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By Christine Stoddard
If eyes are the gateway to the soul, then food is the gateway to a culture. Because everyone eats, food is the simplest way to experience a culture. People develop ways of thinking based upon where they are, and where they are determines the sort of food available to them, which in turn influences customs revolving around the preparation and consumption of food.
Think the chopstick just popped out of thin air or that Kosher standards are totally arbitrary? Think again, Quail Bell(e)s. It wasn't until the Age of Enlightenment that the fork became widely used in Europe—and, no, that widespread usage was not the only culinary epiphany of the period. An epiphany nobody Western seemed to have at the time was that vegetables were actually good for you. It just goes to show that food is folklore.
One of the most mundane experiences on my recent trip to Piura, Peru was a visit to a marketplace specializing in produce. It was also one of the most telling experiences I had on the trip because I learned how people treated food, assessed food, bought food, and cooked food. But instead of telling you what I observed, I'll show you. Here are a few of the photos I took at el mercado: