Is it gross or are you insensitive?

Meida Kuzminskas

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Meida Kuzminskas

Foods vary from culture to culture, but people should still be open to new things.

You’re sitting with your new friends at lunch on your first day of school. As you open your lunch box containing cow tongue, fried rye bread and pickled cabbage; it goes quiet. You look up and see eyes drifting to yours as faces recoil at the dish opened in front of them.

“Ew. I would NEVER eat that! Gross!”

I bet even reading the words cow tongue and lunch together have some people involuntarily wincing. I admit, I have my own dislikes for food; I think hot-dogs are gross. What I have a problem with is when people cross the line and when a simple preference turns into shaming one’s culture, it gets annoying.

Growing up as a Lithuanian American has had its challenges, but food shouldn’t be one of them. From my own culture there are many foods that are normal to me like pickled fish, hand-picked mushrooms, cold beet soup and yes, cow tongue. I’ve grown up around these foods, so when I’m picked on for something that celebrates a part of where my family comes from, it feels like an attack on my culture, which is something I can’t control.

I understand that everyone has their preferences for food, it’s human nature; however, when I eat food from my culture and the immediate response I get is that it’s gross or that no one would ever eat it, I get frustrated. Having to listen to people that seem to never even want to smell the food my mom cooks for my family definitely stings. Why don’t you try going up to my mom and telling her the food she’s been surrounded with in her country is weird and is something too strange to look at?

Before making fun of someone for pulling out some octopus as a snack, think about if it’s really worth saying. I’m not asking anyone to eat every single food out there and pretend that they have no dislikes, but all I ask is that people don’t make such a big deal about what I eat.

If you say you’re inclusive to all cultures, don’t start picking at small differences you’re not used to in order to make a single comment. Is it really worth it to poke fun at what someone’s eating when you’re not familiar with their food?

I get it. There are many deeper issues out there than someone complaining about the food that I grew up eating, but the annoyance keeps building, and I’ve had enough. Just like how some people love pineapple on their pizza, my culture’s take on food is out of the ordinary. Yes, it could be out of your ordinary, but that doesn’t make it any less special to the people who enjoy their own food.

The next time you decide to gag at someone eating fermented beans because it’s what was made for dinner the day before, remember that you’re demeaning someone else’s culture. You don’t have to be a saint and pretend to be interested in every new food you see. I’m just looking for a small amount of respect when I mention that I have, in fact, eaten pickled fish and enjoyed it.