A Bite of Experience

General essay topic of my choice.

After years of constant nagging, I finally gave in to my family’s relentless pressure to try cooked pig intestines, or chitlins. Their smell, both sickening and overbearing, has made me steer clear from them every year. But, honoring a strong tradition, the family continues to make them. After the continuous comments of “C`mon just try it!” and “This sure is delicious, taste it!” from my family, I mustered up some bravery, got a fork and dove into a bowl of my grandma’s chitlins. Time seemed to slow down as I brought the chitlin to my face. I noticed the disgusting smell lingering around me and realized that soon the stench would be in my mouth. I gulped. Moments passed I stared at the small, pale, wrinkled, reeking object. I felt alone, like I was facing an anxious crowd of spectators. Butterflies rushed into my stomach and I felt my palms become sweaty. I was completely unsure about putting it in my mouth, but I decided at that point to just go for it; my family anxiously looked on. I looked back with nervous eyes, and shoved it in my mouth. I bit down once, then again and as I continued to chew, I fought against my gag reflex as the chitlin “juice” began to squirt, sending streams of the liquid to lightly hit the insides of my cheeks. The texture was indescribable; the chitlin was rubbery and tough but also smooth. Caught up in thinking about the odd texture of the food, I almost forgot the taste until each bud on my tongue stood up to singularly announce protest. The familiar, nauseating smell that I have always known and associated with the New Year was now stomping on my taste buds, and boy was it gross! I had never before in my life tasted anything so repulsive. I quickly spat it out and searched for something to replace the sickening taste. As my family laughed at my disgust, my grandfather said, “It’s an acquired taste. You’ll get used to it”. But I knew that I would never be able to “acquire” that awful taste, because I promised myself that I would never eat chitlins again.Even though I do not like eating chitlins, they are an integral part of the world that I have come from. They offer a sense of community that seems to override my reactions to their taste and smell. My family insists on cooking chitlins every New Years, and each time, family members begin to reminisce on their experiences with chitlins in the past. From here, the family takes turns sharing different tales that offer comic relief, and also describe downfalls and successes. This tradition has been a learning experience for me, and I know that in the future, listening to the stories that people share in college will serve the same purpose.Though it would be difficult and unpleasant to attempt to make chitlins in college, I do look forward to being able to have the same environment that it has created for my family. I see college as an opportunity to learn from the people around me and to discover other backgrounds, a chance to become a more compassionate individual. The story describes an instance where I was willing to try something new. I have done this often and I have found that I value the growth that stepping outside of my comfort zone has allowed me throughout the past. By utilizing this willingness to try new things, I will be a leader and share my own stories, traditions and experiences with my future college community in order to be able to understand and appreciate the worlds that other people come from. My journey through college and into adulthood will be more fulfilling and successful if I gain knowledge about the communities that make people thrive.

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