I don’t have a lot of patience for picky eaters. I consider it my duty as a parent to expand my kids’ palate and be sure they learn to accept whatever they are served. Sure, I have preferences, but I’m usually willing to just suck it up and try stuff anyway if I’m in a social situation and I don’t want to be rude – I don’t love shrimp, for example, but I eat it to be courteous.
Of course, allergies or intolerances are a different story. I know from experience that if I eat corn on the cob or garbanzo beans I will be miserable for days, so I avoid them. (Contrary to what I told people as a child, however, I am not allergic to refried beans – I just made that one up so I wouldn’t have to eat them.)
Also, foods that conjure bad memories are ok to avoid – my husband’s cousin puked watermelon over all the other cousins at a sleepover, so his aversion to watermelon is understandable. Unfortunate, but understandable. My friend was sick after eating Indian food so she just can’t bring herself to eat it again. This makes me so sad for her.
Obviously, it goes without saying that chicken nuggets or chicken sandwiches that are really just chicken nuggets disguised as actual chicken are to be avoided at all costs – that’s not a matter of pickiness, just common sense. Everyone should stay away from those things. Also, after several attempts to like it, I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter how it’s prepared – lamb will never taste good to me. It just tastes more dead than other meat somehow. Oh, and I did try some of the roasted bone marrow my husband ordered for dinner once, but that stuff just tastes like melted beef fat. I’m sure I’m not the only one who would think that.
But if none of those very valid reasons to avoid certain foods apply, there’s just no excuse to be picky. When I travel, I try the local cuisine, even after I once was served meatloaf with a dead spider inside when I was in Germany and a salad with a dead fly in it when I was in… (Come to think of it, all the bug-infested food I’ve eaten was in Germany. Maybe that’s why I mostly just ate ice cream while I was there.) I didn’t try haggis in Scotland, though, because duh, and my husband was very disappointed that I refused to try pickled herring for breakfast in Sweden. But, come on – for breakfast? Right next to the muesli? Get serious.
So there you have it – I’m totally not picky AT ALL. As long as it’s not going to blow my stomach into a balloon, make me gag, or as long as it’s not something that is obviously universally accepted as just plain gross by normal, respectable people, I’ll give it a try.
Oh, but I forgot to mention one other thing that I’ve refused to eat every time, even socially, for the last 20 years: sushi. I just. Can’t. Do it. I tried some once, didn’t like the seaweed, and decided it just wasn’t for me. I’ve stuck with that decision quite stubbornly until now. In fact, when I told my friend about my idea for this blog, the first thing she said was, “Does that mean you’re going to try sushi?”
My husband, who really likes sushi, was very excited for this week. Me, not so much. Usually I look forward to date night, but this week it just felt like homework. I went, willing to try anything and give it my full effort, but I wasn’t expecting much. I really couldn’t understand why some people say they crave sushi. I couldn’t even wrap my brain around that concept, because as we drove there I was thinking the whole experiment would be a success if I just managed to not get the heaves in a public restaurant.
We did some research and found a good place – Yamato in Orem. We decided we wouldn’t just try the rolls, so we ordered some sashimi and nigiri as well. I figured if I was going to give it a try, I might as well go all in.
Oh, and I also forgot to mention that in forty years, I still have never figured out how to eat with chopsticks. Lame, I know, but true. I really think I have a condition that makes it impossible for my hand to get it right. It’s not the first time I’ve tried, but it is the first time I forced myself to eat the whole meal using nothing but chopsticks. It really is pathetic to witness, but I cannot do it. At one point, as I was struggling again and laughing at myself while my husband tried to help me, I noticed a man at another table watching me and not trying hard to hide the fact that he was watching me. Rude, huh? I suffer from an actual affliction here – have some compassion! So I just stared him down until he looked away. This was serious business, and I didn’t need an audience.
They brought out the sashimi first. That’s right – I started out with some big old slabs of raw fish. Are you proud of me? I was surprised that it didn’t taste or smell very fishy. In fact, it didn’t taste much like anything at all. It wasn’t bad – I could eat it again if I had to, but nothing I would really crave.
Then we tried the nigiri–scallops that were very salty and seaweedy. I got it down, decided I could do it again if I really had to, but was glad it only came with one for each of us. At this point in the meal, I was congratulating myself on my wisdom in avoiding sushi. All those women who are so sad when they have to give it up while they’re pregnant? That was never me! Aren’t I lucky? Aren’t I smart?
But then they brought the rolls we ordered – the Dragon Eye Roll (deep fried spicy tuna) and the White Roll (salmon, cream cheese, and apples) and the clouds parted, a choir of angels sang, and suddenly I saw the light.
The White Roll probably isn’t all that authentic, but it was so yummy – slightly sweet with a sauce I wanted to lick off the plate. And the Dragon Eye Roll was also very, very good. I don’t know if the deep frying makes the seaweed taste less potent, but I loved them.
In just five minutes’ time, I came to understand why someone would crave sushi and actually want to go eat it. And then they brought us some complimentary ginger ice cream. Just thinking about that ice cream makes me happy. It was a successful experiment. Hours later, I was still remembering it fondly. I would go back again and again.