URS “Asian Hospitality”
Translation By: Quan Keming
Asians love to express their hospitality in many interesting ways.
Barnabas, a missionary to tribal groups in the mountains of Northern Thailand, had many heavy meals of special pork. It is a habit of many tribes to slaughter a pig for visiting dignitaries. Normally, they do not have much meat, but during such visits the pig becomes a great sign of their warmth and hospitality.
The pig, which is really a wild boar, is finished off by a spear to the heart, sometimes right in the middle of the church yard, allowing the blood to drain into the muddy channels of the church grounds. Then the villagers take a torch made of twigs and branches to singe off the hair. Finally, they take a scraper of metal or wood and scrape off the hair (sort of). Then the meat is cut up in chunks of glistening fat, plus the skin and even some authentic hair. This delicious pork is served especially to the distinguished visiting guest, and the visiting pastor is often the recipient of this generosity.
One day, just a few days after we had left Thailand after a short term mission trip there, I called up Barnabas on the phone and asked him how he was. He said that he was feeling some chest pain and was driving now to the hospital. Sure enough, he had a heart attack. It was finally brought to the attention of the villagers that being so generous to your pastor might lead to heart attacks. After many educational DVDs, the villagers have begun to recognize that generosity has limits.
For years when we went to the Yunnan town of Luquan and Xundian, we were given feasts of fried bees. One time we were given fried bees on seven occasions in 10 days. The villagers were showing their greatest hospitality by offering this rather expensive dish. We learned to dive right into it and found out that it’s really a fantastic food. The key is not to eat bees with mature wings, but to gobble the bees down when they are in the larva stage! When asked what does it taste like?, I often reply that “it tastes just like fried crickets”. Which, if you have never eaten it, simply means that you have been “culturally deprived”.
At the end of my internship, we were married immediately, and my new bride and I promptly proceeded on our quasi-honeymoon trip to America. We stopped by in different cities, along the way. In Tokyo, we were the special guests of a friend who invited us to her home for a spectacular dinner. All the family members were sitting around the table, on the ground. In the middle of room was the best dish of all, raw fish – sashimi. Except that I had only recently finished medical school and, in my eyes and in my brain, were floating all kinds of ugly tapeworms, including fish tapeworms. I gulped and stopped and stared, and finally, I blurted out a really shocking comment to them like: I’m so sorry, I can’t eat raw meat.” There was stunned disbelief and silence of all who were there. I did not know how to disappear into the ground. Totally red, embarrassed and really ashamed of the situation, I managed to keep a straight face. The hostess composed herself, and sent someone out who finally came back with an American McDonalds hamburger. It was the lowest culinary blow of my life, and I have never forgotten it. From that point onward, I knew that I basically had to try to eat whatever was laid before me, which is what the good book says actually….. Secretly however I have dropped some special foods to pets and eager wandering dogs. They deserve good food too.
我和我的新娘在我的实习结束时马上结婚，开始我们到美国的准蜜月之旅。一路上，我们在不同的城市逗留。在东京，我们作为一个朋友的特别客人，被她邀请到她家吃了个丰盛的晚餐。 全家人围着桌子席地而坐。 屋中间是最好的菜-生鱼片。只可惜我最近才医学院毕业，在我的眼前和脑里浮现的是各种丑陋的绦虫，包括鱼绦虫。我吞了吞口水、停下来、愣着，最后脱口而出一个令人震惊的评论， 像是：对不起，我不能吃生肉。在场的人难以置信、无言以对。我面红耳赤，羞愧难当，不知道怎样才能钻入地缝里。 在这样的情况下，还要设法板着面孔。女主人平静下来，打发人出去， 那人最后买回来了一个美国的麦当劳汉堡包。这是我在饮食文化上最沉重的打击，我从来不会忘记它。从那时起。我知道我基本上不得不尽量去吃摆在我面前的食物，这其实也是好书里教育的。。。不过背地里，我也丢一些难吃的给宠物和垂涎游走的狗。他们也该享受点美食。
With an open attitude, things such as fried rats, boiled white earthworms, wriggling fresh live shrimp, and yes, fried crickets can be enjoyed, although really cooking it well, and especially frying it crisply, is definitely a great enhancement of taste.