Anything BUT

21 12 2010

Once upon a time, in a land not too far away, I lived with a man who claimed he loved food.  Judging by his bit o’ belly and slight love handles, I assumed he was being truthful.  I was happy and excited to cook for this man.  I toiled in the kitchen (well, not really, since I love to cook, but I definitely spent a lot of time in front of the stove) to ensure I was making fantastic feasts he would love.  I diligently searched for interesting recipes, and I battled my way through the grocery store to find the best ingredients.  But, when dinner time finally arrived, he vehemently opposed three quarters of what I set down in front of him.  I was disappointed.  I was upset.  And I was confused.  That what I had feared the most, had met me half way.

I realized I was living with a PICKY EATER (insert ominous musical theme here).

And so, we arrive at the present time when I must discuss a type of person known as an “Anything BUT”.  You know who they are: they get all excited about your dinner party and say “Make whatever you want, I’ll eat anything!”  They are thrilled about the idea of a potluck and can’t wait to contribute.  They meet you at a restaurant where they excitedly flip through the menu, mulling over their choices.  It all appears to be perfect until they utter the four words that grate on my nerves like no other: “I’ll eat anything, BUT…”  They then proceed to list at least 15 different food items, none of which they are allergic to.  The Anything BUT is the person who eats only the mashed potatoes and chicken wings at your dinner party, repeatedly brings chips and dip to a potluck, and orders a pepperoni and cheese pizza for the fourth time in a single week.  In my little world, the Anything BUT is a buzzkill.  What the Anything BUT doesn’t realize is just how much they are missing out on in the world of culinary wonder.  And the worst part is that the Anything BUT is unwilling to try anything new.  Ever.

I am always tempted to yell at such people: “How do you know you don’t like something, if you haven’t tried it???!!!” but somehow I usually manage to restrain myself, although I can assure you that my brain is screaming.

Research has shown that our taste buds actually change and evolve over time.  This means that our taste buds LEARN TO LIKE new flavours as we age.  This is probably the reason why kids tend to prefer food that is bland (I also think this could be due to the fact that they have younger, therefore, more sensitive taste buds) while older people (men especially, it seems) love to pepper the heck out of anything at all.  Drinking, smoking and health obviously play a part in how our taste buds function as well.  So, if you didn’t enjoy sweet potato when you had the flu, or you wouldn’t touch broccoli at the age of four, or you stopped eating chicken noodle soup because your mother-in-law (who is a smoker) insists on making it taste like the Dead Sea doesn’t mean you wouldn’t like this food now, in a new incarnation.

The key is to TRY IT AGAIN.  And again.  And sometimes, yet again.

The first step in learning to be more adventurous with food is to identify what it is you don’t like about each dish and then adjust it to suit your preference.  For example, many people dislike vegetables because they remember a mushy mess of unidentifiable matter on their plates whilst young.  But trust me when I say that almost any type of root vegetable (ie: carrots, parsnips, potatoes, beets etc.) tastes divine when coated in some salt, pepper and olive oil; then roasted for a good 45 minutes in a very hot oven.  More delicate vegetables like peas, broccoli, cauliflower or beans really benefit from steaming until crisp-tender, then being tossed in a little butter.  Fruit is best enjoyed when in season (these details can be Googled) but if you insist on eating strawberries in February, try putting them in a blender with some plain yogurt and bananas, and perhaps a touch of maple syrup.  Blending is a good way to try a new fruit mixture without being inundated with one type of flavour you might find overwhelming in any other circumstance.  Fish is the type of food that seems to intimidate a lot of people and reminds them of that horrible “fishy” smell which wafts out of those notoriously greasy Fish ‘n’ Chip joints that seem to be located in every town, no matter how far said town is from a body of water.  But fish should never have a strong odour; instead, it should bring to mind the sea and have a cool fresh scent to it.  And when it comes to preparing it, you really can’t go wrong with some salt, pepper, olive oil and fresh herbs like parsley or dill, or both.  Toss to coat and put into a hot oven for about 10 minutes or until it flakes with a fork.  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top and, voila!  If you don’t like spicy food, tone it down to suit your taste but don’t eliminate the spice completely because spice adds heat but also imparts specific flavours that are essential to a dish.  And if you can’t imagine eating buckwheat, try it boiled, drained, and then tossed with some caramelized onion.  The options are endless and many are much too simple to legitimately pass on a fruit, vegetable or grain forever.  You’ll miss out on so many wonderful dishes!

Of course, I wholeheartedly admit that, although I am food-adventurous, there are things I will not eat.  Horses come to mind immediately; however, I have heard many good things about “Chev” so I am not knocking anyone who eats it.  To each their own!

It’s good to be adventurous when it comes to food… and although it might not be necessary to be THIS adventurous, I have to admit that the “Departures” boys are quite entertaining 😉

Images courtesy of the internet; video clip courtesy of the wonderful, amazing, scrumptious and fantastically fantastic Departures Entertainment.

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3 responses

21 12 2010
Raniel_Dancliffe

I agree!! people need to train their taste buds to like stuff. I would totally eat some of those bugs.

21 12 2010
Andrea

I LOVE this post!! I wholeheartedly agree with you, I seriously dislike the “Anything But” people who refuse to try new things and insist they won’t like it without even attempting first. Why limit yourself from a whole world of delectable delights? I am an adventurous eater as well and am always wanting to try new recipes to increase my taste palate!

21 12 2010
Kasia S.

Great Post!! I will eat anything BUT olives, and trust me I try to like them .. I do , I try many times a year to see if my taste for them has changed but no way .. no can do. Just not olives, and this means ANYKIND of olive. I dont mind the oil but I do not use it for cooking. I would like to like more seafood because I will only eat fish, crab, and shrimp. BUT!!!! I have tried to like many other sea crustations even in their natural environments like mussels in brussels and calamare in venezula, but still have issues with texture. I would however would like to try some cricket flour for some flat bread since I dont eat enough protein. I am sure I would love it.
To make insect flour:
Spread your cleaned insects out on a lightly greased cookie sheet. Set your oven 200 degrees and dry insects for approximately 1-3 hours. When the insects are done, they should be fairly brittle and crush easily. Take your dried insects and put them into a blender or coffee grinder, and grind them till they are about consistency of wheat germ. Use in practically any recipe!

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