Sunday, October 16, 2011

Picky! Picky!

A couple of weeks ago I saw a segment on a TV show about picky eaters. Picky in the extreme actually. Some of these people had diets that consisted almost entirely of potatoes in various forms. They ate next to no meat and found most other vegetables and fruits to be disgusting. Some of them seemed to be more healthy than others but no medical evidence to their health or lack thereof was provided.

People who can walk into a grocery store and not have to worry about what ingredients are in any given product or go to a restaurant and order anything off a menu are extremely lucky. They have no idea just how hard it is to shop or go to a restaurant and have to check all the ingredients. Whether it is by personal taste or an allergy, finding foods that a person is comfortable with or is safe to consume can be a real challenge.

I’m not quite sure where I’d fit on the picky scale. I’m not an overly adventurous eater. I tend to try new foods by asking to try a bite of whatever the people I am with have ordered. If stores are offering free samples, I check the ingredients and then decide if I want to try it. I don’t like to spend money to try something I may not like. I don’t want to end up wasting the money or the food if I don’t like it. There are some foods that just repulse me either by appearance, smell or taste and I couldn’t even consider eating. There are some foods that I remember eating as a kid and just found to be disgusting or even made me nauseous.

So what are some of those foods you may ask?

Well, there is a bit of a list here.

My mom used to cook a duck or a goose once in awhile, but I just never enjoyed the taste of either one. The flavours were strong and the meat seemed either stringy or greasy even when roasted. Lamb and venison weren’t on the menu very often either but they were meats that just didn’t appeal to me. Liver was on the family menu every few weeks – I couldn’t even tolerate the smell of it let alone the taste!

Sardines and head cheese (a truly disgusting luncheon meat) are two of the things I recall my dad eating on occasion. I couldn’t even sit at the same table when he ate them! Actually, pretty much all “luncheon meat” is rather disgusting.

I’ve never enjoyed bitter tasting foods such as grapefruit. I can tolerate a tiny amount in a mixed fruit drink but not a glass of juice or a cut up grapefruit to eat. I do like lemons – just not straight! I put them in lots of different main course and desserts as well as squeezing the juice on fish or vegetables.

Besides the grapefruit, I’m also not a fan of raspberries. The flavour is too strong to my liking and I hated the seeds getting stuck in my teeth! You won’t find cranberries on my plate or in my glass either. We had crab-apple trees on the farm as well as rhubarb. Mom used to try sneaking some into an apple crisp or other desserts but I could ALWAYS taste it and never ate more than that first bite! Gooseberries aren’t on my grocery lists either. Plums aren’t particularly appealing to me but I don’t mind a bit of plum sauce with an egg roll. And yes, the dislike of plums does extend to prunes and prune juice. I’ve never enjoyed the taste of cantaloupe yet I love honeydew! Mom made a lot of jams and jellies but about the only ones I ever ate were strawberry or grape.

I’ve never liked the taste of figs or dates – even baked in desserts or cookies. Speaking of desserts, I’ve never understood the taste appeal of tapioca, rice pudding or even a bread pudding. I’ve tried several types of these desserts over the years but it just doesn’t do anything for my taste buds. Same goes for any toffee or caramel type candies or desserts. A true waste of calories for me. Marshmallows are empty calories. The only way I’ll eat them is in a piece of rice krispie squares or an occasionally perfectly roasted marshmallow between chocolate and graham wafers – in other words a s’more!

The taste of an olive is not something my palate enjoys yet I do cook with olive oil!

I eat a fair amount of vegetables but parsnips, turnip/rutabaga, and egg plant are not on my plate. I’ve tried cooking turnips in various ways but the smell alone is enough to turn my stomach. I’m not a big fan of cauliflower but will eat it in a mixed veggie combo or a stir fry. Green peppers don’t agree with me (I burp them almost instantly) yet I love red peppers. Jalapeno’s won’t be in my shopping basket either – a mild salsa is as close to spicy as I get! Lima beans and beets are also not welcome on my menus.

Smelly cheeses such as blue or Swiss do nothing for me. I much prefer a medium cheddar, a mozzarella, Monterey Jack or a Havarti.

I love celery but can’t stand using celery seed in a dressing. Dill makes me ill so I’ll never steal your pickles! I can’t stand the taste of liquorice. That means that you won’t find anise or aniseed on my spice rack. I’m not a huge fan of mint but I can handle the flavour and taste in small amounts in a dish or dessert.

Walnuts aren’t a nut that I care for. I think I’ve just had too many experiences where they were a bit stale or on the verge of being rancid. I’ll take an almond, peanut or cashew ANY day!

I love tomatoes, but can’t stand tomato soup – although I will eat a vegetable soup that has tomatoes in it. I love salmon but refuse to eat the skin or bones. I wrote a whole post about my dislike of Perogies.

There are foods that I have mild to moderate allergies to. They aren’t severe enough that I would need an epi pen but I would get severe stomach cramps and/or diarrhoea if I ate them in even a small serving. Those foods include oranges, rye and barley. Orange in a cookie, cake or a mixed fruit drink doesn’t bother me, but a multigrain bread or baked product can really mess with my stomach.

For some reason, there are also some foods that even though I am not actually allergic to them, I get sick if I eat them. Yogurt of any variety – even the frozen ones give me severe stomach cramps.

Eggs and I don’t get along either. I can’t eat them as a main ingredient in a dish without getting sick. That also means that I have to avoid eggnog or other beverages that include eggs. If I were to have even a paper thin slice of angel food or chiffon cake, I would need to drink at least a quart of water to avoid stomach cramps or throwing up. I can eat Miracle Whip – which is made with eggs but I can’t tolerate a homemade mayo. My potato salads contain no eggs other than in the mayo.

Then there are foods that I have no idea if I like or not because I’ve never tried them. This may seem strange but to the best of my recollection I’ve never tried oysters, clams, lobster or escargot. Believe it or not, I don’t recall if I’ve ever tasted an avocado, artichoke or a guacamole dip. The closest I’ve come to an anchovy is in a Caesar Dressing. I’ve never tried sushi or tofu either.

So, all that being said – that does eliminate quite a few things from my diet but there are still a lot of foods that I love. I just have to be a bit more creative with the things that I do enjoy eating.

Oh all right - maybe I am a slightly picky eater!!


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