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Food and class

While I was reading Barthes’ paper it struck me as interesting that one could relate sugar to wealth or social class. The further I read into his paper the more I realized social class isn’t only linked to the consumption of sugar but to the consumption of most foods. He talks about the traditions of French cooking and how they never really go outside of their comfort zone, they just rediscover lost foods. I don’t see this as being the case in American cuisine, is there such a thing as purely American food? I feel like because we were settled so much later than other countries we are a cultural melting pot. This is a contrast to the German foods my grandmother used to make. This contrast can also be seen in other cultures spread across the US, from Asian American to Indian, each distinction brings to mind a certain taste, we know these because of experience. Does this mean that each cultural food is the way it is because of the people and their experiences? I think so. But then, as time goes by the US should create this truly American cuisine with the history equal to the other countries. Can a new style of cooking become a mainstay in today’s world? Anything is possible with a little time.

My other thought was the question that will we as Americans ever be able to enjoy food like the rest of the world? For them it’s a luxury but for a lot of us It’s a chore, a necessity. As I’m writing this I just finished lunch at work. Did I eat to enjoy it? Not really, I ate because I need to be able to finish the work day without passing out from lack of calories. It’s odd to think that food can take on so much socially and economically but it can also just be this thing that as animals we have to do, it’s a very basic process but is something vital to every day activities, social or otherwise. Its something that is different from everyone’s perspective and that brings back one of the ideas in the paper, that the out look on food varies from,country to country and then person to person. It can become a bad habit, eating while stressed or bored is a big thing in the US. But does this make us a more privileged culture because we have the means to do so? Or does it mean we are a spoiled culture, one that takes what we want when we want because we can?

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One thought on “Food and class

  1. I particularly like your point about American food evolving based on our diverse population, however I believe that we can already see examples of cuisine unique to our country. The most obvious example is fortune cookies. Fortune cookies, while they always accompany Chinese food, are not a product of China. They are unique to the U.S. I foresee other foods being unknowingly assimilated into our cuisine under the guise as being from other culture’s cuisine. Another example that comes to mind is Tikka Masala. Typically thought of as an Indian food, Tikka Masala is a British dish with Indian inspiration.

    I would like to debate your other point as well. Yes, eating can be a chore when pressed for time (otherwise fast food would never have become a trend), but I see many examples of the contrary. Growing up, I knew many families that would sit down to a well-cooked dinner every night. Everyone would talk about how their day went and anything interesting happening in their lives. I attempt to recreate this once a week where I invite a small group of friends over and prepare a meal for everyone to share. It is difficult to say whether our culture is trending toward or away meals being mechanical rather than ritual, but I still have hope that we haven’t lost the art of enjoying food.

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