For dinner tonight, my madre made me my favorite salad but added cucumbers.
If you know me at all, you won't need any further explanation. But just for context, a bowl of cucumber is more horrifying to me than if I was presented with a bowl of worms/intestines/brains/maggots/poop/chicken fetuses. Combined.
Let it be known that I actually tried. Which is a serious testament to how much I love my host mama. I actually ate about half of the cucumbers in my salad, using the "swallow pill" and "drown with water" strategy. It was so painful. The taste, the contamination of my other beautiful vegetables...everything. If I had it my way, I wouldn't even have eaten any of the vegetables that touched the cucumbers because I can taste the cucumber on them. But I had to make it work. How you would feel if you were forced to eat a bowl of rotton fish vomit is how I feel when eating cucumbers.
I couldn't finish.
Which is another serious testament to how much I hate cucumbers.
I am a respectful eater. What do I mean by that? It's easier to explain in examples. For instance, I am a "vegetarian," but when our Istanbul couchsurf hosts made us an entire home-cooked dinner on our first night of meeting them, I didn't blink twice when I saw that the main entry was chicken. I ate that entry without a single word of complaint. Yes, I would have preferred not to have eaten the chicken if it were in my control. But I am not the type of person who could go out of her way to not eat something that was so generously made for her. And the idea of how uncomfortable that would have made our hosts feel makes me uncomfortable. It's just not how I was brought up. Or, when I went hiking with Will and some friends last week and Will's mom generously made "bocadillos" (sandwiches with chorizo or sausage) for all of us. I would never bring myself to say "thanks, but no I can't eat these sandwiches you prepared for us kids who you never even met before because I am vegetarian." I am not saying that if you would do that that you're a bad person. People are vegetarian for a lot of reasons, a main one being religious. No judgement at all, I'm just talking about me personally. I've even eaten two pieces of cucumber in middle school once I was visiting my grandparents in China just to make them happy.
But this was just too much. There were too many cucumbers in this salad.
You have no idea how stressful this entire experience was. How hard I tried to get myself to finish all the cucumbers. How horrified I was at the idea of wasting the food. I didn't want my madre to think I didn't like her cooking, or that I'm a brat. I may sound like a complete nutso right now, but that is how much I hate seeming rude or ungrateful to elders. It's also just how much I love my host mama, because I know that when she adds extra vegetables in my salads it is because she just went grocery shopping and wants me to have the biggest, most complete salad possible. At one point, I was literally considering sneaking the cucumbers into a napkin and then going outside to throw them away later. But I realized that if I didn't speak up then my madre would think I like cucumbers and keep giving them to me.
Thank god my host mama had to get up for something and saw my cucumbers (after not being able to force down anymore cucumbers without literally having to throw up) in my bowl. She was so nice about it, of course. But still, I felt kind of bad. I'm just really glad my host mama was so nice about it.
So okay, maybe making it work would entail that I either A) grew a pair and told my madre myself that I don't like cucumbers or B) ate all the cucumbers. But at least it worked out in the end.
I'm going to stop this post now because even the idea of the cucumbers that are sitting in my stomach right now makes me feel kind of sick.