If you know me, then you probably think I’m a picky eater. The biggest thing you have to overcome is that I don’t eat meat. I haven’t eaten meat in over 20 years. I can’t give you an exact date or time when I decided to stop eating meat. It was a natural progression.
Growing up, Saturday night in my family was steak night. My
dad would usually cook the steaks outside on the barbeque grill. It was Texas,
so unless it was raining there were only a few weekends in the year when the
weather was too cold for grilling outside. I don’t remember ever having a
steak. I just remember hating steak.
Since it was steak night and the meat was being barbequed,
it didn’t take long for my parents to stop buying steaks for me and instead
buying chicken breast. Slathered in enough barbeque sauce and cooked to being
charred, I could usually force down a small chicken breast, although sometimes
it became an episode of Let’s Make a Deal with me convincing my parents I had
actually eaten enough of the meat to not drop dead from a protein deficiency.
I remember eating hot dogs and bologna when we lived at our
first house, so before I was 12 or so, but at some point I jettisoned those
items from my diet. I was sent to elementary school with a bologna sandwich in
my lunchbox and would convert it into either a mayonnaise sandwich or a potato
chip sandwich once I was at school and it was time to eat. I pulled a lot of slices
of bologna out of sandwiches in my youth, throwing them in the trash at school.
If you gave me a hamburger from a fast-food place, I usually pulled the patty
out after a little over half-way and refused to eat another bite of it.
When I finally moved into my own apartment, in my early 20s,
meat was not allowed in the house. If my mom came to visit, she could buy meat
for herself but it had to all be gone by the time she left, or I was throwing
it away. I think for a few visits she thought just by leaving a bunch of meat
in my refrigerator I’d feel guilty and eat it after she left. Well, she gave up
on that fantasy pretty quickly.
I don’t understand the vegetarian who adds meatless meaty
things in their diet. I don’t like meat. I don’t understand meat. (I think the
world of animals and have trouble convincing myself that any animal would taste
good enough to justify killing it.) I don’t eat meat. I’d rather have a
hamburger bun, tomato, lettuce, onion, ketchup and cheese without a Beyond
Burger than with one. I will order a hamburger without the meat at fast-food
restaurants and sit-down restaurants alike. If I’m eating a veggie burger, I
want the patty to be made of recognizable vegetable parts with the consistency
Other than meat, I can’t stand peppers. This goes for anything
called a “pepper” ranging from a bell pepper to a jalapeño to a peppadew to the
black pepper you might crack over a salad from a comically large grinder.
Again, this was hard for my mom to understand. She’d buy pepper when she would
come to visit and if she was cooking, I had to remind her not to put any pepper
in the food until it was on her plate. If there is black pepper in my food and
I bite into a piece of it my meal is pretty much over. My mouth is on fire and
I can’t taste anything else.
I am one of those cilantro people. If I order
something in a restaurant and don’t realize it has cilantro in it, I’ll spend
the meal wondering why the kitchen doesn’t rinse their plates and utensils
better to clean off the soap residue. Disgusting! I’ve never been eating
something and thought to myself, “This would be improved by a little drop of
Beets taste like dirt. Brussels sprouts make me want to
throw up. Green beans? Yuck.
I don’t know what got me to researching the topic, but somehow
I found myself looking at some articles about “super-tasters” and reading
comments from these super-tasters. Aside from super-tasters supposedly not liking
sweet foods, like cake and cookies, I fall into the category. I’ve never been
tested, but it would explain a lot.
As the articles all go on to explain, super-tasters don’t have an edge over normal-tasters or non-tasters. It has nothing to do with having a good palate. They/We are tortured by food to some extent. Things taste supercharged. So yes, beets taste like dirt. Cilantro tastes like soap. Coffee, although it smells good, tastes terrible and I’m not going to try to get past that.
We like our meals to be “bland.” We avoid hot sauce and
spicy foods. A trip I took to an Indian restaurant with friends a few years ago
turned out to be a terrible decision on my part. There was nothing there that
tasted even remotely edible. I felt terrible for making my friends feel
terrible that there was nothing but rice for me to eat. And at a Japanese
restaurant, I’ll probably eat rice. At any restaurant known for their
flavorful, exotic cuisine, I’ll probably just eat rice. (I love rice.)
Bland food isn’t bland to us. It has a lot of flavor. I like
acidic foods and sweet foods. I love balsamic vinegar. A caprese salad is one
of my favorite things to eat. I go through lemons like they are going out of
style. I’ve developed a taste for kalamata olives, but don’t try to feed me a
green olive. I can taste the differences in bottled water and, by the way, Dasani
water should be illegal to sell it tastes so bad.
I’ve recently been trying to incorporate “an apple a day” into my life, to, as the saying goes, keep the doctor away. As part of this, I’ve tried changing up the apple types I buy. Some of them, even when they are advertised as sweet, are so bitter to me that I can only manage a few bites before the apple goes in the trash.
If you love hot sauce on your foods, you probably are a
non-taster or on that end of the spectrum of taste. It doesn’t mean you don’t
taste anything, it just means you need a lot of help with your food. You need
hot sauce. You need spices. You need pepper. I don’t.
I’m not a picky eater, food just tastes different to me than
it does to you.