display | more...
Terrorist hospitality refers to the curious phenomenon of kindness mixed with violence at dinner time in Russian culture. If you are a visitor to the house of a Russian family, they will show you kindness by offering you to eat their food. But if you refuse, they will attempt to force you to eat through verbal and physical violence. They'll threaten you verbally by accusing you of hating them. "I know why you don't want to eat my food" They'll say, adding "It's because you've always secretly hated me but never told me so. In fact, you probably hate being in my house and can't wait to leave. I should probably never invite you again." If verbal insistence will not work, your host might even resort to physical force. Food items will be placed on your plate, if they are casseroles or meat items, or in your hands, if they are desserts or fruits. But what if you push your plate away and still insist that on not trying a dish? You'd think that would be the end of the story. But then you'd be underestimating the ruthless determination of the host. If you impertinently push away the plate of food or place its contents back to the serving dish from whence they came, the host will not surrender but merely place the items back in your plate or hand.

While the obstinate insistence on making a guest eat might seem crazy, if you understand more about Russian culture, it would actually seem rational. For Russian families, socializing takes place in the context of sitting down at a table and talking over food. The refusal to partake in the meal prepared by the host takes on a symbolic meaning of not wanting to socialize with that person. Also, considering the fact that Russian hosts invest many hours of their time to outfit their dinner tables with various exotic dishes, a guest's refusal to eat these prepared foods becomes a personal affront to the cook. The host takes pride in their ability as a chef and wants their food to make a favorable and memorable impression on their guests' palates. To find out whether their mission to make an impact with their offerings was successful, they probe their visitors with questions. The host asks them how a dish tasted, whether it's different from the recipe their own family makes, and even solicit suggestions for improvement. That's why a refusal to taste all of the dishes on the table is seen as a great insult - the food is the host's artwork and not eating it is paramount to overlooking and dishonoring their creative talents. Therefore, for the purposes of honoring the host's cooking prowess, it is customary to sample every dish and comment on your impressions of it. Even if there are some dishes that you would rather avoid.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.