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Old 02-06-2012, 09:23 PM   #1
Pablo Escobar
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Default Asian Cheeseheads

So I am volunteering at our swim meet Saturday, helping to run the concession stand, and my partners are 4 Asian women/moms.....

1 Vietnamese who had been here since she was 2, and spoke almost unaccented English, 1 Chinese who spoke only broken English, and 2 Koreans who both had been in the states for 10 years and also only spoke broken English...

Anyway, towards the end of the shift, when we were chit chatting around, the Vietnamese woman mentioned to me that one of the Korean woman had to ask her what we were making and selling (cheese quesadillas with chicken).

She mentioned that the Korean woman wasn't familiar with that shredded yellow stuff (Costco shredded Colby cheese), because Asians don't use cheese in their food.

She literally had been in the states for 10 years and never had seen or eaten cheese yet, and of course, never saw it in Korea either.

Thinking back on all my Asian travels, she's right! I can't think of any Japanese restaurant or Chinese restaurant that had any cheese or cheese ingredients on the menus.....

Anyway, an interesting data point for the cognoscenti.
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Old 02-06-2012, 09:49 PM   #2
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Most Asians don't have an enzyme that will let them digest cheese or other milk products. The enzyme is most commonly found in people of European ancestry.

mmmm, cheese....
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Old 02-06-2012, 10:02 PM   #3
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Well, a lot of cheeses no longer have much lactose left in them, or they are in very small amounts.

So the question isn't really, no cheeses, but no milk in the diet, and thus, no secondary milk products such as cheeses as there wasn't a cultural demand for milk due to the lactose intolerance.

Interesting map of the various concentrations of lactose intolerance. And explains the observations....

Thanks for the further heads up!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lactose_intolerance

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Lactase persistence is the phenotype associated with various autosomal dominant alleles prolonging the activity of lactase beyond infancy; conversely, lactase non-persistence is the phenotype associated with primary lactase deficiency (see above). Among mammals, lactase persistence is unique to humans – it evolved relatively recently (in the last 10,000 years) among some populations, and the majority of people worldwide remain lactase non-persistent.[6] For this reason lactase persistence is of some interest to the fields of anthropology and human genetics, which typically use the genetically-derived persistence/non-persistence terminology.

Recognition of the extent and genetic basis of lactose intolerance is relatively recent. Though its symptoms were described as early as Hippocrates (460-370 B.C.),[39] until the 1960s the prevailing assumption in the medical community was that tolerance was the norm and intolerance either the result of milk allergy, an intestinal pathogen, or else was psychosomatic (it being recognised that some cultures did not practice dairying, and people from those cultures often reacted badly to consuming milk).[40][41] Many people[weasel words] are still surprised or disbelieving that, from a cross-cultural and evolutionary perspective, lactose tolerance is the "abnormal" condition. There are two reasons for this perception. Firstly Western countries, as a result of their mostly European heritage, have particularly low frequences of lactose intolerance,[42] and an extensive cultural history of dairying, so tolerance actually was the norm in most of the societies sampled by medical researchers. Secondly, in such societies lactose intolerance tended to be under-reported: genetically lactase non-persistent individuals can tolerate varying quantities of lactose before showing symptoms, and their symptoms differ in severity. Most are able to digest a small quantity of milk, for example in tea or coffee, without suffering any adverse effects.[43] Fermented dairy products, such as cheese, also contain dramatically less lactose than plain milk. Therefore in societies where tolerance is the norm many people who consume only small amounts of dairy, or have only mild symptoms, may be unaware that they cannot digest lactose. Eventually, however, it was recognised that in the United States lactose intolerance is correlated with race.[44][45][46] Subsequent research revealed that intolerance was the worldwide norm,[47][48][49][50][51] and that the variation was genetic.[41][52] However, as yet there is no comprehensive understanding of either the global distribution of lactase persistence, the number of alleles that cause it, or the reasons for its recent selection.[
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Old 02-06-2012, 11:17 PM   #4
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Adults don't need milk. Neither do children after around age two. But it does taste good!
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:06 AM   #5
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Probably explains one of the reasons westerners have a so much higher incidence of coronary artery disease. I can't imagine life without cheese or butter. Paula Dean would be proud....
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:16 AM   #6
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Here's a better map of lactose tolerance in the Old World. Populations that have a history of herding (i.e. pastoralists in Africa, European cattle farmers, Arab bedouins, etc.) are likely to have a genetic adaption that allows them to maintain the lactase enzyme post-childhood.

Note on the map that there's a lactose tolerant spot near Kenya...that's associated with pastoral cultures such as the Maasai.

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Old 02-08-2012, 05:36 AM   #7
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Interesting. I would have thought that there would be more milk products used in China. For the Mongols, who conquered China, milk products were a major food source for them, being nomadic herders. They obviously could not have been lactose intolerant. I guess they lost that when they integrated into the Chinese population. Perhaps lactose tolerance is a recessive genetic trait?
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Old 02-08-2012, 10:00 AM   #8
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That would make sense, Ought. Look at the map above, with rings radiating out from central points. There are core groups, and as their people mix with the surrounding populations, the lactose-tolerant gene begins to disappear. It would make an interesting genetic study.
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