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Colombia tions. Language, although Spanish, is more rapidly spoken, slang and local accents are more common, and less attention is given to “correct” delivery. Social interactions also are more formal in Bogotá and the surrounding areas. In the coastal areas and countryside, people tend to be much more open, friendly, and informal. Both patterns are rather typical of those found worldwide, regardless of ­culture. Diet and ­Dining It is often said that “we are what we eat.” To cultural geogra-­ phers, just the opposite is true: “We eat what we are.” That is to say, our culture determines what is eaten, the nature of its ingredients, how food is prepared, and when it is eaten. Culture also provides us with eating utensils and manners, rules on who eats when and with whom, what beverages are consumed, and so forth. Diet, in fact, may be the single most valid and reveal-­ ing cultural practice in understanding a ­people. In Colombia, many factors influence one’s diet and din-­ ing practices. ­ Afro-­Colombians, Amerindians, and Spaniards each eat quite differently. So, too, do affluent, ­ well-­educated, ­upper-­class urbanites and rural poor, regardless of heritage. ­Upper-­class families are most apt to parallel the Spanish traditions of Mediterranean Europe. Ingredients may be dif-­ ferent than those with which the reader is accustomed, but were you to dine in an ­ upper-­class Colombian home, you would feel quite comfortable. (But mind your manners!) Most ­middle-­class people have a diet that blends both Amerindian (or ­Afro-­Colombian) and Spanish practices, both in terms of ingredients and dining ­customs. One major difference between Colombian food customs and those most common throughout Northern America is the scheduling of meals in regard to the type and amount of food consumed. Breakfast is normally very ­light—­perhaps nothing more than coffee, juice, fruit, and a roll. The noonday meal is often the largest, similar to the evening meal throughout most


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