I guess I was serving in my inter-racial confessor mode the other day when “the man who would be head pastor” of our church plant was relaying to me a story from his childhood. He had asked a black kid to spend the night over at his house and then relayed this to his folks. A well-intentioned, though rather … provincial in terms of their exposure to other races, they asked the innocent question “would we need to cook something else?” Like I said, a well-intentioned question as they wanted their guest to feel as comfortable as possible, not that it stopped “the man who would be head pastor” from making fun of them. Like, what? You’re going to learn to cook chitlins or something before he came over?

NOTE: For the record, in case you’re interested in having me over for dinner, I’m black, but I’m not “chitlins” black. My grandmother traumatized me early in life. One time when she was cleaning those nasty things (the house reeked of them), she turned and chased me. I can still picture those wrinkled, greasy hands.

*shudder*

Anyway, in my continuing role as cross-cultural ambassador, I have learned to prepare dishes suitable for white people’s palates. This was no easy task. My wife attended an event called “Taste of College Park Church”, wherein the ladies of College Park Church, a mostly white congregation, prepared dishes and traded recipes. [This is one of those sexist church events where no men are allowed, despite the fact that I’m the cook in the household.] My wife picked up a book of these collected recipes, went through and tasted the various dishes, and highlighted the appropriate recipes.

I poured over that book, experimenting with some of those recipes and one thing immediately jumped out at me: white people love casseroles. Apparently there’s no collection of ingredients that can’t be improved by adding cream of (insert flavor of choice) soup.

While I have no problems making fun of some of the vagaries of black cuisine, the other issue that triggered this all-over-the-place rant was when my wife informed me that she was craving a fried bologna sandwich. Since when is fried bologna a valid meal option? Granted, I’m a bit of a food snob and consider minced garlic and cilantro vital to most of my recipes. So I called up my authority on such matters, my redneck friend who lives to educate me on all things hill-jack. [Come on, like most of you DON’T have that one friend of a different ethnic persuasion that you trot out to prove you’re not racist? I at least have the decency to put him in most of my stories and kill him off (he gets a kick out of that).] He broke it down for me, the importance of the culinary value of Spam, Slim Jims, Hamburger Helper, and carny food.

You see, I’m all about broadening my cultural horizons. We tend to forget that cross-cultural doesn’t just mean crossing the black-white boundary, but includes class distinctions. I’d daresay that we have a bigger class problem in this country than race problem. Let’s face it: a middle class white family probably has more in common with a middle class black family than a lower class white family. This is probably the closest I will come to having a point this blog.

All this is part and parcel of life in an interracial marriage. Why just yesterday, my children and I shared a bit of cross-cultural dialogue. My eldest child (4) informed me that only brown men like having no hair (I was shaving my head at the time). My wife taught me about the importance and proper application of sunscreen. (Oddly this hadn’t popped up in my side of the family, except once in Jamaica. I’d been walking along the beach, mocking white folks for trying to get dark, my wife dutifully ignoring me. That evening, I thought I was dying. Flakes of skin tumbled from my head. My wife, enjoying the irony, pointed out that this was a phenomena commonly referred to as peeling. I’d been sunburnt.)

I’m sure that I’ll get another lesson in some of the strange things you people do when I finally get around to learning what “product” is and what this has to do with your hair. In the mean time, I exposed my children to ghetto air conditioning: Flavor-Ice and the Slip ‘N Slide.