Raw Pork for Breakfast or, Learning to Live with an Open MindAugust 10, 2015
“This dish is called Himmel und Erde which means Heaven and Earth, but I don’t know why,” said my German friend as we ate lunch in Cologne (Köln).
“Hmmm, this is blood sausage, mashed potatoes, and gourmet applesauce. Perhaps the blood of the earth and the taste of heaven?” I suggested.
“Ha, maybe,” she said. “It doesn’t look like the blood sausage I ate as a child at my grandmother’s house.”
“Want to try it?” I asked.
Pause and a silent stare from my friend.
“Go ahead and try it. This is cooked, more or less. Ok, maybe less. But you fed me raw pork for breakfast,” I said.
“Ha, now you think mett is bad German food?”
“No, no, I loved the mett und brötchen, but basically we did spread ground raw pork on bread and eat it. I liked it.”
“I’ll have a small piece of the blood sausage,” she conceded and ate a bite. “Not bad.”
“Want more?” I asked with a smile.
Though she didn’t want to eat more than one bite, I did appreciate my friend’s willingness to be open minded, to consider something different, and to try something new. To me, judging food to be unedible without first tasting the food is missing out on an essential part of feeling alive and living free—the ability to explore, to learn, to grow.
We all have preconceptions and cultural conditioning about food. Even my German friend–who was comfortable eating the raw pork we purchased at the meat counter in a supermarket–thought some of the foods I love, such as chicken hearts, are gross. And admittedly there are some foods I don’t wish to taste based on my cultural conditioning. To avoid our preconditioned thoughts takes some work; not only with food, but also with people from other cultures, other races, other religions. At the end of the day we’re all human and conscious thought may be required to overcome our human flaws.. Accepting others and recognizing our own ethnocentrism seems a good step.
Food is an easy place to practice being more open minded. For many years I abhorred the taste of beets. Sure, they had a deceptive appearance which made them look tasty, but to me crunching on a slice of beet tasted like chewing a clod of dirt. While travelling in Australia I learned the Aussies like a slice of “beet root” on their hamburgers and more; I defiantly removed mine and wondered why there wasn’t a tomato on my sandwich—although at the time I wasn’t even a big fan of tomatoes.
Every three or four years, I tried another single bite of beets because they always looked tasty with that enticing purple color, but, no, the flavor of beets was how I imagined a mouthful of peat moss would taste. Then one day a funny thing happened at a Brazilian restaurant while eating lunch with my German and Vietnamese colleagues. The salad bar had beets on offer and a few years had passed since my last sampling of the nasty purple root, so I placed a very small amount on my salad plate. Surprise! I loved the taste of beets.
Did the beets still taste like dirt from the cornfields of Iowa? Absolutely. But after forty years it seems I had learned to enjoy the taste of dirt. Or at least learned to set aside my preconceptions long enough for an unbiased determination. Great discoveries can happen when we explore with an open mind. And not only with food.
Bon appétit! Buen provecho! 好吃！
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