Ethnonutrition | Should we eat the diet of our ancestors?

Posted on December 2nd, 2015 & filed in Ethnonutrition

Continental Europe’s cuisine is known for its diversity of ingredients, sauces and seasonings that distinguish each country’s particular food preparations. In general, note that protein (beef, poultry and fish) dominates the gastronomical view, accompanied always by a variety of vegetables and potatoes prepared in many ingenious ways.

  • In Great Britain, even though each region has its specialties, the most famous English meals are roast and Yorkshire pudding; meat pastries made from either deer or lamb; and many fish-based dishes. Traditional Afternoon Tea is usually served at 5 o’clock, featuring hot tea along with breads, fresh butter, preserved fruits and fine pastries.
  • It goes without saying that food from France is internationally renowned, a reputation merited by both the care used in food preparation and the artful combination of ingredients. Commonly found meals feature the Fricassee, the soufflé and vegetable creams. In France, not only are exclusive and highly sophisticated ingredients used, such as Truffles, but also organizations such a “Le Cordon Bleu” are responsible for promoting the heritage of French cuisine throughout the world. Meats and vegetables are predominant in each meal; cheeses and other milk products are never absent.
  • In Germany and Austria, cold meats are famous, and the diversity of sausages (wurst) satisfies even the most demanding palate. Potatoes either mashed or whole accompany meats, as well as preserved foods. Traditionally in Germany, the main meal of the day is at lunchtime. Tarragon, thyme, parsley and chives are the herbs that are predominant in this cuisine.
  • Switzerland offers a great variety of cheeses, delicatessens and its famous chocolate. Fondue is a traditional meal, as well as Raclette, in which cheese is melted in a very hot resistor and is placed over a bed of cooked potatoes. As on the rest of the continent, meats are part of the daily diet and a lunch could include beef with mushrooms, blood sausage (black sausage), a variety of cheeses, and finished by creamy vanilla ice cream with raisin sauce.
  • Ukrainian and Eastern European food is known much more by how it’s prepared than by the ingredients. There’s a tendency to preserve fresh vegetables; a love of potatoes; and completely authentic meals such as Shchi (soup made out of cabbage, carrots and potatoes) and Borscht (made out of cabbages and beets). Healthy grains such as kasha (buck wheat) are used, as well as meats, particularly white ones such as pork and veal, in stews which are characteristic of the region.

Latin America and the Caribbean countries share many similarities in their diet since it’s greatly influenced by Spain. However, throughout the years and given the various locations, climates and terrain, culinary differences have evolved. Some of the most common ingredients from all the countries in this region are corn, beans and chilies.

  • Nicaraguans, Costa Ricans, Hondurans and El Salvadorans often accompany their food with tortillas, which vary in size and thickness according to the country. They are a daily staple, either to have with beans or to accompany with any snack. In some Central American countries, tortillas are filled either with cheese or with pork crackings, as they are in El Salvador.
  • The Caribbean islands of Cuba, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic were greatly influenced by Spain, and rice is a common food in these three countries – as it is throughout most of the region. One can find “Arroz con Pollo” in the Dominican Republic, “Arroz Con Congri” in Cuba and “Arroz con Habichuelas” in Puerto Rico. These Caribbean countries also add seafood and some local fruits such as papaya and mango to their cuisine.
  • Colombia, Ecuador and Peru share similarities in their coastal cuisine, due to the abundance of fish and seafood from the oceans that surround them – the Atlantic Ocean in Colombia, and the Pacific Ocean in Peru and Ecuador. A renowned treat of this region is ceviche, consisting of raw fish marinated in lime juice, salt, chili, onion and garlic. This region is also known for its “sancochos”, or soup stews, influenced greatly by the local native Indians.
  • Brasil and Argentina have a high appreciation for beef in common. Argentina is known to obtain the best meat cuts. Vacio or Entrana are always accompanied by a chimichurri made with parsley, garlic and oil, for a delicious taste. In Brazil, it’s common to eat different kinds of beef, yet in a rodicio, picanha must never be left out.

In terms of Ethnonutrition, the point is that we remind ourselves that in order to maintain a state of health we need to eat real foods.

Take a good look at what you have been eating lately, and make it a point to eat the WHOLE FOODS your grandparents would have prepared for your family in this new year – for the health of it.

Questions? Comments? Please feel free to e-mail the author at petrusia@thehealthyhive.com. Thank you for your feedback in advance!

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