This morning, I woke to a sore throat, a broken boiler, and an outside temperature of negative two degrees Fahrenheit. Of course, I immediately went for the Advil, but hot chocolate has the benefit of making my whole body feel better, not just my throat. I slithered to the kitchen.
I do not have a consistent favorite type of hot chocolate. Oftentimes, I use a base of Hershey’s powdered mix to which I add some Valrhona or perhaps some Trader Joe’s Peppermint. This morning? Sick equals peppermint, right?
With my dairy sink pipes frozen, I was still able to use the boiling water from the Sabbath hot water pot left over from the day before. Thank God.
I used a small spoon to mix the steaming hot water with the various mixes. The hot water did a good job of breaking down the powder, but I had a hard time with some small peppermint balls that floated on top. I spun the spoon clockwise. Counter-clockwise. I pushed the stubborn balls down towards the bottom of the mug. Yet still a few minty clumps remained.
Determined, I took the bottom side of my spoon and mashed the remaining puffs onto the side of the mug. They spread there like a bug on a speedy windshield. I scraped the sides into the rest of my drink.
Fortunately, the water had not yet gone cold in my minute battle, and I was able to enjoy my warm cocoa. However, as it was not quite so hot anymore, I downed the mug rather quickly. It was delicious.
As I finished, I looked at the bottom of the mug to find peppermint sediment peppered on the surface. They survived my early onslaught. I grabbed the spoon to scoop them up, and enjoyed the burst of peppermint to cap my morning drink.
The western world is deeply engaged in discussions about immigrants and refugees. Part of those conversations are about security, but another is related to society’s ability to absorb the thousands of new arrivals. Will they fit in? Will they blend in? What does their arrival mean for the nature of society going forward?
There are some people that are purists and believe that a culture stays fixed forever. They would prefer that their country, say Hungary, remains the same year-in and year-out. The only foreign languages they would hear would be tourists who come for a few days, spend some money, and then leave. No signs would ever be in a language other than Hungarian. The people will all “look” Hungarian and “act” Hungarian.
The approach in France may be different. There, people may welcome immigrants with different backgrounds, but on the proposition that all of these foreigners will melt into French society. It is permissible to be Algerian upon arrival, but the expectation is to become French over time.
The United States has yet a different approach. It very much supports the idea of a melting pot, and has created an educational system that requires that different parts of society must interact with all others. Yet the country is also fine with the patchwork of distinct cultural identities. Chinatowns and Little Italy’s dot America, even while most Chinese and Italians blend into society at large.
I understand that some people want to have the exact same chocolate without any variety every single day. I think it’s a bit boring, but I’m not mixing your mug.
I also appreciate that some people are happy to incorporate a few flavors into their routines. They diligently try to make sure that everything is mixed so completely that all that is left is a singular blended society. No outliers. As I chase the foreign floaties in my hot chocolate, I sometimes think of myself as one of those people.
But there are times when I am reminded about those stubborn clumps that refuse to blend in. It may not have been part of the initial overall plan, but I am happy that some have remained distinct, as they were, when they folded into the mix.
A famous dim-witted philosopher once said that “life is like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.” Maybe the corollary is that societies are like cups of hot chocolate; some are more blended than others.
I’m happy with mine.
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