How do you like your food? Simple, familiar, cleanly packaged with a clear Use By date? Do you like it fresh, even a bit dirty, straight from a market stall? How open-minded are you about food? I’m never happier than when I’m trying out some foreign food on a street corner, delighting in the new flavours, the native produce, the sheer pleasure of a newly discovered dish. Last week DH and I had a few days in San Sebastian in northern Spain. Sitting at a wooden table next to a soaring gothic church we tried fat octopus legs, succulent veal cheeks and crispy pigs ears. All were delicious and we started reminiscing about other meals in foreign lands over the past 35 years. The dishes we’ve tried down alleyways, on boats, trains and sitting on harbour walls will go into a book one day!
I know I am lucky to have a strong constitution for foreign food, (except for that chicken kebab in Istanbul), which means I can freely explore exotic new dishes on offer. But I think it’s about being open to new experiences too. I will admit to taking my own tea bags when I travel, but I’m always open to trying anything different. For me it’s about discovering a culture through its food, for others it might be the architecture or the language. If you have to relocate, make a new country your next home, you’re going to have to get out there and see what’s going on, otherwise why did you move?
You’re going to learn a whole lot more about a place if you can be open-hearted. That means being willing to immerse yourself in whatever’s happening. It’s so tempting to stay within our safe place, our comfort zone; sticking to what we know and who we like. If we do that we never grow as a person because what we experience changes us. When we were babies we would explore anything and everything, it’s how we learnt the skills we needed. Unfortunately a common cry we hear as we grow is “be careful!” and we become more cautious.
If we’re to progress we need to learn something new every day. We need to be open to possibility. What would you be willing to try that would challenge you? I know for sure that I’m never going to bungee jump, but yes, pass me the fried snake-gourd, I’ll give it a go.