There was a time in my life when I was an extremely picky eater. Until college, I ate mostly plain beige foods favoring mashed potatoes and gravy, pierogis, dumplings, bread and chicken. I wouldn’t touch a salad and if I ordered fajitas at a restaurant I’d only eat the meat and tortillas, pushing the colorful bell peppers and onions aside. I was a self proclaimed meat and potatoes kind of gal. After all, growing up in a Polish family that is what we ate.
This self image slowly began to unravel as I entered college. Unlike most college experiences which entail massive amounts of fast food, fried foods, pizza and beer, my experience was much different. I’d go out to lunch or dinner with friends and they’d choose ethnic restaurants or trendy little spots in the city with limited menus. I was outside of my comfort zone of beige foods. This coupled with my newfound passion of cooking (and landing a job at a new startup dot com – an ethnic food website) forced me to change my way of thinking.
I no longer liked going to restaurants and making special requests to exclude certain ingredients and didn’t like being invited to someone’s home for a meal and worrying that they might be putting onions (or other dreaded ingredients) in a dish. Yes, onions!
In an effort to push my culinary boundaries, to conquer my hatred for onions, green vegetables, fish and a laundry list of other ingredients, I started to force myself to eat those foods.
Something interesting happend, it worked! Sometimes it took a half dozen tries, but eventually I not only tolerated foods that I previously despised, but I LOVED them. Genuinely, 100% learned to love these foods. They became my new favorite foods and the bland, beige things that I enjoyed my whole life no longer seemed flavorful or interesting. It was amazing. I found such joy in food.
Now I love salad, especially ones with lots of veggies and onions like the one above! Mr. Nine made a wonderful dinner this weekend, pairing two America’s Test Kitchen recipes. First was the Greek Salad. Perfect blend of flavors, and so colorful!
The second dish that he made was Cedar-Plank Salmon.
The whole house smelled like cedar! The cook time and temp was perfect!
This meal was extra meaningful for me because it reiterated that we can change our mindset when it comes to food, and anything for that matter.
You see, although by now I have overcome almost all of my food aversions, a few always remained – salmon, oysters, caviar, liver, celery and blue cheese. Oysters, caviar and liver were easy to avoid as I don’t encounter these everyday. Celery is in a lot of dishes and although I don’t enjoy it (yet), it is tolerable. The other foods – blue cheese and salmon.
Luckily, Mr. Nine, who is not a picky eater at all has always shared my anti-salmon and anti-blue cheese sentiments. Until now.
All of this changed a few months ago when a friend invited me over for lunch and made this beautiful spread featuring Clean Eating’s Salmon Melts. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that salmon was on my small list of foods I won’t eat, so I ate it. The first few bites were rough, I’m not going to lie. Then my taste buds started to change over the course of the meal and a funny thing happened on that unseasonably warm, late fall afternoon. I learned to like salmon!
Since then I have been trying salmon more and more to get myself in the mindset to learn to go from mildly liking it to loving it. I’ve been experimenting with a few salmon recipes here and there and also ordering it at restaurants. As as result, Mr. Nine has been exposed to more salmon than he originally cared to, but now he is starting to like it as well. In fact, it was his idea to cook this cedar-plank salmon. We both enjoyed this meal very much.
I found an article by Daryo Pino, and I’d like to share a few of her points.
“…in reality, what joy is there in being a picky eater? …dedicating yourself to keep trying the rejected food until you find it prepared in a way you like.”
I believe this is very true. I dedicated myself to trying many rejected foods and learned to like them.
“Even if a certain food doesn’t end up on your favorites list, learning to at least enjoy it in a casual way will enrich your life and help you develop an appreciation for new and unique experiences.”
Again, this is important. Learning to enjoy foods WILL enrich your life. It changes more than your grocery list, it changes your viewpoint of things that go beyond food.
You can read her whole article here.
They say that kids need to try new food items 5-10 times before they learn to like it and I believe the same holds true for adults. In my case, some things have taken well over 10 times. 🙂
Are you (or were you) a picky eater? Have you tried to overcome it? Are there any foods that you love now that you hated before?