Allora, Viterbo

Lisette Muratore: Why I Travel

By Lisette Muratore

A wriggling, splashing fish is thrust towards my face. The Chinese man holding the net grins with crooked yellow teeth at me, and says something in his musical language.
“He wants to know if it’s ok,” translates a local into English.

“Uh… yes,” I smile at the man and nod vigorously. He slams the beam back over the wooden fish tanks that hang off the side of the houseboat into the murky river.

I’m with my father and his business associates in Shuitu, China. It’s a muggy rural town with banana trees and huge walls of greenery lining the dirt streets. The houseboat belongs to a local family who serve lunch in their living room. A huge silver bowl and ladle is brought out quickly by a Chinese lady with long streaks of grey in her black hair.

Inside the bowl are floating pieces of the fish that had been flapping around in my face five minutes earlier.She serves me first before moving around the table. Bobbing to the surface of my bowl is the whiskered face of the fish, eyes milky white and mouth gaping open.

The table stares at me expectantly. As the guest, I receive the delicacies of the dish, and must pull the flesh off the face, dig out the eyes, and suck out the brain.

This is why I travel. I have to encounter different ideas of hospitality and generosity, reconcile them with my own and embrace them. Every meal and every encounter from the moment I leave the hotel room to the moment I return is a test of character, a challenge I delight in overcoming, or sometimes delight in failing to overcome.

I try not to wrinkle my nose, take a deep breath, and pick up my chopsticks.

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  1. Why I travel « Allora, Viterbo said, on July 24, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    […] Morino Diana Letts Molly Linn Lisette Muratore Like this:LikeOne blogger likes […]


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