Food Manners

I clearly remember that as a child growing up our parents explicitly told us that one was considered ill-mannered if one expressed derogatory views about another’s food – verbally and non-verbally as well.

Parents, in this context, by the way, are defined in the extended African family setup to include aunts, uncles, grandmas, clan members, etc. – you know, in the ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ logic.

The wisdom of our parents, indeed, is the wisdom of one of the Facebook groups of foodies to which I am member. On that particular group page the administrators have included in the page rules the following demand:


So, you can imagine the discomfort and shock that I experience now in my adult life, when the tables have turned and I am now among parents, and I hear or read derogatory comments of another’s food from those who normally would be considered parents in the central logic of African culture.

Case in point, some comments made on this photo of my breakfast which I posted on Facebook with the caption: “Our breakfast this morning in Lango Cuisine: millet porridge flavoured with lemon; and boiled cassava garnished with ground nuts paste.”

Comments like, “I feel heart burn just looking at this.” Please move along. For crying out loud, the beauty of Facebook is that you don’t have to linger on any one post. Keep scrolling so you don’t look at my food picture and please don’t stop to type an offensive comment, is what I say to this.

“Scared of that combination. Everything seems solid”, and “Heavy on the tummy.” Go there with your inappropriate comments, is what I would say to this, insinuating constipation as another ill-mannered one later commented: “Did you think about how hard it will be going to the toilet?” Sincerely, of what business are my bowl movements to you? And what makes you think that adults have interest in the bowl movements of other adults?

And then there are the weak-brained ones who made such comments as: “The sleep will be for two days nonstop”; “I don’t want to dose at work”; ‘This will make me sleep at work; and “Sedative in the making. Piriton.” For you, I would say that as advised above, you could have just not commented.

Anyway, on a positive note, these negative comments on the photo of my breakfast were the minority. And of the hundreds of reactions to the photo, 83.4 percent were clear likes and loves. There are a few who clicked on the emoji wow for whom it is not clear what the wow meant.

The few who clicked on the laughing emoji baffled me and in the context of how I was raised, they would have been considered ill-mannered. Yes, growing up, we were not allowed to laugh at other peoples’ food.

As for the one who clicked on the sad emoji, why would you be sad about good food? Or where you sad, that you did not have access to such food? Again in the context of how I was raised, you would have been in trouble. Yes, we were raised to be thankful of what was on our plate …

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