Sunday, February 23, 2014

I Can't Eat That!

I try to be an adventurous eater.  I love to cook and I'm always trying to expand my kitchen repertoire. In the last year I've added a couple Indian dishes that I'm really proud of, and I'm trying to expand into Korean food.  I might be late to the game, but these are not foods I ever experienced growing up in Western North Carolina.  Being in Japan has definitely made me branch out and try foods I never would have dreamed of, and I'm proud of that too. (For the record: raw beef - pretty good, octopus - not bad, squid - hate it!) But if I'm being completely honest there's a picky eater inside me and I have to work hard to overcome some of my nervousness about food. Cooking is a really good way for me to do that.  Once I feel like I really understand the food it loses a lot of it's ability to intimidate me, but I've still got areas for improvement.

Eating in Japan was a lot scarier a few years ago when we though that John was allergic to shellfish. I'm not really sure how it happened, but John has either outgrown his allergy or it was just a sensitivity that's gone away, or else he's crazy and it never existed, but he got a blood test a couple years ago to narrow down exactly what he was allergic to, and it turned out to be nothing!  The allergy was never life threatening, but we always worried that the next time he was exposed might be, so it was a huge relief to learn there was nothing to worry about.  Having a food allergy in Japan can be really stressful for a number of reason.  The first is that if you're not very good at Japanese it can be hard to communicate it to others and be confident that you've succeeded.  Another reason is that Japanese restaurants are far less willing to make substitutions to accommodate dietary needs.  Several times John had the really baffling experience of telling someone he was dining with that he couldn't eat shellfish and then being served it anyways, sometimes only discovering this at the end of the meal.  We were so confused!  Did people not understand what shellfish was?  Did they just not care?

John is taking Japanese lessons now, and he thinks he's come upon at least a partial answer.  In Japanese, saying that you can't eat something doesn't mean you physically CAN'T, it means you don't want to.  The people John was telling probably thought that a little bit wouldn't really bother him, as long as it wasn't a prominent part of the meal.  Thank goodness he wasn't really allergic! Now that I think about this, I've been asked questions that I always thought were strange like, "can you drink green tea?"  Of course - why couldn't I?  But those people were probably asking if I would like to. According to John's teacher if you really can't eat something it's important to explain the reason or else it will probably be interpreted as a preference, not a necessity.  In Japanese "allergy"is アレルギー , note that it ends with the "gi" sound, not "ji" as you would pronounce it in English.

In other news, one week from today we'll be in Guam.  I can't wait!

Freshly dyed hair always makes me so happy. 
Blinging out my nails in true Japanese fashion.

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