Anthelme Brillat-Savarin says, “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you who you are.” With the present-time mushrooming of cafes, restaurants & food courts, we have begun to be skeptical about our eating patterns that for centuries had been a distinctive part of our society. Without any logical research we get convinced right away that eating with hands is unhygienic, and on top of that eating street food wrapped in newspaper or disposable plates (sold by a hawker or vender) is even more lethal. Such concerns can be accurate in nature however our response to these concerns is what makes our understanding totally questionable. As very conveniently, with time we are abandoning our very own cuisine that is indeed a part of our identity. Interestingly, as a solution to our hygiene question, we have started to learn the art of cutlery & feel more comfortable eating in restaurants for this seems easier rather than to boggle our mind with the wearisome task of looking for answers. Imagine the level of excitement we have when we visit foreign roadside places; however visualize the disgust that we have on our faces while we happen to visit our own food street.“And the foundation of any strong culinary heritage is street food.” (Unknown) In the recent years, with increasing fast-food companies, restaurants and eateries from different part of the world, it has become quite obvious that a lot of Pakistanis don’t really know what sort of traditional food belongs to our home state. And so, the younger generation is unfamiliar with the fun of eating gol gappays dripping from one’s hands and mouth, eating sittays, channays & taka tak. Look around and you’ll see myriad outlets of foreign food franchises which are drastically replacing the home made food and now even the street food. There are few roadside dhabbas that are trying to restore our faith in street food eatery, by maintaining satisfactory standards of cleanliness however we crush their struggle by labelling them too as unhealthy without even trying them for once.“The writer Amitav Ghosh says he doesn’t go to Indian restaurants in London and New York because eating with hands is discouraged. “They regard this essential aspect of the cuisine with a kind of embarrassment,” he said.” Pakistanis don’t usually use cutlery for eating food; we prefer eating with our fingers. Unlike the norm in West, eating with hands is common in Pakistan but since recent times, knife and fork are the ones that already secure a place on the dinner table. And so, our mouth remains agape whenever we see a person eating his food with his fingers even if it is in a restaurant.Sarah DiGregorio at New York Times writes, “Eating with the hands is common in many areas of the world, including parts of Asia and much of Africa and the Middle East. Now in United States, several high-profile chefs are asking diners to get their hands dirty, in the belief that it heightens the sensual connection to food and softens the formality of fine dining.” In the recent years, with increasing fast-food companies, restaurants and eateries from different parts of the world, it has become quite obvious that a lot of Pakistanis don’t really know what sort of traditional food belongs to our home stateA writer at Y Blog Travel shares her travel experience by saying, “I have had some amazing meals in my life but the most memorable food experiences have been from street vendors: crickets in Mexico, bun cha in Vietnam, ceviche in Peru.”Street food sustains the essence of a culture. It withstands traditional practices of a given ethnic group, and bolsters the liveliness of cities. Although Pakistan is a relatively young country, the cuisine has developed over many more years and includes elements from its neighbours – India, Afghanistan and Iran.” Some key dishes include: karahi gosht, haleem, karri, nihari etc. Normally, we grow up eating the food of our culture; the traces of its flavour and aroma remain the integral part of the one who eats it. Food is an important part of a culture. Traditional cuisine is passed down from one generation to another. It also serves to be an expression of cultural identity. Why not adapt the cuisine of your forebears instead of shifting completely to the food that is alien to our region and clime. Foreign food can occupy our tables for once a week, but to keep them their permanently is what serves to be one of the major obstacles in retaining our cultural roots.“Claude Levi-Stauss, identified that food can be conceived as a language that expresses social structures and cultural systems. He argues that food must not only be good to eat, but also good to think (with).” And so don’t forget that getting food from hawkers or stalls largely contributes at so many levels; food that you get from the roadside stalls is made right there in front of you (unlike cafes & restaurants); when you give money to the person who is selling that food, indirectly you’re supporting his family; instead of making faceless foreign companies richer you are making a difference in someone’s life who otherwise is struggling hard in life; also, a person who belongs to your own homeland!The writer can be reached at email@example.comPublished in Daily Times, March 10th 2019.