Thursday, August 22, 2013

Cultural Misunderstandings Over Breakfast

We go bike riding at least once a week now.  I'm still fat.
Like all married couples, Edz and I have fallen into routines.  This is not a criticism of a boring life, the opposite is actually true.  I'm on the road a lot, seeing new things, and Edz gets to tag along on about every fourth or fifth trip.  In her first year in the United States she got to spend a week in San Francisco, a month in the Philippines, two weeks in Florida, plus two weeks in Saipan.  Two months of vacation?  That makes her practically European.

But when we are both home we have started routines.  Saturdays are slow.  We usually sleep in until about 9 or 10 AM and then we make a big breakfast.  We take turns cooking, although no one keeps score as to whose turn it is.  When it is waffle day, I cook.  She always makes the longanisa.

Longanisa are these thick spicy red sausages that are somewhat sweet.  We get them at H-Mart, which has an amazing selection of Filipino brands that elicits squeals when Edz finds them.  Edz boils the sausages and then grills them right before we eat.  We usually serve them up with scrambled eggs and garlic rice, with a Filipino brand vinegar dipping sauce and hot pepper.

A few weeks ago I returned home from the Marshall Islands a few days before Edz returned from Saipan. Before we left I had emptied the fridge of everything that could go bad, and not wanting Edz to come home to no food, I went to H-Mart to stock up on the things she likes.

Little did I know that Edz would bring her own food back from Saipan.

This past Saturday Edz decided she'd be the cook.  She made me coffee and while she busied herself, I sat at the dining room table and read a book -- the fourth Game of Thrones book if you are interested.

In the whole wide world there are very few smells better than that of grilling pork fat.  I could hear the pork sizzle as Edz dropped it into the hot frying pan and wafts of happy smelling porky sausage happiness filled every corner of the house.  My mouth watered at the thought of my amazing breakfast.

And then I started to smell something like burning garbage.  This had me worried.  I bought a new brand of longanisa this time because the store was out of our usual.  Could the difference in brands really be that different?  What was going on?

"Edz, what is that smell?" I asked.

"My tuyo.  Fish."

That's not food, that's bait.
Tuyo, as it turns out, is the most horrible smelling food known to man.  I though balut was bad.  This stuff knocks balut off the nasty food hall of fame list.  Tuyo is bait fish left outside to rot, seasoned with fly droppings, stored for about a year, and then deep fried when it comes time to eat.

The smell was so horrible that I had to go sit outside.   I took my book and my coffee and sat out on the porch.  I lost all my appetite for the delicious, happy longanisa.  My rice, eggs, and sausage sat untouched on my plate.

Her feelings a little hurt from this cultural misunderstanding, Edz took to Facebook to find solace in her Filipina mafia.  Within minutes, half a dozen of her friends admitted they weren't allowed to cook tuyo while their American husbands were around, either.

Welcome to the tuyo ban, Edz!

2 comments:

kirida said...

My husband won't come near me when I'm eating sembe and that's fine by me.

Stephen said...

Worse than durian? My wife continues to be amazed that I like things like kim chee and Korean miso paste. Apparently, even a lot of Koreans don't like it. Same with the Japanese and natto, which a friend of mine ardently forced himself to eat for breakfast as he adapted to living there.