My mom was born in the Midwest. She moved to the California when she was a small child. This is not terribly unique, but I bring it up because she learned to cook based on that Midwest sensibility. Now, I want to clarify that my mom is not a bad cook. She has many skills in the kitchen. She is a child of the 60’s & was a young housewife of the 70’s. So as you may be aware, that red-checkered Better Homes & Gardens cookbook was a staple.
I did not grow up with a very varied palette. I don’t think that not having a variety was terribly uncommon for that time frame. Families in the 70’s and early 80’s didn’t got out to restaurants as often as we do now. My family stuck to what it knew and that was that.
I lived on my own for most of my 20’s, sometimes with roommates but there were several years when I lived alone. I am sure that it is common for people to branch away from what they knew once they get out in the “real world.” And I did, thank goodness.
I can tell you that I didn’t try my first bagel with cream cheese until I was probably 19. I always thought that I didn’t like cream cheese. WTH was I thinking? I think that the biggest changes came when I lived in Hawaii at age 22. I tried sushi for the first time, and some traditional Hawaiian foods. From there it was a slow accumulation of expanding my food repertoire.
I must say that it wasn’t until after I got married that I started to really understand just what was out there in the land of food. My husband likes food, and his family was probably similar to mine growing up but he was never afraid to try new things. I did not eat much red meat when Ed and I started dating. He on the other hands is a “meat and potatoes” kind of guy. This is the one thing that I sometimes don’t like about the food world of Ed.
Within the last couple of years, I have mustered up the courage to try food that I never thought that I liked. I am in sheer adoration of sushi. I simply cannot get enough! I am slowly branching my way out into the world of nori, rice and raw fish, but happily so. Ed will tolerate this but is not a fan of nori, so it is soy paper for him.
I was never a fan of spicy food, but thankfully that can be changed. Two years ago, the thought of Siracha was terrifying to me. I would tell you that I don’t like hot stuff. Not anymore, kids! The bottle with the rooster is a welcome sight.
With this came my first dive into Thai food. Sheer heaven. I still only order mild on the Thai scale but please bring it on. Pineapple rice, anyone?
The latest in my eating brave trend was Indian food. I have avoided Indian cuisine for many, many years based on the premise that I do not like curry. When I lived in Hawaii, the neighbors below us made curry dishes way too frequently. And I could not stand the smell. My ex-roommate grew up in Hawaii and loved curry. I forbid him to cook it when I was home, again because I did not like the smell and thought that I did not like it. Let me publicly apologize to him right here and now. Chris, I am so sorry. I was greatly wrong all those years. I love curry dishes.
Ed and I recently tried the local Indian restaurant and it was utterly delicious. If it weren’t on the complete other side of town, I would eat there at least weekly.
There are still some things that I won’t eat. I do not eat eggs. I don’t like them. I can’t really explain that to you. Maybe it is a texture thing. Who knows! But that is where it is good to have a husband that balances you. Eggs are always ordered on a separate plate and handed to him immediately. Thankfully, he doesn’t like mushrooms, so I can take those off his hands when they find their way into his meals. (Much to his dismay or disgust, I am not sure which.)
So, yes it wasn’t until my 30’s and 40’s that the real branching out began, but it began. I question my thoughts on what I thought I didn’t like. I recently bought an easy Indian cookbook and made tandoori chicken at home. Not something 20-year-old Jenn would ever have done. And I am constantly urging my nieces to try things. I don’t want them growing up thinking the way I did. Niece #1 has ways to go, but she does like basic sushi. (Okay she has tried California rolls and spider rolls. But it is a start) Niece #3 is a little more adventurous. She has declared that she likes Indian food after trying naan and tandoori chicken. Hey, it’s a start.
Break out of your shell people. Try that one thing that you always thought you hated. You just never know.