However I dropped my planned blog entry, though I've been spurred to consider it again by this recent story from the UK.
The National Children's Bureau, which receives £12 million a year, mainly from Government funded organisations, has issued guidance to play leaders and nursery teachers advising them to be alert for racist incidents among youngsters in their care.
This could include a child of as young as three who says "yuk" in response to being served unfamiliar foreign food.
The guidance by the NCB is designed to draw attention to potentially-racist attitudes in youngsters from a young age.''
Needless to say, this kind of approach should horrify people; the idea that government should be forcing culinary tastes on anyone, least of all innocent children, is totalitarian. What will happen to a child who says 'yuk' to foreign food? Re-education? Sensitivity training? How can you implement brainwashing techniques on very young children who can't even think conceptually? What next? Forcing spicy foods on babies to give them a 'tolerance' for such tastes? Most young children instinctively like bland food -- at least in Western countries. Maybe it's the case that babies from societies which eat overly spiced and seasoned foods have an instinctive preference for that; I know of no studies involving racial or ethnic differences in those areas, but I don't rule out that such innate differences may exist. Racial differences are far more than 'skin deep'; there are physiological and anatomical differences that exist, though our scientific establishment prefers to ignore them or pretend they don't exist.
I have noticed, though, that in recent years American eating habits have become much more exotic and outre. It first became noticeable to me in the 1970s, when old-fashioned cafes and 'lunch counters' (remember those? You are an older American if you do) were replaced by hoity-toity, pricey restaurants serving foreign foods of some kind. At first, restaurants with more familiar European foods were the trend, such as trendy trattorias serving authentic Italian foods, or those serving French cuisine. Everybody wanted foods with foreign names; American food became declasse, fit only for the lower classes. I blamed some of this food snobbishness on the poseurs among my fellow baby-boomers. The ragtag hippie types who backpacked all over Europe living in hostels, or who holed up in Katmandu living on a shoestring suddenly were by then well-paid yuppies with pretentious and exotic culinary tastes. The tastes became more exotic as time went on: Thai food, Szechuan Chinese food, Ethiopian food, Vietnamese food. Even plain old coffee, an honest cup of joe such as our parents drank, was not good enough; it had to be some exotic variety grown in a remote area of another continent.
I like to cook, and I like a variety of foods. I have nothing against exotic foods once in a while, but at heart I suppose I have very plain tastes like my parents. I grew up on simple foods, simply prepared. My mother was a wonderful cook who specialized in old-fashioned American fare. My grandmother cooked the old Southron way: cornbread in a cast-iron skillet, fried chicken, sweet tea, buttermilk, greens with Trappey's pepper sauce to season them. That last is the extent of my liking for 'heat.'
The old saying 'the way to a man's heart is through his stomach' is one that was generally used as a piece of advice to young ladies that if they wanted to win a man, they should cook foods which appealed to him. Sharing good food is truly a way to bond with somebody. Cooking to please somebody is a way of showing caring and affection. Remember the old Pillsbury commercial jingle: 'nothin' says lovin' like somethin' from the oven''? True. So all this diversity in our cooking is a way of insinuating more diversity into our culture.
Lately I've noticed when I watch the Food Network that just about every one of the cooks on the channel adds 'heat' to most recipes. One of my pet peeves is adding jalapenos or some other spicy ingredient to corn bread. I admit it; I'm a corn bread purist. Jalapenos do not belong in corn bread. Adding jalapenos does not make it 'Mexican Corn Bread' as the recipes have it. Mexican corn bread is an oxymoron.
Mexicans eat tortillas; corn bread is not a native recipe of Mexico, no matter what you put in it.
Corn bread is an 'Anglo' thing, a gringo thing. Is it now xenophobic to prefer my American foods to be American, prepared in the traditional way? If things keep going as they are, there may well be a law against it here, as well as in Europe.
But it seems that the multicultural totalitarians, those whose slogan should rightfully be 'celebrate diversity, or else!' want to adulterate our culinary habits just as they have adulterated our countries generally with all manner of 'diversity.' Our masters are now making it imperative that we import much of our food from the other side of the world, rather than get it locally, as was always done; the idea seems to be that this fosters some kind of interdependence which will bind us more closely together, even if we can't get along, we will be mutually dependent on our trade partners in Mexico or China.
And blending our culinary preferences with those of Mexico seems to be a part of the agenda. Notice how 'Cinco de Mayo' has become a de facto celebration in America even though it has zero historical or cultural significance to us, and now supermarkets push 'Cinco de Mayo' recipes to encourage us to buy and eat Mexican or Mexican-influenced foods. My local supermarkets now have huge sections of Mexican foods and Mexican products, including Mexican detergents, soaps, and toiletries. Our town, for the record, has a Mexican population in the single-digit percentages -- so far. But they have an inordinate influence, judging by the way they are being coddled and courted.
Americans are going for it in a big way; everybody loves their Margaritas and their salsa and their 'heat' added to every dish under the sun -- including even desserts.
Mexico has insinuated its way into our heart via our stomach. Now, some will insist that this is a trivial thing, but I think our culinary traditions are very close to our hearts; the mere thought of certain foods calls up memories and associations from childhood, or memories of our grandmothers and mothers, of sitting around the table for Sunday dinner or Thanksgiving dinner. Our eating habits and preferences are very much a part of who we are. If we change the way we eat, we are in a sense becoming somebody else -- ''you are what you eat."
In another generation will 'gringo' Americans wax nostalgic and sentimental about grandma's jalapeno ice cream? Or chorizo or pozole? Probably so.
I suspect in the UK the push is towards Middle Eastern/Asian type foods, in keeping with their 'emerging majorities' diets.
I don't know why Americans and other Westerners seem to have suddenly developed a mania for exotic foods, particularly those of the hot and spicy kind. I personally think we are not by nature inclined towards such foods; our taste buds may be keener and more sensitive and thus less in need of strong, hot flavors. On the other hand, I think taste buds can be 'burned out' from eating too much spicy food, and then people with deadened taste buds need more seasoning to taste anything. It seems to work much the same as with a drug: one develops a tolerance, due to endorphins kicking in, and then one needs more of the substance to get the kick.
We seem to have become jaded, we in the West, and to have lost our appreciation or taste for the simple things, and become sensation seekers, in our foods as well as in other areas. Maybe this is how some people become xenomanes, diversity-addicted. Diversity provides the same 'kick' for their jaded palates as hot spicy food does for the tongue.
I reserve the right to eat the foods my forefathers have enjoyed since time out of mind. People are entitled to culinary independence and self-determination; we don't need to have diversity forced literally down our throats.
Here are a couple of other bloggers' takes on this story:
Food secession at the Rebellion blog
and Doom Watch: Racist Toddlers at Western Biopolitics