Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Your Food Is Different

The flavours and flavour combinations that we find in candy is something that's very close to many of us.  Most of us started eating candy as children, so the flavours, smells and textures were implanted into our memory at a young age.  Science has proven that flavours, smells and textures stay in our minds, and are directly associated with our brains memories.  This means that you'll probably remember the smell of your 5th birthday, long before you remember who actually attended.  Because candy plays with these senses in particular, we remember candy well, and often very fondly.

We build a certain bond between these foods we've grown up with, and our place in the world.  Since humans are often self-centred, we also assume that everybody else will also have these same bonds.  The truth is, many people don't have the same connection to certain foods as you.  This means that people from certain cultures may have never had contact with a particular food that you love, and when they try it, they can only rely on the actual flavour in relation to their experiences.
This brings me to the best example of this that I can think of, peanut butter.  In North America we put peanut butter on everything.  Chocolate and peanut butter, peanut butter and jam, I've even had peanut butter on a hamburger.  In Europe however, many people don't eat peanut butter.  In fact I know several people who've never even tried it in their entire lives.  I also know a few people that have tried it, and absolutely hate it.  So why would you hate peanut butter?
I think the answer can only come about when you look at peanut butter from a neutral standpoint.  The texture of peanut butter is the first thing that turns people off; it sticks to your mouth, and is difficult to eat.  Peanut butter is also very oily, and many people don't like oily food.  Finally, peanut butter tastes like peanuts, and while many people enjoy peanuts, not everybody likes to mix it with so many other foods.
Don't get me wrong, North America isn't the only peanut loving continent, many Asian countries use peanuts and peanut butter for a great deal of their cooking.  Have you ever had a peanut Thai sauce, often peanut butter.  Many North Americans I know can't imagine someone not wanting to eat peanut butter, but then my Japanese friends can’t understand why everybody doesn't like red bean past either.


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