Eating is one of the few things that everyone does, whoever they are and wherever they live. However, ways of eating and enjoying food can differ depending on where in the world you are. Food can be a social experience, a way to get large groups of friends and family together. It can be something for parents to enjoy with their children, or for couples to enjoy with each other. It can be a solitary experience, with food eaten on the go. It can be plentiful, or it can be scare, paid for with food vouchers or borrowed money. It can be It can be all of these at once.
With the Philippines changing and becoming more westernised, we see some of these different customs here. Partly we see it in the increasingly number of restaurants serving foreign cuisine (such as pizza restaurants), and partly we see it in changing eating habits, such as businessmen eating alone.
As the world becomes more globalised, so our eating habits do too. Here are some of the more unusual ways different people eat around the world.
In the Arctic circle, food customs are strongly dictated by the climate and the seasons. In summer, it barely gets dark, and in winter it barely gets light. In winter, there is very little access to food, especially fresh food, and so the people have come up with some innovative ways of preserving food to get them through the long days of darkness. One delicacy is ‘Kivaq’, or fermented sea bird meat. During summer, people catch the birds and then place them in a bag made of seal skin. They then put the bag under stones and leave it for several months until it ferments. When other food runs out during the cold winter, they return to the stones and dig up their meal. In general, people in the Arctic eat simple food which can be cooked quickly, preserving fuel for keeping warm. One of their most common meals is seal – which is often eaten raw.
Many African people still lead a very traditional, tribal life, although the modern world has naturally encroached on their lives. This means that they sometimes follow a mixture of food traditions, with some of the older customs now reserved for guests and special occasions. Cattle and goats are kept my tribal people, but not often eaten by them: they are seen as a way of storing wealth rather than a source of food. Often, they cannot produce milk either, as certain diseases endemic to the region make it unsafe. Instead, many tribes drink their animals’ blood for nutrition. While they are surrounded by incredible animals, few Africans will kill them for food. However, they will sometimes eat the huge eggs of the ostrich: one is equal to 24 chicken eggs! Some Saharan people will eat camel meat, which is sometimes sold with a slice of the animal’s hump to use as a cooking fat.
Like the people of the Arctic, the Aboriginal people of Australia traditionally ate a diet determined by the harsh environment in which they live. Theirs must be one of the most unusual of world cuisines. Having to survive in desert conditions meant that they knew exactly how and where to get any kind of food from, and they often found it in the strangest of places. They would hunt some of the native animals (such as kangaroos) using their famous boomerangs, but they would also often dig for food in the ground. Those who know where to look can find delicacies such as honey ants: ants which store honey in their large, swollen stomachs; and various kinds of grubs. wichetty grubs, a kind of moth larva. Flowers are another source of nutrition, their nectar sucked out and the remains used to make a sweet drink.
These are just a few of the world’s strange food customs. There are many more. No doubt they don’t seem strange at all to those who eat them, but are just common-sense.