One of the things that I have learned as a Police Officer in this great melting pot we call America, is that food is the great equalizer simply because everybody eats. I learned in my dealings with people from all over the planet who have made the journey to the United States that everybody likes food! Since everybody likes food, we all now have something in common (I use this analogy often to calm things down in certain situations). Everybody has to sit down at the table and eat, now what we eat and how is eat it is a different story entirely
What and how we eat is often based on where our ancestors or we came from. There are many different “ways” of living here in the United States, different religions, cultures and beliefs. Take the Amish for instance, they live a simple life, don’t use electricity or powered machines so what do they eat? How and why do they make certain foods, with no electricity to boot! What about the Iraqi community in Pontiac Michigan? Do they “break bread” the same way as you and I? Why don’t they eat pork, what the heck is “Halal” anyway. Native Americans, along with many other cultures pay homage to the earth and they’re ancestors thru food from its methods of preparations to the way it is eaten.
When people open they’re eyes to what and how people eat, many questions get answered like “why are Vegans, Vegan anyway? Is it a belief, a diet, what is a Vegan anyway? Why do certain cultures eat with chopsticks or eat without utensils at all? How is “chicken soup” made in the Thai community vs the Jewish community? What’s the difference and why? Heck its just chicken soup isn’t it, or is there more to it than just chicken?
I would love to get a giant kitchen and assemble a few cooks from every culture we have here in the U.S. and have them all work together cooking a giant meal. I wonder what they would make? I can tell you that they would all find out that they aren’t all that different after all. One guy might use a little more salt or saffron in the soup than other guy. The Rabbi might get a great recipe from the Buddhist Monk standing next to him and the Italian lady from Brooklyn might find she has a lot more in common with the Amish women from Pennsylvania than she thought.
Next time you are in the grocery store, why don’t you head over to the “ethnic” isle and try a new spice or flavor you have never had. Better yet, you know that neighbor you have, the one from that foreign country, the one you never talked to. Why don’t you take a walk on over and ask for a recipe? I bet you bring a smile to not only they’re face but to yours as well. Heck, who knows, you might even end up having them over for dinner and just imagine what you can learn then.
America is a great country full of culture, pride and some darn good cooks. I have learned a lot about people while walking the beat. Those people have given me some good inspiration in the kitchen as well. America is like a big pot of Gumbo; lots of different ingredients make it that much more flavorful. My advice to you my friends are keep and open mind and an open palate, you will find that the world is a much more flavorful place than you thought.