Cultural Stowaways: Eating Habits at the Table
Another thing I have noticed since I’ve been back in the US is that some of my eating habits have changed.
The most obvious to me is my concern for not wasting food. While living in Peru I learned not to say no to someone who is offering you food. Along with that, it is very important to finish everything on your plate. Receiving food and being grateful for it is really important in Peru. Now in the US, I always finish my plate despite maybe over eating. And I always eat the odds and ends in the fridge or save leftovers for another time.
I have also noticed that my posture while eating has changed. Perhaps for the worse. During my time in Peru, I learned that the same cultural “rules” about how someone should eat are different. Eating in Peru is essentially more relaxed. Just sit, and be quite and enjoy your food.
I’ve noticed now that I eat with my hands more. I tend to lean or hunch forward more. And I tend to leave my elbows on the table while eating. For some people these things don’t matter. For others, they are a big cultural no-no.
I now am more flexible with what I am eating. In Peru, I ate pretty much anything and everything. Including animals. Prior to Peru that was not the case. Since I’ve been back, I have shifted back into a vegetarian diet. I sometimes practice a vegan diet also when cooking at home. However, I have also eaten meat quite a bit since I’ve been back. So far, if it’s free pizza, I’ll eat it no matter what. If it’s an authentic dish and im curious about trying it (for example I went to an Oaxacan restaurant and tried a beef dish), I will eat meat. Or if its a first time experience, I am inclined to try it. That’s how I managed to eat spam last weekend that we grilled over the fire on a camping trip in Catalina.