Kochen & über den Tellerrand schauen

 "Culture Shock" - Blog


Clichés & Chili con Carne

Chili mit Sombrero.jpgHow I discovered the “truth” about chili con carne.

I truly love chili con carne. I love to cook it, I love to eat it and as it turns out I enjoy writing about it 😉.

For a long time, I was convinced that chili con carne was a Mexican dish. I don’t remember what made my think so. Possibly movies or food packaging that displayed cactuses and sombreros.

On my first trip to Mexico, I was really excited to taste authentic Mexican chili can carne. But to my surprise it was pretty hard to find. I stumbled over it only once – on the lunch buffet in our hotel. Even bigger surprise: it wasn’t even spicy. Back then, I didn’t question the origin of chili con carne, instead chose to believe that the food was just adapted to go easy on the delicate stomachs of foreign tourists.

As you’ve probably guessed, that assumption was wrong. When I moved to Mexico a few years later, I quickly discovered chili con carne is rather TexMex than Mexican. For me that was a “the earth isn’t flat”- kind of moment, the death blow to a beloved cliché.

A cliché is somewhat stereotyped, a concept that is probably outdated (at least time-worn) or in my case wrongly applied. Many clichés originate from a grain of truth, a tradition, a saying. And sometimes they just root in an (unfounded) opinion that is passed on and on without being questioned.

Just to give you a few examples: Germans are punctual, Indian food is spicy, Mexicans wear sombreros, French meals always go with wine, woman can’t easily park a car, men don’t enjoy cooking… I could go on and on, but I’m sure you got the idea and can prolong the list on your own.

Clichés rarely match reality. Yes, we’ve heard that before. The tricky bit is to uncover that something we consider a fact is actually a cliché.

And how to do that? Well, there’s no rule of thumb, I’m afraid. Be creative on how to regularly reset your mental filters. Here are a few things I do: talk to a variety of different people, the more diverse the better. Read magazines, blogs etc., ideally published by people closely related to the country or topic. If possible, go travelling, meet people, get a glimpse on their all-day-life. Leave the hotel zone and check out places where locals shop or eat. Keep your mind open.

We will probably never get rid of clichés entirely and all of us are sure to fall for another cliché sooner or later. But let’s be alert and ready to put generalizations to test.

And to practice what we preach, let me help you out on the cliché of German punctuality. Granted, in the past being on time in Germany meant arriving 15 minutes early. That has changed, I dare say. Punctuality still matters, but it isn’t as scared as it used to be. I’m often in a rush to arrive at least last minute. And I solemnly swear, I’m not the only one and usually not the last 😉.

Love, Ina 💕
Your partner in crime matters of kitchen & culture

PS: In case you wondered, I still love to cook, eat and talk about chili con carne. I just don’t call it Mexican anymore.

Admin - 23:34:23 @ Allgemein | Kommentar hinzufügen