Monday, July 16, 2018

"Just Eat It!"

I am saddened by the seeming necessary relationship between connecting with strangers and eating what theyeat.

I’d like very much to get along with everybody.  We would not have to agree on every issue – or virtually anyfor that matter.  It would be great if we could just sit down together and talk, ultimately realizing that, despite our acknowledged differences, our similarities as human beings outweigh them by a mile.

I have made people laugh with didn’t speak English.  On a trip to Turkey, I saw a Senior-aged Asian traveler readying to take a picture of, I imagine, his longtime spouse, standing in front of a certified Istanbul tourist attraction.  I immediately ran over and smilingly stood next to her, amicably posing as if I belonged. It was a risk to do that, but it worked. They got the joke and they immediately cracked up.  

I can “connect” thatway.  But the more traditional way of bridging cultural differences:  Enjoying the offered hospitality in the sharing of a meal.

That one I am unable to pull off.

Think of the things Anthony Bourdain regularly consumed during his worldwide travels, sharing traditional “People Food” in every destinational hemisphere.  

And loving it all.

“Best ‘penguin’ I ever ate!” 

“This ‘mouse’ has been cooked to perfection.”

“More ‘yak’ please. It’s absolutely delicious.”

By sitting down and “eating what theyeat”, Anthony Bourdain was able to decimate the barriers, allowing people of disparate cultures to relax and open up to each other, comfortably revealing, “What it means to be them.” (I believe, massive consumptions of alcohol alsoloosened some tongues.) 

I am unable to follow Anthony Bourdain’s example.  Or even come close.

My dietary restrictions stopping well before “Anaconda Souflee.”

If  “Eating what they eat” is the “Litmus Test” of collegiality and mutual respect,

I cannot possibly succeed.

Which is unfortunate, because I genuinely want to.

The “dividing obstacle”, however, is what they’re serving.

Which reminds me of the Chevy Chase line in The Three Amigos, where the “Amigos” have been invited to dinner in the impoverished Mexican village of Santa Poco and, having physical difficulty negotiating the tortillas, he inquires,

“Do you have anything beside Mexican food?”

My culinary proclivities would be etiquette “Deal-Breakers” wherever I went.  And it would not have to be that extreme a menu, or that far away. I’d be an unwelcome dinner companion irtually anywhere on the globe.

There are just a lot of things I don’t eat.

Some items are outside my acceptable menu are for religious reasons.  Some are personal taste issues.  Others involve nutritional health concerns.  I also avoid dishes my nose never smelled before.

I’m not exactly a “Picky Eater.”  (Compared to Anthony Bourdain, a vulture’s a picky eater.)  I just, probably, eat fewer things than other people.  And I have witnessed the consequences.  People think I don’t like them.  When it’s just the stuff they are giving me to eat.  


I am invited to dinner. I accept.  

“Any dietary restrictions”

“Well… okay.  I do not eat pork or pork by-products.  I do not eat shellfish, or bottom-dwelling crustaceans – which may, in fact, be the same thing, that’s how much I know about subterranean comestibles.  I will eat beef, chicken, turkey or fish.  Exceptions:  No liver.  (Or other “Organ Meat.”)  No duck. (To “Donald-y.”)  Or game that tastes… “gamey.”  Nothing I’d cut into and discover a bullet.  (Writer’s Note:  I once sampled “Prairie Oysters”, but I was extremely inebriated.)

“And absolutely no insects.”

“I do not eat tomatoes. (Too acidy.)  Or eggs.  (There is something off-putting about the word “Albumen.”)  No olives, anchovies.  Virtually anything in a small jar in the refrigerator – pickled gherkins – I generally avoid.

“No fried foods, overly spicy foods, dishes smothered in onions.  I strictly limit my intake of fat, carbs, sugar.  And of fermented versions of anything.   (That one probably belongs in a different paragraph, but it just came to my mind.) 

“Oh, and I am assiduously careful about “Portion Control.”  So if my plate still looks full when I’m finished, that is no indication I did not thoroughly enjoy the meal.  As the girl said in True Grit, “‘Enough’ is as good as a banquet.”  I eat only till I’m full, and hope the chef doesn’t get angry.

“And I guess that’s it. Would you like me to bring some wine?”

With such dietary proclivities there is almost nowhere on earth I would not piss my hosts off. There are someplaces it could trigger a war.

I don’t know…

Why couldn’t it be Ping-Pong?  Not that I’m good at it; I’m not. But I would happily play Ping-Pong anywhere in the world.  I might stink up the place.  But we’d laugh our heads off and then permanently bond.

I’d be “The Anthony Bourdain of ‘21 to 0.’”  People in grass huts would go, “Remember that idiot?  And “That idiot” would be me. 

You see, thatI could do.

But invite me for bacon and eggs or barbecued eel?

I just sighed.

I’m a wonderful person.

I just don’t eat any of that.

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