The food we grow up with is part of what makes us whole. Cuisine is an inextricable piece of identity, no matter where you hail from. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think Russia? Vodka and caviar, right? Italy? Pizza or pasta with vino? Germany? Brats, beer, and pretzels? Try to think about France and not conjure images of food or drink.
Numerous studies (and an endless stream of travel/food shows) tell us that our pride and confidence in who we are is deeply rooted in the food we cook, share, and pass down. Food instructs habits, rituals, religion, and even the way our brains function. Saying you’re Sicilian carries as much culinary weight as saying you’re kosher or halal. These become vital clues, windows into our what makes us us.
Consider the food you connect with on a cultural level — not just based on flavor, but based on your own unique history. Now, imagine that it was gone. Scrubbed from the earth and replaced with “comfort foods” that offer no real comfort. Empty calories, devoid of connection. This is the plight of Native American and First Nations people throughout the U.S. and Canada. Hundreds of cultures scattered across what is left of their homelands, raising families completely dislocated from their traditional foodways.