Following her last column on religious fanaticism and the Woolies Halaal hot cross bun fiasco, Caryn Gootkin looks at political correctness, Google and matzah puddings, in no particular order.
My first reaction to the Halaal hot cross bun uprising was that it was one big matzah pudding. Don’t worry; I don’t intend bringing kosher food into the debate. I use the term in its non-culinary sense.
(Although, I do have it on reliable authority that Pick ‘n Pay Sea Point, whose entire bakery is under the supervision of the Beth Din, produced only kosher hot cross buns this year. Ah, the sweet irony. And, lest I be considered alone in mistaking pagan confectionery for Pesach food, when my son saw the pictures of the buns next to the text of my previous column, he exclaimed, “Oh look, it’s kneidelach!”)
I probably need to explain what I mean by the phrase ‘matzah pudding’ because, when I googled ‘matzah pudding’ (in all its various spelling permutations), all I found was recipes. This was very unhelpful as the mere thought made me physically ill, coming as it did so close after the eight days of matzah.
Amazed at the great search engine’s failure to explain the words’ figurative meaning, and fresh from reading Paige Nick’s (@paigen) hilarious ST Lifestyle column on the breaking of Google, I paused. Was I the only one who knew this alternative meaning? And, if so, was this my Chinese bangle, so to speak? (Please read Paige’s column. As usual, it’s too good to miss and will shed some light on my thought process.)
When Google fails, tweet
When in doubt about matters verbal, I consult my personal, round-the-clock search engine, Twitter. I asked: “Apart from a Passover dessert, what do you understand by the term matzah pudding?”
Within seconds I had replies from two SA Twitter heavyweights confirming my understanding.
Gus Silber @gussilber: I’ve heard it used as slang for a messy situation. “Oy, what a matzah pudding.” The Yiddish version of “Gosh, what a jam.”
For the sake of completeness, I did find one online reference to the ‘messy situation’ meaning of ‘matzah pudding’, but it didn’t explain the term. The very same PR guru, Angelo Coppola, used it in the heading of a column he wrote for Bizcomunity.com to describe a similarly thorny issue.
But I have digressed. So, to the matzah pudding at hand I must return.
Political correctness and cowardly compromises
In response to the furore over their Halaal hot cross buns, Woolworths caved under pressure from radical Christians who prefer their buns suitable for their consumption alone. (See the revealing comments on my previous column and watch out, Pick ‘n Pay.)
Their attempt at keeping the peace was to promise their consumers both Halaal and non-Halaal buns next Easter. This fence-hogging compromise is an extreme example of political correctness, which is very often characterised by similar sycophantic statements. Perhaps they should consider expanding their product offering to include options suitable for vegans, celiac disease sufferers and those with an aversion to raisins?
It was the outspoken Charlton Heston who coined the phrase “tyranny with manners” to describe political correctness. I doubt he ever engaged in this form of what PD James called “linguistic facism”.
Often, an attempt to appear naturally tolerant ties one up in a tongue-twisting tangle. This may or may not be the reason a poor office manager (who will not be named) wrote this email to his Halaal colleagues about their lunch arrangements.
Kindly note that on the days that a non-Halaal primary supplier (eg today X) is used that another Halaal primary supplier will be used .Only one primary supplier who serves Halaal food may be used on the day that another non-Halaal supplier is used.
The vegetarian option from a non-Halaal supplier will not be utilized to provide catering for individuals requiring the Halaal option.
I’m not sure which is easier to digest – tortured tolerance or straightforward supremacy. You decide.