Embracing the Foreign Food Culture Maret 31, 2008Posted by finallywoken in Being Expat.
Imagine the first you arrived in a foreign land, you didn’t know where to go to get food, everything looks strange, and in some cases, you don’t understand the language! What did you do? Either heading towards Chinese restaurants, or fast food chains. Right?
But then you started to get to know the city and the area. You have found Asian supermarket which sells all your necessities, like soy sauce, chili sauce, and, of course, Indomie! I myself almost couldn’t hide my excitement when I found Indomie here in Scotland, 12,000 km away from home. If we’re lucky, there will be Indonesian restaurants, but if not, Chinese, Vietnam, or Thai, usually become an option.
To some people, the search and the connection to homeland stops there. But for others, they will do anything to get the original spice or food that they’re familiar with, even if that would cost them a lot. A friend from the Netherlands usually takes the car back to Holland. It is 17 hours journey with ferry (!) from Aberdeen, but she is happy because she could load all her favorite stuffs in the car and bring them back to UK. It’s not like we don’t have them here, since what she packs are usually like Knorr soup (she argues they don’t taste the same) or dr. Oetker baking mix (the selection here are not the varieties she wants) . And of course we all must have heard the story of Indonesian ladies who try to (or successfully) smuggle exotic spices (like terasi, shrimp paste) or exotic food (like ikan asin) back to their adopted countries. Don’t be surprised, I have had tried jengkol for the first time in Aberdeen and have had ikan asin more often here than back home, courtesy to these brave ladies! Even though I myself never miss Indonesian food that much, I enjoy the familiar taste in my mouth, especially with at least 3 kinds sambal presented.
But then after that, we certainly are interested in getting to know the local food. Rather than keep ordering fish & chips, for example, we could try something new. Just like our German guests who were confused to see black soup (rawon!) in Surabaya and a Scottish guy who ate fried bat in Manado or cooked donkey in China, or my Dutch friend who learned how to use chopsticks for the first time and roll the crispy duck wraps, I have tried many Scottish and Aberdonian food, from pickled egg to black pudding, from deep fried Mars bar to sticky toffee pudding.
So please do share with us. What is the local food you have tried from your adopted country?