Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Wierdest Lunch in 6 Months

Today's lunch was something of a surprise. I've eaten some very weird things here in Ecuador. Some wound up tasting fine, and others have been sketchy and nothing special. I've been lucky in that I haven't yet been floored by anything I've eaten, and I've been especially careful with the tantalizing street meat I always see on the corner. I've had guinea pig, nearly raw pig meat, and chicken liver soup, but today's lunch might take the cake as the weirdest thing I've eaten so far. And I'm not even sure what it was.

First, the soup was a bit off. It seems like too much bullion was put in there, giving it a sharp taste that made me burn through it. Generally, my response to food that I don't enjoy yet need to eat is to get through it as quickly as possible. It can be tough sometimes.

I could smell the main plate before it was brought to me, and it reminded me of when a friend in college from Ghana made a traditional dish called peanut butter soup. The peanut butter soup was delicious, but what I found in front of me today was anything but. It looked and smelled like it was also made in a peanut buttery sauce-blend, but did not have the same appeal. On the right was the "it" in its murky sauce. On the right was the white rice, a mountain for me to throw over the "it" to make it a little more doable.

Still unaware of the taste, I threw some rice over it and went to work. The first bite was a confused, lost venture into the dish. It didn't quite taste like meat, but also didn't seem like tofu or any kind of vegetable I've ever had. The "it" looked like it had tentacles or some kind of weird, ocean-like appendix sticking out. But there were also tiny little spiky things coming off what appeared to be noodles. I was totally confused.

I gave it another chance and took in another mouthful, but this time my mind came to the conclusion that I hated this dish. This dish which I couldn't even put a name to. I quickly took a drink of the lemonade to wash out the taste, but there was still a huge plate in front of me. To avoid it as long as possible, I went for the rice and ate a few bites, but knew I'd have to get back to work on the real thing.

Poking at it with the fork, it had a rubbery texture and I was sure that at any moment an eye would open up and the thing would attack me. I tried again to eat it, this time only taking one of the things in, but I knew that I couldn't take anymore. I wasn't even that hungry, and there was no way I would be able to eat more without puking. More of the rice was eaten in an attempt to even out the plate, but even then there was way too much food left. Normally I eat just about everything, and there was no way I could hide this.

I started in on the ice cream desert hoping to finish before my host mother came back in the kitchen and run away. But as soon as I opened the ice cream she came into the room to clear the table. Looking down at the plate she said in an almost mad, somewhat offended way, "You didn't like it?"

"No, no," I lied. "I'm just not hungry because I ate breakfast late." It wasn't a total lie though, as I only eat my breakfasts about an hour and a half before I eat my lunch, thanks to my lousy work schedule.

"Oh, OK. Right because you just ate breakfast late," she said and took the plate away, justifying why I wouldn't have eaten much of this dish that she never made until today. I really want to ask what it was, but I feel like it would tip her off to the fact that I didn't like it, and I'd just rather avoid that whole issue. As it is, I don't think I'll be getting it again. That is, unless of course, she gives me the left overs for dinner. God help me.

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