I got this email recently featuring pictures of a week’s worth of food for different families around the world.  It was so interesting, I decided to appropriate it for further educated analysis.

Japan: The Ukita family of Kodaira City
Food expenditure for one week: 37,699 Yen or AU$464
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A lot of seafood here – good for my tastebuds, bad for my alarmist over-caution about mercury poisoning.  There was a time last year where my hair was falling out.  The internet tells me it’s because I eat too many cans of tuna.  The family in the picture all have luxuriant heads of hair though, so what does that say about diagnosing yourself online?  Also about the qualitative comparison between fishing regions?  Japanese seafood has all had the bejesus irradiated out of it, hasn’t it?  But these guys sure aren’t getting their follicular magnificence from their one watermelon and sad packet of bananas.  Maybe there’s something to be said for eating fish directly from toxic waterways.  I should pass the good news on to the people who drive into our village and catch manky little creatures from our dribbling creek after sundown each night.

Italy: The Manzo family of Sicily
Food expenditure for one week: 214.36 Euros or AU$265.37

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Excessive bread consumption, piles of fruit, and some bottles of ready-made pasta sauce.  Who can really say with 100% confidence that this isn’t the King family of Sai Kung? (Answer: it’s not.  Anyone who knows us knows we would never resort to drinking Pepsi, even in the severest of Coke droughts).

Germany: The Melander family of Bargteheide
Food expenditure for one week: 375.39 Euros or AU$465.07

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Six-sevenths of this family’s intake is milk, juice and carbonated water.  When they’re not in a state of extreme liquid-bloat precluding the ingestion of food, anything goes, as long as it’s from a deli, marinated, processed and pickled.  I can’t recommend this diet.  Look at them.  The adults and the young kid are as sullen as the teenager.  CAN’T…SMILE…DIGESTING…

United States : The Revis family of North Carolina
Food expenditure for one week: US$341.98
or AU$326.40
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The only fresh food in this picture is a couple of tomatoes and two bunches of grapes.  Can four adults survive a week with so little fresh food?  What, do they do Healthy Lunch Day and each eat half a tomato and five grapes each?  Shit’s going to take a pizza and two packets of chips to burn off.  You know that right.

Mexico: The Casales family of Cuernavaca
Food expenditure for one week: 1,862.78 Mexican Pesos or AU$138.09

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These guys all look pretty happy.  Is it because they wash down bread rolls all week with 54 bottles of Coke, followed by big piles of tasty fruit?  Or because their house is so damn sweet, with the little tin knick-knackery and the magical window?  This is the diet that most closely resembles ours.  And the children which most closely resembles Rufus.  Though we don’t look much like the parents.  Yet…?  An ominous portent?  Fuck.

Poland: The Sobczynscy family of Konstancin-Jeziorna
Food expenditure for one week: 582.48 Zlotys or AU$174.27

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There’s a number of problems I can see here:
1. The lady is holding a bouquet of lollipops.
2. Fair enough, you would probably go hog-wild and get heavily invested in unique food styling if you lived with your in-laws too.
3. There’s nothing to really make a meal out of.
4. They eat dog food.  And cat food too.


Egypt: The Ahmed family of Cairo
Food expenditure for one week: 387.85 Egyptian Pounds or AU$60.53

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This is a very appealing week of food.  You just know they sit down and feast every night on a proper cook-up until completely sated, and that guy in the white headgear is large in charge carving up those odd white vegetables with his quillion dagger.

Ecuador: The Ayme family of Tingo
Food expenditure for one week: US$31.55
or AU$30.20
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Although these Tingolese appear to live inside a wood-fired oven, their diet is apparently entirely vegetarian, and largely constituted of bananas, plantains and yams.  They must have some intense starch highs.  In fact I think they’re having one right now.  “Mate, nice Coogi.”  “Shut up arsehole.  At least my mum isn’t wearing a fedora inside a brick furnace.  Oh wait yes she is.”

