Eastern Fusion May Scare You
I took a trip into Chinatown.
That’s not the crazy part. What was strange was what I was going there to do.
I was on a mission……. To try the most unique food I could find.
Here’s the supermarket. Looks rather harmless, doesn’t it?
‘Harmless’ is so far from the truth. This was an Asian market I’d passed by many times before. I’d poked around a couple times, but before that day the most unique treat I had bought there was a package of rice candy.
Today I was going all out. For the longest time I’ve had the dream of living in Asia, and this was my substitute for the $2,000 plane ticket to Singapore.
Walking through the aisles of fish sauce and fermented bean curd, I searched for the most…. unique …. options available.
Ohhhh, was I in luck!
(Side note…. What is this fruit???)
Beginning with whatever sanity I initially had, I picked up a package of premade Asian buns…. Not sure what to expect inside.. but thank god it’s at least recognizable.
Walking further down the aisle, I picked up some wonderful bags of sea organisms you’ll probably miss in your normal ‘American’ market.
Dried anchovies, cuttlefish, and (Holy ****!) jelly fish.
At least those one’s weren’t alive! This shelled organism I’m biting here was squirming until I doused it in a pot of boiling water. The guy who sold it to me gave me a massive ‘You’re an Idiot’ look as he was bagging it up.
When I was checking out, I asked the lady at the counter how to cook a bag of duck breast (I think) I had purchased. She called over another woman and after a few words in Chinese they both cracked up laughing. Switching back to English she looked back to me.
‘Just fry it.’ She said. I didn’t know how to feel at that moment.
Heading to another shop, I found what was by far the strangest item on my list….
It looked a little…. odd…. to be sure. Check it out.
That’s what a sea cucumber looks like when it’s dried. When you leave in warm water for three days it grows to about three times the length. I actually undertook this experiment, and unfortunately it tasted just how it looks like it would. The texture was unfortunately slimy.
Needless to say, eating all of these foods was an experience few westerners dare to take. The initial shock of seeing something like a kidney or a pig tongue (Oh yea, I got those too) is enough to make most of us not only reject our dinner but also lose our lunch in the process.
Most of the food actually tasted really, really bad. Not knowing how to cook it didn’t help either.
Why did I do this?
What did I take away from this experience?
Eating some disgusting food actually taught me a lot.
Sometimes, when you take a risk, the results are less exciting than you’d hoped.
Sometimes the results are worse than anything you imagined! A perfect example would be that shellfish I ate. It stank up our entire kitchen and had the texture of a tendon. (It's a weird animal.... check it out)
What's funny though, is that even 'worse than you could possibly imagine' often isn't that bad. Sure things can hurt in the moment, but in today's world we're pretty good a keeping idiots alive.
Here's the scoop: In order to take the risks you'll be thankful you took for the rest of your life, you'll probably hit a few not so glamorous ones in the process.
That's why it's called a risk. Sometimes the seafood tastes great, and sometimes it tastes like seagull vomit.
When you're taking a risk you're not enjoying you're still learning. Each experience teaches you a unique lesson that you couldn't learn in any other way.
For example, I now know a lot more about Asian cuisine than my friends.
When we travel to China, I'll be the only one to save us when we're offered the sea cucumber 'special' at the local restaurant.