just when the summer finally starts here in Finland, i caught a nasty flu. you know how it goes… first you feel the pain in your throat, and it starts to climb up to your nose… the next thing you know you start blowing out your nose and coughing, and at the same time you start losing your sense of taste.
when i was still living in Indonesia, i heard all kinds of stories from my friends and family members who lived abroad, and always, there would be stories about the food abroad. i should mention that most of this “abroad” living means somewhere in the western world, where of course the food culture is a lot different than in Indonesia.
the main thing was always the same: food abroad (in the western world) sucks. they have no taste.
since i never had the experience of living abroad back then, i could not say otherwise. the least i could say was, “huh, is that so.” but since this happened a lot of times, and everybody always said the same thing, well, i was starting to believe it. okay, okay, you are right, Indonesian food is EVERYTHING, we’re the gods of food, there’s really no hope of good food in the western world.
and then without even planning it (i mean, well, not like a life-long plan), i happened to move abroad. and that’s not all… i couldn’t cook any Indonesian food. AT ALL.
so i was aching and crying and panicking while i tried to learn to make my fave Indonesian foods, using 32 different ingredients just for one tiny meal, because how the h**l was i supposed to live without them?? foods here have no taste, that’s what people had been saying!
it took me a long while to “master” cooking some Indonesian foods, and to this date the varieties of Indonesian food i can make (without seeing any recipes) still can be counted only by using one hand. yep. but how then did i survive all these years living in a western country?
it may shock Indonesians, but i actually eat these tasteless foods. these good-for-nothing foods they were talking about, i proudly make them and enjoy eating them. to me, they’re not tasteless. they are good.
once you can open your mind to a world of tastes, no matter how simple and true-to-its-core, you will appreciate food even more. why does everything have to be full of sauce, you can’t even taste the real taste of a green bean? if these Indonesians say that food with no spices or sauces are no good, then i wonder how come they like sushis so much?
even here in Finland, when i met a fellow Indonesian and got into a small chit chat, and my husband asked him how he liked Finland so far… guess what he said? “it’s nice… but the food is not so good.” so my husband asked, “oh, so you don’t like the gravlax?” and the Indonesian man said, “oh, yes i do!”. my husband went on to ask other Finnish foods, to which the man answered that yes, indeed he liked those (out of politeness or was it the truth, who knows). so… um, what was it again about the food not being so good?
strange, huh. but anyway, i generally don’t care what other people think and feel about things that don’t concern me or my loved ones, and really dislike to judge others. but this one makes me feel sad to realize, are Indonesians generally that closed minded when it comes to simple food? it’s sad to think what kinds of simply good food they’re missing around the world just because they don’t have enough spices in them.
so back to my present flu. when i was just beginning to get the full blown flu, goo dripping from nose all the time, feeling unwell, painful headaches, fever and stuffs, i was fortunate to be invited to eat at my dad-in-law’s place. i nearly canceled it, but pushed myself to go after all, and did not regret it once. the menu was simple: grilled whole corns, grilled tenderloin steaks. all grilled by my dad-in-law, served straight from the barbecue grill. and of course, no BBQ sauce used, just tiny hints of salt and pepper.
at first i was afraid that with my flu, i wouldn’t be able to taste a thing. and though my initial craving whenever i have flu is to have a hot & spicy soup (i am still Indonesian at heart), i decided to just enjoy the time with family. miraculously, after a bite of the grilled corn (eaten with melted butter), my sense of taste came back. even if it’s just a simple taste, it tasted really good and heavenly to my tongue. and once i tried the steaks (eaten with garlic butter), there was no doubt about it. these simple foods can do wonders to your sense of taste.
i had a lovely night, and though i am still currently recovering from the flu itself, i will forever remember how it was not some spicy and heavily sauced food that helped me get my sense of taste back. good food is always good no matter if it only uses 1 spice ingredient or 32. sometimes it’s good to stick with the simple things.
i’m not saying that i can get over Indonesian food yet (i still jump at the chance of eating it whenever there is one!), but when i learned how to enjoy every taste of food, be it elaborately seasoned or plain, i find that living–abroad or just wherever–is much easier and i get to feel contented more easily. 🙂