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Coffee Culture Around the Globe

Coffee Culture Around the Globe

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How coffee lovers around the world enjoy their caffeine fix

How coffee lovers around the world get their caffeine fix.

Today’s Western world is obsessed with popping into the local coffee shop for a daily caffeine fix in the form of a tall Americano or a skinny vanilla latte. However, it is sometimes easy to forget that as well as having a rich taste and texture, coffee also has a rich cultural background around the world. Since it was purportedly discovered by a goat herder in the 13th century, coffee has been adapted by different cultures, each with its own brewing and serving techniques.

Click here for the Coffee Culture Around the Globe Slideshow

It’s been said that the first people to start brewing, and trading, coffee, were in the Arabian Peninsula (today known as Persia, Syria, Turkey, and Egypt) in the 16th century. The first coffeehouses, complete with conversation, live music, and games, were called "qahveh khaneh." In fact, coffeehouses then were known as "schools of the wise" for their intellectual atmosphere. Travelers soon brought coffee to Europe in the 17th century, and later to "New Amsterdam" — or New York.

Still, how people take their coffee depends on where you live; no two cups of coffee are quite the same around the world. Whatever your coffee preference, there is nothing better than enjoying a traditional beverage while exploring a different culture. From strong Italian espressos to spiced Maltese coffees and the intense Greek Ellinikos Kafe, read on for some of the best coffees from across the globe.

Faith Norris writes for

Coffee Around the Globe: How Different Countries Drink Their Coffee

It all started in Africa, or so the story goes. An Ethiopian goatherd was intrigued by his goats’ behavior after they ate the cherries that were sourced from a specific bush. That bush, Coffea Arabica, is now grown in a narrow band all around the world and drunk in myriad ways anywhere people happen to be living.

In fact, every country has its own unique coffee culture, and in this article, we take a look at some of the more popular global styles of consuming coffee in all its many forms.

Coffee Culture in East Asia

Japan and China may be best known for producing and consuming significant quantities of tea, but coffee is no stranger to Asia, either. In fact, in the Southeast Asian countries of Cambodia and Vietnam—thanks to some degree of influence from the French—have richly developed coffee drinking habits of their own. And in Thailand, thanks to the efforts of a prior king to promote more sustainable coffee practices, an entire culture has developed around the cultivation and consumption of Arabica coffee.

In Cambodia, coffee is roasted in fat until it is very dark and then ground fine and drunk black. In Vietnam, coffee is traditionally drunk in the morning and may be mixed with eggs, yogurt, or fruit.

In Thailand, coffee is drunk throughout the day and may be ordered roasted in fat and freshly brewed in a cloth strainer, or made from instant coffee and poured over ice. It is nearly always consumed with condensed or sweetened condensed milk. Indonesia and Malaysia also have their own distinct coffee cultures.

Coffee Drinking in Central Asia

Like in East Asia, India and the other Central Asian countries may be more closely associated with tea cultivation and consumption. But in southern India, coffee is the drink of choice for many.

In the streets, coffee drinkers get brewed coffee with hot milk and sugar from “kaapi” bars, and meter coffee—coffee with milk poured back and forth between cups at a ridiculous height—is also quite popular.

In modern Iran, it is challenging to drink coffee without being harassed by the morality police, but the coffee drinkers still congregate at the ghahveh khaneh to play games, drink coffee, and smoke.

European Coffee Culture

Perhaps no other continent has gotten behind coffee drinking quite like the nations of Europe. This is evidenced by the sheer variety of coffee preparation and consumption practices.

The English may still have their tea, but for the rest of the continent, it’s either simmering water served with fine ground coffee (Turkey and Greece), steam forced through fine ground coffee (Italian espresso and it’s many popular varieties), espresso with hot milk or steamed milk (cafe au lait or latte—France), or any one of hundreds of other traditions still thriving and evolving across the many diverse nations of Europe.

Coffee Drinking in the Americas

Lastly, we come to the New World—where more coffee is consumed than anywhere else in the world (thanks largely to the bean’s popularity in the United States). In both North and South America, coffee is generally consumed in a variety of fashions imported from Europe. The latte, the cappuccino, and the Americano all have their fans, but brewed drip coffee is the beverage of choice in this hemisphere.

Green Mary: Amsterdam

The Netherlands is constantly making sustainable innovations – and the country’s drinks scene is no different. The environmental movement is making headway with a host of experimental bars to create zero-waste, closed-loop cocktails in Amsterdam, while an hour away Ketel One runs its sustainable vodka distillery on clean energy from its own windmill. Here’s Ketel One’s hangover-busting Green Mary recipe, where using up wilted greens is encouraged.


100ml (3.5oz) equal parts of celery and cucumber, freshly juiced

20ml (0.5oz) freshly squeezed lime

Pinch of rock salt, pepper, cinnamon, nutmeg and dried chili flakes

Add all ingredients to the glass, stir well, add ice, garnish with a salted cucumber slice and a vanilla pod.

How 13 Different Countries from Around the World Take Their Coffee

If you’re anything like me, you can’t make it through the day without at least two cups of coffee (three if you couldn’t sleep the night before). Coffee may or may not have taken over our lives. Let’s just say we’re always late to that 9 a.m. because we are busy waiting in long Starbucks lines to cure our coffee morning headaches.

When we reach for that third cup and it’s not even noon, it’s hard to refrain from judging ourselves. But if you take a look around the world, every other country seems to be as hooked on coffee as we are. Here’s a list of how different parts of the world enjoy their coffee. It’s time to get cultured coffee addicts.

1. Italy: Espresso

Photo courtesy of @n_harman on Instagram

Espresso is basically a way of life for Italians. Made quick to order and topped with a thin layer of cream, espressos are most commonly consumed standing at the bar in a cafe. Espressos are a great start to an Italian day, not to mention they make for a perfect Instagram.

2. Turkey: Turkish Coffee

Photo courtesy of @janarexhepi on Instagram

Turkish coffee is so essential to Turkish culture that UNESCO confirmed it as an “intangible cultural heritage of Turkey.” It’s made strong, with coffee grounds settled at the bottom of the traditionally small cups. When ordering this classic, be prepared to specify how much sugar you want. And of course, enjoy the social experience of drinking Turkish coffee, and perhaps learn your fortune based on the leftover grounds in your cup.

3. United States: Iced Coffee

Photo courtesy of @southmoonunder on Instagram

This list wouldn’t be complete without adding basic iced coffee from Starbucks. America is one of the only countries in the world that serves iced coffee. Americans really like their iced coffee, and even order venti sizes in the middle of a terrible Chicago winter.

4. Cuba: Café Cubano

Photo courtesy of @cortaditocafe on Instagram

Café Cubano is Cuba’s version of an espresso, adding some demerara sugar to sweeten up the brew. While this is most popular in Cuba, it’s also a favorite in some regions of Florida, especially Miami. So if you aren’t up for the trip to Cuba, make a short stop in Miami and find this coffee at almost any cafe.

