I'm a picky eater.
I don't like Japanese food*.
*Not ALL Japanese food, just like 50% of it.
Can you believeable? I know right, I live in Japan by choice and thus am limiting myself to the food I can eat. Wild, no?
Now before you bite my head off, I have tried pretty much everything I don't like and thus can say I don't like it.
I do not eat fish--except that time my mom tricked me into eating fish tricks under the false pretense that they were chicken fingers; I was like five...
I don't like the smell, I don't like the taste, I don't like the texture--all of it.
I DO LIKE SHRIMP, but only raw with cocktail sauce (the texture and flavor profile change) or grilled and slathered in a sauce (again, texture changed and flavor profile change).
Anything that comes from the sea--pretty much not consumed.
I like to believe that I am a mermaid who just chooses not to eat her friends. ;D
That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
So what does this have to do with kindness?
Well, in a country where having likes/dislikes is looked down upon--this is how I, as a picky eater, have won over the people who matter most, and my tip to anyone who thinks they might have a problem living anywhere especially Japan that could make the process a bit easier.
I am a fairly kind person, and not the fake 'temae,' kindness that involves a horrid sense of resentment behind it all.
I have learned how beneficial it is to be kind, rude people are not tolerated, but for the most part I am a very kind person to most people. For this reason, the people who matter the most--my co-workers, have come to really like me and can actually playfully tease me about my like/dislike (i.e. picky) habits.
I know that I can't be reborn into a Japanese person, but I can for damn sure try to do more than what is expected of me as a foreigner.
Gender roles in Japan: a topic I am so enthralled with and could talk like on and on passionately about the subject.
I am not claiming that Japan is wrong, in ANY WAY, in fact, good job Japan on keeping it real and everyone realizing that there will always be a 'their place' no matter what society likes to pretend to spew.
Living in the countryside, women are still expected to pour tea and serve to their higher ups who--are male. I know how to properly pour tea to the point where my Tea Ceremony Certified school secretary praised me with earnestly and always looked forward to the tea I poured. So I have learned that there are times when tea needs to be poured, I should offer tea to my higher ups BEFORE they ask and be sure to help with washing the dishes whenever possible. Same goes with drinking parties, I am the youngest female in the group and I should be the one to serve plates to the older males first, make sure the sake is poured when glasses seem empty, and be on top of things (usually in smaller venues, as opposed to bigger ones people tend to walk around more). I have taken my role with such pride that I really enjoy doing it.
My school has teachers eating with children during lunch. But I don't eat school lunch. I tried for the first couple of months, but due to the small amount of food I can eat at once, I was ever only able to eat rice and soup and maybe vegetables. Fish day was depressing and natto day almost made me throw up by the AMOUNT of smell (I have tried it and almost threw up with like 3 beans). Needless to say, I ended up going to the hospital needing an IV because I was to malnourished and dehydrated. From that day I am allowed to bring my own 'bento' and eat in the staff room. I really enjoy these times to unwind and just enjoy some me time. I really want to get good at making these bentos but, my cooking skill can only go so far as my ingredients, which are lacking in this small town.
As you can see, my bentos are far from the typical ones you see accomplished mothers making:
I really enjoy cooking so thankfully I have the benefit of actually making my lunch and enjoying it. One of the teachers I work with periodically asks what I am eating, and she always gives me leftover rice balls! One of the other school principals always teases me to eat Japanese food and has claimed that this is our ongoing joke forever but she has never been rude.
My boyfriend is an absolute gift from above. He is one of the few Japanese people I have met, who shares me distaste for fish and most Japanese food!!! The only fish he has ever claimed to honestly liking is some fish drenched in miso paste--but then it only really tastes like miso. We never go out to eat sushi, and his family has also accepted my eating habits joking that he has finally met his match! What could two young people possibly eat on dates and get-togethers in a little Japanese town you ask? Well, I am lucky to have a McDonalds near by and I can cook. Although for us, pretty much any kind of meat goes--so usually that's the basis. And with both of us driving, it makes traveling for our food a common date destination.
I don't hate ALL Japanese food, I love udon and yakisoba and ramen as well as anything with pork, or chicken, or meat! (As long as it's not cold, can't handle cold food.) So to be honest there is a lot of Japanese food I CAN eat, and going to any eating establishment means there will no doubt be something for me to eat. But as for the typical Japanese stable foods--sushi, sashimi, most tempura, most cooked veggies or pickles ones--just doesn't happen for me...
I'm also really bad at spicy food, so Indian Curry Places and Korean food are usually not much of an option--though yakinuki all day long. ;D
I am very sad to not be able to eat more food and am thus forced to cook it myself, to which some people say it should turn out better--but in my tiny ass kitchen...I'm not so happy to be forced to tiny spaces. But once I move into a bigger apartment, and I have my lovely sous chef to help me out with things my tiny frail arms can't always accomplish--I will most likely start posting recipes on here too!
Never fear if you are picky like me, we are not living in the stone age, and people understand that everyone won't like everything. Be kind in the way you present your argument as to why, but don't be afraid to try something first to properly say WHY you don't like it.
So as always, kindness is key. <3