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10. Taste and Culture

Research confirms that when it comes to making food choices, taste is the most important consideration.

This shouldn't be too much of a surprise, considering that there are at least 10,000 taste buds in your mouth, mainly on your tongue. Your taste buds tell you that chocolate cheesecake is sweet, fresh lemon juice is sour, and a pretzel is salty.

That you choose to put on your plate is often influenced by your culture. If you were a student in Mexico, you may be feasting on a dinner with corn tortillas and tamales, as maize (corn) is a staple of Mexican cuisine.

In India, meals commonly include lentils and other legumes with rice and vegetables, whereas Native Americans often enjoy stews of mutton (sheep), corn, and other vegetables.

In China, rice, a staple, would be front and center on your plate.

A culture's cuisine is greatly influenced by the environment. This includes not only the climate and soil conditions but also the native plants and animals, as well as the distance people live from rivers, lakes, or the sea.

People tend to consume foods that are accessible and often have little experience eating foods that are scarce. For example, native Alaskans feast on fish because it is plentiful, but eat less fresh produce, which is difficult to grow locally. For most Americans, this is less of an issue today than in the past, due to global food distribution networks.

However, it still rings true for some food items. People living in landlocked states may have less access to fresh fish, for example, while those outside the south may not see collard greens or beignets on local store shelves as often as their Gulf State counterparts do.

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