5. Saudi Arabia: Al-Qahwa

Photo courtesy of @_zzmo87_ on Instagram

This coffee is not only seen in Saudi Arabia, but in other Arabic countries as well. It is typically made with Cardamom, an expensive spice found in South Asia. Al-Quhwa is commonly served with dates, dried fruits or nuts. It’s time to spicen up your boring black coffee by trying this traditional Arabic beverage.

6. Ireland: Irish Coffee

Photo courtesy of @bartender_carla on Instagram

Chances are you’ve probably had an Irish coffee at least once in your life, even if it wasn’t in a cute Dublin pub. This hot coffee is prepared with Irish whiskey, sugar and a layer of whipped cream. More like a dessert rather than a quick breakfast, Irish coffee embraces Ireland’s pub culture to its fullest.

7. Mexico: Café de Olla

Photo courtesy of @per1ita on Instagram

Café de Olla has a very distinct taste. Made with cinnamon and piloncillo, a native Mexican sugar, this coffee is popular all over Latin America. Part of what gives this coffee its distinct taste is its preparation in earthen clay pots. Next time you travel to Mexico, order this drink instead of your usual margarita.

8. Ethiopia: Buna

Photo courtesy of @facehunter on Instagram

Given that Ethiopia is the birthplace of coffee, their OG coffee is a pretty big deal. Ethiopia is known for traditional coffee ceremonies, in which making and serving the coffee can last up to a few hours. Typically, Buna is served with salt or butter. For those of you who truly appreciate coffee, you must experience an Ethiopian coffee ceremony at least once in your life to give coffee the recognition and celebration it deserves.

9. Greece: Frappé

Photo courtesy of @natekaptena on Instagram

Remember when I said the U.S. was one of the only countries that serves iced coffee? Well, Greece makes it onto that list as well. Frappé is a popular chilled beverage in this Mediterranean region, a foam-covered iced coffee to be enjoyed while dreaming about meeting our own Kostas, like Lena did in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

10. Vietnam: Egg Coffee

Photo courtesy of @nappleman on Instagram

This Vietnamese favorite consists of egg yolks, sugar, condensed milk and Robusta coffee. Easily substituted as a real meal, this thick and creamy substance is enough to fill you up on a warm Vietnamese afternoon.

11. Spain: Café Bombón

Photo courtesy of @manuelflores.vva on Instagram

Originating in Valencia, Spain, this coffee is prepared as half espresso and half sweetened condensed milk. To make this espresso alternative more aesthetically pleasing, it is typically served in a clear glass. Next time you happen to be in Spain, order this classic to impress the locals.

12. France: Café au Lait

Photo courtesy of @_emmawelch on Instagram

It would be unjust to make a list of popular International coffee drinks, and leave France out. A country known for its cute cafes, coffee plays a central role in French lives. Café au Lait is coffee served with hot milk, ordered at any time of the day. So next time you want it to be socially acceptable to drink a nice cup of caffeinated coffee late at night, take a quick trip to Paris.

13. China: Yuanyang

Photo courtesy of @discoverhongkong on Instagram

Popular in Hong Kong, Yuanyang translates to “coffee with tea”. It’s exactly what it sounds like, prepared by mixing three parts of coffee and seven parts of milk tea. This common beverage can be prepared hot or cold. If you can’t decide whether you’re in the mood for a cup of coffee or tea, have both with this Chinese favorite.

These Are The World’s 16 Most Popular Types of Coffee To try in 2019

The content team at Bachelor Recipe loves to write on great topics that help the community!

Coffee is a day kicker, a conversation starter and a mood lifter for most of us. And as a coffee lover, you must want to know about the World’s most famous types of coffee.

With the recipes, there are some interesting facts about these coffees so you’ll have fun reading them.

See what are the world’s most famous coffee from Turkey to Brazil and how people like to have their coffee.

1. Espresso

Espresso originated from Italy.

It became popular in 1950’s. Espresso is made from brewing beans of coffee, it’s particularly famous for its Italian diaspora.

Espresso is probably the most popular type of coffee.

  • Espresso machine applies 132 pounds per square pressure to extract the coffee
  • 50 coffee beans make 1 shot of espresso

If you’ve got an espresso coffee machine, then great, but if you don’t have a coffee maker, then the best way to make is it to take a tablespoon of coffee powder adding one tablespoon of water and sugar according to your taste, mix it till the color of the coffee changes.

Add hot milk to it and enjoy a hot cup of coffee.

2. Mazagran Coffee

Mazagran is actually cold coffee that originated from Algeria.

It is said to be originated in 1840’s war.

Mazagran is poured over ice and in some versions, rum is also added to the mix.

  • Did you know mazagran can lessen the risks of cardiovascular diseases?
  • Mazagran has antioxidants which prevent memory loss.

2. Then add sugar as per your taste and pour it over ice cubes.

3. Eiscaffee

This is actually cold coffee. It originated in Germany, where it was made by mixing coffee and ice cream together.

Different countries have their own versions of cold coffee.

  • Did you know Eiskaffee is known to prevent dizziness and causes mental alertness?
  • Two cups of coffee a day can extend your life.
  • Caffeinated coffee is known to improve blood flow.
  1. Take a glass and add 3 scoops of ice cream in it.
  2. Now pour the hot brewed coffee in it and add whipped cream on top.

4. Macchiato

Macchiato is known to have originated in Italy.

The word ‘macchiato’ means spotted, the name differentiated between espresso and coffee with a drop of milk.

  • Macchiato keeps your blood pressure in control.
  • A man named George Washington invented instant coffee in 1910.
  • In New York people drink 7 times more coffee than other cities of U.S.

To make macchiato you need to add steam milked on top of espresso in a 4:1 ratio.

Special Tip: If you want to make macchiato for the whole family, make the espresso using Mr. Coffee 4-Cup Switch Coffeemaker. It will not just save your time but will make your coffee more perfect in taste.

5. Cappuccino

Cappuccino originates from Italy and it means hood.

It got popular in mid-1990’s. The traditional way to make it is to pour Steamed milk on espresso.

The texture and temperature of milk are really important.

The thick foam the mixture creates gives it a velvety texture.

  • People celebrate the World Cappuccino day on 8th November
  • The foam serves as an insulator and keeps the coffee hot
  • Cambridge created the first webcam to check a coffee pot
  • The work coffee means ‘wine of the bean’ in Arabic.

Take a cup, add a ½ espresso and a ½ of steamed milk and top it with ½ of milk foam.

6. Turkish Coffee

As the name indicates Turkish coffee originates from Turkey.

It’s basically unfiltered coffee. It’s also called as ‘Bosnian coffee’, Turkish coffee is a big part of their traditional wedding customs.

Turkish coffee is also used as fortune telling.

