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Choosing to be Picky

April 27, 2009

“My parents let me be a picky eater,” said the new acquaintance seated across from me who decided to abstain from the meal.

I stared back in shock. My-Parents-let-me-be-a-picky-eater. I let the words run over me with a stutter step. This response, a poor excuse, occurred in a trendy metropolitan restaurant, one where mini hamburgers and sorbet martinis graced our table. The speaker, a man in his mid to late twenties, explained why he was not going to enjoy the meal, because of his parents’ decision 23 years before, to let him be picky. The hosts, who were celebrating a wonderful familial right of passage, arranged for a American Bistro meal, and prepared for a variety of diets and tastes. Still, the man, an adult blaming his parents, choose not to eat.

Pickiness is a state of mind.*** My niece eats sushi, Indian, and pretty much anything. Granted, there was an unfortunate incident involved with her eating some vindaloo by accident, which she followed with licking the tablecloth at a restaurant. But, the point is, that as a child she is exposed to a plethora of tastes and foods, she also knows that what is put in front of her should be eaten. Teaching a variety of ages, I witness many so-called picky children, who try unusual foods, and realize– shocking– they love it!

So, in honor of avoiding becoming a picky eater, I will try cooking a new ingredient each week this summer. I will no longer pass the unusual ingredient because I did not grow up on it. This game is my usual solution when I am in a cooking rut. Instead of pushing a million new recipes, I set a goal of one new ingredient a week. From past summers, I learned that I love bok choy. Barley is not challenging. Purple cabbage can be tasty, especially on tacos. Despite my rather subdued, or subtle, childhood palate, I actually like spicy food, and I don’t even lick the tablecloth.

****By the way, I am aware of the gene that makes for bland eating, but I still don’t believe you can’t improve upon this and more importantly: try new things. There are many bland things around the world that are new.

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