As a child of the 80’s, certain rules were embossed in my core. 1.) Respect your elders. 2.) Don’t talk back. And 3.) It’s not polite to talk about religion, politics or money.
As an adult of the 21st century, these rules have loosened themselves into recommendations and certainly don’t hold the mandatory status they used to. And while I’m not here to argue if this change is for better or worse, talking about religion, politics or money may still be impolite, but it seems to have become a standard, an unwarranted rite of passage, and completely dissolving of friendships and sometimes family.
A topic, however, that’s always polite to talk about and never dividing, is food. It seems our desire to force everyone into agreement on opinions hasn’t bled into the topic of food, and I hope it never does.
Take, for example, the great chocolate chip cookie debate that’s lasted since the dawn of time. Whether you use Crisco or butter, and whether that butter is melted, softened, or cold and diced, no one is throwing their plate across the table and storming out during family dinner. No child tells their parents they ‘are just plain crazy’ when they want their steak cooked medium and not medium rare. While a feud over mayonnaise vs. Miracle Whip could get a little heated, it always ends in an ‘agree to disagree’ status and any emotional wounds are easily healed. And if you prefer another ketchup brand to Heinz, well, I may throw you out of my house for that. I mean, come on.
I’ve been in countless conversations about meatloaf, and am genuinely interested in hearing how people make it. It always starts with openminded dialog:
‘You make meatloaf? Me too! What’s your special trick?’
Some say it’s all about the percentage of fat in the meat. Some swear the trick to a good meatloaf is gently mixing the meat. Others believe the key is a secret ingredient, like applesauce. Me? I use fresh thyme. My point is, I’ve never had a conversation about meatloaf end poorly, even though everyone has a different way of making it. Imagine if we started other conversations like this:
‘You believe in a higher power? Me too! What’s your spirit into?’
‘You believe in fostering a better world? Me too! How do you think we can accomplish that?’
How is it we have better emotional intelligence when discussing food than when discussing hot topics? I’ve never seen a rally happen at a chili cook off. No one is protesting the underdog – white chicken chili. Which leads me to believe that food makes a house undivided. Food is one topic that hasn’t been berated into picking an extreme side. Food should be a platform.
Who knows, we may just find ourselves a little more united with an inch or two added at the waistline.