Thursday, February 25, 2010
As I was growing up, I was always encouraged to try new foods. With having travelled quite a bit too, at this point, I very rarely refuse to try any cuisine, even if it is a bit out of the ordinary.
Being brought up in Hong Kong in both Chinese and international contexts, I learned very early on that consuming things like duck's liver, bird's nest, shark's fin, and turtle shell jelly (pictured above), was pretty weird to some people - specifically those that weren't local Chinese. But to me, my beloved grandmother, and the rest of my Chinese-side family, it was perfectly normal. (And yes, I've tried and love all of those things.)
Recently, I've been listening to a lot of people give China crap about eating things like dog, because they're a creature that the Western world has domesticated. Or things like scorpion or tarantula, because they sting and they're poisonous and they look too different from us humans. Give China a break, man, it's a big country, with the largest population in the world. I'd be surprised if all 1.3 billion of us were only eating cow, chicken and pig, animals we're 'supposed to eat'.
What, like the French don't eat steak tartare, escargot, or frog legs? The Spanish eat bull testicles. And the Texans deep-fry rattlesnake. Australians eat kangaroo, crocodile eggs and ostrich. The Americans use cod liver oil as a vitamin A supplement. And the English feast on pig's blood every morning in the form of black pudding.
The Americans invented chewing gum - I mean, if you really think about it, that's a pretty weird idea for someone to come up with.
Foreign food should not be looked at in disgust. I respect whatever your personal preferences are, or what you feel about certain animals - I really do. I mean, some things I find weird, too. For example, I find it weird that Ukrainians eat bear, Filipinos eat chicken fetus, Alaskans eat raw fat from whales, and Icelandic people eat puffin. I'm weirded out by it, but I would never feel disgusted by any of these things because it's just what different people in different parts of the world have become adapted to eating. If you're an animal rights activist, well, good for you for trying to conserve different species. If you hate spiders, that's fine as well.
But I'm not pressuring you to like these things. Just accept that others eat these things, just respect that others may even love eating these things. Nobody's trying to force-feed any of these 'disgusting' foods down your throat, so we shouldn't have to swallow our feelings of embarassment when you say that they're disgusting.