  • Turkish coffee is also used as fortune telling.
  • Turkish families use a Turkish coffee to judge the character of the groom by adding salt in coffee instead of sugar.
  • Japan has a cat café where you can go have coffee while hanging out with cats
  • Studies have proved that coffee does not dehydrate you contrary to popular belief.
  1. To make Turkish coffee you need to boil a cup of water.
  2. After one boil you’ll add a tbsp of coffee powder 1/8 tsp of cardamom when foam starts to form then turn off the heat.
  3. Turn on the heat again to allow it to foam. Then pour it into a coffee mug and serve!

7. Americano

Americano is known to have originated from Latin America in 1970’s.

It consists of a single or double shot of brewed espresso and water.

  • Americano is mostly water
  • It was created for American soldiers in the 2nd world war to cater their need of strong French coffee.
  • The only state in the U.S that grows coffee commercially in Hawaii

In a cup, add ¼ of espresso, ½ cup of water and serve.

Accompany With: Classic Baklava

8. Irish Coffee

As the name indicates it was originated in Ireland in 1942.

It’s basically a cocktail consisting of Irish whiskey, hot coffee, and sugar.

The original recipe also has cream, which is not whipped but drinks made with whipped cream is also known as Irish coffee.

  • People celebrate the National Irish Coffee Day on 25th of January
  • Buena Vista café in San Fransisco was the first café who served Irish coffee in the U.S. This café also holds the Guinness book of the world record of 15 gallons of Irish coffee
  • Coffee has more caffeine in it than energy drinks

Take a cup, add Irish whiskey and ½ cup of brewed coffee in it, then top it with whipped cream and enjoy!

9. Frappe

Frappe originated from Greece in the 19th century.

Its greek version was made in 1957. It’s very popular in cafés of Greece.

Frappe is a French word and it means ‘to strike’ but in case of Frappe the drink it means chilled.

  • People celebrate the National Frappe Day on October 7th.
  • It is known that frappe was invented by an accident by a Nestle’s employer.
  • Coffee is actually a form of fruit. Yes, coffee berries are edible fruit that contains coffee beans in it.
  1. Take a glass and add sugar and 1 tsp coffee in it, then add ½ cup water, keep blending.
  2. Add ice cubes and enjoy the drink!

10. Black Eye coffee

In every region, there is a different name for this coffee.

It is actually a cup of coffee with a shot of espresso.

  • The Blackeye coffee is also known as red eye, dead dye, and turbo
  • Coffee is really good for your skin care
  • Coffee wasn’t always used to be a beverage. In fact, it was originally made to be eaten. In Ethiopia, a farmer saw that his animal was eating a particular plant and sort of developed an addiction towards it. Turned out it was a coffee plant, the farmer tried it himself and he felt energized and alert. For years, it was eaten before it was ground and brewed into a beverage. Interesting, no?

To make black eye coffee add ¼ cup of espresso and brew coffee keeping them 4:1 in a ratio.

11. Yuan-Yang Coffee

This particular type of coffee originated from Hong Kong.

It’s a mixture of coffee and tea. This drink is very popular in China and Hong Kong.

  • You can take Yuan Yang coffee as both hot and cold drinks.
  • In Ethiopia, this type of coffee is called as spreeze.
  • The National Institute of Health says that people who drink 4 or more cups of coffee in a day are 10% less likely sad due to the antioxidants present in it.

2. Now add ice cubes and black tea and enjoy!

12. Flat white coffee

Both Australia and New Zealand claim that this particular type of coffee has been originated in their continent.

It’s known to be invented in 1990s. Its base is espresso and Flat white coffee is similar to café au lait and latte.

  • It’s one of the milkiest coffees available
  • The Flat white economy term was used to describe London’s internet, media, and creative business network.
  • Researchers have shown that coffee actually helps in reducing stress level.

Add a single or double shot of espresso in a cup, then add steamed milk or milk foam over it and serve!

13. Mocha

Its origin is Italy and it’s a drink based on espresso with hot milk and added chocolate.

It’s also known as hot chocolate. In other variants, white chocolate or cocoa powder is also used.

  • Did you know that there are more than 60 plants that contain coffee in them?
  • Did you know that the light roasts have more caffeine in them compared to dark roasts?
  • In a study that includes 130,000 people, those who drank 1-3 cups of coffee per day had 20% less chance of suffering from abnormal heart rhythms.
  1. To make a cup of mocha take ¼ cup of espresso and add ¼ cup of chocolate syrup in it.
  2. Then add 2/3 cup of steamed milk in it and serve!

14. Affogato

It’s originated from Italy and it is a kind of dessert.

A vanilla scoop topped with hot espresso and viola, you have an Affogato.

  • The world’s largest cup of coffee had 2010 gallons made by Gourmet Gift Baskets in Las Vegas on Oct, 2015
  • A 20 person office drinks 62 cups per day.
  • Most Expensive coffee in the world is ‘Kopi Luwak’.
  1. Take a cup and add 3 scoops of vanilla ice cream and mix with 3 tbsp of brewed coffee or espresso.
  2. Sprinkle shaved chocolate on its top and enjoy!

15. Breve

Breve is actually the American version of a latte. It is made by mixing half and half milk and cream with espresso.

  • Did you know that coffee is the world’s 2nd most traded Commodity?
  • The largest coffee consumer state is the United States
  • September 29th is celebrated as The National Coffee Day in the United States

Add ½ cup of espresso in a cup and ½ cup of steamed half and half, then pour milk foam on top and enjoy!

16. Café Au Lait

Café Au Lait’s place of origin is France. It is a mixture of coffee and hot milk.

In its different variations, steamed milk or scalded milk is used.

If you want to make it at home, you can use heated milk and dark coffee.

  • 4 cups of coffee daily reduce the chances of diabetes by 50 %
  • 65% of coffee consumption takes place during breakfast hours
  • Coffee is the 2nd most popular drink in the world after water

Take a cup and add ½ cup of espresso in it ½ cup of steamed milk and enjoy a perfect cup of coffee!

5 Coffee Rituals From Around The World


1. Italy: In Italy, espresso is served in small cups and is usually consumed while standing. Also, ordering cappuccino late in the night is not considered to be good, as they think that the only time to enjoy cappuccino is early in the morning.

2. Turkey: In Turkey, there is a popular saying that goes, 'Coffee should be as black as hell, as strong as death and as sweet as love'. Their coffee is always served after the meals, and is poured from a long copper pot known as cezve. It is often served with a Turkish candy to avoid bitterness.

3. Cuba: Cuban's brew is quite strong in flavour and is usually served in shots. The very first ritual that every Cuban follows in the morning is by having a really strong cup of coffee. Having a strong cup of coffee on an everyday basis is an integral part of Cuban culture.

4. Saudi Arabia: In Saudi Arabia, coffee is always served to the elders first. They usually serve it with cardamom spice and dates to balance the extreme bitterness.

5. Ethiopia: Ethiopians love coffee to an extent that they have announced it as their country's national drink. While preparing coffee, Ethiopians first add sugar in the cup and then later add coffee along with water. Apart from this, three servings of coffee are made and each of them is given its own name i.e awol, tona and baarka which means "to be blessed".

