Sunday, December 30, 2012

A few food norms

A few nights ago at dinner I commented that I never feel more American than when I'm traveling out of the country. I'm sure this feeling is not unique to me-- there's nothing like being immersed in difference to make you aware of your own cultural practices and beliefs, even (especially?) the ones you've never noticed or thought about before.

For instance, I've noticed that there are rules governing when certain foods are eaten, and therefore when they are available to buy, in India. Of course this is true in the US as well, but unless I were at a diner it wouldn't even occur to me to try to order breakfast at dinner time, and I certainly wouldn't expect to see eggnog in July. Which foods are eaten at which times isn't even something I have to think about when I'm at home. It also helps that for the most part in the US restaurants have different menus for different times, or mark their menus ("Breakfast items only available until 11am" or what have you).

Here in India I don't really know which foods go with which times, and the menus do not guide me. Every restaurant we've been in has a single menu, with no indication of time on it. As a result, we find ourselves regularly trying to order things that aren't available. And the language barrier means that we're often in the dark as to why a particular item might not be available right then (are they out? is it a breakfast food? do they only serve it on Sundays?). Instead the Indian waiters and staff just look at us, shake their heads, and say, "No dosa/Indian food/poori/kesari bath".

None of this is a particular problem, of course. If we can't order one thing we try something else! It's just a small daily reminder that I do not understand this place (yet? I don't know...I might never!).

Anyway, I made some socks out of leftover yarn :)

1 comment:

Pusstat said...

I would be so lost with everything you are describing.

I'm lost here in the US many times!