Cuisines vary from culture to culture, differing between nations and within them. Food is a universal necessity, but the importance of food goes beyond need. Food surpasses sustenance and becomes mental energy evoking emotion. It satisfies the needs of the body, but touches deeper places like the soul and spirit.
Cuisines across the world differ in immense ways, and several students at Harding experience a period of adapting to the table of the American South.
Cloris Huang is an international student from China at Harding.
Huang said that when she thinks of food from home it gives her a sense of warmth. “It’s more like something you’re familiar with,” Huang said. She said emotions felt “become a part of your memory and so when those foods come out, it may not remind you of that memory but it will remind you of that feeling.”
People carry little pieces of home with them everywhere they go. Memories and affection for authentic cultural food is a big piece of who people are.
“Food is actually your story,” Huang said.
She said if one starts to know the food of a place then they start to know the people, their history and background and why they live the way they do. Their food is music to a song that has been sung since the birth of their culture.
Litzy Morales, a Harding student from Guatemala, said that because of the Caribbean influence on the coast of Guatemala where she is from, one of her favorite things is rice and beans with coconut meat mixed in.
She said she misses the freshness of the food back home. “I love the more natural. That’s the thing. Things are too processed here.”
Huang said that part of knowing a place is knowing the food. Food answers the why behind a culture—why food is the way it is, and how it developed based on the place.
The longing for home-style foods, cuisine that makes people think of home, is different for everyone. As students from around the world are proud and attached to their cultural cuisine, students across the nation of the United States experience a certain pride that comes with their local cookery as well.
Timothy Milner is a student at Harding from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
“Anybody can make a cheesesteak. I just find it very odd that people from other places claim that their’s is a Philly cheesesteak when it’s not,” Milner said. “People from Philly take pride in their Philly cheesesteaks because it’s a native dish.”
He said his love for Philly cheesesteaks, and his adoration stems from his love for his home.
Cultural cuisine is a meaningful presence on the table. It is the gateway to understanding people. Food satisfies the body and opens up avenues for the yearnings of the soul.