Wanna know how to make me really angry? Be a picky eater. You may think I'm being funny, I am dead serious.
My dad recently returned from a two week tour of Asia with his MBA program. They went to Korea, Japan, China, and Thailand seeing businesses, meeting with alumni, etc. Fun right? I love going to a new place, getting lost in the culture, seeing the world in a completely different light, and trying all sorts of new food. Well, apparently, by the time the group made it to Japan, over half of them had already pledged to live off of McDonalds. I thought he was joking...he wasn't.
The group was traveling from Osaka to Tokyo on the Shinkansen (bullet train) and their tour guide recommended that they buy a "bento" box lunch.
My dad bought the sampler box, a good $15 worth of food to eat on the train because he was hungry and of course, most of the people with him followed suit, not knowing what anything else on the menu was. When they sat down on the train, my dad immediately started eating and was of course, in heaven. Seriously, these lunches are so good. The person across from him however, opens their box, looks in it, and then shuts it. They then say "there's a tentacle in it." My dad replies "yeah, it's food." They then argue for several minutes about why they can't eat it until eventually my dad reaches over to their box, grabs the baby octopus, pops it in his mouth and eats it while everyone in the group screams, and everyone in the train stares at them as if something horribly wrong is happening. Everyone thought my dad was "gross." "Ew, he'll eat anything" they'd say. Another girl who ordered a different box said "mine tastes good because it's chicken." She stopped eating it when she found out it was eel. Everywhere they went to eat throughout the trip, the group would receive their food, poke at it saying "ew, what is this?" and then throw it away.
And we wonder why Americans have a reputation throughout the world as "arrogant"? It is blatantly obvious to me. People thought my dad was "gross" for eating food of a different culture. Really? I cannot stand when people claim to be open, tolerant, and culturally-accepting when they refuse to eat anything they are not familiar with. I have a very hard time keeping my patience when someone tells me "I hate seafood." Do you realize how broad this statement is? That's like me saying I can't touch "landfood." There is just as much edible stuff in the sea as there is on land, and just as much variety too. I highly doubt that I know anyone who has eaten everything in the sea.
Here's a lesson. Sushi. The word literally means "vinegar rice." Sushi is rice prepared with a certain vinegar. It is so commonly prepared with a slice of sashimi on top of it, that clueless Americans think that sushi means raw fish when in fact, I've had sushi with hard-boiled eggs, grilled chicken, chocolate, hamburger, you name it. So, don't tell me you "hate sushi" when you really have no idea what you're talking about. Saying that you hate sushi is about the equivalent of saying you hate sandwiches.
And while I'm at it, the American sushi "roll" (Las Vegas, Caterpillar, Baja, Dragon, etc.) junk that's all covered in sauce is not even REMOTELY Japanese.
All in all, I honestly belive that you are practicing intolerance when you refuse to touch food based solely on its appearance or description. Go ahead, get mad at me, think whatever you're going to think, I'm not changing my mind. "But what if I gag, or it makes me sick?" you ask? Well you know what, maybe I gag when I have to eat a hot dog and jello salad at my neighbors house. I smile and eat it anyway. Food is a huge part of culture, no matter how you look at it. When you diss food, you're dissing a part of someone's cutlure. I may become very quiet when you start talking about how gross (insert any international cuisine here) food is, but really, I am fighting the urge to punch you. Sorry. Go ahead, be a picky eater, but don't you dare call yourself tolerant, when in truth you're not.