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08-06-2017

Dip, dunk, delicious

I was recently ‘scolded’ like a toddler by a young friend for dunking my croissant in my coffee. Apparently, this is a disgusting habit. After immediately telling her to mind her own business, I did a little investigation on the internet and found several arguments for and against the pleasure of dipping and dunking things in hot tea or coffee, but I have not been persuaded to give up this pleasure.

Everyone dips things in other things. French fries are far better dipped in ketchup or mayonnaise. Tortilla chips are as boring as cardboard without salsa and guacamole and strawberries are twice as nice dipped in chocolate.

Besides, I have superb table manners. My parents, although very permissive in other areas of life, did not permit gross behaviour like knife licking, slurping, burping or chewing with one’s mouth open. I have never been confused about which knife and fork to use and I empty my fish and chips onto a plate before I eat them. That said, I love the way that chocolate digestive biscuits go soft before I pop them in my mouth and dry croissants taste infinitely better when soaked in sweet, milky coffee. I am dexterous enough to do it without dripping or drooling and I am not bothering anyone.

The fact is that some people just cannot accept different cultures and habits. These people had best stay at home with their bone china and crust-free sandwiches. For example, some Spanish friends arrived in Delhi, went out for the afternoon, and returned to their hotel so culture shocked that they flew back to Spain the next day. My mother thought that eating salad from the serving dish was ghastly, not to mention eating paella straight from the pan. My advice is to let go of your prejudices and sense of superiority and go with the flow. If you aren’t prepared to do as the Romans do, then why bother to go to Rome.

This same friend has far higher standards than mine. She insists on drinking just one brand of mineral water (if mine doesn’t contain cholera, I’m happy). She likes a certain brand of Cola and won’t drink any of its competitors and is prepared to make a tremendous fuss if it isn’t cold enough, even in a North African village in the middle of nowhere. One must not be noisy and laugh aloud, flirt or joke in an age-inappropriate way. I was also informed that we were ‘pathetic’ for not ordering wine or starters to keep the bill down at a very expensive restaurant (some of us are less affluent than others).

She is still young and I am sure that in time she’ll see that there are more important things in life than how people eat their croissants and what they order. Proper conduct means acting in a way that makes you pleasant to be around, and dunking has nothing to do with it.

Juliet Allaway

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