I’ll preface this by saying that I don’t like trying new things very much unless there is an absolute, 100% money-back guarantee that I’ll LOVE it, that it will make my life better, and I won’t regret it.
This especially applies when it comes to food. I have an uneasiness in trying new foods – that is unless it’s a new fruit or different kind of cookie or something safe like that. I’m not sure how to explain it other than by saying that I can’t handle spicy food – so that’s one scary type of food – or really strong flavors in general and I’m always afraid that it’ll just be gross and I won’t be able to spit it out in a polite manner.
It’s a dilemma.
Because of my tendencies to dislike strange foods or not try them altogether – which leads to weight loss in foreign countries – my parents (in their wisdom) decided that I needed to get a head start on Indian food (since Curry is a pretty darn strong flavor) before I spend two weeks there in January. Smart, huh? I mean, in Panama I ate basically Cliff bars and peanut butter and jelly and rice occasionally – just barely making it food wise – so now they’re proactive about making sure I’ll be eating.
They must love me a lot. :)
After church today, we headed over to a local Indian restaurant which will soon be named Bollywood Bistro – under new management! (In case you didn’t know, Bollywood is India’s version of America’s film industry… notice how it sounds kind of like Hollywood? good observation, right?) We were one of two occupied tables in there, and almost immediately the owner (who also cooks all the food and waits on the tables) came over. After ordering her Coke, my mom explained our situation and asked him to guide me through the buffet line.
Usually, I guide myself through buffet lines. I look for vegetables without too much seasoning, pasta that looks familiar, occasionally some variety of potato, fruit salad, and – inevitably – three different kinds of chocolate-laden dessert.
Well, in this buffet line, everything was loaded with CURRY. You may not be familiar with curry, so let me introduce you. Curry is a spice. A spicy spice. and Indians love it. In fact, they put it in nearly everything. And once you eat the dish that contained curry, there’s usually a fluorescent yellow spot on your plate where the food had been.
After telling me exactly what every dish was (“and this is a curry cauliflower dish… fired vegetables with curry… fried rice with curry… Indo-Chinese dish with curry…..” you get the picture.), the inevitable question that I sort of feared came. Why are you going to India?
Well, I’m going to West Bengal, Calcutta area.
That’s where I’m from!
…to work with anti-human trafficking ministries.
At the mention of people who want to end human trafficking, his friendly smiled slackened just a bit. He gave me kind of a blank nod and, after a moment, asked where else I’d be going.
It made me sad to see that face go blank, without understanding. This puts him in one of two camps: either he doesn’t know about the trafficking (which I would find very unlikely considering he comes from an area where there are “source villages” – the places where girls are trafficked from), or he is just like most of the men in that area who think that a woman’s only purpose is to be exploited and raped. I hope with all my heart that it’s the first.
I’ll say that I wasn’t sure how to begin eating this plate full of unfamiliar food. Nothing looked safe. In fact, it looked like all the strange things I avoid at normal buffets. Things where there are lots of strange ingredients mixed together. SPICY things.
Plates number 1 and 3. Notice that there are lots of things on the first plate – and mostly just rice and naan (basically fried bread) on the second plate along with a spinach dip things (flavored with lots of curry) that I didn’t care for.
It left a very curryful taste in my mouth. And lots of strange curry noises coming from my stomach.
In the car on the way home I told my mom that I was craving peanut butter… which is probably going to be the first thing on my packing list.
I wouldn’t do this for just any cause. I know that God has called me to go to India, and that makes me all the more motivated to like the food. I know I won’t be very effective for Him there if I die of malnutrition. So, I will learn to like curry so that I can live for something greater than myself, greater than my picky eating habits.
Conclusion? I’ll survive when I go to India.
and I’ll bring peanut butter.