So if you're planning to visit any one of these places in your next vacation, then make sure that you follow these coffee norms.

The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

Food culture: Culinary traditions recognised by UNESCO

Here are the 23 food and drink-related traditions currently recognised by UNESCO and its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

This list includes four new items inscribed at the end of 2020. As new culinary traditions are recognised each year, they’ll be added too.

Lavash, Armenia

Armenian lavash holds a special place in the country’s food culture and social life. The skill and coordination required to knead and cook lavash, as well as the social exchange that takes place among women when preparing it, prompted UNESCO to inscribe Armenian lavash in 2014.

Lavash dough is a simple mix of wheat flour and water. Once kneaded and rolled, the it’s pulled and stretched over a special cushion that’s stuffed with hay or wool. Still on the cushion, the bread is then transferred to a conical clay oven (called a tonir ) by ‘slapping’ it onto the side.

It only takes between 30 and 60 seconds for the delicate bread to bubble up and cook through. Finished lavash sheets have different colours and textures depending on the type of flour used and the duration of the bake.

Try it for yourself:Lavash plays an important ceremonial role in Armenian weddings, where sheets of the bread are draped over the bride and groom’s shoulders to signal future prosperity. It’s also eaten on a daily basis, often with cheese or meat, and can be found on restaurant menus around the country.

To see how lavash is prepared, head to the GUM Market in Yerevan, where vendors bake fresh sheets every morning.

Washoku, Japan

Japanese food is so damn good that it was added to UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013. It was added as a way to preserve it, as traditional dietary habits are starting to die out across the country, but also because the food is fresh, simple and produced with such incredible attention to detail.

Japanese food is collectively referred to as Washoku. At its essence, it reflects a deep respect for nature, using natural, locally sourced ingredients such as rice, fish, vegetables and edible wild plants. Every little detail about Japanese food—from the way it’s prepared and presented to the way it’s eaten—stems from a historical cultural tradition that is passed down through the generations.

Washoku is traditionally comprised of four elements: Cooked rice (the staple dish), soups, side dishes that give flavour to the rice, and tsukemono (Japanese pickles).

Try it for yourself:The best way to get a feel for Washoku is to try out traditional Japanese dishes as a local would. For example, try okonomiyaki (Japanese omelette/pizza) in Hiroshima or Osaka, or fresh sushi at the world-famous Toyosu Fish Market in Tokyo (formally the Tsukiji).

By Stefan & Sebastien, Nomadic Boys

The Mediterranean Diet, Mediterranean Region

In 2013, the Mediterranean diet of Spain (and six other countries including Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Croatia, Cyprus, and Greece) was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage and Humanity. Though the Mediterranean diet has certainly become something of a fad in many countries, UNESCO has concentrated more on celebrating the rituals and processes that make this diet an important part of Spanish culture.

Some of the strongholds of the Mediterranean diet in Spain include using few ingredients to make flavourful dishes while eliminating food waste as much as possible eating many small dishes with an emphasis on sharing and viewing food and diet as a social ritual.

One of the greatest examples of food being used socially would be tapas culture. Throughout Spain, it is incredibly common to go out in the evenings with groups of friends, have a drink and share small plates of food.

Another major factor in this important facet of cultural identity is the role of markets. There are large, central markets in most Spanish cities, each featuring stalls with local vendors selling their family’s specialty. Many markets in Spain will also include a small cafe-bar where shoppers can enjoy a beverage and a snack while catching up with friends.

Try it for yourself:One of the best places to experience both the tapas and market culture aspects of Spain’s Mediterranean diet would be to spend a couple of days in Seville. The city is famous for its thriving restaurant and bar culture and has many historic, local markets that are very much worth exploring.

By Maggie, The World Was Here First

Other places you can experience the Mediterranean diet:

Hawker Food Culture, Singapore (inscribed in 2020!)

Nothing says Southeast Asia like a bustling food market. In 2020, UNESCO recognised the cultural importance of Singapore’s unique hawker food centres when it added them to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Singapore is an extremely multicultural nation, and no where is that more obvious than at the city’s hawker markets. These large undercover centres house a range of small restaurants where chefs whip up a menu of diverse meals that showcase Malay, Nyonya, Indian and Chinese flavours. Many cooks specialise in just one or two dishes – over time, they’ve truly refined their craft.

Hawker culture dates back to the 1960s and although the centres have changed over time, becoming more regulated and organised, they’ve been a fixture of Singapore’s culinary landscape for generations.

Apart from being a great place to grab an affordable meal, hawker centres are ‘community dining rooms’ – spaces carved out of the city’s modern urban landscape where people from varied backgrounds come together to socialise. UNESCO recognises these markets as being critical to social cohesion.

Try it for yourself: Singapore’s hawker markets are the place to go for an immersive dining experience. They’re a window onto diverse Singaporean culture and offer an opportunity to try all the country’s specialty dishes under one roof (including famous chilli crab!).

Couscous, Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco & Tunisia (inscribed in 2020!)

I don’t know about you, but couscous has always been a bit of a mysterious food item in my mind. I’ve often peered into a bowl of couscous and thought to myself, what exactly is this!? How is it made!? And how are the grains so small!?

In the North African nations of Algeria, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia, people understand couscous better than most. The dish originated here, and in 2020, UNESCO recognised not only the dish itself, but also the knowledge associated with how couscous is produced.

Couscous is a cereal, thus the process starts with a seed. The semolina that’s grown and harvested is rolled by hand to form those tiny rounded balls. It’s then steamed and finally cooked. Each of the four countries listed has a slightly different way of preparing and eating couscous, but one thing they all have in common is the ceremonial nature of the processes involved, which are transmitted down from parents to their children through observation.

There are special tools involved with making couscous too, including clay and wooden instruments that are manufactured by specialised artisans. The final stage in the couscous lifecycle – eating! – is also linked to important social and cultural practices. Traditionally shared from a large pot between family members and friends, couscous is a symbol for togetherness.

Try it for yourself: It’s hard to avoid couscous when travelling through North Africa – it’s a staple dish on almost every restaurant menu. Tagines are a particularly popular dish containing couscous. For an up-close look at how couscous is prepared, try enrolling in a workshop at a culinary school. Marrakesh is a popular place to take a short cooking class and learn the intricacies of this beautiful dish.

Qvevri Wine-making, Georgia

Georgia is synonymous with wine – no surprise seeing as the Caucasus (Georgia and Armenia) are the global birthplace of viniculture. Grapes have been cultivated in Georgia’s fertile Alazani Valley in Kakheti region and beyond for eons (to be more precise, the first evidence of wine-making in Georgia dates back as far as the 6th millennium BC). In 2013 UNESCO recognised this incredible legacy by inscribing qvevri wine-making methods as part of the country’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Incredibly, many Georgian families, monks and nuns, and professional wine-makers alike still use the same methods of preparing wine today as their ancestors did thousands of years ago. Traditional Georgian wine making involves using a qvevri, a huge amphora-shaped clay urn that is buried beneath the ground to maintain a constant temperature.

