The world changes every day. As we rush into the new, it is good to revisit the traditions of our younger days that seemingly never change. That’s one of the reasons why visiting family is so important to me. To be immersed once again in that solid routine reminds me that those memories are real. The idyllic scene always begins like this-
I step through the front door and hug my parents my nose twitching as the aromas of sizzling butter and parathas embrace me. A paratha is a delicious layered flat bread made from wheat flour. As I take in how my parents look and sound my mum leads us to the kitchen to where those aromas are strongest.
In the past, that first bite would always evoke love, home, family, belonging, nourishment, childhood memories and deep contentment.
This year, unfortunately, the idyll is broken. As I explained to my mum while eating a butterless, gluten free paratha “I’m mostly eating a whole-food, plant based diet now. So, no dairy mum. No eggs. No meat, obviously.”
The idyll is further shattered because mum is no longer eating wheat due to a gluten allergy.
I ask her how it’s going. “You have to eat. What else can you do?” She replies.
Of all of us, my dad might be the one hit the hardest by these changes.
“I just eat what your mum puts in front of me.” He is unknowingly becoming a gluten free man.
What does it mean to not eat the way we used to? What are the consequences? What happens to our rich cultural heritage and traditions that come with dishes our mothers prepare or the cuisines we relish? No ghee on your parathas or in dal. No buttery popcorn at the movies. No more baked goods or fish on Fridays.
What happens to our relationships? Do I become a different person if I don’t eat the things I used to eat? Will I relate differently to people and cultures than I did before?
If I were to continue in this new dietary direction, the things that my ancestors enjoyed may no longer find their way to our family meals and feasts in the way they used to. I’m not too disheartened though because as I look back at how diets have changed throughout time, people continue to love their mother’s cooking and embrace new dishes and recipes.
Did you know that in the 1500s people were discouraged from eating uncooked fruits and vegetables, for fear of contracting diseases? I eat raw fruits and vegetables every day.
Or that potatoes, tomatoes, sugar, spices weren’t always a part of European diets? Pizza as we know it today didn’t come into existence until about the 16th century!
Just as it is with culture, it is the same with food – it never stays the same – it is an ever changing landscape of moving variables dependent on resources, tastes, transportation and communication systems, climate, economic and political trends.
Change is happening in what my family eats but not in the way we relish food or our time together. For us there are new recipes to discover, healthier food habits to form, and cherish the abundance that allows us to switch things up.
How about you, have your eating habits changed? What do you love to eat? Are your favorite recipes needing an upgrade? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.