Traditions of Chewing
What a marvelous invention, these teeth of ours! Our mouth is an incredible orifice ready to speak our inner truth, kiss a beloved, smile at co-workers, or indulge a decant piece of cake. Regardless of where we are in the world, people chew their food. Some chew fast, others slowly. Cultural differences often melt away in the presence of food.
Ancient teachings across the globe discuss chewing. The United States was home to Horace Fletcher, a man who strongly advocated chewing food until fully liquified and performed several experiments to prove the adeptness of chewing food on the human body to increase stamina and strength.
In other research came the concept of pre-mastication. This tactic of care predates ground up foods and purees for babies and is practiced quite instinctively by mothers. A few simple chews to ensure adequate softness and chewability for newly formed teeth and to prevent choking; this practice takes place today all over the world. Used as a stepping stone for babies to be able to eat their meals and transition from liquids to solids.
Communal chewing is much rarer. First introduced to the practice in the book Wild Fermentation in making Chicha, corn is chewed then spat out for fermenting. Modern methods now use primarily a malting process and many studies advise against the practice due to the risks of bacterial or viral contagion.
The chewing of the betel leaf has its own controversy as it can be habit-forming, yet it remains popular in and around countries in South-East Asia.
Keep enjoying your chewing, you have history cheering you on!