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Introducing 'Food Grammar,' the Unspoken Rules of Every Cuisine - Gastro Obscura (atlasobscura.com)Technically, spaghetti and meatballs is bad grammar.
SERVE SPAGHETTI AND MEATBALLS TO an Italian, and they may question why pasta and meat are being served together. Order a samosa as an appetizer, and an Indian friend might point out, as writer Sejal Sukhadwala has, that this is similar to a British restaurant offering sandwiches as a first course. Offer an American a hamburger patty coated in thick demi-glace, and they’ll likely raise an eyebrow at this common Japanese staple dubbed hambagoo.
Each of these meals or dishes feels somehow odd or out of place, at least to one party, as though an unspoken rule has been broken. Except these rules have indeed been discussed, written about extensively, and given a name: food grammar.
Yes, much like language, cuisine obeys grammatical rules that vary from country to country, and academics have documented and studied them. They dictate whether food is eaten sitting or standing; on the floor or at a table; with a fork or chopsticks or with fingers. Like sentence structure, explains Ken Albala, Professor of History at the University of the Pacific, a cuisine’s grammar can be reflected in the order in which it is served, and a grammar can dictate which foods can (or cannot) be paired, like cheese on fish, or barbecue sauce on ice cream.