Something to know about me - I am a picky eater. If I don’t like something, I won’t eat it. However, I am very open to trying new things and new experiences. Just because I hate seaweed and know this does not mean I have never re-tried sushi in different rolls to test it, even though the seaweed is still what usually gets me about it. With this I have tried a lot of different foods in restaurants or when cooking and I am pretty open to trying most things (excluding tomato pastes). This is an important disclaimer before I start the story below.
I was eating at a restaurant in Stillwater with a few friends on early summer evening. It was a Japanese Hot Pot style restaurant where the hot pots of liquid sit at your table and you cook the meat yourself called Tokyo Pot. This is one of my favorite restaurants, and I was quite excited to show it to my friends who had never been. It is important to recognize that this is not the place for everyone, and some people can be turned off by cooking your own food and the raw egg/meat openly at the table. One person in our group felt this way. She was very polite, but you could tell that she really was not enjoying the experience.
The owner of Tokyo Pot, a kind man named Dean, was known at the time for often visiting guests and introducing new ways to try different combinations of ingredients and cooking strategies. Dean came by our table to introduce himself and could immediately see our friend’s skepticism and distaste for her meal. He tried to help by offering to cook the meat in different ways, showing her techniques, and even attempted to make a prime rib taco with cooked meat and a lettuce leaf. My friend wouldn’t try it and kept saying she felt as though it was not sanitary and that since her mom is a biologist she just doesn’t want to risk salmonella poisoning, etc. It was then that Dean said something that will stick with me for the rest of my life. He said, “No, no mam, just try it! Don’t be a… hibiscus! While the hibiscus flower is beautiful, it will wilt in the rain. No, no… Be an orchid! Orchids are strong.”
Now, this was an extremely embarrassing experience for my friend, and I hate that she felt pressured, but I still felt like as a group we took a lot away from what Dean said. All teasing aside, as young women there can be a lot of pressure to act or be a certain way, and while society is moving towards encouraging strong women, it is still often expected of us to have a “softer” side that will wilt under pressure. I've thought about this interaction a lot, and I can see it from both sides. On one hand, my friend was being strong because she was standing by how she felt and not allowing herself to be pressured into doing something she didn’t want to. On another hand, I think we could all (myself included) benefit from being more adventurous at times and not wilting away from a challenge. What are some of your thoughts? Different people have different take-aways and perspectives, I am curious on what some of yours might be!
I am a student affairs professional, an amateur chef, and an adventurer at heart.
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