Meals an opportunity to share cultures

International conference on halal food titled, “Halal food: a border that does not divide."

Recently, I was sent an invitation to an international conference on halal food titled, “Halal food: a border that does not divide.”

Halal food is a designation meaning that a food or drink is permissible for Muslims. It is similar to the “kosher” designation in Judaism.

The intention of the conference was to find common ground between potentially clashing sects of Islam. While the conference is taking place in Italy and not accessible to me, the idea was inspiring.

What better s way than delicious food to get different people to sit down around a table together and talk?

The mutual appreciation of food can be a point of connection between cultures. In fact, appreciating food might be our easiest first step in accepting and understanding different people from around the world.

I may not be able to relate to the hardships experienced by the Secwepemc people over the past 200 years, but I can share their love of sockeye salmon cooked over an open fire; or the joy of eating fresh huckleberries on a hot summer day. This sharing could provide an entry point into a conversation about protecting our waterways or concerns about the Keystone pipeline.

In today’s “global village,” it is more important than ever to understand different perspectives and balance our views on what is going on in the world.

Food provides a common language. Trying new ethnic foods is an easy and fun way to expose ourselves and our families to different cultures and ways of doing things.

I have eaten pumpkin and squash my whole life and it wasn’t until I went to Malawi that I learnt how to prepare the leaves for eating too. I have never been to India, but Vij’s cookbook has provided me with enough information to know that I need more Indian friends!

While Salmon Arm does not have the ethnic diversity of some larger metropolitan areas, it does offer opportunities to try restaurants from countries such as India, Thailand, Japan, Italy, China and Mexico. In tasting these foods, we can appreciate some of the best of what other cultures have to offer.



-Serena Caner is a registered dietician at Shuswap Lake General Hospital.


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