FOOD CULTURE SHOCK
Complete the questions below using a word from the text.
You would think that eating with your fingers would be easy. In the US, there are only certain things you can eat with your fingers, like burgers, for example, and that's easy enough. When I went to South India, though, I realised that it is a whole new skill to learn to eat rice and curry with your fingers. You have to mix the curries together and with the rice and form a 'ball'. Dool* is particularly helpful as a kind of glue. You use your fingertips, never the palm of your hand, and use your thumb to pop it into your mouth. I thought I knew where my mouth was, but my first few attempts were a disaster. There was food everywhere! *Dool is a lentil curry widely eaten in the Indian subcontinent.
For me, when I travel, the 'fast food' culture always shocks me. I can't believe there are people in the world who live on 'junk food' like burgers and just grab a sandwich for lunch. Back home, food is very important to us. We cook fresh food for lunch and dinner and sit down and eat as a family at least once a day, twice at weekends. A lot of people grow their own vegetables and keep chickens. Food is part of your identity, so what are you saying about yourself when you eat some rubbish which contains chemicals and goodness knows what else? The worst thing I have seen on my travels is a baby being given a fizzy drink in a bottle. That really shocked me!
C. QIANG SHI
I enjoy trying food from different countries, but what interests me more is the culture and habits surrounding food and eating. In China, when we go to a restaurant with colleagues, when we are offered something, we say 'No thanks', even though we want it, because the person will definitely repeat the offer. In other countries, though, 'no' means 'no', so if you are just trying to be polite and don't take it the first time, you will end up with nothingl To me, it feels wrong to take something the first time it is offered, so it took me a while to get used to that when I travel abroad.
Being a vegetarian is so easy here in the UK that we forget that not everyone in the world understands vegetarianism. For vegans the situation is even more difficult. Probably the best place I've been to is India, as everything is divided into 'veg' or 'non veg' so you know exactly what you're getting. In many countries, they don't even realise that there is a concept of not eating meat for ethical reasons. In many parts of the world, meat equates to prosperity, so the idea of going out for a meal and not having meat is alien to them. I have travelled to places where, as a vegetarian, all I have been able to eat is salad, fruit and chips. I'm glad to get home where we have special vegetarian products.
I think breakfast is the meal where food culture shock really hits you. In Australia, there are certain foods you eat for breakfast and certain foods you don't. We usually eat cereal or toast, maybe yoghurt and fruit. We would never eat chicken or vegetables. But when I travelled in Asia, I realised that in many places, there is no difference between breakfast and dinner: rice, curry, noodles, soup, steamed vegetables and fish all appeared at breakfast. Even though I love all those things, I just can't face them at breakfast!
46. In china, if you refuse food, the host will usually............... the offer