I still remember the first time I enjoyed fresh strawberries in Germany – biting into a ripe, red berry, and finding a squirming beetle inside. Ew! But, I reasoned, at least that was because they don’t use dangerous pesticides, and really, isn’t all natural always better?
This was around 9 years ago now, and I must admit I’m increasingly impressed with my ability to turn off my highly tuned gag reflex.
This week put me to the test, though.
On Monday, I went to my favorite local grocery store – totally overpriced and specially for expats, but I still like it since it’s just down the street and everything is so easy to find. I was making one of my favorite quick meals – cous cous with zucchini, asparagus and broccoli. As I was chopping up my nice, round zucchini, I noticed it looked a little off – a brown tinge and a bit hollow. Figuring it was rotten, I tossed it away (thankfull that I had purchased two).
When I went to cut up the second one I noticed a little squirming friend on the cutting board. A tiny maggot. Delicious.
Managing to amaze even myself, I simply threw the maggot in the trash, washed off the knife and cutting board, and chopped up the second zucchini.
Hmmm. Perhaps I have adapted to my less-than-sterile environment here in Southeast Asia?
Today I got another chance to test my tolerance levels. We went to my absolute favorite pizza place in Central World Plaza (just a five minute walk from our house) with some friends who were visiting from out of town. I may have mentioned how much I like this pizza on one or two previous occasions to these very friends, so I was quite excited to bring them there for lunch.
Sadly, as I was about to bite into my second to last slice, what do I notice resting next to a tasty, salty black olive? A crunchy, leggy little cockroach. Nice and toasty, all baked into my beloved pizza.
Despondently I called the waitress over (she knows us so well, we don’t even have to order when we come in we just get “the usual”). Thankfully she was quite horrified (and removed the charge for the pizza from our bill) and had I not already eaten 95% of the pizza, I probably would have finished the rest.
Plus, I didn’t panic, didn’t declare that I was never coming back, and I definitely didn’t gag. It’s all part of the experience, right? The little daily adventures that make living abroad so exciting.
I consider this my personal “arrival” to the world of expat living. I may have been out of my anti-bacterial-obsessed-country for the last nine years, but being able to ignore a cockroach pizza, and simply toss away a maggot has to be a sign of adaptation, right?
No more hand sanitizer for me!