Why do we switch from salty to sweet during a meal?

Food is used to fulfill a basic need – to eat and satisfy the needs of our body – but is also based on our culture: we do not eat the same way in France, China or the USA.

Behavior and eating habits (how to eat, cook, eat meals, etc.) are learned by individuals in a culture with transmission from adults to children through education in particular.

Every society has its rules. They relate to:

  • the selection of products;
  • how to prepare them, how to combine them to make dishes and how to combine them to make meals;
  • sharing arrangements;
  • schedules…

In addition, the consumption of a meal is a social act that establishes connections between diners and where each society precisely regulates the modalities. Who can participate in the meal? How do you sit around the table? In what order is the service organized?

Each culture has its own meal structure with the number of meals taken during the day and their organization (breakfast, lunch, snack, dinner).

Eating habits in France

In France, meals have a very important place. The French generally eat three meals a day at fixed times (morning, noon and evening) with breakfast, lunch and dinner, with one or two snacks (in the morning around 10:00 and in the afternoon around 16:00).

The French service is organized around three distinct moments (starter, main course and dessert), a practice inherited from the court of Versailles. In French tradition, we eat the salty before the sweet.

History teaches us that sweet preparations are served at the end of a meal from the late 17th century.e century. Originally considered in the Middle Ages as a medicine that softens the taste of salty food and prevents gastric reflux, sugar found its place as a sequence in itself by being offered as a dessert after consuming salty dishes made of meat and fish, in particular . Sweet desserts have long competed with a savory delicacy: cheese.

Today, we still read “cheese or dessert” on restaurant menu cards. In recent years, there have been two distinct sequences, where the cheese is served after the main course and before the sweet dessert. Finally, the French give an important place to commensality, that is, the fact of sharing meals together (families, friends, colleagues, neighbors). The sweet dessert is often an opportunity to extend the meal.

How is it in other countries?

In English-speaking countries, especially in the United States, we eat three meals a day, but there are no really fixed times. There are also a lot of nibbles (snacks) both spicy and sweet at any time of the day. Food is a primary need in English-speaking cultures, so meals are generally eaten quickly on the go and more often alone than in France. In these cultures, the distinction between salty and sweet food sequences is not as clear as in France.

While the French breakfast is predominantly sweet, the British eat mostly salty breakfasts with the famous full English breakfast, the world-famous traditional English breakfast. This consists of:

  • grilled toast;
  • butter and jam;
  • pancakes;
  • fried, boiled or scrambled eggs;
  • bacon (fried bacon);
  • of Baked beans (white beans with tomato) with sausages;
  • of tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes.

There are many variations of the English breakfast in North America and Central America, among others. Also, the order of meals in English-speaking countries is not as marked as in France, which makes it easier to mix salty/sweet in the same meal. A well-known example is brunch (a meal that combines breakfast and lunch), where sweet dishes coexist with savory dishes.

In the Caribbean or in Asia, a dish can present a mix of sweet and salty flavors that will make it a culinary hallmark of the country and its culture. As an example of a dish, we can mention the famous pork with caramel, which is one of the most famous dishes in Vietnamese cuisine with both salty and sweet flavors.

To conclude, it is interesting to note that with the movement of people (travel, tourism, migration), eating habits move with travelers. People who travel thus take their food habits with them, which they spread to different parts of the world. As a result, each cultural group sees its eating habits develop through these cultural contacts.

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This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

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