Of Food and Racism

I hate Indian food. Well, scratch that; over the last few months I’ve discovered I love Indian food. However, a great friend of mine has assured me he can’t stand Mexican food. It’s just funny that my wife forgot this fact and when they were over, served a fantastic dish of enchiladas.

Sweet Potato, Chick-Pea, & Spinach Curry

“Wow,” he said. “I usually don’t like Mexican food, but these are great.”

Then there’s my dad. He absolutely does not like Italian food. I’m not kidding, I’m in my late 40’s and I’ve heard him say this my entire life. The thing is, my son, who has become a rather good cook was visiting my parents for the winter holidays. He volunteered to make them dinner. Chicken Parmesan it was. A few days later I was on the phone with my dad. “You know, I don’t really like Italian food. But that Chicken Parmesan was absolutely amazing.”

For my own part, I don’t know why I thought I didn’t like Indian food. I simply had never tried it. Strangely enough I can even recollect telling people that I didn’t like Indian food. The question someone should have asked me is which Indian food?

I’ve lived quite a few years of my life in the deep southeastern United States. It can safely be said that I LOVE traditional southern food. However, I’m not interested in chitlins (chitterlings.) Yes, I know they’re a traditional southern food. I still don’t want any.

My point is, one thing is not another. Chitlins are not Biscuits and Gravy. Chicken Parmesan is not Spaghetti. Enchiladas are not Burritos. One thing is not another.

In the same sense, one person is not another. Have you ever heard someone say “I really just don’t like [insert nationality or race here.]” My point is that one thing is not another. Likewise, one person is not another.

For a person to say “I really don’t like Mexicans,” or “Those dang polite Canadians just get on my nerves,” it’s just asinine. One thing is not another – one dish is not another – one person is not another. As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, people should not be judged by the color of their skin, “…but by the content of their character.”

I spent 47 years thinking I hated Indian food. What opened my eyes? An Indian friend took me out to a restaurant. He took over the ordering for the table, explained to me what I was eating, as well as where and how it originated. I didn’t hate Indian food. I just had a closed mind. My other friend doesn’t really hate Mexican food. My dad doesn’t really dislike all Italian food. They just hadn’t been exposed to the right dish prepared the right way.

The same goes for people and food alike. Paint neither with a broad brush. Get to know them. You might just be surprised.

Now, if I can just talk my wife into going out for some good Vietnamese Phở we’ll be doing alright. She’s pretty sure she doesn’t like it.

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