Divided Opinions

I have a weird taste for going down the rabbit hole on Facebook comments. I watch a lot of food videos – especially the ones which I know are going to wind me up – and I find myself looking for a vindication of my reaction. You see, I am a thoroughly vain character, and I want the world to agree with me and only with me. If I think something is great, I want everyone with eyes to see my way.

That said, the human race isn’t cut like that: the human race leans towards conflict. If I watch a video or read an article where I simply do not agree with what has been said or done I will dive in to the comments with gusto: looking for people who hate as deeply as I do; looking for people who have seen the same error as I have; looking for like-minded souls at the coal-face of dissention. Indeed.

So, let me take you through a few things I have seen recently, and thoroughly enjoyed. The kernel of this post came about when I saw a recipe for chicken stew with dumplings. Rather than looking for something to hate I was looking for tips. I absolutely love chicken stew with dumplings, and I wanted to develop my cooking. My first problem was that they stewed some chicken breast for an hour.

The only part of a chicken which should be stewed is the thigh. That’s my opinion, and I had thought that the people who stewed with breast were people who did not realise that thighs were lovely. A review of the comments showed me that actually there were people who chose to stew breast meat because they hate the fattiness of thigh, and love the way breast crumbles. I was really shocked.

That was nothing to the dumplings. I was expecting some flour, some fat and some milk – that’s how I make dumplings, and I use suet. No, this was flour, baking powder and cream. I had never seen that before and took to the comments to see if I was alone. It turns out I was not as alone as I thought I would be. It turned out to be a relatively common technique, but one which divided opinions.

What shocked me was the ability of some to take offence at food which differed even slightly from that which their mother made while they were growing up. This was to become a growing trend in the comments I read on posts over the coming weeks, and it never fails to bemuse me. Everything is done differently in every part of every country in the world. I thought we all just knew that by now.

That said once more, I do not like to spread my hate, so I simply read comments. If I disagree with a recipe, then it is the recipe I disagree with and not the person who has written the recipe. I find that when such online debates resort to personal attacks it is time for them to stop. My favourite online tool is support: I click like on people’s posts; I share in support; attacking people online is cowardly.

I have seen no more cowardly personal and moronic attacks than the differences in the usage of eggs between different countries. Where I live we store eggs ambiently – i.e. not in a fridge. They have not been washed prior to sale, so they do not need to be refrigerated. In many countries, eggs are scrubbed before sale, so it is unsafe to store them out of the fridge. People cannot agree on this.

Washing poultry (tantamount to spreading biological weaponry in the UK) is another idea which ups the ante of disagreement. In discussions between UK and US home cooks pitched battles can and do break out over washing poultry and storing eggs out of the fridge. Just accept that food standards are different in different countries and stop calling each other such truly horrible names. Wankers.

I also saw a video recently which made me laugh a lot. A woman was eating a cheeseburger, and her hungry dog decided he wanted it. He jumped up and started eating it from her hand. She initially didn’t realise, but the dog soon took over and demolished the whole burger while she looked on, aghast. I lost my mind with laughter, and looked in the comments for my normal validation. Nope.

Comments ranged from people wanting to slap the poor little hungry dog in the staged video in to a wall to people attacking the woman attempting to eat a cheeseburger for animal cruelty. That was a shock. The number of people calling the video makers out for giving a dog that kind of food stunned me. People were suggesting that onions could kill a dog, and that the video makers should be jailed.

I have had dogs as long as I have been alive, and I was unaware that onions harmed dogs. Made them fart, perhaps, but no health issues. The outpouring of aggression and contempt was much stronger than I was expecting. I had been looking for laughter, but found real hate. I saw a cute little dog having a fun time, and getting one over on a human. It tickled me, and I really liked it. Watch.

The last kind of posts I keep finding myself in, but just wanting to shout at the people who write them, are the overly judgemental “My way or the highway” type of post. They have titles like “10 people who are beyond contempt” or “24 pictures which prove that evil does truly exist”. That all sounds like fun and games to me, so I click in. Immediately my heart sinks as I get the gist of it all.

The first one I saw was a set of pictures of bottles of tomato ketchup sitting outside of a fridge, each tagged with words like “Evil” and “How could you do this?” The poster had created a whole post based on how much they felt that ketchup must always be stored in a fridge. Again, it varies. I saw another where two dozen people were vilified for putting mayonnaise on to their chips. Why not?

I recently saw one where the post consisted of nothing but cups of tea with various proportions of milk. I still can’t decide if the poster was in favour of milk in tea, but not that much, or appalled by the very notion of milk in tea. The commenters were equally bemused. Either way, the search goes on. I take milk in my tea: I couldn’t give two dusty fucks how you take your tea. Enjoy it your way.