PHOTOS: African and Arab eating traditions

Food is a big part of culture and looking into the type of food and the way the food is prepared and eaten is something that anthropologists and historians have always taken great care in. The way human beings handle food is fascinating and varies depending on ethnicity and region. In African and Middle Eastern countries, food is prepared and injested as a group activity. This often means food is served on large plates with many hands dipping in and out of the plate. This is in stark contrast to how food is eaten in Western Countries.

Over this last Thanksgiving break, I was lucky enough to puruse my home city of Minneapolis for African and Arab eats as well as having my mother prepare some herself. Here, I’ll display some examples of African and Arab eating traditions through the photos I took.


Firstly, we have a plate full of Somali rice and pasta as well as different meat and salad. This is an example of the type of plate shared amongst family when it’s time to eat in Somali culture.


Similarly in Arab eating traditions, large plates of food are dispersed amongst the parties eating. It is customary for people to gather around one plate rather than make themselves a plate individually.


When it comes to preparation, things are always made in bulk. Here in the kitchen of the Midtown Market, we can see how individual dishes of lentil soup (daal) are prepared to be sprinkled around the table when it’s time to eat.


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