Had a great dinner tonight with my new sister from Japan, Eriko! The Howell family has "adopted" two Randolph College international students and I missed the big "welcome to the family" dinner last week while I was wasting away in an airport hotel conference room. I will meet my other new sister Proity on Friday, she is from Bangladesh.
When my biological brother Gordon invited me to have dinner with he, Eriko and Denise (with a text at 7am...has he never met me?) I didn't realize that I would be eating sushi with a Tokyo native. Pretty intimidating! In my family I am considered the sushi expert (wine expert, food expert...) but I know that there are some areas of sushi consumption that are very Americanized. I didn't want to do anything that would offend Eriko - but I am very fond of my wasabi/soy sauce mixture...and I know that isn't traditional. She assured me that she would not be offended and laughed that she doesn't even use chopsticks correctly! I think that she was just trying to make me feel better...because I thought she did a beautiful job.
I also had heard (I'm sure it was some Food Network show...) that it was acceptable to eat sushi with your fingers. When I asked about that (after eating most of the meal with my chopsticks) she said that she also ate sushi with her fingers sometimes. Once again, I think she was just being nice...but I ate a few pieces that way!
I was very excited to hear that Proity is planning to cook a traditional Bangladeshi dish for our family sometime (not this Friday - Denise is "cooking". That means pizza, I think.) and that Eriko will also make a traditional Japanese dish for us! I love trying new things. Now I just need to find a good place to help them find the ingredients and spices they will need.
A friend recently commented that her children were such picky eaters that she just served them chicken nuggets and grilled cheese. Seems kind of sad. I know that there were certainly a lot of things that I didn't want to try as a child (and I still refuse to eat oatmeal or applesauce). And, I know that we can chase my sister Karen around a house with a spoonful of mayonnaise because she fears it. But I'm glad that we were exposed to a lot of different foods as we grew up! And I'm always amazed by my nephew Jack, who has tried everything from Chinese to Indian food. He would rather have Thai food than pizza - and that is pretty unusual for a teenage boy.
I can't wait for the next culturally diverse eating experience - as long as it isn't oatmeal!