A World Of Flavors

 In Cultural Immersion

The foods you ate in the US as an ESL student were part of your experience of American culture.  You were exposed to a whole new type of cuisine, both good and bad. 

Food and culture are closely related, so much so, that certain flavors are associated with particular parts of the world.  I say curry—you say India, pasta—Italy, feta cheese—Greece, sushi—Japan, hotdogs—America.  I get defensive whenever I hear this old saw, but… I have to admit it’s true.  Americans do love an afternoon barbecue, or baseball game day dog.  Of course, hot dogs aren’t exactly American cuisine.  American cuisine has moved from the “meat and potatoes” of the 1950’s to become a more global cuisine, one that’s reflective of the demographics of the US today.  Expats from every corner of the globe have settled in America, and brought the flavors of home with them.  In every big city you can find the authentic food of a host of nations.

New Types Of Cuisine

If the cuisine we’re talking about is what you most likely ate as an ESL student on an American campus, then hot dogs are pretty accurate.  Students in the US avail themselves of the pre-packaged, mass produced varieties of foods more often than they sit down to a meal of California Fusion fennel crusted Ahi tuna over lemon couscous.  It’s a matter of expediency.  If you’re pulling an all-nighter, cramming for a final, chances are you’re not going to take 30 minutes to prepare a lovely, healthful dish, and sit and eat it meditatively.  You’re getting a heat and eat “Hot Pocket” from the freezer, and nuking it in the microwave, and then eating it while you continue to work, hoping the teacher won’t deduct points for the sauce thumbprint on page 6.

Hopefully you had some free days, and explored the restaurants surrounding your school, or cooked a recipe from home for you and your dorm mate, instead of going out for a burger.

An awareness of the tendency for students to opt for these convenience foods may have forearmed you, and perhaps you stocked up on ACTUAL FOOD items.

Or, maybe you gave in, and embraced the rip and eat, drive thru, microwave culture of college eating.  Whichever path you took; part of your study abroad experience in the US was both the global food culture, and the fast food culture.  You experienced whole new types of cuisine both good, and bad.

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