Food is good. I take advantage of every opportunity to try all types of food. Although it sounds weird, this has taught me life lessons that many people don’t learn until much later. I have learned about when to stay in my comfort zone, when to try new things, and lots of stereotypes that don’t apply to me.
I was practically raised on pasta, hot sauce, and tea, especially tea; those are my comfort foods. For others, it may be mac and cheese, wonton soup, or samosas (all of which I also love). But for me, I will return to a huge, steaming mug of tea as long as I have a heartbeat. A few years ago, I decided that I was too centered around my tea and pasta, so I stopped eating them. For about a month, I cut them out of my diet completely. I concentrated on trying new foods, which is never a bad thing. After a while, though, I realized that staying outside of my comfort zone for so long made me yearn more and more for the safety of what I knew & loved. Comfort foods, I learned, make you feel at home, and everyone needs a home.
Food has given me adventure. I have tried some pretty weird things in my lifetime, but I have loved most of them. For example, oysters on the half-shell. For those who don’t know what they are, they’re raw oysters, served nice and cold in half of the shell with optional cocktail sauce. You pick up the shell and slide the slimy meat, topped with sauce, into your mouth, chew a little (chewing is also optional), and swallow. When I got the opportunity to have some, I wanted to be able to say I had tried it, so I did. And I LOVED it. My mom tried to take a video of my first time tasting oysters on the half shell, except it became my first 6 times; I inhaled them faster than she could turn the camera off. The next time my dad asked me to try something, I didn’t hesitate, and it was arguably the best seafood I have ever tasted. Ever heard of ceviche? It’s just raw seafood marinated in citrus juice and hot spices, but it is absolutely amazing. A few days later, we went out for phở, and my dad got tripe in his. I, not knowing what tripe is, wanted to try. Stop reading for a minute and look up tripe. Eating that was one of the worst food-related decisions of my life. However, I am glad that I decided to try foods like that, because now I can say things like “Hey, I’ve eaten alligator” (it’s really good, and nothing like chicken). Food inspires me to explore both the inside and outside of my comfort zone.
Food gets rid of stereotypes, at least for me. I am a blond teenage girl, and I love Asian food. I get a lot of weird looks when I go into Indian snack shops and order exactly what I want. One time, I went into A Dong Supermarket with my (blond) dad, and we split up to divide and conquer. When I went to pick up a treat for my sister, there were two middle-aged Chinese men stocking the shelves. When they first saw me, I could see that they thought I was lost. I nearly laughed out loud when I picked up the few items I needed and left with no problems; they looked absolutely astonished that a young white girl knows her way around an Asian supermarket. Later, while my dad and I were deciding which soups to get, I saw one of the aforementioned employees with another of his friends. As soon as he recognized me, he elbowed his comrade and jerked his head toward where I was standing. I flushed and turned around; I was both embarrassed and angry that they would stereotype me so strongly. Things like this happen every time we go to any Asian place, but my family never fails to laugh about it in the car, but we make sure to never judge people based on what they look like.
Clearly, the two best teachers in life are experience and food. Since you can learn so much from eating, I challenge you to try at least one new food in the next week and post it on the Internet. Encourage others to learn from food!