With all this furore around beef eating, I’m reminded the ire and disgust I experienced first-hand around pork eating when I was all of 7 years old. Mind you, as children we are mostly clueless about the politics of food, religion and other man-made mythologies.
In Dubai, Social Studies right up till Grade 8 involved studying about the history and geography of the UAE. It being an Islamic country there was a lot of emphasis on the halal and the haram. During this class, just before we left for lunch, we were talking about the food habits of my subcontinental classmates - Pakistanis, Indians and Bangladeshis - and pork, in particular.
We had a Muslim teacher - Mrs Suhaila - who taught us Social Studies in Grade 2 and the majority of the students were Muslim. Suddenly out of the blue, the teacher called me out and declared “Joylita is a Christian. Tell us, do you eat pork at home?”
That was it. The class broke out into a series of gagging noises, how can you’s and also some curiosity around how we ate it, why we ate it. Saiqa and Ahmed, my two best friends, who incidentally happened to be Pakistani Muslims didn’t let me live this down for the next week.
We didn’t speak about alcohol, thankfully. That saved me from the horror that would have been explaining drinking wine as the blood of Christ and possibly, further indoctrination of the otherwise blissfully ignorant 7 year olds.
We are what we (say we) eat.