For as long as I can remember, I've always been a picky eater. If a food possesses a smell, texture, or physical appearance that's not to my liking, it's blackballed from my palette and never thought of again. When I was a kid, this posed a lot of problems for my mother, who cooked the majority of our meals, because she often wanted to prepare something that wasn't chicken, spaghetti, tacos, or pizza, and I didn't want to eat anything other than chicken, spaghetti, tacos (on flour tortillas only), or pizza. There were a couple of times where her "You're not leaving until you eat that!" directive meant me sitting at the kitchen table for hours, staring at yellow paint and wooden panels, the antique knick-knacks perched on top of the cabinets, or updated school pictures fastened to the refrigerator because I was too stubborn to take even one bite of her refried beans and she was too stubborn to let a nine-year-old kid break her spirit. One morning she threatened bodily harm if I didn't just EAT THE DAMN SCRAMBLED EGGS, so eat them I did. And then promptly threw up.
We didn't struggle a lot over food after that.
As an adult, I've continued to sustain my body on a limited menu. I still love chicken, spaghetti, tacos (actually, most forms of beef), and pizza and eat 'em at least once a week. I love barbeque ribs and ham and bacon and cheeseburgers and potatoes in any form (read: french fries). I enjoy whole kernel corn, green beans, onions (required for Outback's Bloomin' Onion), sugarsnap peas, cheese, and various types of fruit. Dessert items rock my socks off.
The following foods will only find themselves on my plate if I'm dead:
- Seafood of any kind
- Eggs (Ah, memories)
- Macaroni and cheese (The smell is unlike anything I've ever experienced)
- Macaroni noodles (You know, because of the mac and cheese thing) and other "thick" pasta shapes
- Oatmeal (Tasty to-go bars don't count)
- Sauces with a non-tomato base
- Beans (Unless they're in chili, and even then I pick them out)
- Whole mushrooms (Chopped up on pizza is acceptable)
- Tuna (Except in tuna cassarole)
- French toast
- Salad (Because I hate lettuce)
- Sour cream
- Mayonnaise (Except in my spinach dip receipe)
- Cottage cheese
- Tapioca (Thanks for reminding me, Bdogg!)
- Any sort of pot pie
- Indian food (Too afraid to try it)
- Most Chinese food (Though I do enjoy orange chicken)
- Most Japanese food (Unless it's beef fried rice, and I still pick out the egg chunks)
- Select meat-and-cheese combinations (Shredded cheese on tacos is delish; sausage-and-cheese croissants inspire my gagging reflex; meats with cheese stuffed inside of them are also gross. Cheese does not make everything better, people!)
I'm sure there are others, and there are a few exceptions, but them's the biggies. Any dishes outside of my love/hate radar are tolerable, I suppose, but why bother with them when I can get my taste on with something I one-hundred-percent enjoy?
My contentedness with not trying anything new never bothered anyone until I started dating, and it didn't bother ME until I started dating Luke. Our relationship has always embraced a liberal dining-out policy, meaning an oil change is reason enough to flock to the nearest Applebee's, so this topic comes up all the time. I usually go for American grill or Italian-style restaurants, while he's interested in trying out the little Thai place across the street from Wal-Mart. If I suggest a place, it's usually to satisfy a specific craving. Outback equals Bloomin' Onion. Ted's Montana Grill (my new favorite place) means a bison cheeseburger and fries. Don Pablo's? Steak quesadillas. (Another instance where I sanction the marriage of meat and cheese.) I'll go anywhere you want, but you can bet your mother's life I'll ask for a burger, ribs, or chicken strips, and that's after I guilt you into ordering the dip.
For Luke's sake, sometimes I want to throw caution to the wind and just try a crab leg already. I know he'd take greater pleasure in our meals out if I took a more open-minded approach towards food. He also gets sick of my wrinkled nose and "Oooh, I don't like that, how can you eat that?" comments every time he takes a bite of something that didn't originate from a cow.
But what if I don't like the crab leg? Am I going to shell out eleven ninety-five for another platter? Stare at my entree forlornly until it's time to pay the bill? My daredevilism could very well come back to bite me in the ass.
This evening, Luke and I are going to the Cheesecake Factory for my birthday. (Twenty-seven, thank you for asking!) It will actually be the culmination of a series of food-centric events held in the honor of my departure from my mother's uterus; the shenanigans started on Sunday, when we went to Ted's for dinner, and tonight Luke's making tacos, after which we'll visit the Factory for their to-die-for cheesecake. (I refused to try cheesecake until college because I thought it was literally a blend of cheese and cake. Like, American cheese. If that's not reason enough to loosen up, the only reason my passion for spinach dip exists is Luke's hankering for it on our first date and my unwillingness to rock the boat.) Our first visit was in December, when I feasted upon their brownie sundae concoction, a miracle because they also have banana cheesecake, and usually when I'm ordering a dessert I always go for the banana option. On that night, though, I could SEE the sigh in Luke's eyes as we considered our options, and I thought, "Oh, what the hell."
Because I subscribe to a strict "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy, I think I want the brownie sundae again. Or the banana. Or maybe I'll ask the Internets for their opinion.
Here is a link to the Factory's menu. While I wish I could say I'll go with the majority vote, I'll probably just do whatever I want. Nonetheless, feel free to de-lurk and offer a suggestion. I promise to think about it really, really hard.
Edited to add: I just re-read this entry and realized I listed my age as twenty-eight years old. I am only twenty-seven. Apparently "counting correctly" isn't on my list of ways to celebrate my birthday.