I think I've gotten much better at fitting in in Hong Kong, I can mimic going through daily interaction in Cantonese, although most of the time I seem somewhat stunted. But still, better stunted than mute. I can navigate things a lot more than I used to be able to, and while I still don't have the nerve to pick out the live chickens they offer at the wet market, I have gone on to pick out fish. (Which they then smash on the head with a cleaver and de-scale it vigorously while it's still moving. It still makes me flinch.)
But I try my best to seem as cool as possible, particularly with food. When faced with unfamiliar things, headfirst, no questions. No asking for help. Perhaps I have a bit too much pride, I've been accused of that before, but I guess I just like feeling some dignity. With that motto, I've become a pork knuckle, intestine lining eating, rice bowl in my hand, crustacean snapping individual.
Anyway I went to a noodle shop with my guy's family a few weeks ago. It was like a hole in the wall type of place, with plastic utensils and a makeshift roof. We each had to pick out an order from the mysterious and unfamiliar items floating at the counter. I had no idea what to choose, but I didn't want to seem completely lost, so I looked at the menu board, and picked the simplest one. Noodles with only one item in it. Simple I thought and probably the best way to avoid anything strange. A7- I said in cantonese. confident. nonchalant. Yes, I belong here.
"Are you sure?" C was looking at me with a slightly puzzled look, as was his mother.
"Yes. I know what I want," I said. (Unfortunately, I may have said this in a slightly aggressive way - with an undertone of Don't patronize Me.)
I could tell he wanted to say something, but I tried to look as nonchalant as possible. He shrugged.
I ate confidently at the table, heartily and with vigor. I could tell the vibe was a little awkward but I didn't really understand the reason. His mother had gotten noodles with an all-included special, and she kept giving me items from her bowl,"Since you like it."
And I'd keep taking it, like "Oh thanks Aunty!"
I thought they both looked a little uncomfortable, slightly intrigued and disgusted. The way I felt when I first was handed a bowl of pork knuckle.
I finished the bowl, and felt good that I had made my point. And then I forgot about that day.
A week later, C mentions to me that his mother had been slightly freaked out by how enthusiastically I had eaten cow penis. She had wondered why it was the only thing I ordered, and whether all Koreans liked eating things like that.
So A-7 was noodles and cow penis.