To Eat or Not to Eat, That Is the Question

Have a look

I need your help to crowd source this post. Let me explain.

In every culture, there are some foods that those on the outside don’t understand. In fact, many on the inside don’t understand them either. Maybe they were first eaten during a time of shortage, and then, after that time had passed, they were handed down from generation to generation, not because the need was still there, but because they had become a part of the people’s identity. (Edit:) Of course, in some places, that “time of shortage” is happening now.

Maybe they are terrible-tasting things that we eat because they’re supposed to be good for us. (Maybe we think they’re good for us because they taste terrible?) And then there are those things that years ago, before refrigeration, were fermented—or prepared in some other way—to keep them from spoiling. And now, even after electricity, we still have them. Maybe it’s because over time our tastes just develop in different directions. Or maybe it’s because of extravagance: we’re wealthy enough to eat something odd and rare, just because we can.

Regardless of what put it on the menu, what food in your home-away-from-home gives your palate pause? Or, on the other hand, what have you tried that now has become part of who you are?

In the comments section below, tell us what it is, and let us know what you think about it. To make it easier, I’ve provided the scale below. All you need to do is give the name of the food followed with a number 1 through 6. (Adding places, comments, and experiences are optional but welcome.)

1- Absolutely no way!
2- Never again
3- Maybe someday
4- Actually not so bad
5- Think I like it
6- Love it! Love it! Love it!

For example, here are a couple from me that I know from my time in Taiwan—

  • Durian, 2 (but the smell is more like a 1!) The Taiwanese say that the first time you eat durian, you hate it; the second time you like it; and the third time it’s your favorite.
  • Stinky tofu, 4 (ditto on the smell)

Of course, this isn’t a look-at-those-crazy-people-over-there post. I’m from the US of A, which has introduced me to

  • Rocky-mountain oysters, 6 (as I recall, but I was pretty young at the time)
  • Head cheese, 1 (just the name’s too much for me)
  • Fruitcake, 4 (it is the Christmas season, after all).


But enough from me. Now it’s your turn. Have at it!

[photos: “Have a Look,” by Malte Vahlenkamp, used under a Creative Commons license; “I have a fruitcake . . . ,” by John Brian Silverio, used under a Creative Commons license]

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Craig Thompson

Craig and his wife, Karen, along with their five children, served as missionaries in Taipei, Taiwan, for ten years before returning to southwest Missouri. His experiences, as well as conversations with other cross-cultural workers, have made him more and more interested in member care and the process of transitioning between cultures. Craig blogs at

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