Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Interview on British and American (and Canadian) Food and Eating Habits

Three weeks ago, we students were told to interview an American or British person on a particular topic, after talking about the differences there are between these two cultures. The topics we were supposed to discuss were various; each of us were given a chapter belonging to our Professor’s book, which dealt with them.
The one I chose is that dealing with food. As we know, food is one of those things that, in a way, makes us notice the differences there are between USA and Great Britain, and these concern not only the way they eat, but also the way they relate with food, that is, the relationship they have with it.
Unfortunately, I could not find an American or British person to interview. I’ve lost all the contacts with the few I had known some time ago.
However, what I could do, was to interview a co-worker, that in spite of living in Italy now, was born and lived, until he was twelve, in Canada, and precisely, in Montreal.
Consequently, I thought he would be a good option for my interview, since Canadian culture is, somewhat close, probably, to the American one, especially for what concerns food.
By living in Canada, he obviously had the opportunity to experience the way Canadians conceive food, what they think about British and American way of eating, and also, in which of these two cultures they feel closer.

After reading the chapter that was given to me, I asked him what was his point of view, and, in particular, if he agreed with the author about some considerations he/she gave us in his book.


C.: Hi, Giuseppe!
G.: Hi!
C.: So, in the article we’ve just read, the author makes a detailed description on how British people and American people eat. The first thing we notice is that there is a huge difference between these two cultures, not only in the way of eating, but even in the way of conceiving and experiencing food. As you were just telling us, you were born and lived for many years in Canada, until you were twelve. So, even though Canada is not the USA or Great Britain, do you agree with the author, that is, do you really think there’s a big difference in the way of eating, between British people and American people?
G.: Sure, there is a lot of difference, because in America, or in Canada, where I used to live, there’re a lot of people that love to eat fast food, even though they know that it’s not good for their health, but they like to eat it because there’s a lot of difference between the money and it’s good because it’s Junk food and I don’t know what they put in there, but it’s very good!
C.: Ok. In the article, at a certain point, we see that the author says that the British have a kind of prejudice against foreign food. Is it the same for Canadians? Or are they experimental about food?
G.: Well, the difference is that, let me make an example, the British, they make the tea-time, so once a day they make the tea. In Canada, some people like to do it, but some people don’t. So, I don’t know if it’s a prejudice, this thing, but there’re a lot of difference, the mentality is different between British and Canadians, I think this is the difference.
C.: So, is there something in particular Canadians like to eat?
G.: Well, as I was saying in your first question, Canadians like to eat a lot of fast-foods. A lot of people, they go out of the school and go to these fast- foods because it’s quick, good, and they don’t spend a lot of money.
C.: In the second part of the article, where we find the part dedicated to American people, we read that they have simple tastes and are open-minded about combinations. Americans not only eat; they merge themselves with food. In which of the two cultures do you think Canadians are reflected on? Are they open-minded, like American people, or have they prejudices like British?
G.: No. no, they’re open-minded, it’s not that the problem, because I don’t think that everyone eats the same things, at the same time every day. A lot of people like to change, they like to eat maybe something else, I don’t know something like pasta, like Italians do; I come from an Italian family, I was a child and I used to eat everything. A lot of Canadians, because they’re bound over there and they live over there, they like to taste everything, but they prefer Junk food.
C.: In the last part of the article, there’s a chapter dedicated to “the importance of sharing”. It’s stated that American people have a sort of philosophy, if we want to call it so, in the way of approaching with food. They have a custom: they glance at your plate and ask you if they can taste what you’re eating, as if they wanted to share food, even though you’re a stranger. British people see that as an invasion of privacy, as something quite out of place and disgusting as well. What is your opinion? I mean, do you think this is true? What is Canadian’s point of view? Do they love to “share” or not?
G.: Well, I can make an example on my own skin, ok? If somebody wants to taste my plate, that is tasting my food, touching it, it’s not really nice. I don’t like it; but maybe there’s some people that want to share, they want to taste it! You know, there’re different opinions. I can’t say about Canadians because every mind can change; I can say that I would be very angry, I don’t like it, I want nobody to touch my plate.
C.: Or maybe, only with people you know…
G.: Oh, yes, sure! Only with people I know and I trust.
C.: Ok. So, the last question.
In the very end of the article, there’s a description on the way American and British children eat. The author says that American children from their earliest infancy visit restaurants, and at the age of six eat more than their mothers. The British ones are supposed to eat differently from adults. They eat food composed by carbohydrates and no protein. So according to you is it true? What is the relationship that children have with food in Canada?
G.: Well, children, when they go out of the school, like I was saying earlier, they go and play and they love junk food, they go and they don’t spend a lot of money. So they prefer junk food; a lot! That’s for sure. But for their health it’s not good, I know! But you can do nothing, you can’t change their mind.
C.: Ok, anything to add?
G.: Well, I hope I’ve been clear, and that you could understand how Canadians think about it.
C.: Ok, Thank you very much.
G.: Thank you so much. Bye, bye!
Cristina La Rosa