Giblets – I love them, partly because they are good for you, partly because it’s pretty bad-ass to enjoy something about which no-one has a clue. Of course, partly because the flavor is something that can’t be gotten elsewhere. On a trip through Georgia, I had the most luxurious giblet stew. It was so long ago, I can’t recall the flavor anymore, which is part of the problem in my failed attempts to recreate it. All I remember is that it was delicious. All broth and meat, with no veggies wasting the space, and the meat so finely pulled and shredded that I had to be told it was giblets, instead of being able to deduce the meat’s origin on my own. I’m currently a firm believer in massive quantities of veggies, but at the time, veggies were a poorly prepared afterthought meant to satisfy a duty. Even now, I wouldn’t think of sacrificing the perfection of this stew with veggies. A heaped serving of roasted roots on the side would do just fine to compliment this delicious dish that I haven’t tasted since that time. I don’t live in the south, so if this stew is still served, it hasn’t been served to me. I find chicken gizzards and hearts in the stores from time to time, so there must be people who still consider these items a culinary ingredient. However, they aren’t the people who are talking to me. I think I ought to hang out in the giblet section of the store and ask the next person who grabs a pack for their recipes. The odd, and maybe even bothered, looks I might get from my grocery companions would pale in comparison to the looks I get from my friends and children when I talk about actually eating giblets.
But, really, why go on and on about a food that seems to have been all but forgotten in the progressive year of 2023? Uniqueness; that’s why I go babbling on about these odd little edible organs – what is perfectly normal, delicious, even a sought after delicacy (at this point), is something of an anomaly to those around me. Something completely foreign, odd, distasteful even. And I use food to begin to highlight something that happens every day, but it’s easier, I think, to understand when considering foods.
With food, most people understand that what is delicious and homey for some, can be uninteresting or even abhorrent to others. And most people can cognitively ascent to the fact that food preferences are simply that – preferences. That preferences can change over time, and that, at the very least, they are ridiculous reasons to dismiss another person or their viewpoints.
But this basic understanding of preferences becomes much more fraught with contempt and struggle when it comes to less arbitrary cultural preferences and backgrounds. Now the judgements of right and wrong comes out amidst the annoyance of butting up against a community framework that shows another facet of the world. In my experience, the things that rub me the wrong way are either because my framework is so narrow, I have not a place to hang this new idea upon. Or, because I find this new idea an uncomfortable or undesirable contradiction to something I dearly love. But I wonder if we consider the components of culture something like the food we eat. What if it’s just a food that needs to be tasted a few times before we begin to find things about it that could be (surprise!) very useful? Perhaps there’s a nutrient, of which we need more, that this food adequately supplies? Perhaps there’s something the community next door offers that broadens our understanding of life and creates a sense of fullness that couldn’t be known without that attribute. And while I say, perhaps, I don’t really mean perhaps. – Perhaps, is, more likely the last word I should use. You see, I come from the perspective that each one of us – each person, each small community, each larger community, each great and wonderful culture, country, and region of the world, evidences attributes that are necessary for the world to live well with each other, and with others. And when we diss on their giblet stew, we may just be missing the nutrient we so desperately need in our diets. This may be the attribute that would help us in our own endeavors, but more importantly, help is providing a more dynamic, effective, peaceful global community.
What if we could be more curious about the ‘ingredients’ of the cultures around us? What if we could be open to giving ourselves some space to acknowledge, understand, and even implement those attributes of the cultures and experiences of those around us? What if instead of building walls and putting up barriers, we set a table, literally and figuratively, begin appreciating and enjoying one another’s foods? I believe we would find our worlds deepening and widening in a way that also illustrates how much of the core of each of us resembles another.
Now, if any of you have the recipe for the perfect combination of carefully shredded meat with the precise amount of broth, I’ll be in your debt for the recipe… or perhaps, I’ll just show up in your kitchen. Then while that stew simmers, we can have a chat about our uniqueness that when combined, may just be the ticket to creating the hints of oneness that we’ve, collectively, been missing. I’ll bring the veggies!
“When I am sharply judgmental of any other person, it’s because I sense or see reflected in them some aspect of myself that I don’t want to acknowledge.”
― Gabor Maté, In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts: Close Encounters with Addiction
Photo courtesy of Cooker King, https://unsplash.com/@cookerking
As I wrote this, I post, I wanted a specific discussion about diversity of culture and lived experience – a way to begin to remove barriers between my understanding and the experiences of others. I’m thinking specifically of breaking down barriers in racialized, classist, and binary societies. I am NOT talking about intimate or familial relationships where there is an abuse of power and control; where there may be emotional, psychological, financial, spiritual, or physical abuse present. Mutual understanding and learning is not possible when one person exerts control over another in an intimate or familial relationship. If you are experiencing manipulative, controlling, or abusive interactions from those close to you, please reach out for resources.