Following the rtveli wine harvest, which happens annually in autumn, the grapes are fermented inside the qvevri. If the skins are left on, this produces skin-contact wine which Georgia has become famous for. After 5-6 of constant tending with a range of specialty tools, the wine is ready to drink.

Try it for yourself:Every restaurant in Tbilisi and cafe in Kutaisi serves local wine by the glass. Some of the best vinos are homemade. If you get a chance to stay at a guesthouse in Georgia, you’ll no doubt be plied with incredible wine in addition to home cooking! Specialty wine bars in Tbilisi are a great place to sample a variety of different drops, including qvevri and organic wines.

For an immersive wine experience, travel from Tbilisi to Sighnaghi, the heart of Georgia’s wine country. Here, you can find dozens if not hundreds of commercial cellar doors and family run wineries where you can tour the facilities and see ancient-looking qvevris up close before participating in a Georgian wine tasting or degustation.

Turkish Coffee, Turkey

Turkey has no fewer than three food-related listings on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. Turkish coffee is perhaps its best-known and most recognisable.

Coffee was first introduced to the Ottoman Empire in the 15th century. It was an instant hit. From that point on, the Ottomans controlled coffee trading routes and were responsible for spreading coffee throughout the Empire. This explains why countries and territories previously conquered by the Ottomans, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, have their own coffee traditions that are closely related to Turkish coffee.

To make Turkish coffee, roasted beans are ground to a super-fine power and brewed slowly with water and sugar until a foam forms on the top. Turkish coffee pots, or cezve , are integral to the ritual. Miniature bronze pots for one or larger cezve that hold enough coffee for a large group are presented to the drinker on an intricate coffee tray. Sugar cubes and a square of Turkish delight is usually served on the side.

Brewing and drinking Turkish coffee reflects the country’s communal culture and was recognised by UNESCO in 2013.

Try it for yourself:Traditionally prepared coffee is ubiquitous all over Turkey. The most authentic coffee-drinking experiences can be found at coffee houses (known as kaveh kanes) in Istanbul and beyond.

Turkish coffee is usually sipped slowly as an accompaniment to conversation. Since coffee is a symbol of hospitality and friendship, a Turkish coffee house is the perfect place to meet someone new over a brew.

Traditional Mexican Cuisine, Mexico

It’s not surprising that Mexican cuisine has attained UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity status. The country is so diverse from state to state and province to province—the result being a full spectrum of flavour, contrasts, and olfactory sensations.

One of the most interesting facts about Mexican food: The development of the national cuisine was driven by the interaction between Spanish conquistadors and Aztec culture. Most of the Mexican food we eat today is a delicious combination of ancient traditions, Aztec, Mayan and Spanish. The French also played their part in the story of Mexican cuisine, adding baked goods such as sweet breads and the bolillo to the mix.

Contemporary Mexican cuisine is more a mix of modern ingredients from European, North American and even Asian influences. Like anywhere else in the world, it’s hard to replicate true Mexican food outside of Mexico.

Food is one of the main ingredients of Mexican culture. Food is essential to every social gathering—one of the reasons why the food is so great!

Try it for yourself:If you want to taste authentic Mexican food, try chilaquiles for breakfast, tacos for lunch, elote for a street snack, and mole enchiladas for dinner, followed by a Mexican hot chocolate. If you’re brave enough, you should definitely try out the lime chilli fried crickets (chapulines). They’re actually quite good!

Dolma, Azerbaijan

Dolma is one of the most popular menu items that you’ll find at restaurants in Baku and the rest of Azerbaijan. Delicious dolma is a pre-cooked grape leaf stuffed with minced meat, rice, onion, and sometimes other ingredients such as peas.

The word ‘dolma’ is of Turkic origin and technically is a shortened version of doldurma, which translates to ‘stuffed’. Recipes and methods of dolma-making are passed down from generation to generation.

One of the greatest things about dolma is that the food is used as a way to celebrate guests and mark special occasions. Azeri people are extremely hospitable and love teaching their traditions. Most are welcoming of foreigners to become a part of their society through learning the local traditions and ways of life, including making and eating dolma.

Try it for yourself:There are so many places you can find dolma in Azerbaijan, and the best will almost always be in the homes of Azeri people. You can also find some extremely tasty versions in Baku at the many traditional restaurants in and around the old town and even at on-site restaurants in hotels in Baku.

Head to Shirvanshah Museum Restaurant, the best place I ate dolma in the capital city, or to restaurant Dolma near Fountain Square, where you are sure to find some of the city’s tastiest food.

Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo, Italy

Through the centuries, the art of making Neapolitan pizza has been based on a few key elements—namely water, flour, salt and yeast. Traditionally, raw ingredients are produced in the Campania countryside. It’s in the hands, heart and soul of the pizzaiuolo (Pizza Chef) that the magic really happens! And that’s why UNESCO has declared the city of Naples‘ trademark technique of pizza making part of the world’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

There are three primary categories of pizzaiuolo: The Master Pizzaiuolo, the Pizzaiuolo, and the baker. The knowledge and skills for making pizza is primarily transmitted in the bottega or in homes, where young apprentices observe masters at work.

The art of making a Neapolitan pizza is a culinary practice comprising four different phases: The shaping of dough balls (the so-called Staglio) spreading the dough (called ammaccatura), where the pizzaiuolo forms the famous raised rim called cornicione with a skillful motion known as schiaffo. Next, the dough is topped, starting from the centre and spiraling in a clockwise motion. Finally, the pizza is baked in a wood-oven with a rotating movement (‘half turn’).

Try it for yourself:We enjoyed the handiwork of pizzaiuolos during our stay in Sorrento on our Amalfi Coast drive. The best Neapolitan pizza is made from simple and fresh ingredients: A basic dough, raw tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and olive oil—no fancy toppings here.

More sauce than cheese, it’s quite soggy in the centre but yummy! Pizza is best enjoyed with some house wine and finished with Limoncello, a lemon-infused liquor that’s popular on the Amalfi Coast.

By Priya, Outside Suburbia

Nsima, Malawi

Nsima is a thick porridge made by mixing white cornmeal with water. This is an elaborate process that involves pulling the paste against the side of a pot with a wooden spoon as it simmers. Nsima is eaten in many parts of Africa, and goes by different names in other African countries.

In Malawi, it’s normally eaten with two accompaniments: A protein-heavy dish, and a vegetable dish. The protein dish can be meat, fish or beans, while the vegetable dish is usually a type of dark leafy green, such as mustard or pumpkin leaves.

Young children are taught to pound maize and sift flour to make nsima from an early age, and eating communal meals of nsima is an important way of strengthening family bonds. Nsima‘s cultural significance in Malawi is why UNESCO has listed it as a form of Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Try it for yourself: Since nsima is the most common staple food in Malawi, it’s available all over the country— though it’s not always served in tourist restaurants. Thomas’s Restaurant, Grocery and Bar in Cape Maclear on Lake Malawi caters to a mix of tourists and locals and serves nsima with beans and salad.

