Eating It All


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"You can't be an art critic and not like yellow. The Tibetans train themselves to like everything equally. Being unable to get pleasure from a large variety of foods is akin to only being able to have sex in strange circumstances."

My my my. I've been at this blogging thing for a few months now, and I am so completely humbled by the emails and comments and connections I've made. It's a dream come true to connect with others from all over the world who are passionate and fanatical about food. It's great.

However (there's always a big however, it seems), as I peruse and absorb food blogs from all over the world, one thing strikes me as peculiar, odd, and just plain creepy: the avoidance of a certain ingredient or type of cuisine.

"Things she will not eat: raw tomatoes" (or insert gelatinous fish or tripe or aspic or stinky cheese, what have you)

"I can't stand Chinese food" (if this person is referring to the msg-laden Chinese-American restaurant food then I understand. Have they any idea of the breadth of Chinese cuisine? Tsk tsk)

"Raw oysters freak me out. It's a texture thing."

Man, I don't get it. Barring food allergies, sensitivities to certain ingredients and personal ethics, I can't for the life of me think of avoiding anything in the sake of flavor and taste, let alone not trying it at least once. Of course I have preferences for certain ingredients (my palate has an affinity towards strong, intensely flavored foods), but to skip something just because of texture or mental roadblock really confuses me.

Full disclosure: I don't care for marzipan. I'll eat it but it's not my favorite thing. The compounds in artichokes cause my lips to swell, but that doesn't stop me. Live crickets, chicken feet and cow eyes aren't on the top of my delicious list, but sure, I've had them and enjoyed them. If we are to really savor life and experience new things, well, why draw that invisible line in the sand?

What won't you eat and why?


26 Responses to “Eating It All”

  1. Anonymous Kalyn 

    I always love reading your comments about things. I agree, people who won't try certain tings make me crazy. There isn't anything I won't eat at least once, although interestingly enough, I'm also not too crazy about marzipan. I am not too fond of yams or parsnips, but I will eat them.

  2. Anonymous melissa 

    are you asking? if you're asking, then i'm telling. as an italian, i have taken endless ribbing at the fact that i can't eat onions. not just raw onions, but *most* onions. i love onions - i cook with them regularly. i love onion flavor. biting into an onion, however, causes my gag reflexes to go into overdrive. it has since i was a young girl, and i've been picking onions out of food ever since. my mother tries to sneak onions into food because she's still certain that i can't tell if they're in there. i always know; onions have a crunch like no other vegetable.

    i also don't like walnuts or pecans, but all the other nuts in the world are fair game. there is something about the texture of walnuts and pecans that doesn't agree with me, and if i accidently bite into a chocolate chip cookie that i didn't know had walnuts in it, i'll spend the next hour picking minute portions of walnut from my teeth. same with pecans. i've tried, lord knows i've tried to learn to love them. i currently have 12 pecan trees in my front and back yards... and i don't eat them.

  3. Anonymous Raspberry Sour 

    Eggplant! Absolutely will not and cannot. I have even inadvertently done blind taste testes, and still, there it was- the good old gag reflex, springing up on me when least expected. Raw onions are also pretty grim, but I'll eat them if I have to. And of course, there are any number of foods I'm not partial to, but I've found over the years that many of my "preferences" are actually a direct result of a cook's manipulations and machinations upon innocent food stuffs and not the food itself.

    I'm curious what you think about religious proscriptions then (something I often ponder on alongside all manner of food extremism)?

  4. Anonymous L 

    For me, there are a couple of foods that I steer clear of. I just don't like them, although I've tried (and continue to try on occasion, just to see if things have changed). Number one on that list has to be grits. I don't really understand it, because I like cream of wheat and polenta and other such dishes. But grits, ick.

  5. Anonymous Amy 

    I too am amazed at the number of things people just won't eat. Especially people who actually seem to like food. I eat everything, with the exception of bugs. I'm not sure I can get over that one. I don't like tripe but I'll keep on trying it I suppose if it's put in front of me. Pigeon is another one in that tripe category, very gamey but not inedible.

    Raw pinepple gives me a tummy ache but I sometimes eat it anyway. I sometimes have allergic reactions to seafood but mostly I don't so I keep eating it. Except for bugs I'm pretty fearless compared to most!

  6. Anonymous sarah 

    people don't have to like everything, matt. that is why we have taste. if it didn't matter, then we would simply need to nourish ourselves through an IV drip of vitamins, minerals, and sugar water.

    would it be weird if someone liked everything? i am wary of people who "like everything" - like politicians ;) there is a difference, an important one, between liking everything, and being open to trying everything. you should try it, but if you don't like it, you don't like it.

    why should someone have to eat something that doesn't particularly appeal to them? i don't like fois gras. i have eaten it before, and certainly if my life depended on it, i would eat it, but for me, there are far more things that are enjoyable. perhaps we should instead, focus on what we like and love, and just not mention the things we don't :) wow - then what the ehck would i blog about? LOL!

