I fancy myself to be a foodie. I like dishes that awaken my palate, juxtapose flavors, surprise my senses. Buttermilk basil sorbet. Brussels sprouts tossed in homemade pomegranate molasses. Duck meat loaf. Stinky cheeses. Anything with arugula. Latte art.
There’s not much I won’t try–unless it features goat cheese or a nasty orange vegetable–and in fact, I relish any chance to tickle my taste buds. I’ve tasted a lot of dishes, and I know my food.
Or so I thought.
Last week, to our surprise and delight, my brother and I stumbled across a multiethnic grocery store. We marveled over the unusual vegetables (would you believe that it was the first time I had ever seen a chickpea in its natural hull?) and ogled new species of fish. We piled our arms full of assorted Japanese mochi. We admired the rows of live frogs, sitting at attention like Kelly green soldiers waiting to meet their fate. We laughed at buckets of pig snouts.
The deeper we got into the store, the more items we found that we didn’t recognize. Puck cream. Freekeh. Basil seed drinks. Black silkie chickens, frozen whole and feathered. We even found things we hadn’t considered food. Seagull meat. Beef blood. Beef bile. Goat heads.
We had a ball poking around; the colors and smells and packaging–and the items themselves–were fascinating. They were also humbling.
I may think I know a thing or two about food, but outside my comfort zone, I don’t know jack squat.
Twenty aisles in a Florida grocery store taught me that I still have a lot to learn. Even when I take pains to expand my horizons, the world around me stretches far beyond my field of sight. How arrogant of me to think I could master any subject.