This is going to be a collection of rants I've written, past, present, and future. It helps me to get it out, and as long as you don't have a sensitive disposition, you should be fine letting it in.
Any-and-every-one should feel free to add, if they need to get something off their chest :)
Right, I think it's time for a good old-fashioned rant. Today's topic is entitled, 'Picky Eaters' a.k.a., 'Would You Like Some Raw Coconut and Monkey Steak Tartare with That?'.
As a rule, I genuinely despise people who won't eat what's set before them. I loathe them so much more than you'd ever believe. It's such a waste of time, being a fussy eater. I find it mildly annoying in a young child, and in an adult, it's thoroughly unacceptable. If I were the President of the World, the first people my Death Squads would take out, would be the ones who turn up their noses at perfectly edible food they 'don't like'.
First of all, let me make it clear that I'm not referring to individuals who abstain from eating certain foods on religious or moral grounds. You're Jewish, you don't want a bite of my juicy and delicious lobster? Fair point, and I won't eat my juicy and delicious lobster in front of you, we can have bagels instead. You're Muslim, and you turn up your nose at my delectable pork barbecue? Turn off the grill, and let's have some halal kebab meat instead. You're a vegan, because you wholeheartedly believe that it's wrong to use animal products to sustain your own life? Come to my house, I have a selection of fresh fruit and vegetables available any time of day, any day of the week.
Because that's the point, you see. I have no religious or moral objections to eating anything, aside from human flesh (and that aversion could be overcome, if necessary) and so if I come to your house or you go to mine, there will always be something acceptable for us both to eat. I have learned, at a fairly late point in my life (post-childhood, anyway) to appreciate a wide variety of foods that I grew up without experiencing. I was pleased, when I moved here, to sample as many different types of cuisine as I could easily obtain, even the ones that were nutrionally dubious in origin (pot noodles, chip butties, any number of sickly-sweet, custard-or-treacle drowned puddings, etc). In my personal opinion, if an entire nation of people eats a food, that food is probably okay. Regardless of how foreign or strange or unlikely it seems to me, I'll give anything a try.
To date, I cannot think of a single food I dislike. Some I prefer to others, of course, but I love eating a huge variety of food from many vastly dissimilar cultures. Everyone loves their mother's cooking, and I'm no exception to that rule; but after growing up on a diet of fried chicken, potato salad, sweet iced tea and every fruit and vegetable common to my part of the world, I am very happy to state that I count Yorkshire Puddings, Rogan Joshes, cream-cheese-and-jalapeno poppers, and seafood paella among some of my favourite things to eat. And it's not just good food I'll eat.
I have adapted to this country's ludicrous treatment of beef (it's meant to be pink on the inside, not tough and grey and dried out). I have overcome my objection to vinegar being poured all over every food known to man (it's a natural cleaning agent, not a seasoning for everything from a pot-roast to fried potatoes). I have learned to 'eat' vegetables that could more easily be drunk (broccoli is supposed to be green and slightly crisp, not boiled until it dissolves of its own accord in one's mouth).
And yet, if I ask someone to try a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, I get outright hostility. People tell me that's disgusting, without even letting me make a sandwich, nevermind taking a bite themselves.
I asked a friend of mine if she likes fruit pies, once (to an American, there's virtually no other kind of pie) and she said, ignorant and proud of it, "I don't like mixing sweet with savoury."
Mixing sweet with savoury? What on earth has that got to do with anything? Did I ask her to run to the oven, pull the top off a Fray Bentos pie, and pour cherry filling inside, to mingle with the gravy and mushrooms? A half a second of contemplation, or a basic knowledge of other cultures, would have clued her in to the fact that piecrust for fruit pies is sweet itself, and not salty/savoury. Duh. The first time I heard of corned-beef pie, my eyebrows nearly disappeared into my hairline for the same reason (from the opposite perspective--why would you stick meat inside a piecrust, which anyone knows is sweet???) but I kept my apprehension to myself, assumed I had the wrong idea about that particular culinary delight, and waited to try it.
And I liked it. But then, I usually do. Because I have a tolerant and questing mind, I'm usually able to chuck my preconceptions out the proverbial window, no matter how ingrained they are. And it's particularly easy with food--to my mind, no matter how odd it sounds to me, if 50 million people like it, can it really be that bad?
Not that 50 million people is the benchmark. If you came up to me and told me that you'd created a new recipe, and it was a bit strange but you thought it was nice, then I'd be happy to try it. Why not? What does it hurt to have an open mind about food, for godsake?
Food prejudice is nearly as bad as ethnic/racial prejudice, for exactly the same reason. Lack of understanding should never be the reason for turning away from a new situation or experience. Bad enough that people who turn away mindlessly are denying themselves potentially rewarding experiences, but even worse, those are the same sort of people who tend to castigate others for their uniqueness.
I once had a friend of mine jump down my throat for eating cold food out of the tin. Not once did she mention that that's a good way to contract food poisoning--a logical statement that would've at least made me consider stopping--she just went on and on about how gross it was, and how it was a waste of time cooking for me, since I eat crap anyway.
Not so. I greatly appreciate virtually any style of home-cooking, no doubt more thoroughly than someone who only eats the five basic Anglo-Continental meals her mother cooked when she was growing up. But liking a nice, hot serving of, let's say, beef lasagne with spring vegetables, doesn't mean I turn my nose up at cold spaghetti and sausages (another bizarre combination that I've grown to enjoy, in the last few years).
At the risk of repeating myself, I have to say that claiming not to like any general type of food, really ticks me off. You know what I mean. I know a guy who won't eat legumes of any sort, another (with no food allergies) who refuses to eat any type of nut, someone who won't eat anything with mayonnaise, someone else who won't try mushrooms because, "they're a fungus," loads of people who won't try Indian or Chinese food because they don't like 'spicy' food (so I guess that cinnamon they just sprinkled on their French Toast has to be wiped off before they'll eat it)...
Basically, my attitude is this. If you have an attitude regarding food, either the way I eat it or foreign food in general, I sincerely hope you wind up stranded on a deserted island, with nothing to eat but raw coconut and monkey steak tartare. You'll soon learn to appreciate food other than your mother's Yorkshire Puddings and gravy.
But I genuinely don't understand. Why does it have to come to imminent starvation before you'll take a chance on something new?