I was a very finicky eater when I was growing up.
I would only eat beans on toast or fish-fingers.
Not beans with fish-fingers! Oh, no. In fact if beans touched the fish-fingers, the whole lot was all for the bin.
My poor mother must have been in despair.
Flash forward to the present day, and not much has changed…
Okay, so it has! Honest. I’m now prepared to try anything and everything — although my regular eating habits are not substantially more sophisticated. Well, I’ve added pizza to the mix, which I guess counts as Italian food.
So my question for you today, is this: what do you do when the roles are reversed, and your parents come to see you in a foreign land and rely on you for food? Do you inflict the local cuisine or look for a McDonald’s to tide them over?
The adventuresome Slater women
Now, my Mum has spent half her life trying to inflict a healthier diet on me, and I’d love to pay her back for that. Unfortunately she still has an infinitely more varied diet than I do, so there’s not much I can honestly try to inflict that would phase her.
As explained in my last Displaced Q, I once ate a peculiar insect dipped in soy sauce in Thailand, just to prove a point about my iron stomach. That may be why, when living in Thailand, I sometimes fantasized about getting my mother to try one of the deep-fried locusts they sell on the streets. First I would convince her it was a staple part of my new, healthier diet. And then I would watch carefully while she munched on it, seeing if she could keep it down. Just, you know, to get her back for all those times the beans touched the fish-fingers…
My only sibling, Gillian, has been traveling almost as long as I have, and is far more experimental when it comes to cooking and eating. Although I’ve never seen her eat insects either… But then, I can’t really blame her for all the horrible vegetables I was forced to consume as a young man.
Instead I’ll take revenge on my Dad.
The stick-in-the-mud Slater men
Because whilst it’s not his fault either, he is a very easy target.
He is not big on travel.
He is not big on foreign food.
Anytime he’s left to his own devices he invariably buys fish and chips wrapped up in a newspaper and eats it on his knee in front on the telly.
Sometimes for weeks at a time!
Bless him, he’s even more set in his ways in terms of food that I am. It took me a year to inflict pizza on him for the first time, and I’ve still never managed to convince him to try a nice pad thai.
The thing is, we both know what we like, and we’re both happy to stick with them.
It’s not the most exciting way to live, and certainly not the healthiest.
We’re both firm believers in this saying of Mark Twain’s:
“Part of the secret of success in life is to eat what you like and let the food fight it out inside.”
So, our combined intake of junk food is worryingly high.
But just for a change, I’d like to inflict on him — and on all my family, given half a chance — the one thing I’ve eaten that might prove too much for all of them: guinea pig (cuy) in South America. Or possibly baby octopus in Thailand.
Just to see the looks on their faces… And to hear my Dad announce in no uncertain terms: “I’m not bloody eating that!”
* * *
So, now it’s your turn! What foods would you inflict on a visiting relative, and why? Or have you already inflicted some — and with what results?
Answers on a postcard to — no, wait! Stick ’em in the comments section below. We’re not in our childhoods any more; it’s the future!
STAY TUNED for tomorrow’s post, an interview with a Random Nomad who has eaten cuy and loved it! (She was one of the winners of yesterday’s Food Alices…)
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img: The Slater women chowing down at a Medieval banquet; stomachs of iron indeed!