Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Things I don't eat

This is a discarded chapter that didn't make it into Cooking My Way Through Life with Kids and Books, but I thought it might make a good blog post. I'm interested in other opinions on food idiosyncracies.
I think I eat almost anything—although others accuse me of being fussy (and sometimes dictatorial about restaurants). But this is sort of an apologia to Lisa, who claims I falsely accuse her of being fussy. As your children marry, they bring into the family people with different eating habits. Brandon and Christian avoid most vegetables; Melanie doesn’t eat egg salad, ham salad, tuna salad, the things I love; Lisa, child of a Scandinavian mother, doesn’t like fish. And once when I took her a loaf of cranberry/apricot bread, she looked astounded and said, “I won’t eat it!” I froze the bread and took it home.
But I admit to a few dislikes myself. I despise bell peppers, especially green. I don’t like the taste nor the things they do to my stomach. Lisa and Brandon once tried to tell me not to put sliced hearts of palm in a marinated salad (a true treat to me) and when I persisted they said they guessed then it was okay to put bell peppers in it. I couldn’t convince them that bell peppers leak their taste onto everything else, while hearts of palm are bland to begin with and don’t flavor everything else in the salad.
In truth, I don’t like any peppers, which makes it hard to order in today’s trendy restaurants, especially in Santa Fe. And I can’t eat spicy food, which rules out most of southeastern Asian dishes for me. It’s not only that I don’t like them, they ruin my stomach for days. Friends know that they should go to Indian, Thai, Vietnamese restaurants and the like when I’m not with them. And I'm cautious about Mexican food--no chile rellenos for me. On the other hand, I really like Japanese food. And after years of thinking I didn’t like Chinese (I can still hear my ex-mother-in-law talking about going to “the Chinks” to eat and it offends me), I have rediscovered it. I credit this rediscovery, surprisingly, to a chain of restaurants—P. F. Chang’s and it’s short-order subsidiary, Pei Wei. Sushi? I love it, though I'm not too experimental. My favorite is salmon sashimi.
I can’t eat shrimp, though it’s not a taste thing. I love them and long for them, but when I began to turn bright red after eating them, I thought it best to back off. The next time could always be a major anaphylactic attack, and I didn’t want to risk it. I think allergies change over the years, and sometimes I sneak just a bite of someone else’s grilled shrimp, but I don’t order the whole thing. Fortunately I can still eat lobster and crab—guess their iodine content isn’t as high.
I’ve never tried brains, heart or sweetbreads, and doubt that I will.
I eat things that other people won’t. I eat liver, though I hated it as a child, and. I grew up on kidneys and bacon. Wanted to try them again recently but the market says you have to order a case. Uh, no thanks. I know I don’t have that many friends who would eat them with me. At the deli, I love a corned tongue sandwich or pickled herring. Christian says I eat weird things.
I can eat escargot, though they’re not my favorite. I’d really just as soon have the French bread and buttery garlic sauce without the actual snails. I’ve never tried mussels, though I’m working my nerve up to it. A local bistro serves them with several different sauces, and a good friend assures me they’re delicious. I may try yet. Calamari? Often too chewy.
As a child, I disliked potatoes, eggs, and pickles—the latter mostly because we never had them at home. Now, I only wish potatoes weren’t fattening most of the good ways to fix them and eggs didn’t raise your cholesterol, because I love them almost any way you can cook them. And pickles? There’s nothing better to me than a crisp kosher dill. But olives? Nope. I really don’t like them, no matter that they’re passion food. I’ve had dishes with black olives cooked into them that I liked—or a salad nicoise with olives ground into the dressing. But thanks, no green olives. A muffaletta is not for me.
How about you? Are there things you can’t or won’t eat? Weird things you really like?

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