We've all mentioned this in one way or another, but one of the things I love about The Amazing Race is the way we get to travel around the world without having to get off our couches. Of course, nothing beats the real thing, but watching the show beats reading all those Lonely Planet guides, trying to imagine the actual place, which is what I did when I was in high school.
Of course, when you read those guides, you only find out what's there, not get to do it. For example, I've read all those Hong Kong pamphlets since I was a kid, but never did I imagine that the weather there is cold and many of the trendy kids there wear leather boots--until I got there myself. The closest we get there is, of course, watching the race, seeing cultures fly and people buckle badly.
I've only traveled a couple of times in my life, but I try my best to make the most of it. When I finally got to Hong Kong a couple of years back, for instance, I was craving for street food, because I wanted to taste Chinese food the way actual Chinese people make it. I ended up in this hole-in-the-wall eatery one morning--the only one I could find that speaks English--and realized that the servings were large, and the food, pretty oily. It felt queasy in the long run, but it made my Hong Kong experience much more genuine, or at least, that's what I felt.
Sure, experiencing the countries you go to isn't exactly the priority if you're a team on The Amazing Race, but you're better off doing that, right? I mean, all the tasks have you immersing in one way or another, which explains for fried starfish in China, or muddy carabaos in the Philippines, or Sushi Roulette in Japan. Might as well make the most of it.
You can only imagine the look on my face when I watched last night and saw what Matt did on the Detour. In a leg of convoluted tasks, they picked one where they have to ring the high-striker, dance a certain dance correctly, and eat salted herring and onions. And what does he do? Back out of the task and move to the other Detour, and simply because he doesn't eat fish.
I'm not going to rant about a person's eating habits, but being in a situation like season 13's Terence and Sarah--remember, when they had to eat a meaty local delicacy for a Fast Forward, which was hard since they're vegetarians--is much worse than having to eat a small piece of fish that's wrapped in salt and onions. I mean, really now, Matt. You put your team's ranking in jeopardy because you don't eat fish? I haven't tried salted herring and onions, but it looks delicious. It should be effortless!
Well, luckily for Gary and Matt, it didn't really put their race in jeopardy: Ericka was panicking, Brian's feet were hurting, and Maria and Tiffany spent their last moments on the race hugging, leaving an oddly suggestive taste in my mouth. And then I realize that sometimes, not eating fish is the best way to experience a country genuinely, rather than argue along the way, or feel flustered about not getting anything done. Maybe Matt's allergic to fish or something, and I'm just a little disappointed seeing a team pass up on something that looks yummy... but oh well. At least you played improvised golf and wore those outfits, at least not in the same way it looked suggestively ridiculous on Sam and Dan.
As for me, well, if I went to China, I would never try fried starfish.