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Understanding a Culture through Food - Cuisine Expedition ala Spain

SPAIN | Thursday, 11 April 2013 | Views [90] | Scholarship Entry

“Culture” has a very broad definition, hence, entails an extensive manner of understanding. As the cliché goes, “food brings people together”…it also makes it easier for travelers like me to identify with the locals as well as understand their culture.

Last year, I was able to spend time in Spain (mostly, southern part) to see the sights, experience what the country has to offer and my favorite when travelling (well, even if I am at home ?)…eating – trying out the local cuisines. Based on the limited exposure I had on their culture (by “limited” I mean, based on books, information seen in the internet, features on NatGeo/Discovery channels, etc.), I have always been amazed with their relaxed culture – enjoying every bit of life but with control. Hence, I wanted to actually experience such at one point or the other. Upon trying out some of their food and drink – hamon iberico and serrano, chorizo plus other cured meat / cold cuts, paella negra, tapas, gazpacho, churros, various sweets (that I was unable to take track of the names) and sangria; I can taste the freshness of the ingredients and the various spices in every bite. I actually felt that I was eating in a fine dining restaurant because of the taste, manner of preparation and the way it was served. These attributes made me realize their inherent value to quality living. That they wanted to experience and enjoy the finer things in life – something where quality was not compromised. These are also noticeable in their architecture, landscape and arts - having the second highest number of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the world. I have also observed that they are also into intricate details – with the way they prepare the food (curing / salting of ham, preparing the paella, etc.); the details on their buildings, churches, gardens; the renowned paintings.

Allowing myself to experience their authentic cuisine paved the way for me understand how they are as a nation, their culture, what makes them unique and made me appreciate life at its finest.

Tags: Travel Writing Scholarship 2013

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