  7. Anonymous bea at La Tartine Gourmande 

    Ah yes yes, so nice to read this Matt! I fully agree, and this also is something I don't get. I used to work with a man who hates to eat food with seeds, so I used to bring him seedful things, just as a joke, and guess what, he ate them without knowing, even acknowledging he liked them. I am sure we all have taste and preferences for different things, but the worse is to hear that people don;t like some foods, yet they never had it before. I am like you, I can eat anything! We might be lucky ones!

  8. Anonymous Robyn 

    Once someone asked me why I'm a food studies major if I "don't like anything." I think...she was mentioning certain foods and I said I didn't like them that much. It wasn't that I didn't like them overall, but that I liked other things...more. Of course, there are things I'd just rather not eat, but...I dunno, I don't want to "waste" my calories eating a croissant when I know that I'll enjoy a muffin much more, not because croissants suck, but just because that's my preference.

    I can't imagine refusing to eat something that I've never eaten before and thus have no idea what its taste is. I know I'm not a huge fan of shrimp because I've eaten it a gajillion times. I don't hate it, but I'd rather eat something else. Same with oysters and clams. They're okay, but if I had a choice I'd choose...something else.

    I think I'll eat anything once except for bugs. And I'll probably eat bugs if I don't know they're bugs.

  9. Anonymous Helen 

    I, too, find it somewhat disconcerting when people are stubbornly emphatic about things they don't eat.

    Growing up, there was never an option about not eating something on our plate. And for that I suppose I can thank my mother that my siblings and I will all eat practically anything put in front of us.

    Of course we have our personal taste preferences, but I think it's when people have a certain contempt for specific foodstuffs that has me raising an eyebrow. Having said that, I really hear you on the marzipan issues =) I do try to maintain a balanced perspective and think more about what my dislikes and nonchalances say about me rather than projecting these neuroses onto the edible item itself.

  10. Anonymous MM 

    Well, I've had experiences with picky eaters from the ones who scream like a banshee in the middle of the food court because the shrimps still had their heads on to the ones who hate eating tofu and people who will not eat mushrooms.

    I really dislike bittergourds and will scheme and plot not to eat them. However I like it if it is deepfried in thin slices with spices, Indian style. I am unfortunately allergic to pineapples so I never touch the stuff but the one time I ate it before I ended up in hospital, I thought it was scrumptious. I quiver at the sight of chicken feet but have eaten it out of supreme politeness. It's not my favourite thing but I will eat it if I had no other choice.

    I kind of agree with Sarah that we can't all like the same thing or everything. However, I do think we need to give everything a chance before we say we absolutely hate it.

  11. Anonymous David Schloss 

    BBQ grill pizza became a staple of my life last year when the kitchen renovation was being done here at my house. We had no way to cook conventionally, our third floor bathroom became out sort of kitchen (we called it our Bitchen) and the grill (a beautiful and very expensive model I was given permission to buy as it was our only cooking source) became the touchstone of my life.

    After making the requisite foods on the grill (including the best damned indirect heat roasted chicken you'll ever taste) I turned to more adventurous fare. Of course, not being able to cook anything, when I got around to pizza I decided to head over to the local 'joint and ordered up some dough from them. They're only too happy to oblige. I was able to make some incredibly great snacks on that grill, including a pizza with caramelized onions, portabello mushroom and shaved truffles. Mmmmm.

  12. Anonymous sam 

    Considering my childhood spent as the world's pickiest eater, I am now adventurous when it comes to tasting foods, both new ones and those I was previously prejudiced against.

    But whilst most of the the rest of the world abhors my precious Marmite, I reserve the right to choose what I like and dislike, what I will try and what I won't, excuse me very much. (I think I would draw the line at live crickets)

    Perhaps we should start you off on a diet of wonderbread, margarine, marshmallow fluff and veleeta mac and cheese. How are you feeling about food prejudices now? Still claim not to have any?

  13. Anonymous cybele 

    I certainly have my food preferences but I still try to give those things I don't like a try now and then. There were plenty of things I couldn't stand as a child (avocados) that I love now. I'm getting there with marzipan (I still don't love it, but I find it interesting now). The one thing I don't like (but I still give a try) is cherry flavored candies. If we all liked the same things there'd be no variety because we wouldn't need to experiment.

  14. Anonymous stef 

    it's called personal preference, that's all. and we all have our "acceptable range" of foods we'll try and try again. i like to try foods at least once, but i draw the line at certain *dangerous* foods, like fugu -- when you're a mom you gotta think of things like that. i also don't think i can eat anything live, like things that are still moving. another thing is access -- it's easy to say, oh, i won't eat THAT, but then finally come face to face with it and think, oh, okay, perhaps i'll take a bite...

  15. Anonymous Barbara 

    I have problems with people who won't try things just out of prejudice--especially when they are in culinary school.

