Lifelong Challenges: Diversifying My Palate

I’m a picky eater. I just started eating Mac & Cheese last year. I’m 25.

“Let that sink in.” 

I’ve been this way for some time, and I don’t blame my family for enabling me. As a kid, I consistently ate bread, collard greens/kale, and corn. I started eating sub sandwiches about three years ago, but most sandwiches, aside from PB&J and Grilled Cheese, aren’t on my plate.

As I’ve gotten older, I got worse. I used to eat fish, and then I didn’t, which was a problem when you go to Japan at 15 years old. I was in the world of sushi and fried octopus balls and not once, did I go for it.

How I shoulda been.

 

How I was, ramen erryday.

In Brazil, seafood was everywhere as well, and while I did end up trying acarajé (ah-car-uh-jay), a fried bean fritter typically stuffed with seafood, and moqueca de peixe (moh-kay-ka gee pay-shee), a fish stew, I didn’t go back for seconds unfortunately.

Acarajé in Salvador da Bahia, right in front of Farol de Barra

I can’t keep living like this! On the blog I started the tag, “Around the World in 80 Plates” to attempt to eat with some variety, but instead I just ate cuisines that I was used to! And in the How-To page you’ll find a boatload of fruits, but that’s playing it safe. Even then, I tried a peach, a PEACH, just last week (It was good, I’ll give it a 9/10, will try again). I’ve got to do better!

Among the many things I’m prepping for in Spain, one of them is expanding my palate. Spanish cuisine is going to be a challenge, and I want to be able to embrace it all. Eating is going to require some bravery. I might have to eat some shrimp, haven’t done that in….. nearly 10 years? Fish? Conch?

I’m a Marylander, I swear. I grew up with summers full of blue crabs and fish caught in nearby rivers. I have not so fond memories of crabs trying to escape their steaming hells and fish scales all over the kitchen. Maybe I’ve been traumatized?

We put Old Bay on everythang….

So I’ve got a plan.

Try everything twice.

To start with, last week I tried that peach, right? I also decided to give a plum a try. No dice. The sucker was plain and kind of bitter.

But I tried it again, and …. I sorta get what the fuss is about? It’s okay. 6/10, would recommend to someone who has poor taste in fruits, but in a world with mangoes why would you bother with plums?

This is a super easy lesson, with fruit you’re comparing sugar with sugar, but it has some actual merit. You try something once and it just might not be prepared in a way that you enjoy. Avocados and eggs is atrocious to me, but avocados on their own are damned fine to me. I wouldn’t have known that had I just let that once experience be all I had. And so, whenever I’m presented with something different, I’m going to try it. And then I’m going to try it again, albeit, just a little differently.

Don’t ask questions.

This is something I practice pretty well, which is surprising considering how analytical I am. When facing a new food, I don’t ask what it is if I can help it (easy peasy when the menu is in a language you don’t speak), let alone what part of animal it’s from, who its parents were, whether or not it just got a promotion at its animal job, or if the fruit is a popular host for insects. I just take a bite. Only then can I let my mind wander, or let my hands get to Google Translate to highlight what on earth it was that I just ate.

If I overthink, I don’t try it, so you gotta bite the bullet… and ask questions later.

“I’m sorry, uh, what is a Roe?”

Chicken heart? Oh, great.

It wasn’t that bad. Nicely seasoned, juicy meat, 8/10 would eat again.

Eat what you know with what you don’t.

I enjoy tofu, but I didn’t always, but I’d like to send a big shout out to Chipotle for making me see the possibilities.

I normally got chicken and not much else, ’cause I’m basic, but when they came out with Sofritas, I gave it a try and…now that’s what I eat. My previous exposures to tofu had me thinking it was dooomed to be bland and strangely textured. But no, I just didn’t get the right bite. Now I’m emboldened to keep eating tofu in a variety of ways -which, by the way, is the whole point of tofu, it’s a chameleon. I even tried cooking it once.

Didn’t go well, but I tried!

Point is- I’ve got to put in the effort if I want to have a better diet with more variety, let alone experience the world with all of my senses. When I travel, one of the gifts I always bring is Old Bay, I literally bring a taste of home wherever I go. I have to return the favor, and bring a taste of my travels back with me.

It can’t just be all the sweet stuff. That’s way too easy!

Are you a picky eater? What are your tips and tricks to get out of that habit?

Best,

Kristina

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