I could never understand (non-allergy related) picky eaters. There are so many varieties and tastes and textures and combinations that it always seemed crazy to limit yourself to a few choice items. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen? It tastes gross and you spit it out? That it leaves you with a weird taste in your mouth that you get rid of by brushing your teeth and/or eating copious amounts of something you love?
Maybe I’m just spoiled. I was raised by a family that always encouraged me to try new things without pressure to continue eating (or doing) something that I hated. I grew up eating pigeon soup and scrapple and any vegetable that my pappy could grow in his garden. When we went out to dinner, I was able to order from the regular menu instead of sticking to the chicken fingers and hot dog heavy children’s version. My favorite dinner as a kid? Strip steak with sauteed mushrooms (and tons of garlic!), roasted or mashed potatoes, and broccoli.
Today, I’ll eat almost anything anyone puts in front of me. Fish eyes? Check. Foie gras soup? Double-check. I especially love going to a restaurant that offers a chef’s or tasting menu. Not knowing what’s going to be given to me is part of the fun!
I like also trying and playing around with unexpected (some might say unusual) flavor combinations, both at home and when I’m out. This past weekend, The Dude and I went to Princeton, NJ and got ice cream at The Bent Spoon. I loved the sweet basil and lavender mascarpone ice creams, and can’t wait to go back and try the sweet corn w/ old bay or the ricotta. I love when something as familiar as ice cream can turn into something new and exciting.
One of my favorite unexpected flavor moments happened at Christmas dinner a few years ago. Since The Dude’s gluten free, we brought some almond cookies from a local bakery for his dessert (and to share with the rest of my family). Thinking the cookies were a bit too sweet, my uncle decided to eat them with a bite of blue cheese. I remember him chuckling after the first bite, his eyes lighting up. Skeptical, I tried it, too. It was wonderful: sweet, tangy, and perfectly balanced. We still talk about it.
That’s another thing I love about food and eating: the connection between food and memory. Not only are there so many varieties and combinations of tastes, but my strongest, most vivid memories are associated with food. And, for me, meals with an unexpected element are always much more memorable than the ordinary ones. So, take a deep breath, order something new, and mangia.