My family loves the Golden Rule. But in all our years oftreating others as we want to be treated, I have learned that this renowned maximis a failure. The golden failure is apparent in my family's choice offood.
My family of two parents and three daughters eats together only onbirthdays, and even then, only at dinner. The other 1,090 meals of the year areeaten haphazardly around differing schedules. Despite our chaotic lives, however,food is an integral part of my family. It is sacred, never to be wasted unlessburnt, rotten or stale. We are people who live to eat, not eat to live. So forfive momentous meals each year, we eat as a family.
When we were younger,my mother would prepare a lavish feast with the birthday girl (or birthdayfather) as the guest of honor. Later, as my sisters and I became certified in theuse of the stove and oven, we made birthday meals for our parents. Now we appearin the best light as five considerate people cooking food with feeling for theirloved ones, but there is a weird incongruity about the whole thing.
Myparents prepare Indian delicacies for our birthdays. They cook special partyfoods: tiki, samosa and sweets that would make any dentist shudder. Being fromnorthern India, they also make southern delights that we rarely taste:pepper-flecked dosa, bland idly, spicy samber and much more. This is the foodthey love best, and to show love, they make for us what they enjoy. Yet this isnot the food my sisters and I would choose.
For our parents' birthdaysmy sisters and I hop all over Europe: Finnish summer soup, German apple cake,Norwegian flat-bread, various salads, Irish scalloped potatoes and baked ziti, toname a few. Although my parents smile and comment appreciatively as they eat, weknow this is not food they care for. My mother tries to couch her criticisms inpraise, saying, "The soup is delicious, but it is a little too bland."My father refuses to eat pie, wondering what possesses Europeans to eat cookedfruit but not raw vegetables.
Despite subtle objections, this almostselfish ritual continues, each generation hoping the other will realize what foodto make the following year. We have irreconcilable desires and tastes; ourindividualism is not accounted for in the Golden Rule. And so by treating eachother as we want to be treated, we cast the faintest bitter flavor intoeverything we cook.
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