Stubborn Culture

The whole reason for travel is to experience new cultures, food, and places, right? Not searching for the same type of food you’re already eating everyday. Maybe that’s why I am frustrated by my family and maybe a little of the culture I come from. 

Matt-Armendariz-food-photographer-Instagram-food-feeds-that-make-you-want-to-travelIt constantly feels like they are unwilling to adapt, they meaning my aunts, uncles, cousins, and perhaps my former boss and his family. They must eat every meal in rich varieties, usually contain four or five dishes per meal. They start off a large bowl of soup, then rice and repeat for the next meal.

Three years ago, my aunts, uncles, and cousins spent thousands of dollars to travel to the United States to visit us. Weeks before their arrival, we talked on the phone, mom, being a control freak, planned and approved their itinerary, meal plans, etc.

They told us they wanted to experience the culture first hand and try a bunch of food. So we took their suggestion into consideration. The first night, we presented them with a meat-filled lasagna, we ended up with a lot of leftovers. My aunt claimed it was too filling, whatever that means.

On the third day, I took them to the mall, they browsed around the food-court and stopped at a place that made Americanized Chinese cuisine and looked at the food with disgust. They were hungry and did not want to eat any of the food. At last, they settled with Subway which they called the food “garbage”. So ungrateful, I wanted to say. At least you have something to eat.

That first weekend, we set off to Yellowstone. The morning of departure, my aunt woke up at a quarter to five and made five cups of rice. My mom and I were just the last people to wake up and by the time we got downstairs, everyone had already scattered about the kitchen, shoving rice into their faces with chopsticks.

I asked what they were eating and my aunt informed me that they were having rice with soy-sauce. “For breakfast?” I asked.

“We’re not like you. We need our rice.” She said. “Who knows when we’ll get our next bowl of rice?”

We’re only going away for the weekend, is not having Chinese food or rice going to kill you? I wanted to say but thought it would be impolite.

In the least to say, the trip to Yellowstone was miserable. Everyone was either sleeping and missing all the breath-taking scenery of Yellowstone or they were arguing. I was thankful we made it home. We rested a while before venturing to Las Vegas. By then, not only I had lost my voice but I had to follow mom into the 110-degree heat to get Chinese food.

All because of what? Because everyone refused to just grab something at the dozens of restaurants at the hotel. They refuse to adapt, that’s what. By the time we made it to LA, we even had to buy a rice cooker at Walmart because they refused to drink ice cold water.

Do you see why I have such strong opinion about my culture being a stickler? That people are searching for Chinese food everywhere they go?

The weekend after returning from Chicago, I had a brief conversation with my aunt about my trip. “How was the trip? Was it fun?” She asked.

“Uh huh,” I told her.

“Was there Chinese food?” She asked. I’m not exaggerating. That really was her question.

“Yeah, there’s a Chinatown.” I replied but this was going through my head. Seriously, is that the only she’s concerned about?

Honestly, for me, after twenty-four years of eating Chinese food, I have become kind of tired of rice, vegetable, and meat for every meal. So one of the things I’m glad I got to do on my trip is I got to experience food.

Maybe it’s only my family who act this way. It makes me wonder, do Italians seek Italian food wherever they go? Do Americans seek fast food or American food on their travels? Or do they try new things and experience the food from the culture of the country they’re in?

So many questions.

Daily Prompt – Stubborn

11 thoughts on “Stubborn Culture

  1. I think my family are fairly adaptable but your account reminds me of taking Mary out for dinner. We’d never do anything overly flash say on our first date and a few special ones, but she would spend a good twenty minutes browsing the menu before ordering exactly the same thing. The mind boggles at times…

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  2. Well the answer of your last questions is yes: Americans seek American food, Italians Italian food, etc. They’re many good reasons for that. One is that it enables travelers, especcially short time travelers, tourists, to find some known cultural saveguards to rest on. That also works on long term. In Chicago Chinatown, newly arrived Chinese feel less at a loss living, or trying to, like in the old town. Eating the food we know while being away gives you the courage to face the unexpected and difficulty of being thrown into a new culture. I ate snake and all kind of weird stuff in China, fish and rice for breakfast in Japan, cat and dog in other parts of the world. I can eat everything that walks, crawls, flies or swims on earth but, then, once in a while, I was just so happy for a continental breakfast. I you were to visit France around Christmas, you’d probably have a hard time eating raw oysters and foie gras and, after a while, you would cherish your mother’s bawl of rice or wonton soup for breakfast.

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    1. I guess you’ve made a good point. I just feel frustrated when people go deliberately searching for the same food they eat at home for every single meal instead of trying something new at least once or twice and be happy that they had.
      Ha ha, people do eat all kinds of weird stuff in China, don’t they. Meanwhile, I don’t think I will try any raw oysters, not because I don’t want to adapt but because I am not a fan of seafood. I don’t even like cooked oysters but I guess, once in a blue moon, I will have to have a steaming bowl of rice.

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  3. I love to try all kinds of different foods, but there are many times that I won’t order something different on the menu because I am afraid I won’t like it and then I’ve wasted my money. If money wasn’t an issue, I think I would order a different thing every time. 🙂

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    1. At least from the restaurants I’ve been to, the menus typically come with the basic ingredient (i.e., what’s in the dish) and I pick the one I know I will eat and of course, the price is reasonable.

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  4. Your criticism is justified, Yinglan. However, I’m pretty sure I would prefer American type food (throw in Italian and Mexican) wherever I would be. But I think I would deserve your criticism. Food should be one of the experiences enjoyed by knowing about a different culture. Well, maybe not “enjoyed” but at least accepted as a part of the learning experienced!

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  5. Hahaha, oh yes. It´s difficult to travel with the family. Surprisingly, it gets difficult even when you´re home! I brought my husband to my country lately and we brought lots of colombian food with us to cook for my parents to show them what it´s like; my husband first offered my mother maybe three or four times to cook her something and she always made a face like “i don´t eat this heavy at this time of the day” and then, when he just cooked the stuff for himself one day, she went like: “why didn´t he prepare some more for me to try too? I´d like that…” – hard to explain it to her… 😀

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