This culinary mini series is all Andy’s fault! And Nereida’s. But mostly Andy’s.
It started out innocently. I agreed to write a guest post for my friend Nereida’s cooking blog. Then I told Andy about it. He thus informed me that there is such a thing as culinary geography. And now here we are. Like I said, it’s all Andy’s fault.
Culinary geography stems from the fact that food is an integral part of culture and culture is a major area of geography. Food is a necessary part of our lives and defines our culture and personalities, from those who like to try wild and usual dishes to those who enjoy the familiar and soothing. I tend to bounce back and forth between the two.
There is also the issue of global networks of exchange when it comes to importing and exporting foods from around the world. Just think about how the Western diet has spread throughout the world (Starbucks jokes anyone?) and in turn how America, as a nation of immigrants, has adopted and changed foods to meet out multicultural needs (California sushi rolls). Plus there are the more serious effects, such as food dependence where some countries get the majority of their food from other nations.
An example: Japan, as a mainly mountainous country with little good land for producing large amounts of various crops, is dependent on other countries for enough food. According to Wikipedia, “Only 20% of Japan’s land is suitable for cultivation“. This is exacerbated when things like pollution and contamination (such as radiation contamination from the Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant disaster) further reduce the nation’s ability to produce crops and raise livestock.
The developed countries’ desires for foods grown best in climates (and cheaply) in less developed nations can severely hurt these countries through pollution, deforestation, soil degradation and economic losses for those disposed of their land.
Yeah, geography and food can get serious.
Postings will focus on the cultural, historical, social and environmental aspects of food. I’ll also post recipes for various Asian dishes (because that’s my area of expertise), but I’ll try to throw in some other cultural dishes with help from Andy and others. I’ll also try to explain the geographical significance of the dishes, but since this is new to me, I apologize in advance for any errors I will undoubtedly make. Hopefully the literature and links I provide will make up for it. Like this one: DINING OUT; A Lesson in Culinary Geography. Enjoy!