Do people really eat that?
Food is something an expat has to deal in the first few days or weeks of their adventure in their new country.
I talked about this in terms of shopping for food in my new homeland. But what happens when you're eating out, maybe in a restaurant or at someone's home?
The first strange food experience I had was actually in my own country. The local Jaycees club was having a spring barbeque and I'd volunteered to help prepare the main attraction: rocky mountain oysters.
Now, you may ask, where do you find oysters in the Rocky Mountains? Those mountains are pretty far from any ocean or sea. Well, turns out that rocky mountain oysters were actually sheep testicles deep-fried. Uggh. That's American weird for you.
Another time, in New York City, I accompanied a Japanese businessman student to a sushi restaurant, highly frequented by the Japanese businessman community in the city.
Everyone was Japanese. We sat at a conveyor-belt bar and chose dishes. When my student told me that this one was tuna, I figured I could eat it, I like tuna. But raw tuna? Uggh. I actually asked for a doggy bag, took that tuna home and cooked it. Even cooked, it was still pretty disgusting.
In Spain, the first confrontation with food was trying to convince well-meaning Spanish friends that vegetarians don't eat cured ham. Then there were the white asparagus with mayonnaise, those were really quite good and are a regular in my current menu.
Maybe the weirdest dish was something called "black rice", which is actually a kind of paella, a rice dish with seafood (shrimp, mussels, fish, etc.), but black (it actually looked kind of navy blue!) because it included squid ink. It really looked pretty horrible but, like the white asparagus, I found it delicious.
Scotland was haggis. Germany was bratwurst. Hungary was a strange bean dish that I don't remember what it was called. England was "mild "shrimp curry that was far from mild -- in the spicy direction (I loved it!). Greece was horta, a very, very green and robust type of chard. Tried them all. Well, I didn't try haggis, uggh, it's just disgusting!
Eating out can be challenging. Maybe that's why so many of my English friends in Barcelona were hooked on KFC, McDonald's and the like. Actually, I myself find French food terribly bland and whenever I drive up north, it's either McDonald's or bakery-made finger sandwiches for me!