Adventures in eating

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When I am on vacation in a foreign place, one of my favorite things to do is to enjoy the local traditional foods. Often times I have NO IDEA what I am ordering, but sometimes it’s better that way. With the first bite, I test the food trepidaciously… Will it be salty, sweet, savory? When you don’t know what you are ordering, you don’t always know and that’s the fun of it! Rarely have I been let down by this method. If you have no expectations of what you are ordering you can’t be easily disappointed but usually instead, surprised. Oh, that was eel? Oh, that’s what leeche looks like? Plus it’s easier to like a unique or unusual food if you don’t know what you’re eating but instead taste the flavors of it. I would NEVER have tried cow’s brain if I knew that’s what I was eating before I tasted it. Yet now that I’ve tasted the flavor, I would indeed try it again.

I bet you would never guess that I used to be an extremely picky eater. As a kid, I had a very set diet that despite my mother’s best intentions didn’t really vary much. Hot dogs with ketchup and Kraft Macaroni and cheese were two staples and I probably would have starved without them. So, how then did I become someone who’s enjoyed escargot, reindeer and mink whale? The first trick was not always knowing what I was eating. My second trick was trying everything more than once. There are so many different ways to prepare something that just because you have tried it once, doesn’t mean you won’t like it this way. Also, just as you get variations at home, sometimes, food isn’t cooked well at a particular restaurant or it’s a poor quality of that particular product that you tried. I believe I read somewhere that it can take up to 7 different tries before you really like a particular food. So, try and try again.

My third trick is to try foods at different times during your life? So you HATED brussel sprouts as a kid? You may find your palate has changed and now you really enjoy them! Or you may still hate them, but you will never know unless you try. Just as your body changes with aging, so do your taste buds, so give that dreaded dish a second try now that your are more mature.

A traditional Emirate lunch

Traditional Mysore cuisine at Sandhaya’s

Cookies, Indian-style

Rice and a spicy biscuit

Homemade Brahmin cooking for Sankranti

Lunch on a plantain leaf

The best dinner in Mysore, Anu’s banana smoothie & her divine chocolate cake… And it’s remarkably healthy, made with only fruit, nuts and chocolate πŸ™‚

And then there is of course, the fun of visiting the local market:

Banana stalks, used in India cooking

Red bananas? The locals warned me they weren’t very sweet but they tasted just fine to me

Banana flowers and elephant’s feet yams

The oven where bananas are ripened

Wood apples (used for cooking)

Now those are some vegetables I recognize

So get out there and try something new… Everyday πŸ™‚ even if it’s just something in your own backyard!

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