“Yacüb,” she said to him calmly as she paused her series on TV, trying not to loose her temper like nth times before when this topic was back on the table.
“I told you, in our culture, we address people by their middle name,” he told her.
She winced and the previous night’s events flashed before her eyes.
Nellie had made Tchep Djen, the famous Senegalese dish native to her country with fish. She was so excited for him to try. He would love it, she told herself.
“There are too many fish bones in this! It’s hazardous! Next time, don’t cook it with fish. Or cook the fish separately or even use boneless,” Yacüb had said haughtily and then refused to eat the meal she had made with love not even counting the hard work it entailed and the maze trajectory she had embarked on in Istanbul to find the required ingredients; African and what not.
“Well, it won’t be African food anymore or Tchep Djen honey,” Nellie had argued and continued, “In our culture, this is how we make it. You have to learn to eat it this way so that when you go to Senegal, there is no surprise. People won’t always cater to your picky needs.” Nellie’s heart had sunk. It’s so pointless to argue with someone so entitled.
“It’s not a cultural thing. There is no such thing. Fish is not specific to Senegaleses. It all comes from the earth; the rice, the vegetables, the salt, you name it.” Yacüb cut in again dismissively.
“NO! How hypocrite of you?! I can’t believe you right now! The way we cook the rice is specific to our culture. Just not long ago, you were telling me that in your culture I have to call you by your middle name; ‘Ertuğrul’.” Nellie let out in jester annoyed at his hypocritical choices.
Pointless discussion, the same voice said to her and she was starting to agree. It wasn’t the first time she had culture identity or even culture shock arguments with her husband and her in-laws who refused to acknowledge any other culture than their own.
“It’s Senegalese cuisine perhaps but not cultural food. Culture is historical things and the likes,” he added with certainty.
“No, it’s not just a cuisine. Look up the definition of culture. Food is part of it,” Nellie said and wanted to add more but today wasn’t the day where she will try again to no avail to enlighten him or them. She just didn’t have the patience for it. Nellie just wanted to relax. They could swim in stage one of the Bennett scale for all she cared! Right now, she was watching her show ‘The Book of Negroes’ on Centric and their bliss of ignorance or hypocrisy -whatever it was- could wait. Enough is enough! she thought as she turned the volume up and tuned him out.
©Papatia Feauxzar 2016