You ate what??
As we all know, in different parts of the world, it is acceptable to eat things that we as Americans would not consider eating. For example, in certain African countries, they eat “bush meat”, which is anything from Monkey to Tiger and Zebra. In parts of Asia, they eat dogs (and sometimes cats). This is something I have been aware of for some time, but living in an Eastern European country, I did not think there was much risk in running into a different sort of meat than I have had before.
To be sure, people in Ukraine eat things I don’t like. There are few salads here that are not doused in mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is even put on pizza. People eat ketchup on bread and pasta. Sour cream is another thing that is extremely common. Thing is, these particular foods are also commonly eaten in the U.S. My not eating them is a matter of my own taste, not societal standards.
But on Wednesday, well, I experienced something I did not expect – a “new” kind of meat. I got a text message from a friend that invited me for “horse meat, Russian wine, and swiss chocolate.” I honestly thought she had mis-translated something. I thought “Horse? No, that cannot be.”
When I met up with her, she said she was in earnest, that indeed, we were to eat horse meat. Well….there was no backing out then, was there? I could not very well say “Well, I don’t think so” and go on my merry way. Besides, I wanted to spend time with these two women, who have started to “adopt” me and have been very kind to me. And I had bread and wine in my bag for them. So I went.
We got there, and Julia cut up what turned out to be horse “kovbasa”, or sausage. Well, at least it was not a steak. We got the other items ready, then Anna was called away for a work call. While she was on her call, Julia offered me some of the sausage. I declined, because (1) I wanted Anna to see that I actually did try this horse meat in case I could only eat one piece and (2) truth be told, I was still working my way up to trying it. I had to reconcile myself to eating something that, for my whole life, I have associated with things other than food.
I did end up eating some. I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t like it. I really appreciate the opportunity to try it, but it is just not my cup of tea. I gave it a chance, I really did. I had two pieces. But besides being chewy (chew, chew, chew, chew, chew) it had a strange taste. But again, it was so generous of Anna and Julia to include me that I tried to be diplomatic in my assessment to them. As they have started reading my blog, they know the truth now. I just hope I don’t offend them that I did not like it.
The Armenian wine, on the other hand, was really nice. As were the Swiss chocolates.
So now I have another meat to add to the list of those that I have tried. That list now includes:
Standards in the US:
These are the ones that come to mind when doing an inventory. This gets harder to do, I notice, the further along in life I go. The goat I had in India and it was really good. The pheasant and rabbit I had in France.
So…I may be a picky eater, but I do remain open to new cross-cultural experiences…I may not always like them, but I (nearly) always try. I still just can’t do salo. Sorry Ukraine.