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Extreme Cuisines

While every culture has its own standards for what is socially acceptable, what is considered acceptable for some, may be considered odd for others. Humans need food in order to sustain life, but some extreme cuisines are hard to stomach. Imagine swallowing the still beating heart of a snake or snacking on cockroaches, crawling grubs and a salad of bugs. A delicacy in some cultures is disgusting for others. What we eat says a lot about who we are. It is a clear case of nurture over nature; what a person chooses to eat depends very much on where they are born and raised. A westerner might flinch at the sight of boiled bat or a half matured duck egg, and raw oysters, whereas blue cheese may equally sicken a Japanese native. Often enough, what really repels people from these extreme eats is not the taste of food, but the thought of eating it. Having been to several foreign countries, specifically Vietnam and China it is evident that what one culture finds delicious, another finds disgusting and the biggest divide of all, is the one between west and east.
Food is vital for life, pleasure and social and is sometimes forbidden. Some of man’s strongest taboos surround what can and cannot be eaten. Food is a universal need, without it, we would die. Yet the taboos that surround food are not always driven by health and well being: tradition, religion, social status and affluence can also influence what people will and will not put into their mouths. What humans consume is defined much by culture as by geography. Food is important in differentiating one culture from another because it is one of the few things we incorporate into our body and in almost every culture there exists this idea that “you are what you eat.” While certain foods ...

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...e, may be considered taboo for others.
After being able to witness and experience the different food cultures of Vietnam and China, it is evident that what one culture finds delicious, another finds disgusting and the biggest divide of all, is the one between west and east. While the American diet is an interplay between food habits of the past and the present, the old and the new, and the traditional and the innovative, it is still far different from the foods of Vietnam and China. Food has long been used to unite and exclude outsiders. What humans eat can often be a window to who they are and what they believe in. Geography and culture define much of what people eat and often the taboos that surround certain foods are a case of mind over matter. In the end, the foods that differentiate and define societies also demonstrate the diversity of the human experience.
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