Find a person who identifies themselves as a member of a specific cultural group, different from your own, who is willing to be interviewed (do not choose a member of the cultural group you are studying for your group assignment).
SECTION 1: Begin by reading about his/her culture. Recommended resources are listed in your course syllabus but you can also find additional resources at your local library.
Provide a description about the cultural background of your interviewee including important historical events that have shaped that collective culture, typical food traditions, taboos, restrictions, festivals and feasts.
Challenges Faced by Chinese in Accessing Traditional Ingredients and Foods in Canada
The Chinese culture is among the oldest cultures in the world and it is characterized by high commitment to the prescribed traditions and procedures. Practically, Chinese value their culture from the different aspects of traditional meals, feasts, festivals, the celebrations of different cultural achievements and the family ties. In essence, the Chinese community places strong values in matters that affect their immediate livelihood. The Chinese culture, unlike many others, approaches life and society from a collective perspective (Pollard et al., 2011). Communism is at the core of the culture and, therefore, Chinese treat each other as one and not as individuals. Individuality is an aspect that is discouraged. The nature of the community is derived from a long history since the existence of dynasties.
Among the important features of the Chinese culture is their cuisine. Ideally, much of the traditions associated with the etiquette and the social interactions are linked with aspects of the Chinese cuisine. The meals are used in particular to bring people together. The unique features of the cuisine are attributed to the long chain of history that renders preparation and use of specific ingredients found in the Chinese regions shared from generation to generation to be significantly unique. The different ethnic groups in China offer different approaches to their techniques in the cuisine, hence providing a vast variety of delicacies to choose from. One of the features of Chinese cuisine is the use of natural ingredients (Kong, 2002). This is contrary to what is preferred in other modern societies. Further, the color, smell and taste form a significant aspect of meals and are used to determine the nutrition and appearance of food. Typically, cooking is appraised from the ingredients that are used, the seasonings and timing used in the full preparation of the meal. Essentially, food in the Chinese culture is an important factor that brings out their identity and values of culture.
Feasts and celebrations are part of the art of the Chinese culture. The feasts and celebrations are held in different times with the aim of bringing the community together. In these celebrations, the unique features of Chinese art are displayed and the history of the people narrated and shared as they run as back as before the civilization of the Chinese. Significantly, the Chinese culture advances the necessities of respect and etiquette. Respect is accorded to all people across all ages. It is expected that the elderly are respected by the youth and the youth work towards ensuring that they help the elderly. Etiquette is considered a mandatory factor as disrespect and rudeness are not tolerated in the Chinese culture even in the modern setting.
Q: How are the cuisines here in Canada different from cuisines in China?
A: In China, majority of the foods are prepared from natural ingredients. This is such that the ingredients are easily acquired from the farms and even sold in the market places. Here, many of the foods are processed and lack the organic natural tastes. However, some cultural meals use organic products.
Q: Where do you find foods you used to eat at home?
A: Aside from preparing the foods myself, I visit the different Chinese restaurants available. These restaurants have more access to different meals and, therefore, it is more of being home away from home.
Q: With the insistence on using natural products, how easy or difficult is it to access the necessary ingredients when making Chinese meals?
A: Access to majority of the natural ingredients is difficult as some are unique to the Asian region and so they are not found elsewhere. The grocery stores try to supply some but the stock is usually limited. It becomes easier to import some ingredients.
Q: What happens when you cannot get the ingredients you need?
A: The use of alternatives is usually my resort even though they may not necessarily result in the desired taste as the original meal.
Q: How have you incorporated the various cuisines here in Canada to your meal plans?
A: I have come to appreciate the variety of cuisines that are in Canada as many are a representation of different cultures. I, therefore, try to serve or prepare the meals using some of the ingredients and using Chinese methods too.
The interview conducted shed more insight on how various Chinese people in Canada enjoy their ethnic meals even in the growth and development of modernity. Primarily, much of the cuisine that would be preferred by the Chinese would be made from natural ingredients as opposed to the fast and processed meals that are common in Canadian society. Primarily, with the modernization and civilization of much of the society, people tend to have less time to cook meals and resort to fast foods. The industrialization of most societies has rendered many to focus on work leaving little time for meal preparation. The convenience of inorganic meals has led more people to consider them over organic meals that may take longer to prepare and significantly taste different which is an important issue with Chinese meals.
Organic ingredients are very expensive and their supply is often minimal and in high demand. This makes it difficult at some point to acquire certain ingredients which are often specific to certain regions in the world. Therefore, in the event that acquiring the required ingredients is difficult, it suffices to use alternative ingredients that are available in the markets. However, when the ingredients cannot be found, importing from China is a considered alternative. Making orders from China as a result of the simplicity of technology makes it possible for the people to acquire different ingredients.
The presence of Chinese restaurants makes it possible for Chinese residents in Canada to enjoy some of their ethnic meals. The restaurants make it possible for Chinese to share their unique delicacies with other cultures and, therefore, share the importance that is placed on the use of organic ingredients. The rich quality of the natural ingredients that bring out the natural tastes of the meals are what Chinese miss most when they are away from home. However, they have also learned to adapt and accept the different types of meals that are offered in Canada. The ethnic diversity has paved way to taste more cultural delicacies thus creating an appreciation of how to incorporate other meals to the traditional Chinese cuisines.
Kong, L. (2002). The Food of Asia. Tuttle Publishing.
Pollard; R. et al. (2011). Worlds Together Worlds Apart. New York, New York: Norton. p. 164