В. Н. Брюханова Исследовательская деятельность

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4. Исследовательская работа « Cuisine as an element of culture»

( для педагогов английского языка)

I . Cuisine as an element of culture

    1. Cuisine as a phenomena

Culture is not inherited; it is learned. The food choices of different cultural groups are often connected to ethnic behaviors and religious beliefs. Kittler, P.G., Sucher, K.P., & Nelms (2012) addressed the influence of food habits on an individual’s self-identity by stating, “Eating is a daily reaffirmation of [one’s] cultural identity”. Many people affiliate the foods from their culture, their childhood with warm, good feelings and memories. The food is part of who we are and become. It ties us to our families and holds a special worth to a person.

Cultural identity, however, is not restricted by the specific foods one associates with a given ethnic or racial group. One’s social class, standing in the community, and profession are signifiers of culture as well.

Food - its cultivation, preparation and communal consumption - has long been considered a form of cultural heritage [2].A dynamic, living product, food creates social bonds as it simultaneously marks off and maintains cultural difference. In bringing together anthropologists, historians and other scholars of food and heritage, this volume closely examines the ways in which the cultivation, preparation, and consumption of food is used to create identity claims of 'cultural heritage' on local, regional, national and international scales.

A cuisine (/kwɪˈziːn/ kwi-zeen; from French [kɥizin], in turn from Latin coquere "to cook") is a style of cooking characterized by distinctive ingredients, techniques and dishes, and usually associated with a specific culture or geographic region. A cuisine is primarily influenced by the ingredients that are available locally or through trade. [9]Religious food laws, such as Hindu, Islamic and Jewish dietary laws, can also exercise a strong influence on cuisine. Regional food preparation traditions, customs and ingredients often combine to create dishes unique to a particular region.

Defined as a style of cooking, cuisine is a boundary-marking mechanism for different societies, demarcating “us” from “them”. Margaret Mead asserted that “food habits are seen as the culturally standardized set of behaviors in regard to food manifested, who have been reared within a given cultural tradition” [Mead, 1943, p.2]. Foodways in general are a highly revealing lens through which to examine the diversity of human social formations and cultural practices.

Everybody must eat, so the production, consumption, and exchange of food are the most basic economic activities for families throughout the world and shared social activities in all cultures. As Claude Levi-Strauss has asserted, cuisine as a subset of foodways is perhaps the most basic of cultural activities, where nature is transformed (from raw food item) into a cultural artifact (cooked or prepared food).

    1. Cultural Context

Dietary differences between cultures are almost always more pronounced than individual differences within a culture. The relatively limited amount of research that has been conducted on cross-cultural perceptions of sensory qualities finds fewer differences than are needed to explain the often markedly different preferences for foods. More plausibly, it is likely that differences in preferences reflect experiences with different foods. In addition to facilitating liking through exposure and the action of social influences, cultures act to define what substances are considered foods. Foods that are unfamiliar to a culture may initially be seen as entirely unsuitable for consumption, while certain flavors may be regarded as inappropriate for specific foods. For example, bean paste is often used as a sweet filling in Japanese cakes, whereas in many Western countries, beans are expected to inhabit savory, not sweet, products. Again, porridge is either sweet or savory, depending on your heritage. In other cases, because of different histories of exposure, a preferred flavor in one culture may be perceived as unpleasant in another. The odor and flavor of lamb and mutton are highly liked in the West but rejected in the many parts of Asia that do not have the history of consuming sheep meat. Foods may of course be the subject of religious or cultural taboos, or even not be defined as food at all. In Western countries, we are unlikely to ever develop a taste for dog meat or snake blood. The notion of culturally specific flavor principles has been proposed as a way of categorizing cultural differences in cuisines. Flavor principles are unique combinations of specific ingredients used in a variety of foods within a culture. This combination provides a characteristic flavor that foods within the culture share, and identifies them as originating from that culture. For example, a characteristic combination of ingredients in Japanese cooking is soy sauce, mirin (sweet rice wine) and dashi (a stock made from flakes of the bonito fish, which is high in umami taste). While Korea is geographically close to Japan, its flavor principle could not be less similar, with the intense flavors of garlic, chili, sesame, and soy dominating many dishes. Flavor principles not only define the national cuisine, they also perform a social role by acting as an expression of the individuality of the culture. Flavor principles may help to provide a solution to the “omnivore’s paradox” and the consequent neophobic response that novelty can elicit, thus limiting the foods available for consumption within a culture [10]. A familiar flavor can provide a safe context for new foods, thus maximizing the breadth of the diet. On the individual level, recent findings suggest that a familiar sauce could increase the willingness of children to consume a novel food. A characteristic combination of flavorings may also provide variety and interest in diets dominated by bland staples such as corn or rice. Although a flavor principle might contain only a small set of characteristic seasonings, these can be combined in different ways. Moreover, what may appear to be a single ingredient or spice to an outsider may in fact have many subtle variations. Different chili varieties, for instance, vary considerably in the flavor and degree of heat that they impart to foods. Increasingly, the food industry operates in a global setting. This is likely to mean that those foods that are purchased in your local supermarket are, or soon will be, also available on the other side of the world, perhaps within a culture whose cuisine is vastly different from your own. Whether this means that national flavor principles will ultimately be diluted or replaced is uncertain. Some evidence suggests they will not. Japanese urban populations have, for many years, enjoyed wide access to foods from other parts of the world, particularly Europe and the United States. [10] Yet, while rice consumption has fallen and red meat and dairy food consumption has increased in recent years, there is little evidence that more traditional foods are disappearing. Moreover, Western food companies wishing to export to those cultures whose cuisines are substantially different are learning that incorporating aspects of the flavor principles of those cultures is essential for producing acceptable foods.

