The most important objectives of the human beings were to collect food for their survival. At least 10 thousand years ago, human beings started agriculture, which has altered/changed the complete way of eating. With the advancement of the human beings socially and culturally the way of eating has changed all the way. Socialization and Culture of mankind plays a major role in change of eating practices. The way of food preparation, presentation and eating has changed with time, location and culture. Here we are concerned with eating in a social and cultural perspective in everyday life.
Food is life, food what is eaten, when it is eaten and how it is eaten says a great deal about the culture. It is the center stage of every society, family and culture. In every culture eating has its unique way. Basically culture in its broader term includes all the acquired specialties of the mankind. To understand eating culture we have to understand the culture first.
Culture can be defined as "The total general organized way of life including value, norms, institutions and artifacts that is passed on from generation to generation by learning alone". (Jary & Jary, 1991)
E.B. Culture has been called "the way of life for the entire society". As such it includes code of manners, dress, language, eating, religion, rituals, norms of behaviour and system of belief.
E.B. Tylor (1871) defined culture as "Culture of civilization taken in its wide ethnographic sense is that comply whole, which includes knowledge, belief, art, moral, law, customs or any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of Society".
Recently UNESCO(2002), defined culture as "Culture should regarded as the set of distinctive spiritual, material, intellectual and emotional features of the society or a social group and that it encompasses, in addition to art and literature, lifestyles, way of living together, value systems, traditions and beliefs."
So, it has been quite clear from the above definitions of culture that it necessarily includes eating and it is one of the most important characteristics of every culture.
Every home in almost every culture have a place devoted to the preparation of the meal and also have a specified place for eating. Most societies have restaurants and hotels to eat away from home. Eating varies from individuals to individuals in a day, their size of consumption, when and how meals are prepared and eaten varies around the World. Most individual have fairly regular daily pattern of eating occurs 2-3 meals per day. The diversity of eating could be attributed to a number of local factors, which include climate, ecology, economy, cultural traditions and industrialization.
Eating always has an important role to play in almost all the social occasions and celebrations of many key cultural and religious festivals in our daily life. Without eating any function or celebration cannot be treated as complete. So eating has major role in every social and cultural aspect of our daily life.
Eating is inherently area specific and cultural. Different places and different people have their different way of eating identifies their cultural identities. Eating is associated with culture, people and places. Food feeds our cultural stereotypes. It is a