Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Seasonal Stereotypes

There is a rose hip bush in my workplace. Its dangling with fat pink hued globe shaped bulbs, almost like Christmas baubles teasing me to be picked now, and indeed I was tempted. Yesterday, I picked one that went straight to mush in between my fingers, others were already off brown in colour and shrivelled. Many of the foraging and gardening books I’ve read say to wait after the first frost, when they are ripe and soft. This one was too soft. I hope I have not left them too late.

On picking another rose hip that was much firmer, a passing worker gave me that strange look as if to say what you doing wierdo. I’ve decided, I am not going to pick these rose hips during working hours. Couple of reasons: first one, I remembered this experience from my childhood that left a mark on my psyche; and secondly, being the only visible minority ethnic, female employee in position I stand out. The last thing I want to do is draw further attention that would negate to a racial stereotype in some people minds. You may wonder what on earth am I on about? So to give you an insight into some 'seasonal stereotypes' let me share with you some that have become popularised by the media in recent times. Let us start with the seasonal holidays, when the tabloids will start covering stories around missing koi carp from some of the lakes, rivers and fisheries. The ‘perception’ that is perpetuated is that the Polish migrant workers are taking them to feast on. Another seasonal stereotype shrouds stories of the missing mushrooms. During the autumnal season when wild mushrooms are hard to find, those greedy immigrants are blamed, in this case, the French and the Italian are blamed; and one of the worst was the rumour that Eastern Europeans were eating the Queens’ white Swans – complete and utter nonsense.

Similar kind of stereotypes used to be perpetuated at some level in my workplace too (and maybe yours too), but things have positively changed. Those that used to accuse the Chinese or South Asian employees for stinking out the staff kitchen (when they were re-heating their rice and curry dishes) were told to self-reflect on the smells of their own foodstuffs. Such as the smell created on heating smoked haddock under the toaster; and then there is the frying of pig flesh aka bacon, not a pleasant smell to my nose, but I am not going to denigrate people because of this.

The smell of food has a tendency to either 'excite' ones senses or be a ‘put off’. We are all different, this is a fact we should all accept.

Anyway all this is way of saying, I didn’t want to start of another racial stereotype that the South Asian women were raiding all the lovely rose hips and there was nothing left for the birds when the winter came. Oh no how could I?! Instead I’m hoping to go in early in the hours and pick them when its relatively quite, when there are not too many peering eyes. I have grand designs. I want to make rose hip jelly, rose hip syrup and rose hip jam, and if I’m not getting too greedy (and have enough), maybe even some rose hip schnapps.


  1. This looks really yummy, I like okra but sometimes I find that they have a bit of .... I don't even know the adjective... viscosity? So I am never sure how to cook them. I think in a curry they are perfect!

  2. I have been wondering what rose hip syrup tastes like, and rose hip schnapps - that sounds fab. I say just pick the rose hips during working hours - go for it! Let the crazy people think whatever they wish. x

  3. hmm. this is an education to read - i have never heard of any of these stereotypes. it's very sad to me.

  4. ps - so if you're an american girl with scottish/irish/english/polish/german ancestry...?

  5. Oh, sweetheart, I'm so sorry you've had such difficult experiences. As a Gypsy, I can really empathise - I've had a lot of negative comments over the years, especially when things get stolen or go missing, the first thing said is 'theiving Gypsies'. I used to get so angry & frustrated at it, though now my response is to laugh, point out how ridiculous they sound (nothing throws people off quite like going 'Yes, it was me! I stole the roof tiles, and tonight when you're in bed asleep I'm going to steal yours. And sour your milk. And steal your soul. Muahaha!').
    When people see me in the hedgerows picking berries, I'll say hello & tell them what I'm picking & why, and offer them some to try (so now I have a reputation as the home preserver of the village, and get asked to identify berries, and often told about the location of a good fruit tree).
    I'm not saying that this is the right way to do things, this is just my way of doing it. We all find different strategies for getting through life, and ways to live.
    Much love to you, and good luck with your guerilla gatherings (and did you say rosehip schnapps? Will you perhaps be sharing your recipe for rosehip schnapps..?)

  6. Thank you Alessandra.
    I agree in a curry and even a gumbo, okra is good!

    I've had rosehip syrup when I was small, can't honeslty remember the flavour though. Have recnetly drunk some rosehip tea, zingy. And rose hip schnapps - absolutely no idea, but I am curious :0)

    I did pick some rosehips, not enough to my culinary ambitions, but enough for some rosehip jelly. So watch this space.

    Thanks EcoGrrl.
    Yes, this is the world we live in, and indeed it's very sad.

    Re your question: The American girl with scottish/irish/english part will be fine here, but the polish/german ancestry part will have a big ? mark around it.

    Thank you littleblackfox.
    For your honestly and sharing your own expereince. I was delighted to read of your empathy, but sorry that you as a Gypsy have encountered similar negative comments and behaviour.

    Its good to read that things have changed for you and you and your knowledge and skills are seen in a more positive light the village, rather than that stereotype of the witch. Talkign of witches, do you have your broomstick ready to cast some magic spells :)

    I think its a bonus that you get told where good fruit tree are located.

    PS I did say rosehip schnapps, but I don't think it will be happening, as I only managed to gather 400g - 500g of rosehip at work this morning. But if I get round to making some, promise to share.

    And as always, Thank you so so much for your warming kind wishes. A blessing indeed.

  7. There's a lot to be said for having that lightbulb moment when you realise that you can rail against the world & get nowhere, but a little shift in your perception, how you act & react to circumstances, makes an enormous difference. Being angry tends to make me feel miserable & impotent anyway, and where's the fun in that?!

    Much love (and if it hasn't already arrived, there's something in the post!)
    Heh, I have a broomstick, but it's mainly used for sweeping, and occasionally whackin' stuff! (and on rare occasions, chasing MikeFox across the garden)

    I forgot to add - thank you for the Sloe Gin blog post! I made a batch this morning (a Christmas present for my mother in law)

  8. Thank you littleblackfox.
    I'm not angry any more just pity the people who don't see the beauty in others and tend to be judgemental. It saddens me.

    Yes I did receive a gift today. An e mail is winging its way to you tonight. x

    PS Don't thank me for the sloe gin yet, you have yet to have a taster before giving it to your Mother-in-law. Hope its flavourful for us both and your mother-in-law of course.

  9. I know what you mean, I used to get a hard time at school for having red hair and it made me not want to stand out for some time. For the last few years however I have been pushing myself and now do what ever I feel I want to and don't give a poop about what others think too much. You rose-hop pick to your delight mangocheeks and just give those people who look at you strangely a lovely big smile!

    Re the smell of food, I work with several other nationalities and love the smell of their food cooking - they even share some with me sometimes and it is great to try out different things. x

  10. Thank you Scented Sweetpea.
    I remember your hair from your wedding photograph early this year. Beautiful!!!!

    I am much more confident as a person now than I have ever been, but i'd rather not give people opportunity to gossip un-necessarily at work. I do try and keep work and my private life separate. But those darn rosehips were just too good looking to ignore.

    Food is a great way to break cultural and barriers and its wonderful that there is postive intergration where you are. Thank you for sharing.


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