Change what people eat and you change their lives. Food is all about the stories that define our lives. When it comes to the rhythms and symbols of faith, it’s easy to see the role that food plays. Food also reflects what people believe about family and community life. Understanding the role of food in cultural and religious practice is an important part of showing respect and responding to the needs of people from a range of religious communities. However, it is important to avoid assumptions about a person’s culture and beliefs. In my West Indian culture food plays a major role.
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A huge part of Western India is cosmopolitan in its food habits, but there is still plenty of traditional fare to be had. The cuisine of the Caribbean is like a cultural patchwork quilt. Food in the Caribbean reflects both the best and worst of the Caribbean’s history. On the positive side, Caribbean culture has been compared with a popular stew there called Callao. The stew analogy comes from the many different ethic groups peacefully maintaining their traditions and customs while blending together, creating a distinct new flavor.
On the negative side, many foods and cooking techniques derive from a history of violent European conquest, the importation of slaves from Africa, and the indentured servitude of immigrants in the plantation system. Within this context, students and other readers will understand the diverse island societies and ethnicity through their food cultures. Island food culture is an essential component in understanding the Caribbean past and present.