I haven’t had the fortune of sharing my love of all things edible with many people who share my diversified palate. It gets quite frustrating after a while. Anyone whose list of “what I don’t eat” is longer than the list of “foods I love” is an absolute annoyance to me. Ex didn’t eat mushrooms, Asian food, pizza, shellfish (I’ll be fair, he claimed allergy), Brussels sprouts, nuts IN food or bananas. WTH?? Can you imagine how boooooring meal planning was with all these stupid restrictions?
I now keep a running list of which of my friends won’t eat what. I hate that I have to do this, but I know so many picky eaters that I just know to ask up front. No mushrooms for this one, no sundried tomatoes for this one (OK who doesn’t like sundried tomatoes?), no seafood here, no asparagus there, no pork for this one, add red meat to that for the next, and my personal favorite–no chicken on the bone. Oh, and no onions. I have a friend who doesn’t eat onions…or mac and cheese. Ah! Don’t all great meals start with onions and garlic? Oh, and I can’t forget no raisins or cherries ;). It can make planning a dinner party really difficult. Maybe it’s not hard for the average Jane who is going to offer a few staples that please everybody. Never mind the fact that it’s the same spread they’ve had at every party they’ve been to since you actually had to cook Chex Mix. I’m no such Jane.
Here are a couple of things I keep on hand (or have on hand at the moment) that many people find objectionable: figs, dates, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, brie, every kind of nut you can think of, asparagus, anchovies, chopped clams, cremini mushrooms, shrimp, olives (black and green), all kinds of beans and chilis, and capers. I know at least one person who will turn his/her nose up to each of these. I love these foods, people. It’s so hard to cook without them, to cook around them. This is great stuff!! These items are almost always in my house and I cook with them all the time. I’ve even mastered chopping onions so small that the onion non-eater doesn’t notice.
I had a conversation with my class of adult English as a Second Language students about foods and nutrition. We talked about foods that are customary in each of their countries. My student from Central African Republic eats elephant, rhinoceros and monkey (says the palm is the best part). The student from Chad eats grasshoppers. Loves and misses them. Apparently grasshoppers are enjoyed in some parts of Algeria, Burkina Faso and Congo too. [Pausing for anyone who needs to to take a glance at a world map and catch up.] Some Haitians eat cat. And in Tanzania they drink cow blood. Now, while I said I had a diversified palate, I’m neither a vampire nor a cannibal. And yes, for me, eating monkey borders on cannibalism. (I’m not a full-fledged Darwinist, but you’ve got to admit that you’ve seem some folks whose appearance alone makes a damn good argument for man having evolved from ape.) I have however eaten chocolate covered ants and rattlesnake. And I ate blood sausage in Argentina, but it was cooked. So that doesn’t count towards vampirism.
I’m not saying that we should make every meal time a Fear Factor event, but come on? What has a Brussels sprout ever done to anybody?
Is there anything I absolutely won’t eat? Yes, of course. Cauliflower. It reminds me of when your body is trying to fight off strep and white blood cells collect on the back of your throat in little clusters. I’ll pass. Every time.
What about you? What should I absolutely NOT serve if I invite you to dinner?