Weird custom… not so much anymore

I have mentioned in a previous post that when both our families are together some topics were very off putting at first.

chair cutlery diner dining
French Style table setting – Photo by Chan Walrus on

Things that seem obvious in the french lifestyle like serving a 4 course meal with wine and meat to your guest followed by a cup of coffee (espresso to be specific) is neither natural nor self explanatory to other culture especially for Indians who eat mostly with their hands or with spoon and for which alcohol and meat are taboo items best consumed outside of the house where elders can not know it.

platter of foods
Indian Food and plate style -Photo by Chan Walrus on

Once the initial shock is over, one start reflecting about the home culture and build parallel with the not so scary foreign things. Question arise, similarities become apparent and the context get clearer.  I have learned to recognize that the Indian chapati was just a different type of bread, that the french entrées, plat, fromage, dessert (starter, entree, cheese and dessert) is just a longer version of the salad, vegetable, bread and sweat served in one plate for each indian meal.

I also started seeing how urbanization and the lack of time for cooking was changing the Indian lifestyle has it changed the French in the last century and keeps on doing now. It brought me back to a time not so long ago where my European ancestors did not eat meat every day but mostly on Sunday and exclusively on non fasting day as per the Catholic calendar. A time where Europeans had not yet learned about germs and the less affluent where eating daily with their hands or only with a spoon.

For Catholics wine is the symbol of Jesus Blood and the sacrifice of God for Humanity and hosting a function or an auspicious event (religious or not) in France without wine is unthinkable. I remember that one of my uncle and Aunt never drunk alcohol themselves but at every function at their home, they would always serve some wine. Even though alcohol consumption is highly frowned upon in India, any visit to a temple or any religious function systematically include some food given to the god as Prasad and that after being consumed by the family would link it to god.

Of course, we are still different and sometimes after a long stay in India or with my Indian relative I am starting to have a huge craving for french food and meat but thinking about our customs differently help to make it feel more familiar and have more understanding of how I can get orientation in all those foreign things and even be a guide for others.

Somehow my bowel movement seems to agree with this perspective and stopped identifying the innumerable Indian spices as dangerous alien to deport asap. Even though my eyes and nose still get running after eating a low spice Veg Biriyani at one of the neighborhood restaurant I am no longer the person who on her first trip to India in 2016 was utterly scared by all the curry. Where my and western eyes and palate could not identify any ingredient, spice or dish name, I know have at least a vague idea of the ingredients of the classic indian dishes ( Palak Paneer, dal Makhani, Navratam Korma, etc ) and safely assume that every dish includes ginger garlic paste. I am on my way to become an expert in both french and indian cuisine and it is very exciting!


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