Topic: Eating habits
1. Tell me about the types of food that people eat in your country.
Answer: I guess that it is fair to say we all love to eat, but what we eat largely depends on where we live, and what kinds of foods are available there to consume. For example, where I live, our main foods are steam rice and curries- curries that are made with vegetables, meats and fishes by mixing them with varieties of spices in proper measures. We also eat a lot of “bread” in combination with curries or some sweets that we like.
Of course, the food, which I just mentioned above, are regular day foods for regular occasions. When there is a special occasion, we cook foods like “chicken biriyani” or “mutton biriyani” by mixing a certain kind of long-grain rice, such as basmati with a great aromatic flavour, with meats of our choice while adding a mixture of freshly-ground spices in it in order to make the dish even more delicious. Then, there are of course fast foods which we also enjoy eating on a limited scale.
2. How are the eating habits now in your country different from eating habits in the past?
Answer: Traditionally, in the past, people in my country relied heavily on home-cooked food, such as steam rice, curry and bread along with local fruits and vegetables. But, in the last couple of decades, we have seen that some “not-so” traditional food items (of course, in the context of my country’s food habits) such as pasta, pizza, French fries, burgers and sandwiches, mostly cooked and served at restaurants and fast food places, have also made their ways into the menu of our regular foods. As a result, we are becoming more and more “reliant”, especially in the big cities, on fast food instead of home-cooked food which has ruled our appetite for hundreds of years. We are even ordering for “home delivery” which was almost impossible to imagine even a decade ago!
3. How healthy is your country’s food?
Answer: There are some people in the world who eat food “purely” because of their nutritional values while there are the others who choose to eat their food primarily because of their “awesome taste” and then for their nutritional values secondarily. For better or worse, we fall into the category of “food lovers” we eat foods primarily because of their “awesome taste”, but luckily the type of foods, which we choose to consume in our country, are not any lesser healthy.
In fact, the only reason, for which I would say that our food is not always as “healthy” as we would prefer them to be, is that people in my country, in general, like to eat a bit too many spices in their foods purely because of “additional taste and flavour”. But, other than that, I am pretty confident that food in my country is pretty healthy because we boil them and cook them properly.
4. Why do you think different cultures have different table manners?
Answer: People from different parts of the world with different cultures choose to eat different kinds of food, and therefore, it is only natural that their table manners would be different. For Example, the people in China, Japan and much of East Asia relies heavily on wooden or bamboo-made chopsticks to eat their food, especially rice. And they chose chopsticks because of Confucius who believed that sharp utensils like knives would remind eaters of the gruesome way the meat finally made their way into the bowl.
Chopsticks, on the other hand, had dull ends, thus sparing their users from images of the slaughterhouse. But, the very knives, which got rejected by the people in East Asia on the ground it would remind the “gruesome” image of the slaughterhouse, became the symbol of “aristocracy” at the dinner table in medieval Europe probably because they were and still are used to eating meats and fishes that are usually cut into rather “large pieces” instead of small ones.
In the same way, people in the Arab world, including Iran, and some parts of Africa like to eat by making themselves comfortable on the floors, while eating at homes, in order to uphold one of the many traditions of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon Him). This “sitting habit” is practised also because people would feel that their stomach is getting full by eating much less than they would normally like to eat, which is actually in a way healthier than eating on a table.
5. How may eating habits change in the coming decades?
Answer: I firmly believe that with “globalization” at such a rapid pace, people will actually forget about the “idea” eating traditional food as we all will start preparing and enjoying all kinds of food from different parts of the world. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see that each and every country in this world is organizing some kinds of international food festivals or international cooking competition in the coming decades in order to encourage their citizens to change their food habits so that they don’t have to rely on only one certain kind of food to “survive” when there is a “famine” or “drought”.
Besides, I also wouldn’t be surprised if most of the people in different parts of the world stop cooking at home completely because of making fast food available at a very affordable price. However, at the same time, I wouldn’t also be surprised if we see “obesity” becoming an epidemic problem or disease all over the world.
6. What one aspect of a foreign tradition you like about their eating habits? Why?
Answer: I like pretty much all the traditions with regards to eating habits of all countries and cultures as they all help me to understand and appreciate the “diversities” in our world in a better way. But one particular tradition, which I really like, is the habit of eating fishes by the Japanese people. In fact, fish is featured so much prominently on the Japanese food menu that the average Japanese person consumes more than 154 pounds annually – or about a half pound a day!
The Japanese are so “mad” about eating fish that they collectively consume 12% of the world’s fish while accounting for only 2% of the global population. I like this particular habit because the health benefits of eating fish are just too many to count, and I also happen to enjoy eating fish too much! Besides, who doesn’t know that fresh, cured, smoked, or salted, fish, loaded with vitamin A and omega-3 fatty acids, help to protect against various types of cancer!