I hate picky eaters. I firmly believe that, if you are over the age of breast milk (which I put at about the first birthday, though I'm willing to stretch this as long as the suckler is not old enough to ask for a drink or understand that lifting its mothers shirt gets it lunch,) you have to be willing to at least try new things.
And though I am not a parent and therefore will be immediately attacked for stating this opinion, I firmly believe that children can learn to try things they don't think they'll like, and learn to eat things that are not chicken fingers, pasta, pizza or hot dogs. (I have seen many a parent succeed in this, albeit perhaps after a strong battle of wills, so I know it can be done if you have the mettle.)
But by the time you're an adult, I believe you should be able to eat pretty much anything. You may not elect to be adventurous, but unless you're allergic to an ingredient you should be able to live with it if your host puts it in front of you, and if you inadvertently eat something with a less preferred ingredient you can gracefully finish a polite amount without making a face or letting anyone in on your secret.
Since I hold everyone else to this standard, I must live to it myself. But truth be told, I have my own list of please-god-no foods. And for you, my gentle readers, I am willing to share.
- Chevre: see last night's entry. Pleh.
- Offal: Meat may be murder but it is also delicious. However, I am four-square against the organ meats. Ick Pleh. I have made my way through a respectable portion of haggis, I have tasted sweetbreads, eaten a tongue sandwich, gulped obligatory pate canapes and once staged a coughing fit to transfer a chicken-liver-filled wonton from my mouth to my napkin to prevent public gagging at a formal dinner. I have even made it through an entire dinner of liver and onions without complaint (though I severed that friendship immediately, as I figure anyone who would serve guests liver and onions is a nitwit.) But I HATE offal. HATE IT.
- Oily Fish: Not a fan of fishy fish. I even plug my nose when I take fish-oil supplements. Oily fish makes my upper palate quiver in revulsion which, in extreme cases, can induce gagging. I've made inroads. All those years in the Pacific Northwest have trained me to eat salmon (though when I thought I'd get by with it I steered guests towards the Dungeness crab for their home-cooked meal.) And I quite like taramasalata, caviar/roe, and smoked mackerel if it's done right. But if there's a graceful way to get the caesar without the anchovy fillets I will, and the likelihood of me eating a kipper snack is, well, slim.
- Red Delicious Apples: I like my fruit either tart or tangy. Red Delicious apples taste waxy, the skin is bitter, and the flesh is mealy and bland.
- Papaya: I always want papayas to taste like mangoes, and I guess I just can't forgive them. Green papaya is good, but the rest of it? Pleh.
- Cold ketchup: Room temperature is fine, but cold ketchup makes me think of that clump of congealed red gunk around the neck of the bottle.
- Zucchini/Courgette: If you can hide it or disguise it with other flavours, I'm fine. But it is my least favourite squash and I'd be perfectly fine if it never came my way again. And I'm here to tell you you CAN taste it in the cake or bread or other baked good you're trying to smuggle it into, so don't think you're pulling a fast one.
- Oysters: Gross if you chew them, gross if you swallow them. If you want lemon and horseradish, just have that. Once had an enormously embarrassing moment in a restaurant where I put the oyster in my mouth and couldn't get it down without an eye squint and a head shake. Luckily my dinner dates found this funny and unexpected rather than rubeish.
- Tarragon: If used subtly it can be a delightful flavour. But there's a fine line, and too much is unbearable. Ditto with parsley.
- Snickerdoodles: Dumb name, stupid cookie. Maybe it's the nutmeg, though I like nutmeg fine in a pasta sauce or on custard. So it's probably the snicker. Or the doodle.
Offhand, I think that's it. Now remember, as Spiderman says, with great power comes great responsibility. If I come over for dinner and you serve me goat cheese salad with tarragon vinaigrette, sauteed kidneys with cold ketchup and a side of zucchini, and then follow it up with snickerdoodles for dessert, we're SO over. And I'm not going to suppress the upchuck before I leave your table.