One of the best parts of traveling (well, really, of life?) is eating. 🙂 When you travel around the world, you are suddenly exposed to so many new types of food – often some that surprise you, for better or for worse.
When I began to venture out of the US, this proposition was kind of scary… The first time I remember leaving the country was when I was 13 and we crossed the border to Tijuana. At the closest border town, my sister and I were commanded by our mom to “eat, drink and go to the bathroom now because you’re not doing it again until we return!”. Needless to say, I did not sample any Mexican cuisine on that outing.
The next time I left the US was on a school trip to the Soviet Union. Yes, it was still called “The Soviet Union” at that time. I don’t remember much about the food, but I’m pretty sure I ate a lot of potatoes and bread (because beets taste like dirt [this article explains why and appeals to my scientific nature] and I wasn’t about to eat little slimy fish with their heads still attached…). It’s a wonder I didn’t come home with scurvy… What I do remember is my camera film being confiscated on our “commute home” at the East/West Berlin border crossing (yes…still in existence too…) by a very large German man with a gun. But that’s a story for another day. 🙂
In my early travel years, I admit to being “one of those people” that sought out the most “American” looking food I could find because it seemed “safe”. I drew the line at McDonalds, but if there was an American chain restaurant in sight or a recognizable packaged snack at the store, there’s a good chance I headed toward it. Thankfully that phase didn’t last long – now I am excited to explore everything (everything?) that local cuisines have to offer. And boy have I sampled it.
It’s hard to describe some of the surprises that have been placed before me. Rabbit ears, duck tongues, and scorpions (China), mice on a stick (Malawi), termites (Kenya), and a lot of unidentifiable creatures from the sea (Japan) are just a few that are on the list. Sometimes I can handle it – the rabbit ears were actually cold, pickled, and surprisingly tasty. 🙂 But sometimes there is absolutely zero chance. Those mice still had FUR!!
This is, of course, balanced by the delicious dishes that make up 90%+ of what I actually eat overseas. Who can argue with a delicious wine and pasta dinner in Italy? Or fresh sushi and sake in Japan, ugali and kachumbari in Kenya, homemade bread and apricot jam in Kyrgyzstan?? If you keep your mind open, the possibilities are endless. In fact, I’m starting to collect these gems on my very first Pinterest board. Don’t judge – I’m just starting – but what a way to start. 🙂
This finally brings me around to the title of the post. It’s true. I reached a new level on my last trip to Japan. The conversation went something like this:
Him: “we’re going to order this because we love it and you won’t eat it, so we will have it all!”.
Me: “OK. We’ll see….”
ONLY with the help of a generous sake selection did the Horse Sashimi have a chance.
And when it happened…it really wasn’t too bad. 🙂 Kind of like beef tartare…
So the moral of the story is? Don’t be afraid – just eat it! 🙂