We wait patiently until your mouth is good and full, until after you’ve taken that first tentative bite and decided that, yes, you can eat this foreign food. You’re really pleased with yourself because you have such a courageous palate.
That’s when we strike, asking with great amusement, “You know what that is, right?”
Then we watch with delight as you stop chewing and your adam’s apple strains, willing the food only half-way swallowed to continue on its intended path toward the stomach. The cook told you it was pork, you say, debating what to do with the contents of your mouth.
We chuckle knowingly, “Yeah, but she told you what it really is, didn’t she?”
And all you can do is think back to that thing you saw her preparing.
Come to think of it…
it didn’t really look like pork…
As the color drains from your face we go in for the kill.
“Um. Yeah…that’s a horse wiener you’re eating! But it’s SO good, right?!”
When you choke out a “For REAL?!” we say “No, it’s just a really big sausage.” and then we walk away leaving you to wonder about your meal.
Of course, it IS just a really big sausage, but clarifying would be no fun. So we let it linger.
Missionaries do this with all kinds of foods all over the world. We tell you that you’re eating cow brains, or monkey arms, or frog spawn. We imply that your morning eggs are those of an unfertilized crocodile and that the crisp bite in your salad is deep fried grasshopper. By the end of your 10 day visit, when we serve you a plate of spaghetti and meat balls, you nearly pass out imagining the possibilities.
You’ll have to forgive us. This is how we entertain ourselves on the mission field.
But our constant joking around with your food serves a greater purpose.
The truth is, we do eat weird crap sometimes! We want you to be prepared for the moment when we’re all having lunch and the lady of the house serves you a bowl of soup with a giant, rubbery chicken foot sticking up out of the broth, claws and all. We want you to keep eating when you realize that what you’re eating is really, truly intestines, or stomach lining, or tongue – even if it’s cat tongue. And we want you to understand that there’s absolutely no reason to throw away a perfectly good meal made from a dog – even if the dog was super cute.
It’s just a fact that in some cultures simmered, coagulated balls of blood are, like, a delicacy that should not be spit into a napkin. So, basically, we’re doing you a favor. I mean, what are you gonna do when you come to understand that the cheese you’re eating now was made in the bathtub you peed in this morning? I’ll tell you what you’re gonna do – You’re gonna eat it, and you’re gonna say “Thank you, that was delicious.” And you’re gonna do that because your missionary trained you to have an iron stomach!
You’re welcome. See? We only have your very best interest at heart. I mean, we are missionaries.
*I almost didn’t post this, but then, last night, our team that’s here visiting from our home church went to a BBQ. This morning I asked my friend, Mo, what she had been served. She said, “Um. They gave us carne asada with a tortilla….and something else. I think Ernesto said it was… horse penis?”
And I had to laugh because it just never gets old…
So. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to eat with a smile on your face?