    There were students when I was in culinary school who would not try any vegetables other than the three they grew up with. Beans were yucky, beets were suspicious, artichokes looked weird and squash was stringy. These kids drove me mad--at one point, I remember telling one that he was acting like a three year old and how did he think he was going to ever call himself a chef if he wouldn't even taste something as harmless as a damned kohlrabi. I kind of went off.

    That said, I don't have a problem with the fact that certain people have tried different foods and they just don't like them. They don't -have- to like them. If everybody liked everything, then it would be a boring world, really.

    But a lot of the "gourmet" things that folks are supposed to love, I think are just okay. They are not to my taste. So what? That just means there is more for everyone else.

    On the other hand, I love chicken feet and bitter melon, so go figure.

  16. Anonymous Moose 

    This reminds me of music-fanatic friends who think it's absurd for people to write off an artist because they're labelled country. Or for puppeteers to write off a puppet just because it's made from a sock. Or whatever.

    I used to dislike beets. Until I was taken out to a place where beets are made right. They were damn tasty. I want some of those beets right now. I think if something is well-prepared with good ingredients, it will be tasty. No matter what the ethnicity or genre. Any food can be destroyed or uplifted - depending on the cook. I'm usually a destroyer in the kitchen. But I'm working on it. : )

  17. Anonymous Emma 

    Nothing is more annoying to me than someone saying they do not like something when they have not yet tried it. This is completely different than personal preference ; personal preferences can be respected, preconceived judgements are a different thing. This goes for more than food, as Moose said, it applies to music, and I think people, places and things too.

  18. Anonymous Pat 

    I guess I was the person who wouldn't eat tomatoes you quoted...it's not that I won't try them, it's that nearly every time I do, they gross me out...mostly the smell. What am I supposed to do about it? Actually, I finally discovered a way to eat them -- they must be freshly grown from someone's garden, and they must be accompanied by salt, garlic and olive oil, and then either applied to a grilled cheese sandwich or on top of grilled bruschetta.

  19. Anonymous Pippa 

    I am with you on this one Matt, nothing drives me crazier than people with weird food issues, especially when they have no real basis. After years of being in the restaurant industry I have heard them all....I think that's why after I read Jeffrey Steingarten I decided that I would never be like them!! Consequently ther aren't any foods I don't eat, although there are some I don't enjoy as much as others, for example watermelon but I do still eat it on occasion and even love it in certain situations, such as watermelon curry (acts as asponge for all the spices). The other golden rule I have is try everything at least once!

  20. Anonymous Marianne 

    I become near-irate when a dinner guest will not at least try something. It begins to become more of a politeness issue at that point, I suppose. As for me, I will try almost anything. I try lamb several times a year because it looks so delicious that I am actually saddened when I find that I still can't stomach it. I agree that there is a kind of snobbery amoung food people (myself included), because I wouldn't touch Spam, or margerine, or dozens of other things of their ilk. Yet, I admit that I would look down on someone that wouldn't at least give a new, adventurous food a try.

  21. Anonymous Vanessa 

    I hate it when someone will refuse to try something for the pure simple fact that they "think" they won't like it.

    So... I have this way of slowly dragging people through into my foodie fanatical world. I'll often start them small on things like vegetable or cooked sushi's and then specifically eat raw fish in front of them. They become like children wondering why you eat what you're eating and how you can enjoy it so much that they must eventually try it themselves. It's how I've gotten people onto tartares, chicken's feet, sashimi, carpaccio and god knows what else the world will bring.

    Now the one thing that i'm not sure about... is anything i've ever had a pet. There's this 50 things to eat before you die list from a Food Network television show that has cuy on it. Flayed open cuy. I don't think I could do it... poor little Fluffy.

    Bring on the casu marzu and ortolans!

  22. Anonymous catherine 

    hmm, i think it depends who we're talking about. if we're talking about kids, leave 'em be. i hated everything as a kid and it wasn't because i was picky, i just plain didn't like it. the proof is that now i love everything i hated from tomatoes to onions to peas to mushrooms. i do think you should give your kids "adult" foods like avocadoes and foie gras, anything you'd eat, just to let them see what they like without prejudice. but if they don't, they don't.

    as for adults, i believe in what my grandfather used to say to his very picky granddaughter: "how do you know you don't like it, if you won't even try it?" i reserve the right for others to categorically avoid things -- itr doesn't make me roll my eyes or poke a voodoo doll with pins after they leave my dinner party -- but for myself, i'll try almost anything. tongue, roast baby piglet, sweetbreads -- just hold the brains (shudder).

  23. Anonymous Emily 
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  26. Blogger 日月神教-向左使 

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  • I'm Matt Armendariz
  • From Los Angeles, California
  • A man with a passion for good food and a wonderful life with a dash of irreverence. Read at your own risk. Advertising director by day, wino by night. All photos on this site by Matt Armendariz.
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