This post is inspired by a new virtual cooking “ritual” I have started with a friend (and probably partly because I was feeling hungry when I started writing this). I will explain this cooking ritual a bit later on, but first I want to talk a little about food. Food, to us humans, is more than just a source of nutrients. Over time, we have developed a strong connection with food and usually associate with it family, identify, and culture. Food has become an important part of culture; cuisine can reflect a community’s history, values, beliefs, and lifestyles.
Recently, I got into a conversation with my family related to family recipes. Even though my family has been in Canada for a while now, I’ve always felt connected to my culture through food. I feel that my parents have been very persuasive about involving me in making family recipes, for which I’m thankful. Especially since I’m not very religious, cuisine is one way I can stay connected to some my heritage and culture. And it’s something I can share with my extended family in India and around the world. As a result, during cultural/religious festivities, even when I’m not with my parents, I try to make some food which is associated with that event. However, there are some family recipes that require very particular ingredients, of which, most can only be found locally (i.e. in India). This makes passing on recipes a bit difficult. The conversation with the family pertaining to those recipes being forgotten or lost after my parents’ generation. And in my opinion, this is not solely a consequence of geography. I think even some of my cousins, despite being in India, haven’t really kept up with the very niche family recipes.
Aside from my connection to culture through cuisine, food is also the way I learn about other cultures around the world. Experiencing different cuisines plays a big role when I travel. I’m a fan of trying local dishes, which can sometimes be a bit challenging as a vegetarian, but nonetheless, I give it my best shot. Since travelling is on hold currently, I’ve started a cooking ritual with a friend to try recipes from around the world as a means to still learn about different cultures. And hopefully in the future, we will get to experience them in the different places around the world. One perk about doing in this in my own kitchen is that I can find recipes and vegetarian alternatives! One disadvantage is that there is some improvisation needed as not all ingredients might be available. In addition to immersing yourself in culture through cuisine, food is also a way to form meaningful connection with the people you share it with. Human memories tends to be stronger and easily recalled when associated with sensory perception. Food uses sight, smell, taste, sometimes even sound and touch. So these virtual cooking sessions is a way I try to stay connected with friends and create shared memories/experiences.
On a more regular basis though, I try different recipes on my own as well mainly as a way to break from my routine. With busy schedules and a bit of laziness, I tend to fall back to the same recipes and then mealtimes sometimes are not as exciting. So, it’s nice to try out a new recipe from time to time.
If you have any favourite recipes, feel free to send them my way 🙂
A collage of some recipes I’ve tried: