Most people in the world survive on a repetitious diet of basically bland food. For those who eat meat rarely or not at all, and usually have little else but rice and beans, the explosions of flavor imparted by salsas, chutneys, and other condiments and savory sauces relieve monotony and create the illusion of variety. Lemon grass, soy sauce, mustard, ginger, tamarind, horseradish and fermented vinegars add a brilliant zing to the simplest preparations. Small quantities of these flavorings are powerhouses of taste. Blow-your-head-off chilies bring incendiary fire to what otherwise would be a ho-hum meal.
Huge steaks are regarded in the United States with the same near reverence as the flag and the Constitution. Red meat is our national food just as Morocco has couscous, Austria has wiener schnitzel, Brazil has fejoada, and Russians boast of their borscht, Greeks are mad for moussaka, Koreans crave kimchi. In Japan, its sushi; in Thailand, pad Thai. Robert Burns wrote an ode to Scottish haggis. Italy has pasta for every occasion. France sidesteps the issue of national dish by declaring with a massive shrug, that every French dish is better than anyone else’s and the rest of us are too cowed to argue the point.
Our eating behavior influences our anatomy, Physiology and the evolution of the human race itself. Eating, in short, is inseparable from the behavior and the biology of the human species and our adaptation to the climate conditions that vary from tropical heat to Arctic cold.