It doesn’t matter how it looks, it doesn’t matter how it smells, It doesn’t even matter if it makes you feel nauseous; you should just try it.
Upon my arrival in Thailand this has been my philosophy and it is probably the philosophy of most people who go to live in a foreign country. Most of the food that I came across in Thailand was food that I have never seen before, therefore almost every meal was new to me. One of my main goals when coming here was to truly immerse myself in the culture and that meant eating all of the unknown foods that were placed in front of me. From the moment I got on the plane until now, I have been trying strange foods, spicy foods, and repulsing foods. I’ve eaten weird desserts made with coconut, corn, and some unknown green substance (which turned out to be really good), I tried fish balls, pork balls, and chicken balls all which came in noodle soup. I’m sad to say that the balls weren’t that tasty because of the weird texture. I’ve eaten every type of coconut sauce, even though I was never a big fan of coconut. I hate shrimp but when small ones were placed on the table, that were still alive, I decide why not, and I ate those too. About a week and a half ago I discovered that frogs are pretty delicious, but you have to be careful not to choke on the bone.
While being in Thailand I even went as far as to eat insects. The first insect that I tasted was a fried grasshopper. I was out with a group of friends and my one friend, Matt, decided that he wanted to buy a bag of big crispy grasshoppers and then divvy them up amongst our group. When he came to me I thought “what’s the harm in doing this” and I made sure to pick one of the biggest ones. I felt the legs in my teeth as I crunched down on the fried shell. The worst part was the inside because it was so mushy and when I bit into it, it was like the insides of the grasshopper burst in my mouth. I told myself that I was done eating bugs after that. Then about a month and a half later I found myself sitting at a table in a bar next to a friend who ordered silk worms. He said they were good so I took the toothpick, picked two up, and ate them. The inside was more mushy than the grasshopper so I decided that maybe I should hop off the bug train.
Although I’m in Thailand, and I’ve been trying Thai dishes, I have also been trying dishes that aren’t Thai. One night my program took my study abroad group out for Chinese. I was expecting sweet and sour chicken but instead I got a black duck, a fish that was staring at me, and the blandest vegetables. Everything looked like it would cause my stomach to do cart wheels, but once again I went for it. I took some of everything and after realizing that the duck and the potatoes it was stuffed with tasted like tar; I decided that I may have made the wrong decision. Later that night I even threw up the entire meal, and it came back up almost the same way it went down.
When trying new foods it is usually a hit or miss. On my first day in Thailand it was a combination of both. The food was delicious, but I had decided to try the sauce that was next to it. I put more than enough scoops on my rice and ended up regretting it when my entire mouth was on fire. I kept drinking juice and eating bread to make the pain go away, and when it eventually did I calmed down and just realized that this was the first of many lessons I would learn while in Thailand. And I can say that I have learned a lot about food.
Not every encounter with new foods here has been bad though. Most of the time I find myself clearing my plate because of how delicious my meal was. I love sticky rice, chicken on a stick, pad Thai, noodle soup (without the balls), chicken with rice and curry sauce, and many of the other dishes that I have tried but can’t recall the name of. One of my favorite things to do here is to try the different cuisines. It opens my eyes to what’s good and what’s gross, while giving my taste buds a bit of variety. So for those of you who want to expand your food world here’s some advice:
- Take a little if you’re not sure
- Check for bones or you may choke
- If it looks and smells bad then most likely it will taste bad
- Never be afraid, even if the food is disgusting at least you’ll have a story to tell
- Remember, don’t think too much, just try it!!