Do you know what the origin of your favourite food is, I mean truly? Where it comes from? How it came to be? Do you ask about the cultural implications of that food?
If you haven’t wondered the above questions, I’m going to call you out and ask if you are truly a “foodie”.
It’s my humble opinion, that if you are a self-proclaimed foodie, you are curious about the flavours, you enjoy learning about who makes it best, and how it came to be what it is you enjoy today. However, more than that, I am a firm believer in paying homage to the creators of any food…out of respect.
So often we think we know food, but there is so much more to it than textures, flavours and taste, the origin of food trends is so interesting and necessary to know.
Have you seen the series, Ugly Delicious? It addresses everything so beautifully and honestly and brings about a much-needed education on the origin of foods.
Why Watching Ugly Delicious Is Important
The show, led by well-known chef and restauranteur, David Chang, tackles the very origin of all food that is popular in North American culture today. He travels the world to find the origin of that food, who makes it best, and what makes that food so great.
What’s more, is it shows how we are often ignorant about the emotional and cultural implications that food we eat has on various groups of people.
Food from other cultures, in North America, does take on its own fusion (pizza, fried rice, kebabs, even samosas). Each of these foods has a story, a beautiful one.
It can cause frustration when the culture it came from is very misunderstood or not appreciated.
Respect For All Cultures…it can start with food
The one that I was most blown away by, and feel everyone should watch is the one “As The Meat Turns.” Not only will it change how you look at food from Arab countries, but it will also change how you view the Arabian, Lebanese, and Middle Eastern cultures.
It is no secret the amount of misdirected anger and prejudice that has existed against middle Eastern cultures, especially in the United States. However, when you take the time to learn about the culture itself, the way the food is created and cooked, and brings people together, you can easily learn the love that exists.
Ugly Delicious shows people that have left their countries to create authentic dishes in North America; , how the food alone, if understood, the blood, sweat, and tears of those chefs and creators, can truly showcase that culture as beautiful.
We Can All Draw Upon Something We Relate To
The one I clearly resonated with was on Indian Food, “Don’t Call It Curry.” Oh how I loved this episode, for so many reasons, besides the fact that I am South Asian.
I have mentioned in a past post, about Turmeric Lattes, how I don’t always feel Indian food is well mentioned/understood. Indian food is so much more than “Butter Chicken.” In fact, that is only from one region of India. It brings about that Indian food, is actually very vast, and why it’s not actually well represented in North America.
What I loved most, is when Padma Laksmi (yes she is in this episode) explains how growing up, Indian food was not “cool.”. Growing up, many cultural children felt reluctant to smell, or bring around their foods, for fear of being made fun of. Now that it is “cool”, we want it to be represented fairly.
Hence, I loved when they explain that there is no such thing as curry powder. What is used in Indian cooking is a combination of various spices, seeds, and seasonings. It’s a long list, which isn’t always known, but that’s what goes into it.
Curry powder is not a thing. There is no spice that is called curry powder, it was made up by people and marketed as such, a wide misrepresentation of Indian cooking.
That was my experience, being Indian…loving the myths and exposing the food, and trying to really learn about the culture behind it.
The same goes for the Fried Rice episode, where it is discussed how the Chinese immigrants were not always treated fairly, yet the fried rice phemononon took off, must like other cultures, not paying proper respect to learning about the culture that brought it forward.
The fried chicken episode is another example, of how the African American culture is negatively associated with this dish. How it’s become so widespread, but still, to this day, evokes a hurtful and negative meaning to those that have ancestral slavery in their genes.
We all can relate to at least some episode on a deeper level. I sincerely believe that if everyone watched this series, about the origins of food, it is important on education, and also on a humane level.
We all can learn more about cultures, and gain cultural appreciation, through food.
Watch Ugly Delicious…Today
I can go on, but you get the point. There is so much cultural misrespresentation in North America, so much of it is through something as simple as food.
For those of us that work in food writing, food blogging, food influencing, it’s pivotal to be aware of the origin of food and bring awareness. It’s important for us to understand a little better about the foods we enjoy and pay respect to those that created them.
Ugly Delicious, on Netflix, does an amazing job of that.
So if you are a foodie, please watch.
If you aren’t a foodie, please watch as well, we all can learn appreciation…why not start with a good meal from…anywhere in the world.
Thank you David Chang, so needed.