I understand that sentiment, but I don't agree with it. I think you're limiting yourself if you believe that. Are you really appreciating your food? Are you savoring every single morsel that the cook or chef fussed over? I don't think a lot of us do.
I recently read "Living Buddha, Living Christ." The book, which Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn wrote, explores the connection between Buddhism and Christianity. (It's not blasphemous, I promise).
In one part, the book talks about how monks eat in complete silence at Buddhist temples. One of the Buddhist principles is for people to think about their food and ask the "Five Contemplations While Eating": What is the food? Why do we eat this food? Where does it come from? When should we eat it? How should we eat it?
Before the book, I had a base knowledge of Buddhism. But I never realized that even food plays a role in the philosophy. That part of the book piqued my interest because it sheds light on a particular population's culture. And like the monks (and French people), I also believe that slowing down and savoring food is something we should learn to do.
I've also been listening to Dan Pashman's "The Sporkful" podcast, which focuses on eating as an almost religious experience (as I believe it is) and explores different cultures' food and how they look at it.
In the podcast, he interviews people and debates topics such as "Is a hot dog a sandwich?" (it is) and "Is what we know as a Belgian waffle actually a Belgian waffle?" (it's not). "The Sporkful" even aired a series that dealt with cultural appropriation through food.
If you think about it, besides math, food is a cross-cultural (and species) phenomenon. Black people eat. White people eat. Famous people eat. South and Central American cultures eat. Tribes in Africa eat. And dogs, cats, bees, turtles, spiders and panda bears eat.
We don't all eat the same thing, but we do engage in the act of eating.
So by this premise, food can be a window into a culture. If you go to the U.K., you'll probably find fish and chips (fries) stands everywhere. And if don't like fish, you can probably find chips and cheese, which is equally as good. Canadians take that idea and make it their own in the form of poutine. As Americans, we like loaded fries with lots of bacon and cheese and chili and other deliciousness.
The basis of each of those dishes is one thing: fries—which, by the way, either Belgium or France invented (and put mayo on them). Here in the South, we eat biscuits and gravy, but you probably won't find much of that up north or in the rest of the world. And while we drink a ton of sweet tea, a lot of other places don't.
Jackson is an interesting place in terms of food. We have the southern and Mississippi staples (where else could comeback dressing have been invented?), but many different cultures contribute to our food scene. There's Taste of the Island Caribbean in downtown Jackson; El Sabor Latin Cuisine in Ridgeland; Mediterranean restaurants such as Aladdin Mediterranean Grill; Greek restaurants such as the Mayflower Cafe; Asian restaurants from Japanese to Vietnamese to Thai food; and a patisserie, La Brioche. We have down-home restaurants such as Two Sisters' Kitchen, Gloria's Carryout and Mama Hamil's. The list goes on and on.
Some people say Mississippi is backward, but those people haven't taken a close look at its capital city.
If the Mississippi detractors want to see how the state really is, they just need to look to the center, the very heart of Mississippi, and see how the city celebrates its diversity with its food and sense of community.