I’ve spent the evening making apple sauce and thinking about America. Growing up apple sauce was a seasonal thing, something, like roast potatoes and trifle inherently part of Christmas dinner. Apple sauce as snack, baking ingredient, regular supermarket stock, isn’t a particularly British thing, but we did eat plenty of stewed apple and there isn’t really much of a difference. I love cooked apple in all it’s forms and the idea of preserving local, organic apples and having apple sauce on hand ready to eat, is hugely appealing and something I probably wouldn’t have thought of without the Americans I’ve gotten to know online, and in real life.
America has also been on my mind today, after reading about the sad result of Maine’s election. Of course, equality and marriage rights are important always and everywhere (and the idea of allowing the majority to vote over minority rights is frankly terrifying), but visiting the US this year really hit home how important they are not just on principle but in very practical ways. At home marriage just isn’t such a big deal, of course lots of people choose to get married (and while the civil partnership name is problematic it’s viewed as marriage and has not caused the world to end), but it generally seems to be a choice that’s made for personal reasons. I know a great many people in long term, committed relationships who aren’t married, for a myriad of reasons, but the important thing is that, it isn’t necessary to them, although there are some rights that marriage grants here.
I was constantly surprised in America by just how many people I met who were married, who planned to get married, and who perceived marriage as important, normal and even necessary. At first I was pretty surprised by this, and as someone who spends quite so much time online and immersed in American culture as I do, I wasn’t expecting to find many unexpected cultural differences. And so I started asking questions, and the answers were revealing and consistent. Of course Americans get married for many of the same personal reasons as people at home do, but they also had far more practical reasons. Nowhere should who you love make you a second class citizen, but in America, this seems so much less abstract and so much more about practical realities. Which is making me sad today, and the childish comforts of apple sauce, isn’t going to fix that, but more people speaking out has got to help.
Introducing the first in an ongoing series of guest posts. I'm honoured that we're beginning with this vital letter from Emi Ito.
Emi has been outspoken about the cultural appropriation of the kimono in fashion and has helped many makers and designers find a less hurtful approach to naming their patterns and products.