Day 3: All About Fresh Food

Yummy spicy tofu, garlicky kongxincai, mushrooms and youcai, baked sweet potatoes…

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Something amazing is that no one remembers how picky I am about food! This is a huge relief for me because it means my unusual eating habits didn’t leave that big of an impression. I was worried that I would forever be remembered as the weird white girl who refused to eat. It’s also been wonderful because people have given up on believing I am refusing food on some polite pretense and I can eat whatever I want!

So why am I a picky eater? I’m deathly allergic to seafood. That and I don’t like meat. The local food here consists of only seafood and salty meat with only a scallion or garlic to resemble vegetables.

Anyways, my food here has been wonderful! My nainai’s fig tree and mother-in-law’s pomegranate tree are both ripe with fruit that no one else eats so I can gorge myself on fresh fruit without “keqi.” My old juicer is still intact so I can gather fruits and vegetables from the garden and make juice in the morning. Not to mention snacking of freshly dug up peanuts and wild walnuts from the mountains. Everyone has realized that I actually enjoy eating vegetables so I get my own specially prepared dishes and no one is forcing me to eat any meat. It would be impolite that I do not share my food (I cannot risk eating family style when there is seafood on the table) but no one else even wants to eat vegetables. They still don’t understand the allergy but people people have simply given up on understanding. It’s been delicious and a lot less stressful!

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People’s attitudes have changed as well. True, everyone still looks at my cheap stir fried veggies with looks of pity, but almost everyone has also commented that too much meat is unhealthy. Since the expectation was that my husband and I would come back from America fattened up, the conclusion everyone is making is that whatever we are eating must be healthy.

I’ve been trying for years to get my overweight father-in-law to try to eat healthier and we actually had a meat-free meal today for the first time ever! He never touched a vegetable until I married into the family. It’s great to be able to help break the Chinese stereotype that only poor people eat vegetables.

I don’t really understand why no one here likes fruit or vegetables, especially when they are so fresh and readily available. It has to be in part because they aren’t used to them and in part cultural. I am just happy I do not have try to adapt to that part of my husband’s culture anymore.

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