June 4, 2018
The policies around healthy eating tend to focus on food knowledge and cooking skills. But in homes across Pakistan, food is a lot more than just a source of nutrition or pleasure, it is also the basis for family relationships. The order of serving food, meal timings, portion sizes and the types of food eaten can all be seen as acts of love, intimacy as well as distance and disdain.
Food is a great way of communicating, and the person responsible for cooking and serving meals can say a lot in the way they carry out these jobs. Trivial things such as seating arrangements and portion sizes can be ways of communicating authority and even resistance.
By not delivering food that is expected, mothers can exact punishment on family members and the same can be said of those who reject food that is offered to them. Similar dynamics are at work across the UK, as well as in Pakistan, as the power of food is a commonality that both cultures share.
Women are generally the ones you will find cooking the meals in a Pakistani household. Those who are in happy marriages and those that aren’t have stated that food, for them, is a potent medium through which they can demonstrate their anger and affection.
There have been cases of Pakistani British women who have attempted to include their spouses in household tasks such as food shopping, but as men tend to spend too much money and buy non-essential and less healthy items, they later came to regret those decisions, and tried to regain the control of shopping themselves.
In a lot of households in Pakistan the women ate after feeding their children, in-laws and their husbands, managing on what was left over. In times of conflict this could mean that although women cooked all the food they may have to get by on very little amounts of food themselves.
Food and patriarchal values have always had their links, and encouraging healthy food changes in modern households needs the involvement of both men and women.
Visit Royal Nawaab’s halal restaurant London to experience our healthy and delicious banqueting.