My bae and I have polar opposite tastes in food as we come from different backgrounds and cultures. We are both very open-minded to expanding our palates although our foods are drastically different. Because of this, we have faced several challenges when it comes to food.
I am your everyday Nigerian girl who loves a good plate of Afang soup flowing with palm oil, stockfish, and orishirishi (otherwise known as assorted meat or offal meat – consisting of goat meat, tripe, cow skin, etc). Being far away from home here in America, I frequently crave Nigerian food and jump at every possible opportunity to have the same spicy good home cooking.
We take turns cooking since we live together and both love cooking. So we make food from our different backgrounds on our designated cooking days.
Considering my food uses bold and big flavors, I started him off with the famous Nigerian Jellof rice, beans, plantains, peppered gizzards, fish, and chicken. He absolutely loved it and I still use it to win him over in crazy times😂.
When I noticed he could handle spicy and bold flavors, I decided to introduce him to more complex flavors and dishes. I made EBA (cassava-based) and soup. There was a lot of anticipation for this food as I carefully planned and got all the ingredients needed to make it. On the day of my cooking, he was assisting in prepping ingredients for the soup while I started out with washing and steaming my stockfish.
Stockfish is originally from Norway. It is unsalted codfish that is naturally dried. The fish is gutted and left out to dry in the crisp winter weather. You can get it whole with the skin on or pre-cut in various sizes. It also comes in flakes, which I bought to make my soup. It is pungent and tasty!
I will never forget the look on his face, he was flushed when he turned to me and said:
’Baby did you fart?’
😂😂😂 Oh dear! I said no I didn’t and asked why he would say that. He said he perceived an odor and we joked over it. I increased the output of our bath and body works odor eliminating plug-in air freshener and we kept cooking.
At this time I really didn’t think it was the stockfish odor he was referring to, mainly since I grew up eating it and have become well-accustomed to the smell. I personally think the smell adds a rich flavor to whatever you cook with it.
I had a feeling of nostalgia as my stockfish was slowly cooking. I was talking about how good it was going to be when I noticed Bae opened the windows. Before I could ask questions, he hurriedly threw on some clothes and slippers. He was in a mad rush to get out. He said he needed a drive and off he went. He texted a minute later to say he needed some fresh air.
I immediately knew it was the stockfish. It has a pungent smell. I grew up on it and understood that he didn’t know about it and has never eaten it. I went on to complete cooking and he actually still enjoyed eating the food 😂.
On the flip side, Bae is an incredible cook. He cooks with pride and the outcome is always evident. He makes the best salad in the world😉.
It was Friday night and he was making tacos for dinner. I was looking forward to a tasty meal before he opened a jar of kimchi. OMG, it was outright acrid.
Kimchi is a Korean pickled side dish made of fermented Napa cabbage, radish, garlic and fish seasoning. Because of the fermentation, it has a pungent smell.
It is in the top five healthiest food to eat in the world and Bae is an advocate for eating healthy…but this kimchi IS NOT FOR ME!!!
These are my suggestions on overcoming challenges in intercultural relationships:
It is completely understandable not to like a particular food you are not used to. I advise that you find a middle ground that is mutually beneficial to each other.
It is important, to be honest about how you feel about a particular food and/or everything else. You do not want your partner to keep making the same dish thinking you love it, while in fact, it makes you miserable.
You must never refer to your partner’s food as disgusting. Just because you were not raised on it doesn’t make it disgusting. It cannot be overemphasized, if you respected your partner, you will never use such words o each other.
It is possible your partner may turn around and love the same food as you do. It doesn’t happen overnight and both parties should be patient with each other.
Whenever real love emanates, trivial issues like food differences will be compromised. He has acclimated to my seasonings and loves my beans and rice. I make my soup without stockfish and encourage him to eat some.
What food differences have you shared with your spouse or partner? How was it resolved? Kindly share in the comment section.