I glanced in the bowl, where wilted greens clung to the sides and bottom, sharing space with an assortment of soggy tomato chunks, tidbits of sweet peppers, and slivers of garlic, swimming in a puddle of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and spices that had escaped being grabbed by the salad tongs during the meal.
Now, it wasn’t a complicated question, but I did pause before answering, considering that some sort of a punchline would follow. Or perhaps it was a trick question? Why would anyone ask that? I do the same thing with leftover salad that everyone does…I throw it in the garbage.
“Isn’t that what you do?” I asked.
“No, I flush it down the toilet.”
Another guest joined in and added, “I save it in the fridge and eat it the next day. I don’t mind soggy salad and won’t let food go to waste.”
An interesting debate ensued. Each of us defended our choice of what to do with leftover salad. Each of us referenced what our parents did with leftover salad. I was fascinated to realize that our decisions on how to proceed with even the simplest of tasks was determined more by the culture we were raised in and what we had been taught to do than something tweaking our senses to do it.
And defend our choices we did! There were certainly no angry words or fist fights of any sort, but we all felt compelled to stick up for our ways. Our very identities were at risk. What belonged to each of us was being challenged.
I recently wrote a story commemorating the anniversary of the earthquake that “hit” Roatan. I put the word hit in quotations because a similar debate ensued when I used that word to describe the event. Someone who wasn’t on Roatan the day of the earthquake corrected my reference, stating that from a scholastic point of view, Roatan was not hit by an earthquake. Many of the people on the Island that earthshaking day joined in to verbally defend the description of the experience, as a hit. Through a simple grammatical correction, what we had gone through was being denied.
So what the heck does that have to do with leftover salad or life on a tropical Island in the Caribbean Sea? (I used to call it the Caribbean ocean; that too was corrected by the same person. I grew up in Canada, we have oceans around us, not seas…it’s what I’m use to saying.)
I have come to call Roatan home. I brought my traditions, my cultural background (I’m a Heinz 57 so it would be impossible to pin it down to anything specific) and my learned behaviours. Once here, I encountered ways of doing things and ways of living that are foreign to me. But what I do is foreign to them too.
Instead of rushing to defend my point of view, or feeling threatened by someone else’s, I think I’ll work on appreciating hearing and seeing different way of doing things, and be grateful that there are some things I might want to adopt to enhance my life, my daily existence.
Maybe, I’ll even become more…worldly.
As for the earthquake, it was an experience I hope to never repeat. But it did give those of us who were on Roatan when it hit a special connection to each other, a common thread, a bond.
So what do you do with leftover salad?
“Roatan” Genny Ross-Barons