In a December post, “Is British food dull?” I managed to offend a couple of readers, notably the blogger behind Emma Foods, who posted an interesting response, about how she sees British food. It’s worth a look.
I clearly got under her skin, and in return she got under mine in both her response and the comments she left–not because of her content, which I find interesting, but because of her tone. So I’ve given some thought to how to handle this. I don’t want the exchange to turn into a slanging match. I’m happy to host disagreements, even when the disagreement’s packaging doesn’t make me happy. But I do want to make four points:
First, Emma’s definition of British food is far more multicultural than mine. That’s interesting and worth some thought. How, it makes me ask, do we define British? As an immigrant and a resident of the relatively monocultural Cornwall, do I think of Britishness too narrowly?
It’s a valuable contribution to the conversation. My thanks.
Second, I didn’t say British food was dull. I said it had a reputation for being dull and that a lot of British chefs seem to react to that by valuing innovation above taste. I did, by way of examples, say some unflattering things about British lasagna and compared British burger recipes less than flatteringly to American burgers. But not all British food, I’m happy to say, is either lasagna or hamburgers.
I didn’t balance those examples by talking about British foods I like. That may or may not have been an oversight. It depends on how you define the post’s topic. I could argue it either way.
Third, to my surprise, Emma’s right about my having changed the title of my post, although based on what I can reconstruct from the original URL, I don’t seem to have changed it in the way she remembers. I do sometimes change a title if it strikes me, in hindsight, as out of focus or long-winded. The change wasn’t in response to her comment.
Does that matter? Not really.
Why mention it, then? Because I don’t like to leave anyone thinking I’d erase what I said in response to being challenged. I’d much prefer to take the challenge head on. If when someone rattles my cage I decide something needs to be taken down, I hope I’ll have the guts to acknowledge it.
And fourth, I’m not a he. It doesn’t particularly matter in this context, and Emma’s not the first person to look at my half-faced, short-haired photo and decide I’m male, but as long as I’m putting a few things on record, I thought I’d mention it.
In my experience, very few people leave comments on topics I (or other bloggers) suggest, but I’m going to make a suggestion anyway: If anyone wants to leave a comment about how to handle online disagreements without getting into flaming wars, it could be an interesting discussion.
After I sent this out, I realized I hadn’t titled it. So in the interest of full disclosure, I’m announcing that the title’s a late addition.