Last week I was chatting with a friend. The conversation turned to criticism of another friend of ours.
More specifically, a child of that friend.
As we kept talking, I found myself becoming more and more uncomfortable with the direction we were going in. I’m deliberately being light on detail, because what was being said was the kind of judgement you shouldn’t be passing on an adult, let alone a child. My discomfort was in a combination of the judgement, the age of the judgee, the lack of sympathy for and understanding of our mutual friend.
And that I didn’t push back.
Worse that that, I found myself retelling a couple of extra examples to support the outrageous accusations.
I kept quiet because I was afraid of losing a friend and I didn’t want to invite conflict.
This isn’t the only time this has happened, and this situation is most certainly not exclusive to me. I’ve watched many similar situations with friends and family where highly prejudicial or discriminatory stories are told, and no one says anything, because our reluctance to rock the boat outstrips our sense of outrage. We all sit quietly, seething on the inside, or looking around in embarrassment, hoping to God that no one else is listening in.
I wondered whether this is a cultural flaw. New Zealanders are inclined to say nothing in uncomfortable situations. We can make ill advised friendships last a lifetime, rather than standing up for what we believe in. And yet we’ve stood on the world stage in defiance of super powers. We protest against injustice. So I’m not sure it’s that.
I have no issue with pushing back on older members of my family when they come out with enormously inflammatory comments. I’ll vociferously castigate them for their outdated views on race, class and gender (or a combination of all three). Apparently I’m only tolerant of my friends’ prejudice.
It feels like a throwback to the school yard. To the days when you remained friends no matter what. I remember one friend who mercilessly picked on my younger sister. She was redirecting her own frustrations with being the youngest child on someone who was younger than her. I loved (and still love) my sister almost more than anyone else (now my children have taken that place), yet I could let someone who proved to be a short-term friend terrorise my only sibling. I’m not going to be too hard on myself here – I think I was about 9 or 10, but the example works for the narrative.
The only solution I think, is to honestly assess the state of the person you’re friends with. To question whether this was a one off, badly judged comment, or part of a long term pattern of opinions and behaviour. After all, we all have our moments when we speak without thinking. There’s a vast divide between a single foot-in-mouth incident, and a lifetime of bigotry.
If the gap between your standards and theirs is getting too wide, maybe it’s time to look for a new friend.
These croquettes were my favourite things to eat in Spain. They can be filled with serrano ham, salt cod or cheese, or chorizo sausage, as per my recipe below.
I made these for my family as a light dinner, served with a green salad. You could also serve these as a tapas plate, or as an entree.
1 pack L’Authentique chorizo sausages, casings removed
100ml olive oil
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 tsp salt
Pepper to taste
1/2 cup flour, for coating
2 eggs, beaten with 2 Tbsp water
1/2 cup breadcrumbs
Additional olive oil for frying
- Heat a non-stick frying pan. Cook chorizo, breaking up with a spoon, until browned and cooked through. Set aside.
- Heat a saucepan over a medium heat. Add olive oil. When heated, add flour and cook for approximately 2 minutes, stirring to combine.
- Gradually add milk, stirring briskly with a wooden spoon to avoid lumps. The sauce should be very thick and shiny.
- Stir in chorizo, parsley, salt and pepper.
- Refrigerate for an hour to set, or if you’re in a hurry, place in a freezer for 15 minutes.
- Prepare coating by placing flour, eggs and water, and breadcrumbs into separate bowls.
- With floured hands, form spoonfuls of the chorizo mix into small sausage shapes, about 6cm long and 3cm thick. Dredge in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs. Set aside on a large plate in a single layer.
- Heat extra olive oil, about 1cm deep, in a heavy based pan. Fry the croquettes until golden brown all over. If they are started to colour too quickly, reduce the heat. Set aside on kitchen towel to drain. Serve hot with home made mayonnaise if desired.