Food is a significant part of popular culture around the world, and beliefs, trends and practices define and change our eating habits. This type of popular culture is determined by ideas, habits, politics and objects created by a society, including all systems in the middle of which the human being lives and changes, such as the commercial, media and political systems.
Not to mention the impact of such ideas on society. Nowadays, there is an increasing global trend towards consumerism, reflected in people’s habit to eat away from home, in specific foods for specific groups (e.g., persons suffering from all sorts of illnesses such as diabetes, or athletes, persons committed to a diet, children and so on), in the ethnic diversity of diets and consuming convenience and functional foods. Increasingly more people look for low-calorie, low-fat, low-carbohydrates foods, and intend to consume more natural, simple, fresh, bio ingredients.
Regardless of all types of consumerism, we all have universal cravings for comfort food, regardless of country, ethnic origin, language and environment. But are these cravings common in most places around the world? This blog post provides examples of culinary items that transcend all types of food cultures, in different shapes and bearing various names.
The fact is there are so many foods that we all enjoy, across the globe, like pizza and hamburgers, filling an instinctive universal craving. It is obvious that no matter the background, we all love to eat. In respect of burgers, we can even talk about an “Americanization” of diets, proven by the development of fast-food type restaurants, more and more present all around the world. These types of restaurants have become very common and are now visited by all types of people. It is not a type of food for teenagers only (as a matter of fact, even though this “McDonaldization” started with young people in the United States, eating in these restaurants has decreased a lot in the past few years in the 18-34 age group, but has increased among other groups), but for all age or income groups internationally. Everybody loves having hotdogs or fries once in a while. Educated or not, rich or poor, every single one of us has eaten pizza. Poker players around the world all enjoy the one-syllable word types of food, such as dips, chips or nuts.
Apart from Italy’s specialties (pizza and pasta) and well-known American dishes, we can also include stuffed dough in this “common taste” category. Be it the Austrian strudel, the English pie stuffed with most various fillings, or the Romanian traditional Brânzoaică or Dobrogeană filled with salty or sweet cheese, they are all delights for our tastes and they are cooked according to the same recipe: dough stuffed with every region’s favourite ingredients.
Noodles are now part of almost every culture, whether cooked in Asian style (Chinese, Vietnamese, and Lebanese), under the form of macaroni and cheese (common in Europe and America) or boiled and mixed with vegetables in soups.
A type of food that is most likely consumed by everybody is bread, even though in Lebanon we are talking about pita or flatbread, in France about baguettes, in Latin America about tortillas, in India about roti and in Spain about pan or bocadillo. The principle is the same: wheat / rice / corn flour mixed with water, later shaped from dough.
Let’s not forget about sweets and beverages. Is there anyone in this world who hasn’t once tasted ice-cream or chocolates or who has not heard about or tried a cup of Brazilian coffee? Half-milk, half-coffee, like the French drink it, i.e. café latte, enriched with cream and sugar, long black or combined with whiskey in the Irish culture, everybody has heard about this brewed drink, prepared from roasted coffee beans, the elixir of life, in relation to which new researchers found evidence that it has substantial health benefits, preventing liver cancer and leading to a lower death rate in coffee drinkers than in those who abstain.
One of my favourite drinks and perhaps the most common around the world is tea, and we can actually talk about an entire tea culture, originating from China as a medicinal drink, and introduced in approximately 10th century BC.
The reasonable conclusion we can draw is that whether we are black, white, or yellow-skinned, whether we drive a Porsche or a mini-van, fat or slim, on a diet or not, living in Europe or in Beijing, vegetarian or raw-vegan, for medical reasons or just for the pleasure of taste, there are, without any doubts, food types that transcend all cultures.