Monday, April 04, 2016

Adult Tastes

I was shoveling a salad into my face for lunch today and found myself contemplating the strangeness of life. You know...like you do. See, my salad was liberally coated with ranch dressing. "What's so strange about that," you ask? Well, I hate ranch dressing. Or rather, I used to hate it. Growing up, anything made with buttermilk was eww. And I mean REALLY eww. Make me vomit eww. I wouldn't say I was a picky eater. I ate way more stuff than your average kid. Chili. Chinese food. Tacos. Spinach. Yeah. But I had my list. There was stuff you couldn't get me to eat even if you paid me.

Asparagus! Brussels Sprouts! Lima Beans! Bacon! (I know, right?! What kid doesn't like bacon?) Liver! Gravy with "gizzards" chopped up into it. Raw tomatoes! Oh, the list goes on.

My mother often told me, especially when I'd turn my nose up at something, that perhaps that food item was "an acquired taste" and I'd appreciate it more when I was a grown up. There did seem to be some foods that only grown-ups liked, but I was fairly certain it was a big scam. See, my parents tried to convince me that steak cooked out on the grill was "an acquired taste" and just for grown-ups. Us kids? We'd get Spaghetti-Os or Kraft Mac n' Cheese on those nights when Dad was going to cook out. The steak, wild rice, onion rings and asparagus (ok, I was fine with that last one) was just for Mom and Dad. Us kids? We'd be sent to bed after our boxed dinner and Saturday night was date night. Mom and Dad and their steak dinner, on TV tables in front of a good show like Love Boat or Fantasy Island.

Then, one night, I crept downstairs. I was hungry, not at all sleepy, and curious. Their dinner always smelled soooo good. I crawled to the doorway of our family room and peeked around the doorway to watch my parents eat and watch TV. It didn't take long before they spotted me. I plopped down next to my Mom and asked if I could try a taste of her food. She was very reluctant, but finally allowed me a bite of steak, a fork-full of rice, and an onion ring. They...were...awesome!  It was fun staying up late, watching TV and eating off my poor Mother's plate. Soon after, I was allowed to stay up later than my little brother and they would make a little plate up for me with my own TV table. I began to wonder what other "just for grown-ups" items were being kept from me.

I'd try a sip of my mother's various cocktails. Good! I'd try a sip of Dad's cocktails or beer. Not bad! I took bites of lobster thermidor, shrimp scampi, hot crab dip and all the other foods my mother had deemed too sophisticated for my young palate (or, as I more wisely suspected, too expensive to make for more than 2 people.) But I still had my limits. That list in my second paragraph up there was still a no go.

It wasn't until I was in my 30s that I realized bacon was actually really good. Lima beans too. Then I tried asparagus that was roasted and had this amazing sauce drizzled over it. Not soggy from a can. And fresh brussels sprouts cooked in bacon fat with bacon crumbles...yum! Then came the restaurant that gave me a salad covered in ranch dressing (instead of my rather new adult love of bleu cheese) and it was also GOOD. Feta cheese! Bleu cheese! Goat cheese! Oh all the cheeses I'd avoided as a kid because they were "stinky." Sour cream!!! Realizing I loved sour cream was almost scary. I'd avoided that stuff for decades. Probably good, because all these rich and creamy tastes would have made me fat MUCH sooner. Heh heh.

Now I feel like I'm making up for lost time. I try things that I used to avoid, but there are still a few things I don't want to try because I have a feeling I will LOVE them and will eat far too much. Like Italian gelato.  Ice cream that is supposedly even creamier and richer than American ice cream? Yeah. I better live without that one, just to be safe.

But you won't see me eating liver. I have a feeling, if prepared well (onions, bacon) that I could stomach liver now. I just don't want to. Same goes for mussels. Why do people want to each something you don't even chew and has been described as choking down a wad of snot? Food that is still moving (look on YouTube for sushi bar octopus or squid.) I have expanded my palate, but I still have to draw the line somewhere. :D

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