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From the Street Cart All the Way up to the Exquisite Dining Table...

Essay by   •  March 30, 2012  •  Essay  •  3,023 Words (13 Pages)  •  714 Views

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Based on the infamous common saying of "You are what you eat"; some may argue that they do not possess the freedom of choice in what they choose to eat on a daily basis throughout their life due to the external factors that affect their decision making. With limited income and resources, many people from the lower social backgrounds tend to have a restricted culinary menu of which they can opt to eat from. Investigating the other end of the scale of where the wealthier level of the social ladder are looked at closely; you will find the inverse of this trend where the range of eating preferences are limitless and not bound by any spending power restrictions, thus giving them the liberty to indulge in an abundance of edible choices.

I am thoroughly interested in studying the eating habits of the wealthy and the un-wealthy classes in Egypt. My objective behind this research is to gain an understanding of the differences in terms of eating behavior according to their social background. My aim was to identify their likes, dislikes, thoughts, perceptions and motivations behind certain choices. By studying those factors closely, the motives behind consumption of different classes based on their economic circumstances were revealed.

The reason behind this study was to yield significantly valuable information and insight into the eating habits of the rich and poor segments in Egypt. By doing this, I was able to understand and connect how the food industries in Egypt focus their marketing efforts on different target audiences, and how people tend to make certain decisions based on their income. From this, I was able to identify food decision-making changes that are resulting from social mobility (moving up the social ladder in society). In conclusion, my intention was to identify how substantial the size of the social gap is with regards to the topic of eating habits, behaviors and motives.

The facts from this study have been drawn from numerous semi-structured interviews with a pre-set of questions that have been conducted with a sample of five candidates mixed from both social class groups; the wealthy and the un-wealthy. These two groups are identified based on a maximum 1000LE income per month for the un-wealthy class, and a minimum of 20,000LE income per month for the wealthy class. The interviews were undertaken in a casual mannerism through holding an unstructured conversation with some people from my own network and some who were approached randomly on my mission to investigate this phenomenon. I attempted to delve deep into their personalities to identify their past and present experiences in dealing with food psychologically and economically, hence coming up with conclusions to support my study.

Social gaps can often be found gathered in one place with the two ends of the scale existing in the same arena. I was invited by eldest sister to visit her workplace to conduct interviews with a high-end position and a low-end position to even have a direct comparison within one department. Yara, the Customer Experience Director at a foreign Payment Solutions Company based in Egypt has a Call Center as part of her Department that she manages. Her total net income reaches to 20,000 LE and her subordinates which are usually fresh graduates take home 1000 LE. Sitting in Yara's upscale office, observing the personal touches that she has placed around with photos and souvenirs she gathered from different destinations all placed neatly on her desk. After explaining to her the purpose of my study, she is interested to assist by sharing her culinary experiences as she expresses that food is an integral part of her life because it not only satisfies her hunger, but is a tool in elevating her mood to de-stress from the hectic work lifestyle that she leads. Yara, thirty years old and a single mother spends most of her time at the office so usually orders food on a daily basis.

Yara admits timidly that she skips breakfast although she knows that it should be the most important meal of the day. She orders her lunch, which is her main meal around 2pm from an online ordering website that has a range of restaurants with various cuisines that deliver to her office. Her favorite food is sushi and her specialties are maki rolls with shrimp, crab and salmon. She expresses with utmost delight that she is a seafood lover by nature and also feels that sushi eating is an interesting experience in itself. Wasabi, the green, spicy Japanese horseradish that is served with sushi as a condiment plays a part in putting Yara in a good mood and motivates her to work more! The average bill for a sushi meal is around 200 LE. She eats sushi two to three times a week with the third most probably as a meal out with her friends. She also orders food from a nearby gourmet French patisserie called Le Gourmandise that sells freshly prepared sandwiches that are served in delectable baked French baguette. She opts for the smoked salmon and capers or the turkey and emmental cheese. Yara states, "this cozy, gourmet place reminds me of the corner cafes I used to sit in when I studied in Paris. As I take a bite, I often find myself closing my eyes and travelling back to those nostalgic moments.". Yara buys her groceries from Metro Supermarket in front of her office where she enjoys selecting imported products for her daughter to match what she used to eat as a child when she grew up in the United Kingdom. Most notably are the McVities cakes, Aero chocolates, pringles and Betty Crocker cupcake mixes that she enjoys making with her little one in the weekend. For herself, she buys low fat yoghurt and fruit for her dinner meal as she constantly trues to watch her figure. Yara treats herself to eating out over the weekend with her friends with either sushi at Four Seasons or steak at JW Marriot Steakhouse where the average bill reaches 1000 LE for two people.

With the amount of the bill of only one of Yara's weekend outings being equivalent to the salary of one of the Call Center Representatives, you can clearly observe the social gap in just one department in a company. I step into the Call Center and ask to speak to one of the Call Center Reps. Ahmed, who has been working for one year in this company is eager to share his story as he feels that there is unfairness in the income and in the lifestyles of people who are compelled to make decisions based on their circumstances. Ahmed passes by a street cart that sells foul and taameya sandwiches near his home, before he sets on his trip to work on the underground. There is a crowd of people rushing to get their share of morning nourishment in the form of the high complex carbohydrate foul beans that will settle in their stomachs and keep their palates satiated for hours on end. Ahmed shares his cultural breakfast experience with pride stating that you can make your own sandwich and add select from the

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