Wednesday, June 09, 2010
Being married to an African woman has taught me many things. As Maty and I have gone about setting up our household over the last four and a half years, I've learned a lot about our American culture, about how our American attitudes differ from those of people from other places.
One aspect of the different attitudes of Maty's and my respective cultures is the way in which we think of food. In my experience, Americans, generally, have a more casual relationship with food than do Africans. Succinctly put, Africans respect food more than do Americans. They treat it almost with reverence.
Maty is very careful in the way that she stores food. Our refrigerator is clean, and Maty is aware of everything stored in it. She keeps food rotated so that the older food gets eaten first. When, on occasion, food goes bad, she disposes of it respectfully. Rather than tossing uneaten pizza crusts in the garbage can with everything else, the way I did back in the day, Maty ties them in a plastic bag before placing them in the can. Fruit and vegetables are composted for use in our garden.
Maty is definitely aware of the nutritional value of food, as well. She is mindful of the amount of sugar, salt, and fat in her diet. She cooks and eats a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables. I know that my own diet has become a lot more healthy since we have been married.
Further, Maty has taught me to speak respectfully about food. If, for example, while leaving a restaurant where the cuisine was poor, I were to say "That burger tasted like sh*t," I would be sure to draw an admonition from her. In her culture, one doesn't talk about food that way.
One of the (many) gifts that Maty has given me is the recognition that food is precious and a blessing. It is a gift from God, as she would call it. And therefore, it should be honored and respected.