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Monday, June 6, 2011

Peanut Butter & Jelly

At the company I work for, a lot of different nationalities are represented. Because we need to translate books and journals from around the world, it is important to have a lot of diversity in the staff. This often makes work potlucks very interesting and fun - with people bringing all sorts of dishes from all around the globe. I've tried a lot of new foods while I've worked there - some I have loved, and others I've...well, I've passed by without trying.

This morning we had a birthday potluck for a couple coworkers. One of the people celebrating her birthday is a coworker from Russia. She told us that she went out to eat for her actual birthday (last week) and had a delicious meal. When we asked her what it was, she warned us that it might gross us out. When we convinced her we could handle it, she revealed that it was pig pâté. A little too much explanation was then given about the boiling of the pig head to make the pâté, and, well, I'll stop there (you're welcome).

At that point, another co-worker, an American, told a story about how she once asked a friend of hers who was visiting America, what the grossest American food is. Her friend's answer? Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches! I was shocked! What's more simple and yummy than a pb&j sandwich with a cold glass of milk!?

Another co-worker from Brazil agreed with my co-worker's foreign friend, describing peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as gross, and more specifically, "too slimy." At that point another co-worker, also from Russia, said that she used to think pb&j sandwiches were weird when she moved to the States, but has acquired a taste for them now (something most Americans do at age three).

Up to this point, the only food/drink I've consistently heard my non-American friends complain about is root beer, which they often describe as tasting like medicine (delicious, bubbly, thirst quenching medicine...) But pb&j?! I never knew.

Years ago I served as a missionary for my church. I was assigned to serve in Houston, speaking Spanish. For the most part, the people I served with were Mexican. Mexican people are so kind and generous and many of the people we worked with would often invite us over for delicious home cooked meals. I love Mexican food and you won't hear me complaining about any of it, except this: menudo.

And no, I'm not talking about this Menudo:


I'm talking about this menudo:



also known as tripe, or stomach. I can't eat stomach!! That's just confusing to my stomach!! It's a mental thing I know, but I don't care how delicious people say it is, menudo is not going in my belly. No belly in my belly, that's my motto.

Other than that, I love Mexican food. I guess all cultures have at least one food that just seems inedible to people not used to it. What's yours??

17 comments:

Katherine said...

Look at young Ricky Martin in Menudo! Ah-dor-ablay! :) Yeah, I think "No belly in my belly" is a very good motto!! (That's why I stay away from haggis - no intestines in my intestines!) When I was in Thailand (also serving a mission), there were all sorts of disgusting things to experience (though the delicious foods waaaaay outweigh the gross ones!) - like dried-out pig skins, pigs heads, chicken feet, weird fish dishes, etc. They think we're weird for eating so much bread and drinking so much milk. I made some tacos once, and had some of my Thai friends try it, and they did NOT like them. It's interesting how different tastes can be across the globe!

Heather said...

Peanut butter and jelly is deathly to me, but that isn't what you asked.
I can't say I have been wanting to try the menudo although my oldest loves it.....it IS food after all.
Borsht (sp?) NO THANK YOU.

Lex said...

Dancing shrimp or anything that arrives at the table still alive. Blah.

Elizabeth Downie said...

Deathly as in you love it? Or deathly as in it makes you die?

Ashley said...

I didn't know you served a mission, and even better, that it was a Spanish-speaking one! So cool!

Eloy Trevino said...

I come from a mexican household and I will not touch menudo. I distinctly remember my mom and aunts preparing it for special occasions. I can't say if I have ever tried it...but tamales and everything else..mmmmmm! Bring it. I base testing foods on the smell test.

Ashley said...

Thanks for the warning about menudo. I love Mexican food, but I had no clue what that was!
A lot of Japanese people don't like mint-flavored stuff. It's really hard to find... they say it tastes like toothpaste. That and root beer... because it tastes like medicine. For me, I won't touch some of Japan's seafood. I've gotten a lot better about eating it, but things like sea cucumber I just won't try.

Claire said...

HAHA.

Here in Scotland, probably the UK in general, people find PB&J really bizarre. We have to explain it as 'peanut butter and jam' because jelly means jello, but people are weirded out. Two of the other interns in my group went to a party and were talking to an English couple about quintessential British vs American lunch foods. After they described beans on toast, they asked my friends what Americans would eat for lunch. They were like, "Oh, peanut butter and jam sandwiches..." and they were interrupted by,

"What?! Peanut butter and JAM? On the same piece of bread?" (You have to imagine it in an English accent, it is way funnier.)

I think the best part is not only that they found it gross and bizarre, but that they'd never heard of it or even considered it. SO FUNNY.

Brady said...

Elizabeth- You should have a tag that warns people not to read certain posts while eating breakfast. I had been able to suppress my anxiety about menudo, which they also serve in Chile, right up until there was a graphic graphic picture. I may never ever be able to eat breakfast again. :D

lizzie mc.- said...

I agree about the menudo. And as the 1/2 the locals refuse I felt no guilt. Besides, I agree w/ Eloy... the smell is haneous (sp?)! I had heard about the root beer as Andy went to Japan on his mission and lived in England in the Air Force. I'm incredibly glad that they haven't invented the smell chip for the computer. I'm not keen on taking a whiff of menudo EVER AGAIN! Loved the post:D

Amy said...

I recently got sushi with someone who had served a mission in Japan. One of the types we ordered had these little tiny fish eggs on them. I don't know if this is common to sushi, but I'd never had that before. They would kind of pop in your mouth when you chewed, and get stuck in your teeth so that they'd keep popping after you'd moved on to another variety of sushi. As long as I didn't think about the fact that they were fish eggs, it was kind of fun, like pop rocks. Anyway, my point is that when he told me that he had never seen the popping fish eggs in Japan, only in America, it struck me as funny that if this were true, it meant Americans had taken a foreign food that was already kind of icky (raw fish?) and made it even ickier by adding popping fish eggs. I believe such a thing should be left to the land of origin. Like adding potato chips, marshmallows, pickles or jelly beans to peanut butter sandwiches, all of which I've seen done, and one of which is actually sold to BYU students in the BYU bookstore.

I never had anything overly weird in Spain. But once our host served us a dish that looked and tasted suspiciously like rice swimming a sea of ketchup and topped with ground hot dogs. We weren't sure if this was a typical Spanish quick dinner item, or if it was something she'd made because she thought it would appeal to our American taste buds. Which it really didn't.


[And I may not leave comments often, but I think the length of my comments averages out to one per blog post... :)]

movingluggage said...

Hmm.... I've never really like peanut butter, so I've never had PB&J myself.

Wolfgang said...

I'm American and I think root beer is the worst beverage on the planet.

Anne Elliot said...

You should ask your Russian coworker to fix you some holodets or salo. People think PB&Js are bad - try meat fat jello on bread, or marinated pork fat on bread. So grateful I had a Russian companion to eat both of those for me the few times I was served it on my mission!

karajean said...

I've gotta say, I love Pb & J but that picture you posted makes it look... not good? I prefer mine on good old white bread!

Sara said...

I have a friend from Russia who had the same reaction to pb&j. Actually she used to eat jam from a spoon regularly which I thought was weird.

Diane said...

LOVE PB&J!! HATE Menudo-that IS the most disgusting thing I have ever tried. Just thinking about it again, 25 yrs later is making me want to puke. Just give me a PB&J any day of the week...