A Warning: Don’t Take Food For Granted

Silliman Dining Hall - by Flickr user superfem
Brunch at an American dining hall (Creative Commons photo by Flickr user superfem)

A few weeks before I was set to leave home and start over in Minnesota, I remember I was very depressed about leaving my family and friends. One thing I never thought about was food; how badly I would miss my mother’s dishes, and how food would be a huge part of my culture shock.

Many of you might be wondering why I would be talking about food, and asking if I have forgotten all about McDonald’s, Burger King, and Pizza Hut. Well my dear friends, they might taste good at some point but let me ask you a very critical question: would they still taste as good if you kept eating them every single day for four years? Take a moment and try to answer it.

I don’t know about your culture, but let me tell you something about my Arabic-Islamic-Middle Eastern culture. We do love our food very much.  We do lots of home-cooked dishes: the basmati white & brown rice, spicy chicken breasts that are served in different styles, Dolma, Biryani and of course the delicious meat of lambs. We also don’t go out to eat as much as people in this country do. I remember my mother would be annoyed if we asked my father to take us out.

What do people in America eat? Lots of bacon, ham and sausage, which Muslims don’t eat at all. Pasta is pretty much in every meal. Boiled vegetables – yes they are healthy but I’m afraid not very tasty. Oh, did I forget to put mashed potatoes? Obviously I did. They serve a lot of that. People also eat cereal and milk for dinner! And last but not least fast food, like burgers, fries, chicken tenders, and pizza.

Believe me when I say if you were not familiar with it, you would not like the food served here. I’m not exaggerating when I say that food might make it difficult for you to adjust in this culture. My Italian friend, Paulo went back to Italy because he did not like the food. He did not even like the pizza here. He said it’s very different from the pizza they make in Italy. I saw him eating milk and cereals three times a day until he decided to quit.

I warn you not to take food for granted. And to ask your mother, father, or even sister to teach you how to cook your favorite homemade dish, so you can make it yourself upon arrival to the States.

It took me one semester before I made a call to my mother asking her to teach me how to cook my favorite dish, Biryani. I always thought cooking was a very complicated process  and I really thought it was mission impossible. But now after I have became a master of Biryani, let me tell you something: I’m so proud of myself.

Here’s a recipe for Biryani you can try that’s very close to what my mom cooks: http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/chicken-biryani/detail.aspx


  1. I spoiled my stomach with the fast foods and i always desire to eat our cultural and home made foods served by my mummy.

  2. I suppose it depends on where you live and how much effort you wish to put into cooking . . . I live in Nebraska’s panhandle, fifty miles (80km) from the nearest fast-food restaurant. Meals in our home are always home-made, from my wife’s family recipes and my own family’s Polish recipes. Now that we live here our diet is far better than anything I ever ate in a city.

  3. Great point. My parents’ families are from Alabama and South Carolina and we’ve had 200 years of cooking traditions. Until my parents’ generation, eating out was rare also. My food education came in two forms: I became allergic to soy in my late 20’s (because nearly all cheap American food has soy) and I visited Turkey and married a Turkish woman, which opened my eyes and stomach to a greater tasting world of food related to yours. There is a lot of good food to be found in the US, but you have to look hard and it may be expensive – especially for students. Like yourself, we rely on cooking – we both cook both Southern US and Turkish dishes. Personally, I specialize in the meats – farm-raised chicken and roast leg of lamb are my favorites!

  4. You are 100% right.To save money I tried living off of MacNasties for 2 weeks and in the second week,no lie I couldn’t taste it.It was like someone forgot to add the flavor pack or something.Fast food is a fast way to the grave if you eat too much of it.I have a good friend that has gotten me to eat more healthy foods and yes I too thought that cooking was going to be hard but its not really.The hardest part is staying off of Sims 3 while cooking so i don’t burn everything.I dont eat a lot of bacon,ham,ect but i do like it and i’m what they call African American.Its a step up from black/negro/N%##*r,but we love or cereal any time of day with the big bowl the size of a Wok.Its better than a can of tomato paste I saw one of my college friends eating right out of the can.But I will try your recipe it sounds good.Also to anyone else reading this stay away from McNasties as much as possible and eat more home cooked meals like he says.

Comments are closed.