Food and religion have an inexplicable connection. Each religion entails a different set of rules that either prohibit or encourage the consumption of certain foods, albeit with an explanation as to why the rule is enforced. For example, Hinduism strictly forbids its followers from eating beef, due to the belief that cows are sacred and the slaughter of these animals would be concurrent with disrespecting the religion. Islam, similarly, does not allow the slaughter and ingestion of pork due to the unsanitary conditions in which pigs are bred, and all other meats must be prepared under certain conditions in order to be allowed at the dinner table. On the other end of the spectrum, Jainism and Buddhism believe that all life is equally important, and therefore completely forbid meat from the follower’s diet, including eggs and fish. So, religion can have a big impact on the type of food that is eaten, and in some cases the way its prepared as well.
A much more sensitive topic is the relation of food to gender, and specifically, women. A few hundred years ago, no one questioned the fact that a woman’s job was to cook the food and take care of the family, as this was the social norm. In her essay Introduction: Feeding an Identity-Gender, Food and Survival, Norma Joseph talked about how food is the source of a woman’s power, giving the example of how recipes from past generations are passed down to preserve the culture and share it with the world. She also mentions how the dynamic has changed and women have embraced their role in the kitchen, using simple gestures such as adding a new element (an orange) to the Passover plate in Jewish culture, to show the power they have gained from food.
Food is a very important resource, as it has the power to bring people together, be it through religion and certain festivals such as Eid, or through cultural means, such as a Thanksgiving dinner or Christmas brunch, and women have embodied this resource and made it their own, making them that much more powerful in our daily lives.