Anyone who knows me knows that I am a picky eater. Seafood makes me swoon with nausea – the smell, the texture, the whole bit. Having grown up in a coastal village with a gourmand for a mother, eating fish, be it soft and white or pink and crunchy, is a challenge for me. My mother served fish more often than the Catholic mothers in town and was traumatized that her own children did not share her love of all foods marine. Years of living in countries where slabs of smelly salted cod are standard supermarket fare did nothing to change this. And then there is China …
I might add that I am not big on offal either.
Be that as it may, I try to encourage my children to try new things. Mr. Understanding is an adventurous eater so I try to live vicariously through him. Last weekend I ate a shrimp – coated in slick, clear sauce (think mucous), I popped the sucker in my mouth as a show of bravery. Whatever. I choked it down. In front of my kids who followed suit.
In my quest to broaden my children’s culinary horizons, we returned to the restaurant of Pork No Crab fame on Saturday night with another family with 3 boys, all roughly the same age as my offspring. Sensing I had an amenable crowd with new boys, I offered up the Expat Princess Challenge: 50 kwai to whomever would eat 3 bites of whatever dish it was the children collectively selected, provided that was not chicken, pork, shrimp or beef.
After rejecting stewed shark fin (too expensive a dish) and spicy bullfrog (too hot), the kids selected a fine plate of duck tongue. The price was right. I, personally, was hoping someone would try the frog ovaries in paw paw cup but no. Whilst haggling over who would go first, I noticed to the right of me the 9 year old boy calmly eating his duck tongue, with no fanfare. The ante had immediately been upped. The 14 year old went next, his glass of Coke poised in his right hand, the left hand holding the bones of the back of the tongue hestitantly.
“But what if I gag?” he asked his mother, Bea Long.
“I am pretty sure you will. Just don’t vomit. Then you’ll owe me 50 kwai,” she replied.
Let me just say that we were all sure the child would be in debt to his mother midway through the tongue, but no, he pulled it together. Round the table they went, gagging and giggling. My Thing 2 was the only non gagger – he daintily nibbled his, accompanied by sips of orange juice. Abstainging from the entire Challenge, Thing 3 said she draws the line at chicken hearts.
The PTSA has asked Mrs. Bea Long to be their liaison to the school’s Chinese community. Everyone understands the last name Long. I think they have made a wise choice as she seems game for anything. Mrs. Long double downed the duck tongue bet by anteing up 50 kwai more for the second round of tongues. It was an expensive evening when you add all the betting to the tab but highly entertaining. Maybe next time the kids will decide to go for the sea cucumber or the ox intestine.
Leaving the restaurant, Thing 1 contributed her earnings to a beggar’s cup, thereby assuring him of eating for a week or two and her of her just desserts. Easy come, easy go, she said. Now that is a lesson for which I could not have paid her.