Every so often when living in Asia, and by every so often I mean on an incredibly regular basis, it so happens that you end up with something (I use the word hesitantly) edible in front of you and to guess what it is would be a complete waste of time, because there’s absolutely no chance that your mind will arrive at the correct answer. Most of the time, you’ll find out after consuming it that it was some incredibly obscure part of an animal that westerners would no doubt turn their nose up at, but most of the time you’ll have probably thoroughly enjoyed eating it regardless of what it turns out to be. Occasionally though, you’ll be presented with something that you’re not quite sure about. You know what I’m talking about right? Those dishes when you take a bite and you can’t quite decide if you’re loving it or hating it, and usually by the third or fourth bite you’ll decide whether or not you’re going to continue with the endeavour.
Today this happened to me. Again.
I walked in to work and was bombarded with the question ‘Do you want *insert something I don’t know in Chinese here*?’ to which I obviously replied yes, because that tends to be the trend when food is offered to me. Twenty minutes later I’m presented with a dark hot soup on my desk, which later turned to jelly as it cooled. The first bite I didn’t like it. The second bite I didn’t like it, at which point I put the lid back on and got back to what I had been doing. But then, I did that thing where you eat just because there is food there and lo and behold on the third bite…I still didn’t like it. I did however hate it less than the first few times. Queue the whole scenario repeating itself. By about six spoonfuls in I’d stopped thinking ‘I don’t like this’ to ‘this is actually okay’ and by the end of the bowl I think I’d even started to enjoy it.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not something I’d go out searching for, and fat chance of me ever finding that by myself, but if it was offered to me again on a cold winter day in Taiwan, I think I’d probably accept it.
(It turns out I have discovered after consuming it, as is always the case, that it can be roughly translated to ‘grass jelly’. Basically jelly made with some herb, I think.)