Limited palate

This evening while walking past one of the worst Asian take out restaurants I have ever had the disappointment from which to order, I saw two young boys around 10 years old and their father about to partake in a meal served in styrofoam.

“Dim sums. I wonder what they taste like,” said one boy to the other.

I held my breath while passing them and around the corner said to myself, “sadly, you’ll never know.”

I imagine he will either love them due to their artificial taste, to which he may now be very accustomed, or he will hate them and never want to try them again.

This leads to memories of my own food predilections* when growing up. Despite my mother’s assertions that I ate broccoli as a child (little trees!), my only memory is a strong dislike of the vegetable which became Supreme Commander of all Green Foodstuffs approximately 20 years ago. My junior year at university I was eating out with friends at an Asian dive similar to the one I mentioned. Having ordered my favorite ‘moo goo gai pan,’ my friend Emily B chastised me for eating only the chicken and pushing all the broccoli aside. On a dare I ate the broccoli, had a massive epiphany that this stuff was so good even in its most degraded form, and lo, the angels rolled their eyes into their heads and said, “finally.” I love broccoli so much I have been known to eat if for dessert.

Mmm, dessert. I have had a massive sweet tooth my entire life (which only really saw satisfaction once I hit Switzerland, but that’s another story.) Chocolate cake for breakfast? Well, shucks, that’s what my daddy taught me was best thing day after your birthday. I had the sweets down pat, but broccoli was my gateway vegetable, hell, it was the destruction of every belief of what I liked and didn’t like. Had I ever in my life eaten tuna? I damned it because it was fish and said never, but when I lived at a commune and my teacher said, “if I told you tuna would make you enlightened, would you eat it?” I answered, “hell no.”** Ashamed, I went and got a plate and downed it in front of her realizing to my dismay, it wasn’t that bad. What else had I been missing!?! Oh dear universe, I like tuna, what’s next!?!

Next came a host of other greens and reds and more greens. To this day, however, I hold out on fennel. Anything that tastes like licorice/aniseed is of the devil, sambuca also be damned. Sorry, Elsa. I’m also sorry for not feeding you properly for the brief period of time when you lived with me in Austin. I think our basic diet consisted of apples, frozen crumbed-chicken patties, and probably spaghetti. I have many regrets of not being more adventurous sooner. However I’m not sorry that I was teased for avoiding sour cream onion potato chips and root beer in high school, and that I never tried pepperoni pizza until my 20s. Also, I am staunchly proud of the fact that the only time I ever ate WHITE chocolate, I threw up. As it should be.

*One of my father’s favorite words. He also uses “proclivity” quite fondly. Searching the thesaurus I see quite a few wonderful synonyms for appetite.

**Another long story for another time.

5 thoughts on “Limited palate

  1. Cilantro, if I saw it, was picked out and the others weren’t in my vocabulary, but I would have told you I didn’t like it just by the sound of it. These days pico de gallo is a comfort food for me and last year I attempted to make tandoori chicken from scratch. I failed, but yay me for trying. Elsa is my food muse because hearing her describe dishes makes me want to break out of my limited styro box.

    Hell, that boy was braver than I ever was, actually trying something new, but unfortunately his father picked the wrong place. Had I eaten at this restaurant at his age, it would have put me off all Asian food for at least 40 years. It’s that bad. I marvel that there are even customers dining in, but then I remember they’re either Australian or British so that makes a bit of sense.

  2. Here’s what I remember of our diet during that dreamy period in Austin: Peter Pan peanut butter, pizza rolls or egg rolls every afternoon oh god the bliss!, Blue Bell ice cream. Mmmmm.

    And one night I made some sort of pasta arrabiata and a proper baguette. You were very polite about it.

  3. And in case it wasn’t clear from my comment: I have very fond memories of our set-in-stone dietary round during that period. In a fit of nostalgia last year, I sought out a box of pizza rolls. They were, uh, not as remembered.

    Also, and here I have to drop into a simpler vernacular to make my point: HELLO, feeding me!

  4. I don’t remember the pizza rolls, but I do remember frozen breaded chicken patties because my grandmother introduced me to them that year and I couldn’t get enough. Speaking of which, I only remember eating at Chick-fil-A twice in my life, one time when we visited your sister who worked there. Or maybe we didn’t eat, but just said hi.

    I’m so glad we branched out. We really need to make fondue again someday, time and country permitting.

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