Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Living Outside of Myself

When we decided to move to China, I was totally comfortable with the idea. After all, a year-long vacation sounded fantastic (and so far, so good). There was only one thing I was a bit wary of...

I had heard that sometimes banquets with really rare delicacies are held in honor of visiting scholars and their families. In a true sense of hospitality, people from China want you to feast on all of the delicious foods. They might say, "man man chi," which means "eat slowly."

While there's no doubt that I enjoy food, I'm pretty much a meat and potatoes girl. To me, a delicacy might be something like lamb or couscous. And never does a fish pass through my lips.

Yet this weekend I was faced with an ichthyologist's dream. Fish in lemon sauce, dead fish in a bowl of broth, barbecue fish, deadly Yangtze River fish (he tun yu). Yes, I know we're in Shanghai (which means "on the sea"), and therefore the local cuisine includes a lot of fins, so I guess I should have had an inkling. So what did I do?

Ate them. Yes, even the poisonous one. Why? Because it was the right thing to do. I stepped outside of myself and my norms and learned an important lesson in addition to being polite to my hosts. Sometimes a little discomfort is OK. Sometimes uncomfortable situations can induce growth. And...

Almost any food, when seasoned correctly and smothered in sauce can be tasty.



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