    1. Acceptance and rejection

Foods vary along a hedonic dimension, that is, in their ability to evoke pleasure. A food’s hedonic value can differ significantly between individuals and among cultures. In developed countries at least, pleasure is probably the strongest determinant of diet. For most of us, most of the time, a global emotional response to the taste of a food determines whether it is consumed. Underlying this seemingly simple decision is a remarkable range of emotions—from blissful appreciation of haute cuisine to a profound rejection elicited by feelings of disgust. As with many other complex human behaviors, the development of food likes and dislikes reflects the operation of multiple influences—genetic inheritance, maternal diet, child raising practices, learning, cognition, and culture. In fact, the development of food preferences may be an ideal model of the interplay of these influences during our life span. Foods may be selected or rejected for a variety of reasons, including their anticipated effects on health, their perceived ethical or environmental appropriateness, or practical considerations as price, availability, and convenience [21].However, it is our responses to the sensory properties of a food—its odor, taste, flavor, and texture— that provide the underlying basis of food acceptance. This article will focus on some of the influences that shape hedonic responses to foods, their flavors, and other sensory qualities.

1.3.1. Tastes

Despite evidence of innate hedonic responses to basic tastes, the vast majority of specific food likes and dislikes are not predetermined—no one is born liking blue cheese, for example. This is not to suggest that basic sensory qualities are unimportant. On the contrary, relatively fixed hedonic responses to sweet, salty, bitter, and umami (glutamate taste) tastes, and almost certainly fat, are present at or shortly after birth, and continue to exert an influence on food preferences. The strong affinity that children show for very sweet foods, and the persistence of the early development of liking for the taste of salt and salty foods throughout life appear to be universal. A majority in many Western societies also choose a diet that is high in fat. However, innate responses do not account for the broad range of food likes and dislikes that develop beyond infancy. For instance, humans and many other mammals can detect bitterness at low levels and find it unpalatable because it is a potential sign of toxicity. Yet, while coffee and beer are typically rejected on first tasting, they are ultimately the strongest contenders for being the global beverages. The pungency of spicy foods is also initially rejected. Worldwide, though, chili is second only to salt as a food spice[4]. Thus, although innate influences are clearly important in food selection, these are modified by our experience with foods (although both physiological makeup and culture will partly determine the extent to which experience is allowed to operate). What is more important than our innate preferences is the fact that we are predisposed to learn to like (and sometimes, dislike) foods. Some other preferences do appear to be common across cultures whose diets are very different. However, examples such as the widespread liking for vanilla and chocolate flavor are likely to reflect some degree of common experience.

      1. Texture

Texture is a crucial criterion for sensory acceptance and rejection. Certain textures do seem to be universally liked, crispness, for example—perhaps through its association with freshness. Of course, to some extent, we will always prefer textures that are compatible with our dentition, and thus we would not expect infants to like hard foods. Foods that are difficult to manipulate in the mouth—such as soggy foods—are commonly disliked, as are foods that require excessive saliva and effort to swallow, such as dry, tough meat [5]. While food texture is often cited as a reason for rejecting food, for example raw oysters, it is likely that such preferences are also a function of our prior expectations for specific foods.

      1. Color

Food color is also undoubtedly a strong influence on acceptability, but again this is likely to reflect prior expectations. Whether we prefer white (U.S.) or yellow (U.K.) butter depends on what we have eaten in the past. Some colors have been thought to be inappropriate for food. The color blue, for instance, has been suggested as a candidate for a universally inappropriate food color—after all, very few foods are naturally blue. But recent marketing of brightly and “inappropriately” colored foods for children tends to undermine this notion, since the children appear receptive to unusual colors [6].Removing color from common foods does reliably reduce liking for those foods, perhaps by undermining our ability to identify their flavor, thus making them seem less familiar.

      1. Social Influences

From childhood on, social interactions, whether within the family or with other groups, provide the context within which the majority of food experiences occur, and hence by which learning of food likes is facilitated. The pleasure associated with such interactions—the conviviality of a meal shared with friends, for example—may represent just as positive a conditioning stimulus for a new food flavor as sweetness. Thus, it may be that our estimation of the food at a restaurant has as much to do with the social environment as it does with the chef’s skills. In children, pairing foods with the presence of friends, a liked celebrity, or attention by adults all increase liking for those foods, no doubt reflecting the positive hedonic value of each of these groups to the child. This process is strongly evident in the relative impact of different social interactions on the food preferences of children. Surprisingly, despite the enormous opportunities in a family for exposing children to the foods eaten by the parents, parental preferences are poor predictors of child food preferences; in fact, they are no better predictors than the preferences of other adults. This suggests that the extent to which these sets of preferences are related has more to do with the wider culture than with any specific food habits within the family. A child’s food likes and dislikes are much more likely to be associated with those of peers, especially specific friends, than those of its parents. Peers may also be as effective as families at helping to overcome neophobia, since the food choices of both friends or well-known adults strongly influence a child’s food choices. The ultimate impact of social facilitation of food choice is that the liking eventually becomes internalized. That is, foods chosen because others do so become liked for their own sensory properties [6].
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