Tuesday, May 3, 2016

How to Eat Everything

As a boy, I was the worst eater of all time.  My diet lacked vegetables, and consisted mostly of meat, potatoes, a handful of fruits and junk food. (Chips, candy, gum, etc.)

Like most households, I was not allowed to leave the table until I had finished my plate.  Many pieces of broccoli and cauliflower ended up in my socks, before they were promptly flushed down the toilet when at last I escaped the dinner table.

I can remember being utterly perplexed when my mother would tell me we were having meatloaf for dinner.  Why on earth would we we eat that, when pizza, hamburgers and chicken fingers existed?  Rarely have I ever been frustrated with my mother, but this news was maddening to a 6, 7, 8-year old Alex.

I once skipped a trip to Europe with my family because I was worried about being unable to eat the food.
(In hindsight, I was an idiot, but I do not regret the decision.  I stayed with my grandparents and ate more gushers, peanut butter crackers and popcorn than most 8-year-olds -- I was 14 :/ -- eat in a lifetime.)

Using the three propositions listed below, I have become the most open eater that I know.  Read on to learn how you, too, can employ them, and begin embracing more of what the world has to offer.

Mmmmmm - Fried Pig's Blood

The Backstory:
It all started when I was 20 and I was sitting with a group of friends at our annual family Campout. The 4-year old daughter of a friend ran up to our table.  She was about to leave when her mother asked her to try a bite of something.  She denied and began to have a fit, when her mother quickly reminded her that she had only tried the item twice before.
"And how many times must we taste something before we can remove it from our list,” asked the mother.
"5 times," huffed the girl, before she turned around and accepted the morsel of food.  She ate it. Turned her nose up.  And skipped off.

We all chuckled and carried on with our conversation, but my life forever changed in that moment.

Here I was, a 20-year old dude with an incredibly limited palate.  I had placed walls up, restricting myself of massive experiences in the world of taste: flavor, texture, style, culture, etc.  

And all because a tomato had a "mushy" texture, peppers were spicy, garlic was strong, foie gras was liver (which sounded weird), etc. 

What an epic and colossal tool...

Tacos of Crickets, Cow Eyeball and Ant Eggs
How to Eat Everything
(3 Mindsets)

#1 - Set the expectation, before you take a bite, that it will be delicious.

It sounds silly, but so often we create the opposite expectation for ourselves, and are then surprised when we do not welcome the new experience.  Take a moment to set the expectation that it will be good, and believe that it will be so.  

Now, I admit that some items are harder in this department than others.  Telling myself that a taco of cow eyeball would be delicious was not easy.  However, while I would prefer not to eat another one, I maintain that I would eat a baker’s dozen of them, should it be what is offered or - more importantly - what I can afford.

#2 - Embrace the fact that it will taste different.  (And that is cool!)

One of my favorite anti-cat arguments from equally colossal tools is that the damn things just aren't like dogs..... as if that would be worthwhile.  A second animal just like one we already have in this world, as opposed to a further diversified animal kingdom.  Like the young Alex, congratulations -- you are a colossal tool.

Food is no different in this respect.  It is better that chicken does not taste like lamb or rabbit, persimmons do not taste like grapes and mushrooms do not taste like potatoes.  

The world of food is diverse -- embrace it! 

 Raw Oysters

#3 - Understand that the first bite is likely the hardest to swallow.

Sashimi, Red wine, Blue Cheese, Black Coffee, Scotch Whisky all embody robust flavors.  There are many items that you develop a taste for with time -- you cannot try only once.

Just last week, Pablo and Vanesa introduced me to a delicacy -- fish eggs that are mashed together into a firm paste.  You slice it like you would cheese and eat it with almonds.  It is supremely fishy and salty, and the first bite was overwhelming.  It is certainly not my favorite flavor on the planet, but I continue to eat it and I am starting to appreciate it more and more.

Do not allow your first reaction to a new experience to make a firm, final decision.  If it was a poor experience, accept it and then leave it, reminding yourself that maybe on another occasion it will be different, dare I say great! 

Final Notes:
Embracing food in this manner has been life changing.  I still come across foods that I do not particularly care for.  However, I make tasting the world and retaining an open palate a priority for my life, and you can, too, using the above 3 propositions!  

Personally, I will try anything if it is an actual delicacy in a particular area of the world.  You do not have to be so open, but more is better than less in this realm.

Spend your life exposing your palate to the vast world of flavors available to us.  Traveling this world is a piece of cake these days -- especially for those of us that speak English (be grateful) -- and it is the absolute best use of resources.  (Time, Energy, Money, etc.)  When you travel somewhere new, remind yourself that they likely eat differently.  Certain flavors might be celebrated that you might not be accustomed to.  Turn towards them!  

If you are one of those picky eaters -- you are not a colossal tool (I am only teasing) -- consider “Opening Up Your Palate” as a new challenge for yourself or for your family for the summer ahead.

$.50 Philosophy

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