by Kyla Matton, Featured Y!CN Contributor
Food plays an important part in culture, a fact we forget until we travel to a place whose cuisine is different from our own. Preparing ethnic foods is a way to preserve the ties to cultural heritage. Those of us who live in a multicultural city are fortunate to be exposed to a variety of cuisines: French, Italian, Greek, Caribbean, Chinese, Indian, Thai or Lebanese.
Many in North America don't identify with any specific ethnic origin despite the fact that most of us have roots far across the sea, in countries whose daily diet is not necessarily like our own. People whose ancestors hail from the United Kingdom are among those who most often cheat themselves of their cultural heritage, especially if the family has been on this side of the Atlantic for many generations.
An exploration of food can help close the gap between our lives and the legacy of ancestors who came from the Old Country generations ago. Cooking up a pot of soup or making a batch of bread is a universal act, and yet somehow using an authentic recipe can transport us through time and space to commune with those who have gone before.
With Robbie Burns Day coming up at on January 25th those of Scottish ancestry have an opportunity to learn something of the foods traditional to that country, many of which are still cooked and consumed there today. Experiment with a family friendly Burns Night supper menu, or simply pick one Scottish food and give it a try.
Similarly, St. Patrick's Day presents itself as a chance for those of Irish descent to sample the cuisine of Ireland. Why content yourself with serving green versions of your every day North American dishes, when you could learn something of the foods your ancestors knew and loved? Whether it's a Dublin coddle or a batch of colcannon to serve beside a dish of sausage or corned beef, there are numerous recipes that will lend a touch of Old World charm to your table.
Kyla Matton is a freelance writer and homeschooling mother. Her interests range from the history of food and healing arts, to education and social justice. Like Heinlein, she believes that specialization is for insects.
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