The society induces the development of individual taste in food. While some foods are predominant to particular communities, to others the same foods are repudiated with the utmost severity. Despite these differences, some cultural universals such as using ones hands to bring food to their mouth as opposed to stuffing ones face with the food are often observed during the partaking of a meal. While the social aggregate refers to people that are gathered in the same place at an instant without necessarily interacting and having nothing in common, it is possible to blur this boundary through sharing a meal. I am in love with Indian food; mostly due to my Indian roots. I specifically enjoy biryani due to its significance to my life as will be discussed herein.
Historically, it is opined that Biryani originated from Asia; specifically from the Muslims that dwelt in the Indian sub-continent. The word biryani is obtained from the Persian language inherently informing the thought that the dish has its roots in Persia from whence it was brought to India by the Mughals in around 1398 AD. Despite the contentions about its origin, biryani is Indian cuisine. Today, status and social position do not determine those that are free to enjoy the meal that was initially served to army men and warriors.
For as long as I can recollect, biryani was prepared for supper whenever an important guest visited our home. These included my grandparents, uncles, and aunties. Before the meal, it was customary to split into different groups; sociologically referred to as in-groups. The boys would sit with my father and grandfather where they mostly discussed the familys business, among other topics. The girls, on the other hand, would gather around my mother and grandma to discuss domestic chores such as house cleaning and meal preparation. Looking back, I realize that these in-groups intended to ensure that we psychologically identified with people of the same gender and culture. Therein, I learned that the ancient Indians believed that men were not allowed into the kitchen since cooking was a womans reserve.
Often, the gatherings would end at nightfall, and the biryani preparation would kick off. Since my grandparents were old and tired, the meal had to be prepared fast enough. In light of organic solidarity where labor is divided, and people depend on one another for the successful completion of a task, each member of the family played a role in the preparation of the food. The boys would light the fire while the girls ground the spices and cut the meat. The ingredients would then be handed over to my mother who would methodically add these to the cooking pot. This division of labor instilled in us the importance of co-dependence in accomplishing tasks within a short time. The meal was prepared the traditional way which included frying rice in ghee without washing so that it had a nutty flavor and it would not clump. Meat or extremely tender chicken, saffron, aromatic spices, and a meticulously measured amount of rose water were added to this rice before cooking the mixture over a slow-breathing oven. When the food was ready, it would be served on a tray whose size was determined by the number of people sharing the meal. We would all sit on the floor and eat in silence concurrently reflecting on the days lessons and activities.
To date, homemade biryani conjures up images of my past. Fond memories course through my mind whenever I partake of this meal. Even though my grandparents are long gone, the family tradition still lives on since my mother prepares the same meal whenever I visit. Accordingly, symbolic interactionism indicates that social interactions shape an individual and sharing a tray of biryani as a family symbolizes the sustenance of a bond that no other activity can nourish. It is what differentiates my family from the rest. However, when this biryani is served on a small tray, I am reminded of the void that my grandparents left, and this cannot be filled. Through my grandparents, I learned about the Indian traditions and culture. We can only remind one another of valuable lessons that were instilled in us; these include the vitality of generosity, kindness, and respect for seniors.
All in all sharing a plate of food with family members is a memorable experience whose sociological sense cannot be undermined. Although biryani is identified with Indians, everyone is free to enjoy the meal regardless of their status in society. In my family, the prerequisite to the preparation of biryani involved gathering in groups for an interactive and informative session where I learned much about the Indian traditions. The development of the necessary ingredients was a shared task to teach us the importance of sharing works. It was customary to eat the meal in silence while digesting the wise teachings from my parents and grandparents. Not only does homemade biryani make me nostalgic but it also reminds me to appreciate the Indian traditions and culture as taught by my grandparents.
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