Maria Smedstad: Food acclimatisation
By Maria Smedstad
Fitting in as a teenager isn’t just about fashion and music. It’s also about what you eat. This is especially true if you’re also from a different country. It’s all very well to bring your weird snacks across borders as an adult, but when you’re 15 it’s best avoided. Grossing out a school canteen with your lunch does not help you win friends.
Luckily, my moving to the UK coincided with a period of mostly consuming bread and Swiss roll, which put me in a good position to fit into an English comprehensive. I balked at using the ‘tuck shop’ on account of not knowing what one was. Same with ‘mince pies’ and various other foods (spotted dick, anyone?). Egg – I came to understand – was of great importance to British teenagers. There were many varieties of egg to be mastered.
A particular victory came when a girl invited me to her house for lunch. I watched as she whisked butter, milk and egg together, then put the lot in the microwave. Sound basic? To me, the concept was wild, but I pretended to know all about scrambled eggs while I hacked rock-solid butter onto a soggy slice of toast and mimicked my unsuspecting host by dipping the whole thing in ketchup.
My parents adjusted on a smaller scale, for example by discretely putting a stop to the import of fermented herring, after neighbors expressed alarm at what they assumed was a corpse decomposing somewhere in the village.
My final triumph was another take on ‘egg’. I still remember the disapproving look on my mum’s face as she watched me carefully cutting toast into soldiers and dunking them into raw egg yolk. “You’ve become too British,” she complained, and just like that, I knew that the road to acceptance lay brightly ahead.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Scan Magazine.
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