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.