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Culinary destiny

(article, Liz Crain)

Over the past few weeks, an interesting discussion has been taking place on the food blog Just Hungry. The focus? How cultural and culinary heritage play into obesity. 

The question that's generated the most comments can be summed up like this: If we all ate the cuisine of our ancestors, would we be happier, healthier, and thinner?
What started off as a spin-off from a Guardian blog entry about a new study on obesity quickly became a thoughtful round-table on how everything from international food portions, snacking norms, the role of public transportation, and genetic metabolic rates are related to issues of obesity.
Just Hungry blogger Makiko Itoh (featured previously on Culinate) posted a careful analysis of why she thinks Japanese people often put on the equivalent of the freshman 15 — what she calls the kaigai seikatsu_, or overseas living 15 — when they live abroad. Itoh has plenty of firsthand experience with this phenomenon; she's been a Japanese expat in America, England, and finally Switzerland, where she's been living for several years.
Itoh recently updated the second part of the blog discussion, adding this:
bq. The comments to this are some of the most thought-provoking ones ever on this site. Opinion is divided amongst people who think that it all depends on where your culinary roots are (if you’re Asian or from the Mediterranean region, OK; if you’re from Northern Europe, not so OK) to those who think there might be something to the idea of your culinary heritage being inherently "right" for you. People who have had a chance to go back to their ancestral home country for a visit seem to lean towards the latter opinion.
Check it out and chime in.