Geek Cuisine — Eat your vegetables.

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If my mamma could see me now….

Mom left us for a better place back in 1997. Here we are 16 years later and oh would she be so proud of me.

You see, I’m what’s known as a picky eater. Now looking me, you wouldn’t think food would be a problem, but the simple truth is I have a very limited pallet of things I will eat.

Early in my childhood, I would eat plain macaroni, no cheese please… just butter and milk. Even as a baby she would try and mix mashed potatoes in and I would just spit them back out (or so I’m told). Green beans? Onions? Blech. Spinach? Kale? Nope! Potatoes were only edible if they were “chipped” as in Ruffles and rice was only acceptable if it was Krispied, in particular if krispied into Square sugary treats.

It wasn’t until college where french fries became palatable. No form of tomato was allowed in my body until I discovered pizza and Gold Star chili while at college. Eventually I grew to be able to take on Spaghetti and meat sauce.

I married a fairly picky eater too with a pretty similar pallet, but she is still considerably less picky than I am. To prove this is genetic, both boys are even more picky than we are. Or perhaps it was us not making them eat things they didn’t like since we didn’t like people making us eat things…. Naw we will go with genetics.

Well fast forward to modern day. Somewhere in my old age, I’ve decided that it’s okay to try new things. Eventually the potatoes expanded to baked (still has to be covered in cheese, butter and most importantly bacon) and even to the **gasp** mashed variety. I’m pretty sure Mom never got to see that.

Only recently rice has come into my diet. Generally speaking Chinese food has always been a no-go. But with my wife slowly leading me to Mongolian beef and eventually trying General Tso’s chicken, it’s safe to say that today, it may be my new **crack** food. How did I go 50+ years without enjoying that stuff?

Somewhere over the past decade, even spinach has made it into my diet. Cooked? Oh hellz no. I still can’t stand cooked veggies (though I have been trying some lately. The texture still bugs me to no end, but I’m trying), but uncooked spinach leaves in those mixed green’s of a salad ain’t bad. I still don’t get my Popeye muscles on, but . . .

Then there is my new fascination… Broccoli. I started forcing myself to eat one small cluster a few months ago. Now I try to keep some on my desk to munch on throughout the day. I’m actually starting to like it.

Am I turning into a veg? No way. Carnivores rule! But that other stuff isn’t as bad as I’ve spent five decades thinking. So where does this pickiness spawn from? There are several factors:

1. Flavor

Flavor is a big cause. There are simply things that don’t taste good. Garlic is a good example for me. I’ve tried it. I’ve eaten a lot of foods with it, but at the end of the day, I don’t like it. I can put up with some, but too much… blech. Though with things like the spinach and brocoli, the more I eat it, the more the taste changes from uck to tolerable. It just takes time and time isn’t something I want to invest into food.

2. Texture

This is probably the most legitimate excuse that a picky eater has. There is no rhyme or reason behind it. Different pickiness will vary. A texture I might like, you might hate. For me, I don’t like slimy. That means, no dressings on my salad. I don’t like many sauces (ergo the avoidance of Chinese foods). I don’t like wet bread, so no condiments on my sandwiches. I’ve only recently begun to tolerate butter on bread.

3. Fear

At the end of the day, this is very likely the reason people are picky. Many people fear the unknown and new foods represent an unknown. I don’t know how it’s going to taste. I don’t know how those “red and green floaties” are going to affect the texture of that nice cheese sauce… (Wait, you said you don’t like sauces… I said I don’t like many! not all) Now I’ve learned of late the floaties really have little impact on either. The taste of those peppers is already in the cheese sauce and you generally don’t notice the texture against the crunchy nacho chip.

But at the end of the day, you do try new things and you find that the flavor and or texture are not to your liking. You should shouldn’t give up. It may take multiple times to work past these issues and give your brain a chance to adapt to the new things. That lesson was what my mom tried to teach me (as well as my father, sisters, family and friends) over the years. It’s taken over 50 years to get that lesson.

Moving forward, I’m probably still going to be a picky eater. No I don’t need to kill my salad with some slimy ranch dressing. Ketchup and mustard are not going to get on my hamburger’s ever. But you know, I probably should give green beans a chance (though it’s against my cooked vegetable rules).

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