My son was skimming through the grocery leaflet a few days ago and he excitedly remarked that Italian Kiwi were on offer. Mom can we get them…. can we get them please?‘ he said. It was only after I told him that we already had those in the fridge that he got ‘bored’ off them. It was a good conversation starter because he started to look through the paper to see what else we ate that was from another part of the world. Have you ever wondered how food can tell you about cultures too? Today, I am talking about this fun topic for my MKB Global Pick.
My son and I were talking about the different things that we use in our daily life. It was interesting to note that most of these aren’t from our culture at all. People call it modernization. I chose to teach him about how we were slowly become global citizens by choosing and selecting the best the world had to offer us. It is like we live in a giant super market!
I opened the grocery leaflet to take a few pictures that I wanted to share with you to give you examples. How many do you recognize as being available in your country too? Some of these are brands. Are these available in your country?
Please note: As a disclaimer, I’d like to mention that we mostly buy local. The examples below are to explain to a child about how we are using food from all parts of the world.
From our food habits to our life style to the way we talk and interact with others, it makes me wonder at how much we have imbibed other cultures into ours. It started with a grocery leaflet and our conversation drifted through so many topics. In the past few days, we seem to be picking up more and more things to talk about. Here are a few fun facts:
The way we talk
My son recently got frustrated when I told him to pack his bag for the next day and said ‘wallahi mom, I’ll do it, I said!’ I was shocked. We never say wallahi (by God) even in Urdu! I have friends who are non arab who address each other as ‘habibti’. My husband always gets irritated when we say ‘Thank You’ and not Shukriya while we are conversing in Urdu. What words do you or your kids use that isn’t your language? Does it show we are expatriates? 🙂
Living here as expats, I have found how we love our Sheesh Taook to be more healthier than our Seekh Kebab and the Arab version of Grilled Chicken to be better than our spicy Chicken Tikka.
Where did sushi come from? Many people don’t like the taste of raw fish. In fact, I know many who don’t eat so many types of fishes. In the East though, people love eating their fish and rice everyday. Isn’t that interesting? The reason for this is because that is what is easily available to them due to their geographical location. They have water logged lands and easier to grow rice. Fish and shrimp farms are so convenient for them.
Cheese. Now that is interesting because many Asians don’t eat that much cheese. Most Asians don’t even appreciate the taste. But, we all enjoy our Lassi and Laban and yoghurt which is fermented milk and curds. Do you know why this is so? In a hot and humid environment like ours we need more fluids and those foods that can keeps us cool. Cheese, is considered hot on the stomach and harder to digest where as Laban and lassi aid in digestion and are considered cooler.
Chocolate: We are Nutella crazy. You too? M&Ms too. Do people in your country normally eat chocolate? I am not talking about candy but chocolate as in made out of cocoa. My late grandfather loved peppermints in his old age. He didn’t grow up eating them, but he would often tell us about how he enjoyed a certain candy in his childhood. I told my son this and he couldn’t believe that people lived without chocolate in the older days! Indians and Arabs don’t eat chocolate. 🙂 Our sweets contain dry fruits that is abundantly found in our part of the world. And our sweets are dripping oils and butters. Also it is interesting to note that in our part of the world food is mostly cooked on stove than baked. Most homes don’t even have ovens. Do you know why that is so? Because it is already so hot here that an oven in a home will make it even hot.
Fruits and Vegies: Most fruits that we consume daily don’t grow where we live. Consider mangoes for example. Do you live in a country where mangoes grow? Or Pineapples? What about Grapefruit? I hadn’t even heard of grapefruits till in my teens. We didn’t have cherries or avocados in India and we would take these for my cousins back home. But on the other hand, most people don’t know what a Bitter gourd is. Do you? My son was really amazed that we his grandparents didn’t have exotic smoothies!
Meats: We get meat from India, Africa and Australia here. Isn’t it interesting? Not that we don’t have herds of animals here… but I guess they are just not enough for the population. Animals that graze on fields far far from here are cut and brought here to be consumed. What does that tell you about the world? My son said, he wanted to stop eating meat. Oh well… okay… ::shock::
Indians don’t make pizza in India. They make roti or naan. Although Naan is baked too and they have a mince filled version of it also. Our go to meals for busy week nights is Pasta. He is seven years old and by now, he knows about where some of the foods have originated from. We talked about Chocolate chip cookies and muffins. ‘Mom what do people dunk in milk if not cookies’ he said. I had to laugh. I said bisuits and RoT (this T in Urdu is a heavier version and I don’t know how to explain it to you!)
Have you noticed how different the footwears are too? In colder climates they were heavy boots but in warmer they just wear flip flops. But now we have mixed it all up and it is a fashion statement to wear leather boots on jeans.
Dressing: The Arab men dress in Thobes and ladies in Abaya. Back home in India, they were shalwar suits and kurta pajama or dhoti. In my childhood, while I was growing up here too, I hardly ever saw the kids or men here wearing western clothing but now… they are all usually dressed in jeans and pants. Jeans and Tees are not their culture but the ease and comfort of it is why they have become popular all over the world.
The name that comes to my mind when I think decoration is IKEA. I remember when the first IKEA that opened in our city. I must have been 8-9 I think, and we loved that place! It is still our favourite place to go. IKEA is Swedish and they are minimalist simple designs. Don’t we all have atleast one piece that has been bought from there. We all want our homes to look as clean and less cluttered as their display! Of course, convenience and the growing costs of housing have a lot to do with it but the point is, they are Swedish. The culture that we live in as expats, they don’t have couch or sofa. They also don’t eat on a dining table. They have a low seating called Majlis and they eat together sitting on the ground from a giant plate called Tabaq. In india too, it is similar. They have a big rug with bolster cushions around which the guests or family sits. Asians love color. Isn’t it interesting how we have started to love black, greys and whites now?
These are some of the topics we touched. I know, it is an on going conversation that will be picked up again. I love talking to my son about these differences in our cultures and how he should just pick the best from everything that he comes across. It is okay to want to make something a part of your life if it is good for you. Choosing healthier versions of food, dressing comfortably or wanting to save money on less important things in life. Are we Global Citizens yet? Isn’t this a fantastic example of globalization?
Do you wonder about how our lifestyle has become more globalized by just living in today’s age? What else do you think is not your culture but you love it? Tell me… how global are you? Have you talked to your children about how different the world has become due to globalization?
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