I am a recovering picky eater, and I owe my life to PEA… that’s Picky Eaters Anonymous.
Voluntarily depriving ourselves of foods we don’t like, we PEAs like to say that we “know what we want.” But that’s crap, because – let’s admit it, PEAs – we have never even tried many of the foods we say we don’t like. If we tried them, it was once, it was eight years ago, and it was in a horrible situation involving an ex’s mother.
PEAs, ask yourself these questions: How can I say I love Mediterranean food if don’t like olives? Can I describe the flavor of the bleu cheese I hated 15 years ago? If my clairvoyance is so developed that I can know I don’t like anchovies without ever trying them, why can I not pick the right six numbers?
Being a PEA means more than avoiding certain foods. It means cutting entire families, even ethnicities, from our menus. And worse than that, it means that we don’t like to try new things, and that we hold grudges.
Are those traits we’re willing to own?
I didn’t think so. PEAs of the world, break free! Here are five ways to trick yourself into liking the foods you think you hate.
Expect to enjoy every single morsel of food that goes in your mouth.
Terror of terrors, you don’t know what something tastes like? Expect that it’s going to be your new favorite food. Say out loud to your dining companion, “I am so excited to try this new thing!” Then you have to like it to save face. How many people have discovered they like sushi because of peer pressure?
Try new foods in combination with foods you know you like.
You know that little dish of guacamole that comes with your taco? You usually leave it, because guacamole looks like baby poop so it can’t possibly taste good (been there, done that, was so wrong). This time, eat it. You can’t be the high inquisitor of the Clean Plate Club if that stuff is on your plate, and today, that is your ultimate ambition.
Describe what it tastes like.
When you are pretty sure you hate something, try actually chewing it for once. While you are suffering, spend a few seconds tasting the food and describing the flavor to yourself. If you had to explain the flavor to someone with no sense of smell or taste, what would you say to communicate the total experience? No, Suzanne, “gross” is not an option.
Raise your decision limit.
No more deciding you don’t like something after one try. Not every food preparation is suitable for a beginner (or even good). If you don’t like tang, you probably will gag on your first stilton… but you might really like bleu cheese on a blackened burger. So raise the number of times you have to try something before you can say you don’t like it. Mine is 10. I have tried olives now six times, and I still don’t like them by themselves… but at least I know exactly what it will taste like if they are on some pizza.
Make a recipe in a cookbook that looks yummy but features something scary.
Do not go out and buy something you think you don’t like without a plan. Trust me: if you buy a hunk of cactus without a recipe in mind, it will go hazmat on you. Find a recipe in a cookbook with pictures – the visual stimulation is a must here – and try your hand at preparing the offending food item yourself.