Good food, good conversation

To put it harshly, I don’t like picky eaters. I do have picky eater friends, though I sometimes feel awkward around them. It feels weird to go to their house, knowing they’ll feed me one of their three highly processed staple foods. I don’t enjoy having them over for dinner because it’s too stressful coming up with a menu to please their taste buds (and often their preferences don’t fit my budget). I can’t talk to them about food that I love, because they constantly interject their contempt of that particular food. Food is my art, and these people stifle me.

At some point in my life, I began to hold food/mealtimes in a higher regard. My attitude towards food became, “Other people eat it and like it, it can’t be that bad,” or “Food isn’t worth offending anyone over. I’ll eat it even if I don’t like it,” or “I can try anything one time.” I also thought that being a picky eater wasn’t going to help me long term, as I want to travel to see new places, new things, and experience different worlds.

I realized that my food preferences aren’t nearly as important as good conversation and time spent with friends. I believe picky eating is  very selfish (at the core, I think this is why I don’t enjoy being around picky eaters, their selfishness is so blatant).  So I began eating things I didn’t like – green olives, eggs, bananas, mayonnaise, seafood – if/when they were served to me. It actually wasn’t that bad. Those experiences lasted just a brief moment, but the memories of my time spent with friends lingered. I’m thankful that those people invited me back for more memories and meals (sometimes delicious, sometimes highly processed, sometimes things I didn’t particularly enjoy).

The past 6 months or so, I’ve begun to rethink things. I thought maybe I was doing something wrong, because when I told people about my view of food they were bothered by it. They said that it’s okay if I didn’t like something, and it was a waste of calories to eat something I didn’t enjoy. That threw me off. Maybe I should have a preference on things, and that maybe I should be more picky. I don’t have to clean my plate; I can leave food on there that I don’t like.

I’m in the middle of a book called “French Kids Eat Everything” by Karen Le Billon. It’s basically a book on parenting, why the French raise such pleasant, well-mannered children, and why dinner times are so easy for the French (all reasons why the French kids really do eat everything). I’ve really enjoyed it. I’ve decided that my French heritage must influence my rare American attitude about food, because this book has put into words some of the sentiment I feel about trying new foods.

Honestly, I find it sad that Americans expect there to be picky adults in a group. That they think it’s normal for children to whine and fuss and beg for snacks, yet refuse to eat their vegetables at dinner. It shouldn’t be like this. Adults shouldn’t act like this either. Let’s be mature.

This book has affirmed my old views on things – food is about more than just you and your taste buds. It’s a time of celebration, conversation, laughing, and family. At least, it should be. I’ve come to believe, just as Karen Le Billon did, that the French are doing it right.

I freely admit that I have a long way to go before I eat everything, but I’m anxious to start trying again. I absolutely love cooking, and I’m excited to continue expanding my palate and my culinary skills.

It’s okay not to like something, it’s always okay to have favorites, but food (and taste buds) cannot be held in a higher regard than friendship and people.

p.s. you should definitely read the book. It’s excellent and there’s so much more to it than what’s mentioned here. this is just how it impacted me.

Homemade Caprese Salad
Caprese Salad – I apologize of the shallow depth of field and the ugly blue plate. When living out of boxes, you do what you can. 🙂

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2 thoughts on “Good food, good conversation

  1. Deanna August 14, 2012 / 4:57 pm

    Yes! I eat many things that aren’t my favorite when we are with other people. And I too find it so hard to come up with things to make when we have company over. Sometimes I think I just need to suck it up and not worry about it too much and if they hate it they can eat something else when they go home. I don’t even cook that weird – I just try to do healthy real food on a budget that we can all eat. Shaun has gotten a million times better since we’ve known him. If only his parents would have started this process when he was young imagine how far we would be. 🙂 I will admit though, seafoods scare me just a little 🙂 Fish and lobster I can handle but some of the other stuff wigs me out a little. 🙂 Eating sushi was probably a big step for me. And I think like you say a lot of it is about the experience and doing it with people you love!

    The waste of calorie thing is kind-of silly especially if you haven’t tried it before. If you are at someone’s house you kind-of have to go for it. If Shaun is eating beans, and lentils, and tomatoes other people can get over it. 🙂 When it’s super processed meals I try to limit portion size and bring my own food for Kenna. . . What I’ll do when she’s a little older, I don’t know.

  2. gautier August 15, 2012 / 3:55 am

    avant d,avoir fait mon premier voyage au usa ,je pensais que les gens exagéraient sur les américains et leur problème avec la nourriture et la façon dont ils mangent .Durant mon bref séjour j,ai eu l,occasion de manger avec des familles et je n,en suis pas revenue ,de toute évidence les petits américains sont plus intelligents que les petits français ,ils savent déjà a 5 ou 6 ans ce qui est bon pour eux en thermes de nutrition .Je me disais aussi que l,obésité en Amérique était aussi surement exagéré par les média ,de toute évidence ce que j,ai vue est pire que ce que je pensais .Je crois fermement que les parents sont responsable de l,alimentation de leurs enfants et ce que les américains aiment a appeler la liberté individuelle de faire ce que l,on veut quand on le veut ne doit pas s,appliquer a des enfants pour ce qui est de manger .

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