You Want Me To Eat What, Now?

I really hate not liking someone else’s food; their traditional food to be more exact. Some people can/ will take extreme offense about it.

I used to cook a lot for my friends, and in doing so, I understand and accept the fact that people have different reactions to texture and things like smell and flavor. What’s delicious to me might be disgusting to others. But still I’m aware that not everyone is as forgiving as I am about food.And too, maybe because I have my own limitations to eating food. I used to not be able to stomach certain things like dark meat pieces of chicken or anything excessively cheesy.

But since I’m in another country, I want to be able to honor and respect them by eating all the food, regardless if I like it or not. And thus far I have been able to do so. Until this morning….

I was abruptly woken up this morning from a great, deep, warm sleep by my host father. It was quite alarming as he NEVER wakes me up. So I thought that perhaps he needs help moving something or wanted to show me something cool. I went downstairs and it was very quiet… that early morning before anyone gets up quiet. And he was fixing breakfast. I sat down to a fresh basket of bread and a pot on the table. The host dad was very excited about this.

He took off the lid to the pot and inside was a broth of some kind with blanched meat bobbing near the surface. He said, “This is delicious! Georgian hangover food. But first you will need a lot of garlic (on the table) and salt.”  Okay.

He then started to ladle a hefty portion of this ‘broth’ into my bowl. And I knew, just from looking at it, that we were going to have troubles.

He then went to the cabinet and got the homemade vodka out and said, “Only two shots.”

… oh boy.

In the pot was boiled cows feet, in a milky broth (called, Khash). I was doing okay with sipping the broth, but when it came time to eat the meat AND take a shot.  I could not mask my repulsion. It was all I could do to keep it in my mouth, and took greater strength to swallow it.  It was around that point when I started foreshadowing when I would vomit.

I think he was incredulous of my dislike for it. He said that by ten o’clock, the delicacy was nowhere to be found in Georgia. People LOVED the stuff… he said. (And in retrospect, I noticed that he had on his ‘nice’ clothes, for what I assume was to go into town and buy the meat and come home to cook it for me.)

He then went for the low blow of saying, “I bet your friend Caroline would love this dish, because she loves wine.” And I retorted, “Uh, You are GREATLY mistaken if you think Caroline would eat this. I know Caroline!” (Just imagining Caroline being served this, makes me laugh.)

Fortunately he didn’t make me eat all of it. He said when his boys come down, they will swoon over this dish. We took the second shot, and I was released. I think he was only mildly offended, or at least he masked it well.

I feel so much worse now, than when I woke up.

 PS.  Nika came down shortly after, and was offered the cows feet. He then made a face as to say, “Thanks, but no thanks. I ain’t eating that shit!”

“Your table manners are a crying shame
Your playin’ with your food, this ain’t some kind of game.
Now if you starve to death you’ll just have yourself to blame.

So just eat it, just eat it.” 

Eat It, Weird Al Yankovic

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One response to “You Want Me To Eat What, Now?

  1. Your story reminds me of my encounter with local, ethnic food in Vietnam. During my tour of duty there, I was stationed in the Central Highlands as an advisor to the Montagnards (the hill people of that region). In December 1972, Lt Col Nha Hon (the Montagnard district chief of Phu Thien) and I visited Vua Lua, a remote village. As we were squatting around the communal rice wine clay pot and passing the communal drinking straw (but that is another story), I heard a high-pitched squeal. Looking over my shoulder, I observed a piglet (within arm’s reach) being slaughtered for our lunch. The “chef” took the intestines and while firmly grasping one end gently squeezed the contents of the intestines out of the other end. The chef then cut the intestines up into two-inch long segments and threw them into a pot of boiling water. After about five minutes, he plopped them onto a plate and served them up as “ouer d’oeuvres.” As the guest of honor, I was offered this delicacy first as forty sets of eyes were intently watching me. As I did not want to offend my hosts, I took what I thought was an appropriate helping and popped it into my mouth. It was like chewing rubber bands, and the more I chewed the bigger the morass became in my mouth. There was no way I could gracefully get rid of the mouthful. So, I decided to risk trichinosis and sacrifice on behalf of my country. I swallowed the Montagnard Chitterlings followed by a generous draught of rice wine. My hosts cheered their approval and presented me with a Montagnard friendship bracelet (which I still have). Mercifully, the chittlins stayed down, and I suffered no short or long-term effects.

Holla atcha boy!

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