Wednesday, August 25, 2010

On Expanding Your Horizons

I am a finicky eater; I will make no qualms about that. However, as a child I was somewhat more horrible in this regard. (To be fair, I've learned my throat hole was more than likely obstructed by unreasonably oversized tonsils, but this is somewhat beside the point.)

When my mother cooked me peas and carrots, she would have to pick out the "undesirables," peas which were wrinkly and not perfectly spherical, carrots not perfectly cubed. Were I to find one vegetable bit not to my liking, I would gingerly, between thumb and forefinger like deceased rodent, remove the offending party to the opposite side of my plate. I apologize to my mother wholeheartedly.

Some time around my third birthday I think, my mother finally gave up. It dawned on her that I did not enjoy her elaborately prepared meals, nor did she enjoy in any way cooking them. Or cooking in general. My mom does not like cooking. Which is fine. She's not great at it. (Again, I apologize wholeheartedly.)

I now have a few simple rules for what I will not willingly consume:
  • no seafood other than canned tuna smothered in mayonnaise
  • no peppers, onions or mushrooms
  • nothing that still looks like it did when it was alive
Also no gross crap like bull testicles or tripe, but that rarely comes up in everyday meal planning.

I've actually found I have a bit of a knack for cooking. Oddly, I also enjoy it. I'm willing to experiment more with flavors and processes. This has carried over into my eating habits out in the wild. The trouble remains, I am not inclined to try something new at any time I am ravenously hungry or at a location where I have an established favorite dish. I become unwilling to risk a new delight on the possibility it may turn out to be awful and I have wasted money and remain hungry.

But, man, on special occasions I'll stuff pretty much anything down my gullet. A couple weeks ago some producer dude from L.A. bought us all appetizers to use as props (no one actually eats on television) and I chomped a fried chicken finger in between takes. It was not chicken. Upon close examination, it was a fried shrimp. A very flat shrimp.

I was quite disturbed. This violated not one, but two of my no-go food rules, seafood and technically the "still looks alive" thing, as shrimp–minus the breading–are this rule's greatest offenders one side of a suckling pig.

Good thing freeze-dried fried shrimp come so bland and tasteless I didn't have an opportunity to freak out. Just chew, swallow and switch back to a more reasonable food. Like a fried pickle.

This is my default cooking image. You'd not be surprised how many more hits it gets me.

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