Last night I took a “Spicy Foods of Africa” class at a local specialty kitchen store, the yummy food that I learned to make was just part of the lesson I learned. This class was a birthday gift from my Mother and Father-in-law (thank you, again!) and it was great.
I was surprised to see that so many of the ingredients we used were things that I already have in my cupboards. I went into the class recognizing some of the foods that we were going to make, although admittedly I had only tried a few of them, but I thought that since it was an African cooking class that the dishes were going to be odd in appearance or taste and have strange foreign ingredients. The assumptions I had formed about the food from reading the list of dishes we were to make were wrong. The food was delicious but it was not unusual in a “I can’t believe they expect me to this!” way, it was more unusual in a “Wow, you can’t get this at Chili’s or Burger King!” kind of way.
As I mentioned the ingredients used were all things that I have or could easily find in my local grocery store. This got me thinking about how easy it is to make a judgment about something that you are unfamiliar with just because you are unfamiliar with it.
I am not just talking about food. This same idea applies to so many different parts of our everyday lives. I am not looking to preach to you about the virtues of acceptance and tolerance, mostly because I think that as adults we should have a firm grasp on these concepts as it is. I like to think that I am a pretty open minded person and that I allow myself the chance to get to know something or someone before making a judgment but the thing I was reminded of last night was that no one is perfect and it is my job to keep trying to get better any way that I can. I bet the instructor of the “Spicy Foods of Africa” class didn’t realize he was teaching so many lessons beyond falafel and cucumber sambal.
Oh, and by the way African food rocks!