Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Foods of Home

What’s your food? The food (or drink) that means home – not just what your mother or grandmother made but something that represents your country, your culture?
In the US, it’s hard to identify one item that is woven into the history, development, and culture of the country. While we may look to the Thanksgiving dinner (turkey, potatoes, cranberries and pumpkin pie) that may be the answer for everyone.

However, depending on where you live THE food or drink may be coffee or sweet tea, gumbo, tacos or a hamburger. There isn’t really one food that everyone associates with the US. But in other places the answer may be more precise: France is wine and cheese, Italy pasta.
Argentina beef and Japan sushi and rice.

It was the Economist’s articles “Rice in Japan: You Are What You Eat” ( that made me think again about food as symbol of ones culture. The article discusses the history of Japan and rice, the importance of rice as an influence of the Japanese view of themselves and of Japan's relationship to the world. Should the Japanese eat only Japanese rice (and maintain a protectionist attitude regarding agricultural products) or not?

Each of us can name a food that speaks to us of home, what we seek when we travel and need some comfort. What food is yours? Is there one that shapes the policies, attitudes, trade regulations of your home country? This is not a frivolous question. Knowing how people might answer adds to our understanding of a place and its people, their attitudes and by extension, their approach to business. Where are you headed next and what food matters there?

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