Saturday, July 19, 2008

Variety Violations?

There was an article in the news today with political correctness gone mad. Apparently pre-school children are to be told off for making derogatory comments about spicy food, as this is a form of racism. Now, call me backward-thinking if you like, but in my experience if you give a young child some food that they're not used to, then they are highly likely - almost definite, in fact - to say 'yuk' and pull a face. Give most adults new food and they will do the same. I'm not talking about a variation on a theme here: petit pois instead of garden peas; raspberry jam instead of strawberry jam; I'm talking about a completely different sort of food.

For the average British child brought up on fish fingers, Turkey dinosaurs, jacket potatoes and roast dinners, a curry or an onion bhaji will assault their taste buds and cause a reaction. They might soon grow to like it, but initially they'll protest.

For the average British child brought up on rice, curry and naan, put a plate of beans on toast in front of them and they too will shout 'yuk' and protest.

Neither is being racist and neither should be told off or they will learn that it is bad to have a non-standard opinion of something, and that trying new things should be avoided if there is a chance of a negative reaction.

When they're older, they will learn that eating out in restaurants and trying new food is fun. Since living in Oxford, I have eaten the following sorts of food:

Chinese (a lot)
English (fish'n'chips and gastro and proper pub grub - The Gardeners Arms is my favourite)
French: Chez Gaston crepes are the best.
Thai - Chiang Mai is totally justified in its amazing reputation.

And probably an awful lot more that I can't think of. I still don't really like Polish food, and I'll still always stick to korma when having Indian food, but it's exciting having a bit of variety. And if I don't like something, I will consider it part of the wonderful variety of human taste.
So there.

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