By Wendy, The Nomadic Vegan

Flatbread, Iran, Azerbaijan, Central Asia & Turkey

The flatbread has a long history on the Eurasian continent and each region and country has its own variation. The making and sharing culture surrounding flatbread was added to the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2015.

The humble flatbread is hugely important to Iranian, Azerbaijani, Turkish, Kazhakstani and Kyrgyzstani food culture. Flatbread, including lavash, katyrma, jupka and yufka are typically prepared by households and community members on a daily basis. Besides being eaten as a staple food, flatbread plays an important role in weddings, births, funerals and religious gatherings.

Depending on the region, flatbread is either cooked in a stone or earth-ground oven, on a metal plate, or in a cauldron. Flatbread dough is always prepared from simple ingredients: Wheat flour, water and salt.

Once mixed, flatbread dough is left to rest before it is rolled out and cooked/baked. Some villages still operate an oven for the whole community where each household can bring their bread to be baked.

Try it for yourself:You can watch locals make soft lavash flatbread in the main market in Baku—and since you’re there, how about a freshly prepared lavash kebab wrap. Or you can try to make a Turkish yufka at home using the flat sheets in a savory layered borek pie.

I love dipping my lavash in narsharab, a sweet and sour sauce made from pomegranate. I suggest you also check out other flatbread from the region, such as Lebanese manakish and Iranian sangak.

By Helene, Masala Herb

Il-Ftira, Malta (inscribed in 2020!)

Il-Ftira is a flattened sourdough bread that’s traditional to the island nation of Malta. It differs from the other flat breads listed by UNESCO and mentioned on this list – it’s more like a loaf with a thick crust and a light, fluffy inside.

The name ftira comes from the Arabic word for unleavened bread and the dish reflects the cultural exchange that has defined Malta’s history. This bread is hand-shaped – the process can’t be replicated by a machine – which makes it all the more special. Regional and seasonal ftira recipes use different ingredients to flavour the bread, such as olives or capers.

In Maltese schools, Ftira Days are held to teach students about healthy eating. A young person who wants to become a ftira baker when they grow up has to go through a long and complex apprentice process first.

Try it for yourself: The smell of fresh-baked ftira wafts through the streets of Valletta and every town and village around the country. Cafes and restaurants often serve it stuffed with fresh salad and tuna – sort of like a loaded bagel – for an affordable on-the-go meal.

Ceremonial Keşkek, Turkey

Made with meat or chicken, keşkek is a stew found in Turkish, Iranian and Greek cuisines. The dish is usually associated with a ceremonial or religious occasion and is cooked by groups of men and women together in the community. Keşkek was inscribed on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage List in 2011 because of its role as a Turkish ceremonial dish.

After the wheat or barley is washed and prayed over the previous day, music from both drums and pipes is played as the grains are poured into a large cauldron. The mix is then beaten with wooden hammers until a fine consistency is achieved. The dish is cooked outdoors over an open fire and, through the course of the night, the meat and spices are added and left to simmer.

From beating the ingredients to the music performance and the thickening and stirring of the dish, the local community all gather together to take part in keşkek preparation.

Try it for yourself:Keşkek is served at Turkish wedding ceremonies and circumcisions as well as on religious holidays. If you’re lucky enough to chance upon a local village in advance of these celebrations, you will likely see the dish being prepared and have the chance to taste it. Keşkek is also relatively easy to source in traditional restaurants in cities including Istanbul.

Kimjang, South Korea

Anyone who has ever tried Korean food has also sampled the famous pickled side dish called kimchi.

Basically, kimchi is some type of vegetable—most frequently napa cabbage—that has been fermented in a spicy red paste that may include red chilli powder, garlic, ginger, salt, sugar, fish sauce and green onions. People tend to have strong opinions about kimchi—they either love it or hate it. But there’s no denying that it’s a required part of any Korean meal.

In November each year, Korean families gather for gimjang (kimjang), the traditional process of making kimchi. Historically, it was done after the harvest and was a way to store enough kimchi to sustain a family through the winter season.

The finished product was stored in clay jars, or hangari, that were then buried in the ground. Written records show that kimchi has been around since the fourteenth century, but the tradition of gimjang was established during the Joseon Dynasty (1392-1897).

Try it for yourself:Participating in gimjang usually requires knowing a Korean family located in South Korea. If that’s not possible, a visit to the Museum Kimchikan in Seoul is a great alternative. This unique museum has exhibits about the history of kimchi, but also offers kimchi making demonstrations and cooking classes.

Kimchi, North Korea

Kimchi is the Korean name for preserved vegetables seasoned with spices and fermented seafood. It’s an important tradition on the Korean peninsula, where the recipe has been transmitted from mother to daughter for centuries.

In the old days, it was a collective practice. This is still the case if you visit North Korea. Here, collective farms still produce kimchi as Koreans would have centuries ago. Cabbage is harvested, fermented and salted, and chili and seafood is added. Once fermented, it can be kept for the full year after which the cycle starts over again. Late autumn is Kimjang season, when everyone shares the kimchi equally for the harsh winter.

Because it’s a unique dish, centuries old and with the unique kimjang sharing component, it’s listed by UNESCO as part of North Korea’s Intangible Cultural Heritage.

Try it for yourself:To really experience traditional kimchi, one had best visit North Korea on a pre-arranged tour. Depending on the season, you will visit collective farms and see how kimchi is made. During the trip, you’ll have plenty of time to taste North Korean kimchi as it’s served at breakfast, lunch, and dinner as a side dish. It’s delicious!

By Chris, CTB Global

Beer Culture, Belgium

Beer is big in Belgium and has been brewed in the country for centuries.

Containing water, barley, hops and yeast, beer was originally made by monks and nuns in the Middle Ages as a replacement for water. (Drinking water was often unclean and made people ill, so a brew of weak beer was preferable—even for children.)

The brewing process killed off any germs and the addition of hops acted as a preservative. Thus, a vital culinary part of the country’s history, culture and tradition was created. Today, there are over 1500 different types of Belgian beer with a variety of flavours, colours and alcohol percentages.

Belgian beer was inscribed by UNESCO in 2016 because it is part of the living heritage of many communities throughout Belgium. Today, beer plays a major role in daily life as well as festive occasions.

Try it for yourself:Although most restaurants, cafes and bars in Belgium serve beer, I’d recommend visiting a brewery to get a real taste for this Belgian tradition. You’ll learn about the brewing process and taste a variety of different beers before deciding on your favourite.

To see how beer is made in Bruges, visit the only active family brewery in the city, De Halve Maan (The Half Moon), where the Maes family has been brewing Belgian beer since 1856. There’s also a restaurant and outdoor seating overlooking the canals.

By Suzanne, The Travelbunny

Gastronomic Meal of the French, France

The gastronomic meal of the French isn’t a particular food but more of a culinary element of important family traditions. For big family celebrations such as a birthdays, weddings or anniversaries, a large meal is prepared to bring everyone together. Like everything in France, food is a central part of the experience.

