" Sucher K.P., & Nelms M. (2011), Culture and Food, Cengage Learning, 6-55
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