So, if you’re not new around here you may know I’m bilingual, was born and raised for the first six years of my life in one country and then got to experience another. Both a privilege and kind of traumatic. But as such as I have experience with differences in cultures.
I’m not going to however be talking about any real culture. I mostly write fantasy and I’m just going to be talking about some ideas for differences between cultures that you can use to make your own cultures more realistic. Because lets be honest, a lot of things we just assume are the same everywhere.
I was going to do a list, but if I did I’d probably take far too long so instead I’ll probably be doing several of these. For today, we are talking about: Food but more specifically, meals.
Food is probably one of the first things people think about when thinking about differences in cultures (or maybe I’m just hungry). It’s easy to understand and makes sense as different locations have access to different produce.
But more than the food itself, I always find it more surprising the difference in consumption. So, where I was born, we’d usually have three meals a day: breakfast, lunch and supper.
Where I currently live however it’s far more typical to have five meals a day. Breakfast, snack, lunch, evening snack and supper. (Snack and evening snack are actually called almuerzo and berenar, but I don’t think there is an exact translation to English). I have quite happily adopted the evening snack, going for a coffee/tea and some bakery good is amazing. But I still after fifteen years cannot do the morning snack, it’s just too many meals. And this has always been shocking to my coworkers, classmates or friends who tell me off for “skipping meals”.
The other thing is times at which meals are consumed. Supper where I currently live is usually around 9pm. Where I come from it’s like 5pm. My boyfriends is always shocked when we go have supper with my grandparents at 5pm, “it’s not supper, it’s a very large evening snack,” he will claim.
Then there are things like with whom and where you have meals. Who prepared the meals.
Where I come from, eating out is a luxury, despite being a country with far more economic power. Where I currently on the other hand, eating out is almost a routine. It’s a matter of prioritisation, you might have cheap shoes but you still have to go out for lunch everyday with your coworkers because it’s expected of you.
The conclusion and most important point I want to make is: there’s a lot more to food, than what you’re actually eating.
So, maybe take a break from staring at maps and figuring out the climate and produce and the meals that could be made with it, and broaden your culture with simpler yet significant details.
As usual, check out my book, stories I’ve written plus other social medias: here. I’m going to be doing a sale on my ebook real soon for Christmas/my birthday! (I’ll be doing a post, don’t worry).
What interesting meal differences are there in your culture?