05 September, 2014

Culture shock in food

I anticipated challenges with some food with our boys, like rice and brands that they didn't like (like soft drink), but some I've been blindsided by.

Recently I've heard from them: 
"I don't like Australian cucumber."

Then I found the Australian mandarins (mikan) left in school lunch boxes untouched.

One boy said during tea, "I'm going to get some mayonnaise..." but he returned from the fridge without it. 
This is a highway stop in Japan. I'd bet that the average
Australian would have trouble choosing a drink from
this lot!

"Oh, I forgot that I don't like Australian mayonnaise."

I've been giving them a crash course in Australia chocolate and lollies, we've had some winners and some losers. But I do think it is important for them to know a little about these products because it can be awkward in social situations. If they have no idea what a "Violet Crumble" is, how can they make an intelligent (and polite) decision when offered them by others.

The other day I bought a bottle of cheap "Lemon, Lime, and Bitters". We told them it was a flavour they can't get in Japan and gave them all a taste around our table. 

Doing this privately is a kinder way of helping them discover their likes and dislikes, than to leave it until they're in public. Of course there are many things they'll encounter that we can't expose them to at home, but little things can help. 

I'm tempted to be grumpy at them for their fussiness, but then I remember how fussy I was at their age. And how many things I still don't like. I never buy celery, for example, and though I buy cucumber for everyone else, I never eat it at home.

There are many things that make up culture, food is just one. It's easy for us "monocultural" folk to forget that these kids, though they have an Australian passport and call themselves Aussies, don't know much about this country.


Georgia said...

I agree on the cucumber issue! American ones are fat and wet and full of seeds. I've been fortunate to be able to find either Pickling Cukes or similar that are smaller and skinnier and more like Kuuri. TCK's from Japan notoriously reject anything but Kewpi Mayo. How are they with white bread? That sometimes is another issue. Mikan? I can imagine. I like your method of tasting at home. It takes practice being multicultural.

Wendy said...

I'm not fond of mikan or cucumber in either country, so I'm a bad judge. We've been feeding them multigrain bread, our preference, but our youngest is rejecting that now. I'm not sure what I'll try with him, as I'd rather he stayed off the white bread.