Why Culinary Arts Are So Important

Before diving headfirst into the heavenly realm of world cuisine, it is important to touch on why this topic is so important to understand. First of all, a culture’s cuisine provides insight into how the culture has developed over the years. For ex- ample, traditional Native American cooking focuses heavily on what the indigenous peoples of the continent could once hunt, gather, or grow. Bison, deer, and rabbit were the staple meats of Native Americans prior to the arrival of Europeans, and corn and potatoes were critical vegetables. Does any of this food sound familiar to you? Many Americans still eat corn or potatoes nearly every day. These foods were not available to the European settlers who came to America, but they quickly became staple foods. After being shipped back to European shores, potatoes helped to fuel the continent’s con- quest of the world and even led to disasters like the Irish Potato Famine. And that’s just one example of how important food is to the development of a cul- ture. Many others exist. For example, the prevalence of rice, vegetables, and smaller serving portions in Asian countries is a contributing factor to the slim physiques of the people in that region. The “all-you-can-eat” buffet is simply not a way of life for most people in Asia. As another example, the importation of coffee from India into Europe helped to fuel the Renaissance on the continent. Such facts showcase the importance of understanding the foods around you and where they originated. One final example is the popularity of bananas around the world. Their initial discovery was in India in about 600 BCE, and the banana eventually became the first well-known international fruit. After being exported to the rich soils of South American countries in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, many Euro- pean countries created companies to grow and sell this fruit. Sadly, the banana trade also caused wars between South American nations, which led to deaths and even revolutions that transformed the landscape of the continent forever. As you read this volume, you may well be pleasantly surprised, shocked, and even entertained by what you find. There’s a good chance that you’re going to learn things you never imagined about the food sitting on your plate right now. That’s the beautiful thing about art: It transforms you and provides important knowl- edge about the world around you.



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