Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cultural Differences

Cookies and milk, anyone?
No matter how hard you try, there's going to come a point where cultural differences are going to hit you hard. Maybe it's the horse meat steaks in France. Maybe you find the Tibetan Sky Burial a grotesque practice.¹ Whatever your particular trigger is, you're sure to find some culture, somewhere in the world, which thinks your "revolting" behavior is the norm. That's when you have to make a conscious effort to figure out how you're going to respond.

Yesterday for Christmas dinner, my wife was preparing magret de canard (duck breast), when she realized she was out of dried apricots. There was only shop open, a Turkish one, but I dutifully went there and bought the apricots.  I also noticed they had kakaolu - kremali bisküvi, Turkisk for "chocolate cream cookies." I am white. My wife is black. I knew I had to buy them. Fortunately, her sense of humor and mine are in synch, so she laughed when she saw them. The photo at right might explain the issue. As far as I can tell, the Turks have no idea how offensive this name could be to English speaking folk.

And if you're curious, they're delicious.

1. The Tibetan Sky Burial is a traditional practice where the deceased's body is left exposed to the elements, including birds of vultures. I'm not linking to anything because if you really must know, you can find it yourself.