Context Is Everything
Explanation of exactly how I came to say this on Saturday night: I attended a Chinese New Year celebration hosted by a woman who spent a couple of years teaching in China and developed a fondness for many Chinese customs. One of them is the “hot pot” meal, which is similar to fondue only without the unpleasant Seventies connotations: We all sat around a wok filled with boiling water combined with a spicy bean paste, and on little plates all around the wok were various chopped raw ingredients. We each had a little bowl filled with sauce, and the idea was that we’d pick whatever ingredients we wanted, dump them into the boiling broth, and then spoon them out into our bowls once they’d finished cooking. (Actually, we all just dumped things in at random and fished out whatever we wanted as the night went along. It all tasted great, and the next time I host a party where I have to feed people, hot pot’s definitely how I’ll do it.)
The hostess pointed to each ingredient and identified it in turn: “This is lotus, broccoli, meat dumplings, mushrooms, fish balls, zucchini, [etc., etc.] and we’ll call that one ‘canola’ because it sounds better than ‘rape’.”
Most guests agreed, but I of course took a contrarian stance and said “You never know. Maybe people will leave here telling you, ‘This would’ve been a cool party, except you didn’t have enough rape’.”
Except she did; in fact, some uncooked canola remained on the plate when all we stopped eating and started watching hilariously bad Chinese pop music videos. It turned out to be a fantastically cool party, though how much of that stemmed from the easy access to rape remains debatable.
I personally did not partake of any rape that night, not out of moral principle so much as I just don’t like leafy green things.