Wednesday, May 20, 2009

My first taste of "rice"

Journal entry: early April, year 1 of my stay.

My guides had been cranky for a while. While I still had not deciphered most of their language, they were using tones that I had come to recognize - they were hungry.

As they chauffeured me around town, letting me watch the newly leafing trees go zooming by, they referenced several times something I had not really heard before since arriving here for my studies. I surmised that we would be dining on a delicacy called 'soo-shee.'

Upon entering the dining establishment there was an unexpected surprise waiting for me. While this might be considered embarrassing back home, I have become quite accustomed to having the female guide force me to use her legs as my chair, even as my balance has improved. This night, however, she consulted with the food-bringing lady, who quickly returned bearing a small throne, upon which I was placed.

Not having expected this, I was at first taken aback. Was there some specialized thanks or ritual I was expected to perform upon receipt of this honor? My guides did not seem to watch me for any particular behavior, so I decided to relax and practice my faux spoon-eating exercises, as per normal.

Until the food was presented to us.

It was food the likes of which I had never seen. I had noticed that my guides were not using the regular eating utensils on their salads - somehow manipulating long wooden sticks to pick up their food. Most of this did not interest me at first, but the longer I watched them, the more my stomach started to rumble, until I decided to brave the unknown cuisine for myself.

Upon pointing and trying to make my choice known, I was presented with a small bowl filled with tiny white pieces of some new food-substance.

Though I did request some eating-sticks of my own, I was forced to use my hands. I have not yet deciphered why it is that I am not allowed to use the same utensils I see my guides use on a regular basis. I have made my desire to use these tools known many times, but I am repeatedly rebuffed. But I digress.

The food was entirely white, granular, and had a very mild taste to it. It was also sticky.

The more I tried to manipulate it for eating, the more it stuck to every surface it contacted. I ended up with very little of it in my mouth. Most was attached to my hands, clothes, and the throne.

Nevertheless, it was an enjoyable experience. As per usual, the flirtatious females of this culture were unable to resist smiling and cooing at me. It has come to my attention that my hair is of particular attraction to them. My guides at a number of small pieces of food that looked interesting, but I refrained from tasting them on this occasion, as the white grains were frustrating enough for one night. Before too long I requested to go home for a short nap, and after forcing me to rid myself of the sticky grains, my guides obliged me.

I continue to attempt mastery of their strange customs, but they are quite elaborate and difficult to learn. I will report more soon.