For 20 years, I hated dim sum.
I thought it was oily, had too much carbs, and tasted, more or less, bland.
I couldn’t understand why my family loved it so much. Was it their comfort food? Was it the wide variety of choices? Was it familiarity?
Whatever the reason was, they would drag me with them, every weekend, to eat dim sum at the same restaurant. And it’d always be the same dishes.
Sticky rice. Shrimp dumplings. Turnip cake. BBQ pork buns.
Eventually I grew sick of dim sum and stopped eating it completely. Even if my family took me out for dim sum, I wouldn’t take more than a bite from my plate. To me, it just wasn’t worth eating something you don’t enjoy.
And so, whenever someone suggested to eat dim sum together for brunch or lunch, I’d respectfully decline their invitation and instead suggest something else. Pretty soon, they started to get the message — that I didn’t like dim sum and wouldn’t go out of my way for it. My mind had already decided before they had even asked.
It was only until I was in Shenzhen, China when a good friend of mine tried to convince me to give it another try.
As usual, I declined but he was insistent. He asked me:
If you don’t challenge your perspective and continue to view things with the assumption that things are the same worldwide, then why travel at all in the first place? Just by living in the US, you’d have tried every kind of food anyway.
The more I thought about it, the more I realized it was true. Just because I’ve had a particular dish somewhere else in the world doesn’t necessarily mean it’s authentic. It was just like how I’ve experienced China again this time for the second time and loved it after hating it because of my terrible past. So I decided to give dim sum another try.
It was soooo much better than what I had expected, and to be honest I had gotten hooked. I understood, at that point, why I never liked it in the first place to want to try it again. It wasn’t the dim sum, per se; it was the quality and repetitiveness of it. My family chose to stick to the exact same dim sum dishes, week after week without change because it was familiar to them at the same restaurant and it gave them the best bang for the buck. It wasn’t necessarily the most authentic, the highest quality, nor different than any of the other dim sums around town.
The dim sum in China, on the other hand, was different. Each dish was carefully prepared to the finest details and exquisite in its own way. Different styles, different pairings, different tastes. It really opened my eyes to realize that dim sum could be this way, that my perspective I had before was so limited.
I used to think I’d experienced all that I needed to for dim sum and that there were no better alternatives, but the truth is, there’re always hundreds, if not thousands, of options in the world. There’s always something better than what we’ve already had. We just don’t know it exists.
That’s why we should keep our minds open and see things from a different perspective, and give the things we once hated or dreaded, a second chance, because there’s a possibility that we might actually like it. Or even love it.
You just have to try.