Each meal differs from house to house, depending on the season, the traditional family recipes passed from generation to generation, and what region of France you’re in. For example, while in Normandy a dish may include incredible cheese and cider, in the Mediterranean, a family’s prized ratatouille recipe is more common. Dinner is very formal, often beginning with a cocktail or wine, and contains at least four decadent courses. The meal can last for hours.

Because it is so integral to maintaining the family fabric and the heart of French culture, the gastronomic meal of the French was designated part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2010.

Try it for yourself:It’s not an easy tradition to experience as a tourist if you don’t know anyone in France. The best opportunity is to ask around through community boards such as Couchsurfing or companies such as Withlocals, which provide opportunities to connect with locals.

By Ayngelina, Bacon is Magic

Gingerbread Craft (Licitars), Northern Croatia

Gingerbread baked goods have become a symbol of Croatia. They were brought to the country by the church in the Middle Ages, but quickly became the work of local craftspeople. The tradition has been handed down through families of gingerbread makers, who developed their own decorating styles.

The heart, known as the Licitar Heart, is the most famous shape. These are given as gifts for special occasions, including birthdays, weddings and holidays. Licitar cookies are typically covered in red opaque icing with white icing designs, though the decorations can also used coloured icing. It’s popular for a mirror to be placed in the middle.

While the cookies are edible, remember to remove the mirrors before eating.

Try it for yourself:If you are hosted by anyone in Zagreb or stay with local friends, you may find they give you a small licitar as a welcome gift. Otherwise, you can find them all over the city. For a true local shopping experience, head to Dolac Market, where you can find licitar and other local Croatian souvenirs.

If you plan to buy some as a gift for someone back home, you can go the extra step of getting a custom design with their name on the cookie in icing.

By Stephanie & Allison, Sofia Adventures

Palov, Uzbekistan

It’s hard to experience Central Asia without coming across the traditional delicacy of plov (palov). In Uzbekistan, plov is served at any and all occasions and is available in every city and every tiny village. The dish consists of pilau rice with spices, vegetables, meat and sometimes raisins and berries cooked in a large pan, sometimes big enough to feed hundreds of people at weddings or funerals.

No two plovs are the same. The delicate mix of ingredients used is unique to each cook—although they can start to feel quite similar after plov for breakfast, lunch and dinner during your time in Uzbekistan! But this is how it was intended. The legend of plov says that Alexander the Great invented it himself as a way for his troops to cut back on meal times and eat the same thing three times a day!

Plov was given Heritage Status in 2016 when it was recognised for its significance to Uzbekistan culture. While it is specific to Uzbekistan, there are very similar variations available in neighbouring countries.

Try it for yourself:Undoubtedly the best place to experience plov is at the Plov Centre in Tashkent. The entrance to this large dining hall is flanked by huge pans. The quantity of plov is so vast, hundreds of people turn up every day to sit down for a meal or simply fill a pot to take home.

By Rohan & Max, Travels Of A Bookpacker

Oshi Palav, Tajikistan

Tajikistan’s oshi palav is closely related to Uzbekistan’s plov—in fact, both rice-based dishes were inscribed by UNESCO in the same year. In Tajikistan, oshi palav is known as a ‘dish of peace’ for the role it plays in bringing people from different backgrounds together.

Up to 200 varieties of oshi palav are thought to exist. The most basic rendition is made with lamb, rice, onions and carrots simmered in a broth. Prepared in vast quantities ahead of social gatherings, oshi palav is traditionally eaten at events that mark significant life milestones, such as weddings and funerals.

Whether it’s prepared in private homes or teahouses, cooking is usually accompanied by socialising and singing, which adds to the dish’s food culture. Eating oshi palav with one’s hands from a communal pot is similarly symbolic of kinship and community.

The techniques involved in making oshi palav are passed down through the generations. According to UNESCO, once an apprentice masters the art, he or she is given a special skimmer utensil, while the master who trained them is invited to don a ceremonial skullcap. Tajik oshi palav and Uzbek plov share common attributes with Indian pilau, Persian polow, and even Spanish paella.

Try it for yourself: Home-style oshi palav is available in restaurants in Danshube. If you want a large serving for a group, you might have to order in advance.

For a traditional version, try Restaurant Sim-Sim or Toqi Restaurant, where oshi palav is served alongside other Tajik specialities including mantu (dumplings) and qurutob (bread and onions served in a yogurt sauce).

Airag, Mongolia

Airag (also known as kumis) is a fermented dairy product made and consumed throughout the Central Asian steppes. In Mongolia, airag is made by churning fresh horse milk inside a khokhuur, a special vessel crafted from cowhide.

Besides serving as a critical source of nutrition for nomadic communities (it’s rich in vitamins and minerals, and has been shown to kill harmful bacteria and maintain gut health), airag is steeped in history and tradition. When UNESCO formally added it to the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage in 2019, they also recognised the centuries-old knowledge that goes into preparing it correctly.

Making airag is a slow, energy intensive process that uses a range of tools, including a specially designed paddle known as a buluur. For it to work, the milk must be churned more than 500 times before yeast is added to kick-start the fermentation process.

The finished result is consumed as part of many families’ everyday diet. Airag is also used in religious rituals and cultural ceremonies, which further adds to its significance.

Try it for yourself: If you’re trekking in Mongolia or travelling overland and you wind up staying with local herders, there’s no doubt you’ll get a chance to try airag for yourself. You can sometimes find it for sale in ger (residential districts) as well, even in Ulaanbaatar.

Terere, Paraguay (inscribed in 2020!)

Terere is a special ancestral drink found in the South American nation of Paraguay. It’s closely related to yerba mate, a popular beverage all across the continent.

Terere is prepared using a special blend of Poha Nana (medicinal herbs) crushed and combined with cold water. Each herb has unique healing properties, and the way they’re combined to brew different drinks is part of every family’s tradition in Paraguay. UNESCO inscribed Terere in 2020 as a result, citing the knowledge about medicinal herbs that’s also shared through the process as particularly important.

Preparing Terere and drinking it through a special straw called a bombilla are Paraguayan traditions that have been part of the culture since at least the 16th century.

Try it for yourself: Sharing a glass of Terere with someone is seen as a sign of friendship, respect and solidarity. If you’re offered a try when travelling to Paraguay, you’d do well to accept! The drink is refreshing and delicious, so you’ll no doubt be seeking it out by the end of your stay.

Have you experienced any of the food culture rituals on this list? What are your favourite culinary traditions around the world?

Strawberry & Cream Croissant French Toast For Your Weekend Brunch

Those with a creative eye know firsthand that inspiration is all around us. Whether you're energized by the earth tones of nature, a color-filled walk through a local farmer's market, or even by a quick scroll through Instagram, you never know what might spark a new creative project.

In the spirit of inspiring your next masterpiece, we're excited to partner with Bounty to fuel the next generation of artists and designers forward by launching a national design competition. We're calling on graphic designers to apply for a chance to see their work featured on a new Brit + Co and Bounty paper towel collection, set to launch in 2022.

