Thursday, February 25, 2010

233 - People who think foreign food is disgusting

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.


Anonymous said...

I've had everything except Turtle Shell Jelly - Hm.. I wonder what that would taste like.

It's a whole new world after reading this, I mean.. look at what all these different countries are eating :O

And I agree, give CHINA a break! After all, we are the top of the food chain and that's how the cycle goes.

Anonymous said...

I am an animal rights activist and find all comsumption of animals to be disgusting, whether they are free range or in a cage. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it. I think before people try new foods, wherever they from, or when eating what they see as normal, they should take a look at where it comes from and whether they choose their tastebuds and stomach over the life of another living thing. Just my two cence.

Michael said...

Vincent: I just want to promote broad-mindedness, and discourage others from feeling ashamed of what is inherently part of their culture. If there's one thing I've consistently loved doing since the day I was born, it was eating - and I think it's a shame when people will just say they don't like eating any category of food.

Liz: I completely understand, and respect your viewpoint. I have an aunt who also holds animal rights and liberation dear to her heart. I don't really know how I feel about this issue. Throughout my life, I have grown to be very open-minded to and embracing, but this was limited to just the human race. I'm so politically liberal, and I truly believe in my heart that individual liberty is 'right', but in believing in fairness and freedom amongst humans, I totally forget to consider other species. I still have to figure that one out - but in this post, I am not annoyed at anybody's reasons for not eating certain foods. I am merely annoyed at people who express their repulsion of certain foods in front of people eating it, or people who love it, or even depend on it.

MuffinEater said...

Interesting :D The Chinese will eat anything with legs,except for a table,and anything that flies except for a plane. Haha its so true.

I agree,people need to be less ignorant. By the way,the French eat horse too.

And why is it fine to hate spiders?

Michael said...

I don't believe it's right for people to be afraid of spiders. I believe in people being cautious around venomous or biting arachnids, but arachnophobia is not what I mean when I say 'hate spiders'. Some people hate certain colors, and the same goes for animals. Some just prefer... scorpions! Or ants! So you can hate spiders as creatures, that's fine if you dislike spiders and don't want to eat them.

It's even okay to hate foods. But what I'm saying is that it's not because it's domesticated, not because it's weird-looking, not because it's cultural or foreign, but food is food, hate it for its undesirable taste. The only other reason I can see as rational for feeling disgust is finding immorality in the treatment of animals bred/captured for meat.

Anyway, I probably didn't make any sense. Thanks for stopping by, though. Teehee.

Ruchi said...

So thats what it was - Turtle shell jelly!

The last time I was in Hong Kong, I saw a female sell these to only certain customers (the chinese!), who seemed to be enjoying it. When I asked her what it was (I genuinely wanted to try it!!), she shooed me away...

But, on the other hand, I love world cuisine, and want to eat everything the world has to offer, almost! :)

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MuffinEater said...

Nope :D, you made sense.

I really like your blogs,they are informative and humorous at the same time,which is a difficult combination to tackle ^^

Wahahaha I think I'm ruining your blog,with my childish comments.O_O

Uniquely Charis said...

Thanks alot for changing my point of view of eating things that may seem somewhat disgusting. I used to lose my appetite when I see slimy, disgusting stuff, but now, I think I should not be judging a book by its cover and try as many different types of food there is in the world, despite having to go through the sight of its "unique" look!

Michael said...

Ruchi: Ah, there's no 'almost' for me. It would be the challenge of facing a live grub (or something else weird) that would just fuel my hunger to try it out. (And by the way, shoo you? Why in the world...?

sewa: Great.

MuffinEater: Don't say that, any comment is a contribution to the blog, and I appreciate you visiting and your compliments. I am deeply humbled.

Charis: Just imagine a tourist saying tauhu goreng, mamak rojak, ikan merah or thosai is weird and disgusting. It's just such a shame...

Suzy J said...

I love trying different foods but there's something in me that now and again says "You can't eat that!".

Moving abroad certainly widened my eating options and I've tried many new things, some good, some bad, but there aren't many foodstuffs that I can honestly say I hate.....apart from celery but that's a personal dislike.

I'm far too polite to turn down anything offered to me and would never tell a host that their meal was disgusting, I feel that's incredible bad manners.

One thing I've learned from living in Bulgaria is that if you don't like a dish make sure you don't empty the plate out of politeness. If you do you'll find it filled again even if you protest!

Great Blog Michael I've thoroughly enjoyed reading it and hope to be back soon.


Michael said...

Suzy: I hate celery too, and I'm not sure why. The only way I'll eat it is if it's been boiled to a state of tastelessness, like in Russian Borscht.

Ares said...

Have watched the Tour Guide show too. It made me "LOL, whut?!" Racist show in a cable channel.

matthew john said...

all this fucking paki food should be banned from england, people shouldnt be forcing this crap on children we should be proud of our english heritage vote BNP and get rid of this all this foreign crap

hardware problem said...

nice food. try it!

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