Don’t let your food life get boring
Today I found myself yet again turning down my coworkers’ lunch invitation. It’s not that I hate my coworkers; I find them rather enjoyable people for the most part. Part of it is money-related: for the cost of going out to lunch, that’s money that could go elsewhere. Part of it is time-related: going out to lunch, especially with others, causes my workday to become longer than I’d like. A majority of it is food-related: they tend to go out for the same things every time. Burgers, some sort of deli, occasionally Panda Express (even though our office is just a few blocks away from Chinatown). My lunches are a varied bunch, and probably a bit better for me. Today was leftover Kenyan food from the Wine 5 Cafe. Last week there were various leftovers from dinner the previous night. Usually something a bit strange, usually unique, always delicious. Which got me thinking: maybe they go out for the same stuff all the time because it’s comfortable and recognizable. Which, to me, means boring.
One of my biggest fears coming back to Las Vegas was related to gaining more weight due to the availability of crazy awesome food for reasonable prices. I don’t go clubbing, and most of the people I hang out with a lot don’t either. So we get together for food. So many places around here are open at crazy hours to accommodate the 24 hour lifestyle of the residents of the city. I’ve had pho at 9 am; I’ve have stuff from food trucks at midnight; I’ve had ice cream and alcohol with breakfast, and tacos in the afternoon. And oh, the variety you can get. In the last few weeks of eating out with friends and family, I’ve had traditional Kenyan dishes, authentic Ramen, all I could eat Southern Style BBQ, sushi, upscale pub food, lowkey pub food, burritos served to me by a staff that couldn’t speak English, a burger the size of a small child, and more. Las Vegas is truly a culinary wonderland, and you can find cheap food, even on the Strip.
Which is probably why I don’t go to lunch more with my coworkers.
It’s not that I hate burgers or deli sandwiches. It’s that eating that for lunch all the time gets boring. It gets stale. But it’s all they seem to do for lunch, probably because it’s fairly quick, nearby, painless, and usually agreeable by the majority. I understand it, but man, that gets old fast.
Food is a gateway drug into another culture. It relates to a country’s location, socio-politcal norms, what’s readily available, and what’s considered a luxury. Hell, just look at the foods that tend to define our culture, even just region to region. No one in the world does BBQ quite like we do, and the Midwest is synonymous with fried foods. I was born in the Philippines, so odd combos of salty and sweet dominated a good chunk of my palate during my childhood. As I’ve grown older, I want to try more new and exciting things, because well, if they’re eating it it must be alright.
Don’t let yourself become routine in what you eat if you can avoid it. I know that’s hard sometimes, due to costs or availability of products. (Going to college in a small town in Southern Ohio made me realize how lucky I was that Vegas has so many Mexican and Asian markets around town.) Even if all that means is finding a recipe online of something you haven’t tried, or a new twist on things, or finding that new restaurant you read about in the paper.
I can only think of the mother of a family I stayed with in Buffalo during a summer internship, thinking about new foods. She was a lovely lady, but her and her family were rather set in their ways about their food choices. She had asked me “well, why would you try these things if you might not like it? Why spend the money and the time?” “Because what if I’m missing out on something amazing by not risking it?”