Americans Approach to Food…. and Life

How a country approaches dinner often reflects their approach to the rest of life, and America is no different. When attempting to understand a new culture the first step is often to learn about their food and the traditions and rituals that surround a meal.

As one of the world’s largest and most culturally diverse countries, popular cuisine in America is eclectic and evolving. While it is difficult to define exactly what constitutes “American Cuisine” the American approach to a meal can reveal some interesting and important aspects of American culture as a whole.

Individualistic:

American culture is founded on an individualistic identity which is different than what many other cultures value. Rather than being centered around community or family, the average American has a high priority of being an independent individual. In fact, in American English, there are over 100 words beginning with the prefix “self”. This priority is reflected in the food culture here in America.

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Holi: Festival of Colors

Holi is a Hindu holiday in India and Nepal, it is also known as “festival of colors”. The festival includes a wide variety of powdered colors and celebratory items in terms of food and rituals throughout the holiday. Holi signifies the defeat of evil, arrival of spring, forgive, forget and repair broken relationships. India has the largest demographics of Hindu religion and the festival will be celebrated on the 13th – 14th of March, 2017.

Every family celebrates Holi differently but there is some tradition common to all. For example, on the eve of Holi, Choti Holi or Small Holi, the community conducts a bonfire called Holika. Women perform rituals by praying that evil burns away in the bonfire. Rituals must be performed by wearing new clothes, uncovered feet and the consumption of Bhang.

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Don’t Lick a Gift Horse in the Mouth???

An idiom is a group of words that carry an established meaning based on their common usage. Idioms are closely tied to the culture they originate in and make little or no sense to those outside of that particular cultural group. Perhaps you have tried to translate common idioms from your language into English and your communication has failed. For instance in China a possible response to, “How are you?” is 马马虎虎 (mamahuhu) the meaning is so-so, but if this is translated literally, it means horse horse tiger tiger. A strange response to “How are you?” here in America

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A cheap, addictive but healthy cure for stress – Interested?

Many of us are stressed and live at a fast pace. Your life may be controlled by the next project due, the upcoming exam, or by the need to get results from your research.

There is an easy, cheap and healthy way to relieve stress by engaging in a creative activity. Studies have found that spending as little as 45 minutes doing something creative can reduce cortisol levels and cause you to feel better. Another study suggests that the act of doing something artistic (even if you don’t consider yourself creative) causes you to focus on what you are creating, forget your problems and relax.

One of my serious hobbies is watercolor painting. I can spend three hours painting and it seems like thirty minutes. Doing something creative takes your full focus, reduces worry and relaxes you. Sometimes I turn on a podcast while I paint. But I soon realize I have not heard anything the speaker is saying because my mind was completely engaged in what my hands were doing. My theory for that is because I’m involving multiple areas – thinking, imagination, my hands, problem-solving, color, form.

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Why can’t we just be friends?

“If you believe in love at first sight, you’ll never stop looking.” – the tagline of the movie Closer

“Why can’t we just be friends?” Perhaps this question isn’t universal code for “I don’t want to date you,” but it certainly is here in the U.S. In high school, I was in a relationship that was going reasonably well until we began reading a book together about why dating is bad. This wasn’t my idea…and, as you may have guessed, the relationship didn’t last through the fourth chapter. What was the reason you ask? I was told that we’re better off as “just friends.”

Whether we’re scrolling, swiping, or simply looking across the room, our search for love often has little to do with friendship. In Western culture, dating is displayed in movies like The Notebook and La La Land in which the idea of mutually sacrificial friendship is a supporting role at best. Even in The Notebook, deep self-sacrificial friendship is the end, while the means is the same mixture of unbridled passion, unexpected encounters, and personal fulfillment through a romantic relationship. Am I the only one to wonder whether such fleeting and fickle things as romantic feelings can build something as solid as true friendship? Isn’t it more likely that profound romance is built upon a foundation of solid friendship?

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Season of Love

Pink shades flood every surface of the grocery store, heart-shaped boxes of candy fill entire aisles, and it might seem like there are suddenly couples everywhere! Love is in the air... If you have found yourself confused by this sudden shift in the atmosphere around...

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