My Normal or Yours?

A while back while IMing my stepmom, I told her about all the yummy cuisines available in my neighborhood – Pho shops galore, Thai, Ethiopian, Indian. She commented that I was so adventurous in my eating. That took me aback. Among my group of friends, this is normal. We’re not talking tentacles (Am I the only one that thinks of Better of Dead every time I hear that word?) or anything still moving.

As I was walking over to the Asian market last week (my local grocery store), I realized how un-my-Dad-like the whole experience was. First off, he’d NEVER walk around in my neighborhood. Secondly, I can’t imagine him eating anything that came from that store, especially if he ever stepped inside. He would definitely never play the game that DH2U and I play, which is come home with something we’re not quite sure what it is. (That has led to the discovery of some really yummy sweet & salty crackers, some fabulous banana cakes, and some fruit that I don’t think I ever need to eat again.)

“Normal” is merely what we are used to, and “adventurous” (or in some circles, “wrong”) is out of our ordinary.

I used to not try new things – what if I don’t like them? One day I realized the perfect answer to that: Then order something else! Once I adopted the mindset that it is part of the learning process to discover I don’t like new things, I could feel like I was succeeding when I didn’t like something!

Yesterday I did feel truly adventurous. I made tamales for the first time!

A crockpot half filled with homemade vegetarian tamales.

Here is the recipe I followed for making Tamales in a crockpot! Thank you, Crockpot Lady!

I had never even seen things made, and I remember my Mexican friends in college recounting what a horrible experience it was that they would get trapped in the kitchen for 12-14 hours as all the women assembled for a massive tamale making torture chamber. Knowing that mine wouldn’t be authentic anyway – I was already substituting shortening for lard and green chili and jack cheese instead of pork filling – took some of the pressure off.

Things I learned: My $5 hand mixer that I bought 15 years ago wasn’t up to the task of mixing that thick dough; Always consider the first one to be an experiment and assume you will throw it back and start again; and with time and practice, I suck less! To steal a line from Keeping the Faith, I was embracing my suckiness and actually having a good time!

I am so glad I put aside enough time to try this and do it as right as I could … and even prouder of myself for accepting my best effort as pride-worthy! I’m sure my next batch will be even better, especially if I end up with a better mixer or at least a deeper sided bowl so I don’t spend long cleaning up than actually making them!

Adventure Girl is definitely alive and well and patting me on the back!

What adventure have you been proud of undertaking lately? or When have you discovered that your “normal” isn’t universal?

4 thoughts on “My Normal or Yours?”

  1. Tammy – I find out almost daily that my normal isn’t universal. I was an English major in a family of MBA’s and engineers and taught English, loved writing and literature and the arts in a family that often told me I was in “my own little world.” It’s okay, I’ve realized, because I like it here. In truth -they’re a fantastic supportive family but I always felt a little like the odd ball. And odd balls are kinda cool.

    I tried a dark chocolate tart with caramel and sea salt last week. Never made it before – but the chocolate and sea salt had me at hello. The thing I’d never tried before? Phyllo dough. Yikes. It turned out awful. Tasted okay but the dough was a mess. I think I’d try it again but with a shortbread dough instead. Like you with your tamales – I just realized the next time I’d know better and try it with a twist.

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    1. I’m so glad to know that others have discovered the “normal” paradox. Square pegs need to unite! I think that is why friends truly become our families of choice… we fit with them.

      You had me at hello with chocolate and caramel! i think shortbread might be a good contrast to those flavors. Let me know when you make your second attempt.

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  2. I used to think that I would eat anything, until I moved here. Now I know that I would try anything because I wasn’t ever given anything too ‘out of the ordinary.’ I am considered picky within circles here, and that is a first for me. Usually consider the “Mikey” of the group for my whole childhood.

    My sister makes tamales and she loves them! She uses whatever leftover meat she has from other meals. I have also heard these stories of tamale making for the women, but never described from a kids perspective. That part is amusing, b/c I have always heard the ones of tradition and how wonderful it is. Keep trying them, you will get it down in no time!

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    1. I love how family dynamics affect our perceptions. In my family, I am the introverted one! Most people don’t believe me, until they meet them.

      I didn’t know you were picky! Maybe you are just surrounded by daredevil palettes!

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