I am betting all of the foodies out there that love to sit down and savor a delicious meal with a tasty glass of wine probably groan in agony when they hear a friend being picky about what new food they try. I’ll admit, I am that friend, who is hesitant about trying new foods that make me wonder, where in the world did this come from? And my friends are the ones that groan every time I take a tiny nibble as my first bite of something new. My family pin pointed me as the “picky eater” since day one. Once I found a food I liked, it was all I would eat. For example, mac n’ cheese and hot dogs was my meal of choice at the age of four, so I’m told. Some would say this was just a phase but for all you picky eaters out there you know that these habits die hard. If this sounds familiar then I think it is safe to say you might be suffering from picky eater syndrome. So here is a little inspiration on what might happen if you kick the picky eater habits to the curb.
I was sixteen and heading to Europe for the first time. The ten days that I spent in Paris, Italy, and Austria with my classmates and two teachers are what made me realize that I was missing out on wonderful, tasty, food adventures. We went to quirky local restaurants in Austria with food on the menu that I couldn’t even pronounce. We stopped at corner stands where I could devour a Nutella filled crepe in Paris and I was served thin crusted pizza with pineapples and chocolate drizzle on top in Italy. Within ten days I tried fourteen new foods. Yes, I kept track in my journal. As a writer of course I kept a journal every night, and every night I would reflect on my experiences but I would also total the number of new foods I tried that day. I could not believe how sheltered my taste buds had been all this time! So with every passing day I made it my mission to try food that was not ordinarily in my limited American diet. I went for the fruit instead of the cheese, I ordered a meal that I was hesitant about, or I at least asked a friend if they would like to share and try it with me (That way if I didn’t end up liking it we wouldn’t be wasting as much food). I didn’t end up liking every new food I tasted but it was the act of tasting things that were beyond my comfort zone and being able to say, “Yes, I tried this one time and it was not my favorite” that made all of the difference. Food is a huge part of our lives, not just for our survival but culturally as well. My food experiences helped me to see the world from a new perspective just as much as visiting the L’Ouvre, did. That might sound crazy. I mean how can trying new food compare to peering at the Mona Lisa over a thick wall of bodies or finding your favorite sculpture of Eros and Psyche? Well, if we strip those experience down to the core what they all have in common is that they open our minds to new experiences, people, and places. Food and history gives us a glimpse into the lives of another culture.
Now, as an almost twenty one year old, I know a little bit more about what it is I don’t like and what I do like. I can confidently tell people that I like the smell of coffee but I do not like the taste. I don’t like food that is particularly tangy but I love the spicy stuff. I realize now more than ever that trying new food didn’t just help me see the world on a larger scale. It also led me to pick up a new habit, one I consider positive: try everything, because figuring out what you don’t like or what you are not interested in is just as important as finding out what you do like. It helps you find out just a little bit more about yourself. It helps you to grow. It even leads you to meet new people. When I studied abroad in London for four months and was surrounded by people who drank coffee, I was constantly ordering Hot Chocolate, but instead of finding my favorite Dunkin Donuts Hot Cocoa, I bounced from one coffee shop to the another finding new and exciting flavors of Hot Chocolate while exploring the city at the same exact time. Food can lead to you discover a whole new perspective.
So, go out there and find your next food adventure! Who knows where it will take you.
Featured Image: Kirinohana, Creative Commons