Food Talka Essay

Submitted By rhendler22
Words: 2133
Pages: 9

Ryan Hendler
403954456
Communications Paper
Discussion: 1L with Lowe
11/23/10
Food Talks

With food you can say a lot without ever speaking a word. Food is the one of the greatest and most used forms of nonverbal communication. It can express emotions, attitudes, values, and culture through its presentation, consumption and treatment.
Food is primarily thought of as a means of nourishment, however it can send all kinds messages about the people that eat and prepare it. Just as words on a page can elicit an emotion or response, food can communicate how someone is feeling, their traditions, or even where they are going or come from. Though food does not have a physical mouth to vocally say these ideas, they are implied and received through nonverbal pathways. Just from the way something is cooked, displayed, or eaten can express many different aspects of our lives: from where we eat, to what kind of food we order, to how we eat it. From these observations, I propose that food is a medium through which nonverbal messages are effectively communicated.
An important aspect of food as a nonverbal communicator is the messages instilled within the ethnic dishes people make and the cultural influence presented in food. Certain foods send a message of what culture is being represented. Every ethnicity has regional meals they make according to available resources in the area. From the different animals, fruits, vegetables, and spices of a particular place, determines the ingredients and recipes a culture develops. For example, because China has many rice fields, many of there dishes include rice. When you go to a place such as Panda Express, a well-known Chinese restaurant, they do not offer you French fries with your meal, but rice. Also Japan, which is surrounded by ocean, naturally uses a lot of seafood in their recipes, helping invent dishes such as sushi and calamari. This then allows most foods to be distinguished into certain ethnic categories, sending messages of the culture backgrounds one is consuming. Hamburgers are considered American, curry is Indian, pizza is Italian, and burritos are Mexican. When one sees orange chicken, one immediately knows he is eating Chinese, or if you pass an In-N-Out burger you recognize this as American food. This stereotyping of cuisine is an attribute of food’s ability to express nonverbal implications.
Not only does culture have an affect on what food is made, but also how food is used in different societies expresses many nonverbal messages. Food is very much apart of religion and its traditions and values. As it is seen throughout the world, from Christianity, to Judaism, to Hinduism, food is a large part of their rituals and lifestyles. At church, the wafers and wine during the service represent the body and blood of Christ. Jews tend to be kosher, and are limited in the foods they can eat, also in Hinduism cows, a major source of protein in the United States, are held sacred and are not used for food. These traditions show the meaning of food to different people and the affect it has on their lives. The food they eat send a message of their beliefs and the disciplines they follow. Food is also perceived differently from region to region. In America, food is used excessively and taken for granted. With our abundance and availability of food, we tend to eat for pleasure rather than need. In comparison, parts of Africa struggle for food and view it as a luxury, taking extra care in its distribution and consumption.
In addition, how food is eaten differs from culture to culture and can be a communicator of traditions with certain dishes made according to each custom. In Asian countries, they use chopsticks to eat their food, in America we use the fork and knife, and in Mexico many foods are just eaten with the hands. This shows the background of the culture and part of its customs and ways of life. Certain foods can also indicate a particular tradition. Most holidays and…