Welcome to our series called Flavors of Culture
The gateway through another culture often happens through food.
-Padma Lakshmi, “Taste the Nation”
How do you connect to your cultural roots through food and share the flavors from your culture with food allergies?
Food is one way to preserve culture. Food is a bridge; a gateway to keeping a culture alive. However what happens when you or your loved one is allergic to the traditional foods that connect you to culture?
How do you connect to your cultural roots through food and share the flavors from your culture when the main ingredients have the potential to harm you?
What is global cuisine and how does it impact people with food allergies?
A global cuisine is one that is practiced around the world. Foods from around the world have become accessible and more readily available than in the past. Nowadays most children have tried Sushi, Thai and Chinese food before the age of five. It’s a wonderful thing to fill our plate with food from around the world but how do we address the reality of living with food allergies and being able to still enjoy diverse cuisines?
Do you have to give up eating foods from your culture because of food allergies?
Food allergies impact more than just the foods we eat. They impact our social, emotional and physical state of mind.
When my daughter was first diagnosed with multiple food allergies, I thought if I can just keep her away from the foods that will cause a reaction she will be ok. However, food allergies are complex.
Many of her allergens are found in the foods I grew up eating. Most family gatherings are centered around food. Family style meals where everyone gathers around a table, sharing dishes together is common.
In addition, eating out can be a big part of many cultures including my own. Food allergies present a challenge because eating out or sharing a family style meal isn’t always a safe option for us. I didn’t want her to feel left out. I also wanted her to feel a connection to my culture through food.
Language and dress often fizzle out when cultures assimilate but food remains a constant thread that loops us together. Keeping traditional foods alive means being able to support their existence by eating, cooking and teaching our children how to cook them.
Changing our perspective…
What happens when you’re allergic to dairy and you’re Italian?
If you have an allergy to sesame and you’re Middle Eastern?
Or you’re Chinese and have a soy allergy?
We had to figure out how we could keep enjoying Pakastani food and still be safe. My family and I learned to adapt. We learned how to work together and plan menus that were inclusive for everyone. The changes we made were small but resulted in an overall shift in our perspective.
Cooking foods from different cultures at home allow us to participate in tasting flavors from around the world
Cooking with food allergies means we tweak recipes based on ingredients that are safe for us to eat. Perhaps, eating at a Japanese restaurant safely is a challenge but we’re able to enjoy the cuisine at home by learning how to cook it together. Maybe our samosas won’t taste “authentic” but we’re still able to appreciate our culture through food by recreating samosas with alternative ingredients.
What to expect with Zestfull’s “Flavors of Culture”
Zestfull’s series Flavors of Culture will explore the powerful connection between food and culture with food allergies. This series will also explore how people living with food allergies participate in enjoying cuisines from around the world.
We believe you don’t have to give up on the foods from your culture or enjoying global cuisines. With a little creativity, we can all have a plate filled with color and flavor.
If you make any recipes from this series, tag us at #thezestfull
How do you hold onto your cultural roots through food with food allergies? What story does your plate tell? What are the flavors from your culture?
Shahla is a mom of two girls who live with environmental allergies such as asthma and eczema. Their food allergies include tree nuts, peanuts, sesame and other seeds. Shahla is trained as a Natural Chef who wants to share the comfort that cooking has brought her family. She believes that everyone, regardless of dietary requirements, deserves a plate full of color and flavor.