Bhutan: The Namgay family of Shingkhey Village
Food expenditure for one week: 224.93 ngultrum or AU$4.03

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The family called Namgay
From the village called Shingkhey
They ate a variety
of green leafy veg
And they lived in a sweet gold temple.

Chad: The Aboubakar family of Breidjing Camp
Food expenditure for one week: 685 CFA Francs or AU$1.29

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It’s incomprehensibly sad, naturally.  I wonder if they give double or triple rations to the mum in the hope that she can breastfeed the younger kids until they’re at least 5?  Also I’d love to know what’s in all the little bags at the front.  And how the right-hand dude got his teeth so shiny.

Of course a logical coda would be to add a picture of what we eat for a week.  That’s pretty hard to do because we don’t buy all our food on one day (see: previously lamented galley-sized kitchen).  Nor do we have a food stylist to arrange foodstuffs all around the loungeroom.  I particularly liked the Polish joint above with the TV festooned with breadsticks.  I do know we spend too many thousands of Hong Kong dollars on food – but, UPSHOT, the more you spend, the more stickers you get; the more stickers you get, the more free Angry Birds soft toys you can acquire!  HOLLA!


12 Comments Add yours

  1. expatlingo says:

    I hope there’s some coffee, wine and chocolate hidden in a few of those piles. Oh wait…the Germans have some wine. Is everyone else really just drinking soda?

    Funny post: thanks for brightening my Wednesday evening.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      So much soda! I wish they would have done a Hong Kong family nestled in a pile of chicken feet, various types of gizzard, and a slab of Pocari Sweat. Mm yummy!

  2. mamamzungu says:

    Great post. And your commentary is hilarious, as ALWAYS. This looks like an evolution of packaging to me. I mean when you start spending over $200 per week on groceries, it seems $100 is going to plastic. I just stayed in a village here in Kenya and what they eat could easily fit in a few large bags and would be ground maize, millet, cassava and then some leafy vegetables. Add in some oil, sugar, onions and salt and you’re pretty much done. Occasionally they would slaughter a chicken. I went home and looked at my fridge and felt funny all over. On multiple levels.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Geez you’re insightful! I didn’t even think of the packaging situation. I’m reading a book at the moment (Little Bee) set in Nigeria – have you read it? Anyway there are hundreds of references to cassava. How does it go? I don’t think I’ve ever had one. Actually I probably did, when I was in Kenya/Tanzania about 10 years ago. Wherever we stayed, people used basically the ingredients you list above but tried to Westernise things by dumping baked beans on top, mainly. Very…tasty 🙂

  3. iasoupmama says:

    Wow! What a difference between photos! And who eats cat food, blech!

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Even most cats probably wouldn’t eat cat food by choice, if you think about it 😉

  4. Here’s some sad news. I just read an article in the NYT yesterday that suggested that Alzheimer’s might be a diet induced Type 3 Diabetes.

    If you have not read them already, you might like Michael Poland’s books on food: In Defense Of Food and The Botany Of Desire.

    1. jadeluxe says:

      Thanks for that. This is, if you can believe it, my first foray into dietetic analysis 😉 But I do believe that diet can contribute (if not cause) so many of these diseases, absolutely. It’s just logic.

  5. tara pohlkotte says:

    that was actually super interesting to see the different rations for the week! thanks for sharing, and for adding your bit of flavor to it all 🙂

    1. jadeluxe says:

      hi tara 🙂 wasn’t it interesting to compare – the quantities AND the content.

  6. Wow! I can’t believe the amount of soda some of the families drink in one week.

  7. Azara says:

    This was so interesting. Our diet is pretty close to the one where they’re courting scurvy. We do eat fruits and vegetables, but they’re usually frozen or otherwise packaged. Every time I buy fresh stuff it ends up rotting in the fridge, so I’ve kind of given up on that.

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