Aside from the incredible exposure of having your illustrations on paper towels that'll be in stores across America next year, you'll also receive $5,000 for your art a scholarship for Selfmade, our 10-week entrepreneurship accelerator to take your design career to the next level (valued at $2,000) and a stand alone feature on Brit + Co spotlighting your artistry as a creator.

The Creatively You Design Competition launches Friday, May 21, 2021 and will be accepting submissions through Monday, June 7, 2021.


Who Should Apply: Women-identifying graphic designers and illustrators. (Due to medium limitations, we're not currently accepting design submissions from photographers or painters.)

What We're Looking For: Digital print and pattern designs that reflect your design aesthetic. Think optimistic, hopeful, bright — something you'd want to see inside your home.

How To Enter: Apply here, where you'll be asked to submit 2x original design files you own the rights to for consideration. Acceptable file formats include: .PNG, .JPG, .GIF, .SVG, .PSD, and .TIFF. Max file size 5GB. We'll also ask about your design inspiration and your personal info so we can keep in touch.

Artist Selection Process: Panelists from Brit + Co and P&G Bounty's creative teams will judge the submissions and select 50 finalists on June 11, 2021 who will receive a Selfmade scholarship for our summer 2021 session. Then, up to 8 artists will be selected from the finalists and notified on June 18, 2021. The chosen designers will be announced publicly in 2022 ahead of the product launch.

For any outstanding contest Qs, please see our main competition page. Good luck & happy creating!

Mindfulness Culture in the East

Mindfulness culture goes back over 2,500 years to ancient India and modern-day Nepal. It was here that Siddhartha Gautama, who would become the Buddha, introduced mindfulness practice. In the Satipatthana Sutta, the Buddha introduces the four foundations of mindfulness as a means of achieving liberation – enlightenment.

The word “mindfulness” is a rough translation of the Pali word sati, which means to “bear in mind” or to “remember.” (Pali is an ancient vernacular of India that is commonly used as the scriptural language in Theravada Buddhism.) In this sense, sati refers to remembrance of the Buddha’s teachings in the Suttas.

In the ancient Buddhist tradition, mindfulness is thought to bear fruit by learning the Five Aggregates, or skandhas. The skandhas are a list of conscious experiences that result from the mind’s conditioned thinking – or ‘ego.’ These five skandhas are: feelings, material form, sensory consciousness, perceptions, and volition.

Here is a brief description of the Five Aggregates:

1) Feelings: Emotional sensations that fall under three categories: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral.

2) Material form: Comprising the material body and the visible surrounding environment. Material form also includes things capable of entering and exiting the body, e.g., the air.

3) Perceptions: Sensory awareness of dimensions, including color, shape, size, and smell.

4) Sensory consciousness: Thoughts that arise in the mind and the perceptible stimuli of the five senses.

5) Volition: Mental, physical, and verbal behaviors and habits.

Buddhists explain that these Five Aggregates are present throughout our waking lives. These skandhas influence our state of mind, particularly when people crave or cling to any of the aggregates. According to Buddhist doctrine, not clinging – becoming dependent on – these skandhas is essential for self-realization and liberation.

Case Study in Eastern Mindfulness: Dr. Tamami Shirai, professor of psychology

“I’m originally from Tokyo. Growing up, mindfulness was a constant part of my life, and I was immersed in it from a very early age. My home had both a Butsudan and a Kamidana—a Buddhist altar and Shinto altar.”

Notice from the quote above that Dr. Shirai is mentioning mindfulness within a religious context. This inclusion is perhaps the most obvious difference between those cultures of the East and West. This is particularly true in Japan, Dr. Shirai’s country of birth. In Japan, Zen Buddhism is noted for its inordinate and formal mindfulness practices, such as the tea ceremony.

Dr. Shirai goes on to mention mindfulness strictly as a meditation-based practice. Of course, mindfulness plays a large role as a meditation technique in the West. But it is by no means the only method of practicing mindfulness, as we will soon find out.

As for Dr. Shirai, she is of the opinion that there’s much that East and West can learn from each other. On this point, the author wholeheartedly agrees.

Mindfulness Culture in the West

Dr. Jon Kabat Zinn, the creator of the mindfulness-based stress reduction program (MBSR), is called the “founding father” of the Western mindfulness trend. Kabat-Zinn was introduced to meditation by the Zen missionary Philip Kapleau in the early 1970s. From there, Kabat-Zinn headed East, studying under Zen masters such as Thich Nhat Hanh and Seung Sahn. It can be said, then, that Kabat-Zinn is thoroughly trained in the domain of mindfulness.

It was only relatively recently, however, that mindfulness has become a huge trend in the West. Why did mindfulness find a permanent home here? Well, according to experts, workplace stress is the leading cause of life dissatisfaction. (There’s a reason why Kabat-Zinn includes “stress reduction” in his program.) Indeed, stress has become a bonafide epidemic in the U.S. and other Western societies.

Of course, one also shouldn’t overlook the fact that mindfulness can improve performance. Companies both large and small, are investing millions of dollars in mindfulness training for their employees. In few places has mindfulness taken such a hold as in Silicon Valley, where cut-throat competition abounds. Companies like Google and Facebook have even hosted mindfulness gurus like Shinzen Young and spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle.

Why is this?

Perhaps the powers-that-be did it out of the goodness of their heart. Then there’s the whole thing about mindfulness boosting your productivity like crazy.

We’re gonna go with that one.

Tech companies, motivated to survive a bullish market, are always game for any advantage they can get. Here’s the ‘About’ page of the Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), a mindfulness-based company started by minds at Google:

“We aim to embody the benefits of a well-balanced mind and are dedicated to helping individuals and organizations sustain peak professional performance…

Case Study in Western Mindfulness: Sara Goldstein, yoga teacher

“Instead of being bothered by what is uncontrollable, I have embraced open awareness. I can allow thoughts and sensations to pass through like clouds in the sky. I can embrace sounds and movement as energy, and even incorporate them into my meditation.”

Unlike the Eastern case study, this person mentions nothing about religion or spiritual belief. She simply mentions her mode of being. Does this woman have spiritual inclinations? Maybe. Maybe not. But there is no mention of Buddhism, Shintoism, Hinduism, or any “-ism.” Implying that one needn’t be that to embrace – and benefit from – mindfulness practice.

The fact that anyone can profit from mindfulness practice is one of the most impactful discoveries ever made.

While some bemoan the downplaying of Buddhism out of mindfulness practice, we kindly ask: what’s the alternative? Mindfulness practice, no matter what form, can never be extracted from its Buddhist elements. Moreover, the Buddha himself never pushed his spiritual discoveries onto anyone. Instead, the great sage encouraged individual experimentation. Advising us all to “Take what is useful. Discard what is not.”

Regardless, one needn’t be a Buddhist to bow – or tip our cap – to the Buddha for his incredible wisdom into the human condition and its remedies.



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