Sunday, June 5, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham: Here or there?

One thing I find really unique and interesting about traditional Maori history is the way they viewed food and cuisine. The Maori people believed “…food was noa, or non-sacred” (Maori Cuisine 1). The Maori religious places and objects had to be separated from the food supply. Any contact with the food left these tapu, or sacred, items at serious risk. People such as high chiefs, tattoo artists, or anyone else engaged in tapu work were not allowed to handle food. They had to be fed by non-tapu people. I found this very interesting because I had expected the exact opposite. I had just expected the Maori people to find food as a very cultural thing. I was shocked that they not only found it non-sacred, but they saw food as being so non-sacred that it couldn’t come in contact with anything sacred. I suppose I had expected the opposite because to the Native Americans, food was important in their culture. When a native would kill an animal, they would be sure to use the entire animal, never wasting any part of it or over killing any species. This is commonly known with the bison they would hunt. Students are often taught in American schools that the pilgrims made peace with the native tribes over a shared meal. Although food wasn’t really seen as a religious item in the Native American culture, it was still a positive part of the culture. It certainly wasn’t as extreme as food was seen in the Maori culture.

New Zealand fern- Pikopiko

I’m certainly not as afraid about the food in Australia and New Zealand as I was last year in China, but of course I still have concerns. I love trying crazy new foods and eating the cultural foods I find in different places. If it’s something I can find at home, it’s most likely not going in my mouth (within reason). I want to and plan to eat as many new things as I can. The one thing I’m concerned about is when you’re traveling, it’s very easy to get a stomach ache and not feel well after eating something you’re not accustomed to. I don’t want to be sick on the trip and I hope I feel okay throughout the trip. I think the food on this trip will be safer than the food in China. I believe that we will encounter foods in Australia and New Zealand that are closer to what we are used to eating in America. I’m excited to see what we’ll find!!

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