My first year in college, I went to the dining hall one morning and filled my tray with foods I wanted to eat. It was cafeteria style, and so offered the opportunity to combine food items that might otherwise be served separately, and in this particular instance I did so.
The combination was fairly innocuous, and irrelevant to the larger point, but it wasn’t particularly common in southwestern Ohio where I was going to school. I moved around a lot as a kid, and was used to certain regional culinary variations. So when I sat down at a table with friends, I wasn’t surprised they were not accustomed to what they saw on my tray.
What did surprise me was the fellow who threatened to beat the living hell out of me if I dared to actually eat the foods I’d chosen for my meal in the combination I liked. I didn’t really know him—he was a friend of a friend of a friend—but I tried the old, “Well, not that it’s any of your business, but I like this food combination and so I am going to eat. You, however, are welcome to not eat it.”
This was not good enough. He insisted I should not be allowed to eat my food, on pain of unholy beat down. Finally, the friend of the friend suggested they leave, and my beating was averted. After they were gone, one of my remaining friends said, “That was intense, but you gotta admit, Bill. That’s stuff you’re eating is pretty weird.” He was from Cincinnati, home of Cincinnati chili, and so had little room to offer a critique, but whatever. At least he let me eat my meal with beating me up.
I thought of this situation this morning as I watched the “peas in guacamole” fight unfold on the internet. Much passion. Many anger. Wow.
When I first saw a comment about peas in guacamole yesterday, my thought was, “Interesting. That might be worth a try.” Fresh peas are wholesome and delicious (though you are certainly free to disagree) and guacamole is wholesome and delicious (also free to disagree), and they are two flavors which might actually complement one another. Or not. So I filed in in the back of my mind, figuring it was something I might try some time, or might not try. But either way, so what? It’s an option easily not chosen by those who don’t want peas in their guacamole.
Except, I guess not. Because a whole lot of internet folk were that friend of a friend of a friend who wanted to beat me up for eating a thing he did not want to eat. Apparently the very thought of putting peas in guacamole is a sacrilege on a scale equivalent to suggesting the Civil War was actually really truly about slavery (spoiler alert: it was about slavery) or that women are human beings. People will burn your house down over this important matter of adding a certain ingredient to guacamole.
The funny thing is until I saw the freak out, peas in guacamole was merely something I might have tried at some point or not. It was an idea, a suggestion, a little variation on a classic. Maybe delicious, or maybe not (though since I like peas they would be unlikely to destroy guacamole for me). But now, as I think about almost getting beat up 34 years ago over breakfast, I’m looping around to I am definitely going to make guacamole with peas in it because screw all these people freaking out and threatening others over a perfectly innocuous personal food choice.
Eat peas. Eat guacamole. Eat peas in guacamole. Eat what you want. But whatever you eat, don’t threaten or harass others because they’ve chosen something else.