It’s no secret that the mission field is full of challenges. From learning a new language well enough to effectively share the gospel to raising awareness upon returning to your home country, missions is exacting and sometimes excruciatingly heartbreaking work. Since a major part of any culture is its cuisine, enjoying meals with others can be one of the major challenges of cross cultural missions. Some foods may become favorites. Others will be a bit harder to swallow – literally. Before you decide to just grit your teeth and fight the urge to vomit, read on; the following tips will help you enjoy all kinds of food with all kinds of people as you win them to Christ.
Strongly flavored extracts such as peppermint, spearmint, chocolate or almond can help you combat potentially offensive flavors. Swishing with about a Tablespoon of extract, preferably mint, will coat your mouth with a competing flavor and take the focus off of the food.
Hold Your Breath
Since smell is a huge component of taste, you can reduce your sense of taste by simply not breathing. While pinching your nose may be fine in private, social dining requires a different tactic. Simply exhale right before taking each bite and sip water to wash the flavor away before taking your next breath.
Pour on the Salt
Excessively salting your food is similar to swishing with flavor extract, but can be performed discreetly at the table. Since many tables already have salt, it is also a cost-effective alternative to extracts. One word of caution: too much salt can be just as difficult to stomach as an unpleasant taste. Additionally, excess salt can spike blood pressure, possibly causing cardiovascular and other health issues.
Dry it up
While water can help get an unpleasant taste out of your mouth when you hold your breath, a mouth moist with saliva can intensify flavors by spreading them throughout your mouth. To dry your mouth, simply wipe your tongue and mouth with a paper towel. This move is best done during a quick bite on the go as your mouth will replenish its saliva within seconds. Moreover, such a tactic will draw unwanted attention to you at the table.
Cool it Down or Heat it Up
Having a nice, cold glass of ice water before you eat can help numb your palate so flavors are less noticeable. Remember to specifically ask for ice water. In many countries, such as China, water is routinely served warm. If you have sensitive teeth or tend to get the dreaded “ice cream” headache, you may achieve a similar effect by drinking very hot tea, coffee, or hot chocolate.
As you follow these tips, remember the real secret to winning souls is to give people the mindful, loving attention Jesus Christ has given you. This is true whether your mission field happens to be in Mozambique or at your mother-in-law’s dining room table.