I have chosen this activity because of my belief that the description of an ethnic restaurant serves the best when characterizing any culture. Moreover, I wanted to check my expectations and attitudes towards different cultures with actual experiences of being “drowned” in a specific cultural situation. Thus, my conclusion from this task is that each culture is a unique phenomenon. The proposed research was guided by the approaches of Symbolic and Interpretive Anthropology. The reason for this is a presumption that the evaluation and contrast of the subject matter through the concepts of “culture” and “society” is the most productive approach. This paper compares and contrasts the restaurants El Cantarito and Jagerhaus, which represent Mexican and German traditional cultures respectively. This comparison is made through an inductive method because the assumptions are presented from observation to theory. Therefore, the study suggests that each ethnic restaurant has a unique blend of social and cultural frames that communicate the presented culture to the visitor, thus creating a cultural shock.
Comparing and Contrasting El Cantarito and Jagerhaus Restaurants
Before analyzing the peculiarities and experiences from the visit, one should give the description of both restaurants. Thus, El Cantarito is a typical representative of Mexican culture. It specializes in Mexican food, which is stated in its advertisement. At the same time, Jagerhaus presents traditional German food, and the tradition is highlighted by the decorations and the clothes of the employees. Although I have never been in Mexico or German, my visit to the restaurants resembled me a visit to these countries.
When describing El Cantarito, one feels as if being in some Mexican café on the bus station near Mexico City. First, this place is quite noisy and overcrowded. Additionally, the restaurant has some pictures, which I believe are of Mexican origin. The prevailing colors of the interior are bright. It seems that the life there never stops and Mexicans never rest because there is always a lot of action and laughter inside. The employees are Hispanic, and they wear casual authentic clothes, which supports the overall cultural frame. They are friendly, and their accent adds to the atmosphere when they communicate with the visitors. Moreover, the food is totally different from what people usually eat in the US. The dominating colors of the food are green, red and white. Moreover, there is a lot of spicy food such as sauces, which they propose to add to the order. Consequently, it is impossible to eat the ordered serving fast because it is a stress for the stomach. I tasted volcano mini tostada there and I enjoyed it very much. It has traditional ingredients such as chicken, steak, onion and cheese. However, the sauces and the way they serve the dish makes the food completely new and surprising. Also, the ingredients were sliced and put altogether into a leaf of greens, which looks unusual. As a result, it is not convenient to eat it. Nevertheless, it was very tasty. The visitors of the café are of different race, age and gender. However, I presume that the Hispanics constitute the major part of the visitors.
Jagerhaus is a traditional German restaurant according to its exterior and interior. I have visited it after I had been to El Cantarito, which is why I expected something similar in noise, outlook and tastes. However, it was a totally different experience. Unlike El Cantarito, Jagerhaus has half-separated rooms where people may have their meal, rest and communicate without distracting the neighbors. As a result, it is much cozier and quieter there. The interior contributes to the atmosphere of the setting too. Many elements of the interior are made of wood, including the decoration of the walls. Additionally, there are big paintings in big wooden frames on the walls. They depict animals, flowers and other things that add to the coziness of the place. The colors of the food are mostly dark red and yellow-white while fried and baked meat, bakery and potatoes constitute the greatest part of the menu. Also, is I expected, there was a big selection of beers. The predominant part of the visitors was Whites, both males and females, mostly aged above 30. Talking about the reasons to visit this restaurant, I presume that people go to Jagerhaus in order to have a quiet rest or to talk about business. Talking about the food experience, I tasted bratwurst sandwich, which was not spicy but really tasty. The serving looked neat. Thus, there were two sandwiches placed on the both side of the plate and in the middle of the plate there were sliced boiled beet-roots and cucumber. As a result, it looked more familiar for me unlike the foods in El Cantarito. One more contrast between Jagerhaus and El Cantarito is the language and the names of the dishes. Hispanic words such as “taco” were easier to pronounce and remember rather than the German “bratwurst.” German combinations of letters and long names of the dishes are more difficult to pronounce. Therefore, Spanish names and language were more pleasant to read and pronounce unlike the German ones. That is why an average person would have fewer difficulties with making orders in El Cantarito. At the same time, the body language of people in the two restaurants also differs. Thus, in El Cantarito people are free and expressive in their movements. They may greet one another with waving hands if they are in the opposite corners of the restaurant. By contrast, the movements of people at Jagerhaus are economic, not very expressive and neat. The visitors check where a fork or a spoon should be placed and other small details. At the same time, the employees are extremely pleasing even though they look shy and reluctant to make personal contacts.
Furthermore, one should characterize the behavior patterns of the visitors and staff of the two restaurants. Thus, the visitors of El Cantarito seemed to express their joy more freely and interact more positively. Moreover, there were people who were making selfies with the food and taking photos of their dishes. At the same time, the employees were friendly. They were smiling and joking. Additionally, they had quick moves of their hands and the motion of the body. The handshakes and the hugs were a common thing for the visitors. Thus, there was a case when two Hispanic families, which had about seven members each, met at El Cantarito. All of them were warmly and loudly greeting each other, shaking hands, laughing and hugging each other. However, the surrounding people did not pay attention to this, and gradually the noise ceased to the level which was normal for this restaurant. Moreover, there was a case when a visitor occasionally spoiled orange juice on the floor. Soon there came a cleaner whistling and joyfully playing with a mop and removed the spill. As one may interpret it, the Hispanic culture is very human friendly and positive even though its representatives are noisy. Moreover, they respect sincere feelings and do not conceal them when in public.
At the same time, the clients of Jagerhaus are calmer and speak quieter. It seems that some of them come to see the interior and have a positive experience of staying in calm and cozy atmosphere. The personnel are extremely polite and friendly; their clothes are neat and clean. Their body language is less expressive compared to the personnel of El Cantarito, and they seem to be shyer in their movements. However, one may describe the actions of the staff as laconic and precise. I do believe that it is connected with the German culture, which is famous for its accurateness and deliberateness. Moreover, this quality seems to be shared by the visitors, who act respectfully but without a possible snobbism. For instance, there was a case when a member of the personnel occasionally switched the TV too loud. As I see it, the button of the remote control went off. The reaction of the visitors was a surprised and cautious look at the TV and at that man with the remote control. For a moment I thought that someone would come to him and offer some help. However, the man just unplugged the TV and went to the administrator to report about the incident. The visitors supported him with applause, thus showing respect for the reasonable action and preserving the quite atmosphere. At the same time, this cozy place bursts out with shouts and songs when the visitors watch sports in the evenings.
The key concepts that I have learned from this experience are that the German culture is accurate and precise. Its representatives are not expressive in emotions and body language unless there is a special reason for this. Additionally, its employees avoid personal contact, though they are friendly and willing to serve the visitors. On the contrary, the representatives of the Hispanic culture are extremely expressive and noisy. Moreover, their body language is as expressive as their speech. They quickly establish contacts and friendly relations.
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Summarizing the analysis of El Cantarito and Jagerhaus restaurants, one comes to a conclusion that they are the examples of recreated cultures within a multicultural setting. Thus, their cultural frame is reached though authentic meals, design of the interior, the clothes and ethnicity of the employees. Moreover, the behavior of the visitors and personnel as well as their verbal and non-verbal interaction adds to the authentic atmosphere. Furthermore, the proposed activity of the task allowed comparing and contrasting the traits of the domestic and other cultures. As a result, it became evident that some actions such as shaking hands and friendly touches can raise ethical issues in different countries. Additionally, the results of the investigation might be used for further research of ethic and cultural differences between the representatives of different nations. Besides, one could modify the activity involving an experimental guest visit to the representatives of different cultures.