Picky Eater

I never realized I was a picky eater until I started eating meals with Mr. WholeHog. He has practically no food aversions, while at the beginning of our relationship, I avoided olives, bananas, mayonnaise, lamb, figs, beets, and most cheeses. (And that list is just what I came up with off the top of my head. There was likely much more).

No one needs all those cheeses, I’d say when Mr. WholeHog tried to point out what I was missing. Once I declared with embarrassingly certainty that only five cheeses were really necessary for consumption and then I listed off some of the most pedestrian cheeses available: Monterey jack, cheddar, mozzarella, feta…I can’t remember the fifth cheese anymore. Cream cheese? Maybe I went wild and chose Havarti?


Two foods I wouldn’t have eaten a few years ago:
Andante’s fresh goat cheese (marinated in olive oil) with beets.
Photo: Mr. WholeHog

I joked about being picky, but it wasn’t really funny. I like to cook and to try new restaurants and my food aversions limited my options. But as often as I re-introduced a food, hoping I’d take to it, my palate was quite stubborn. I’ve found that it changes, but slowly.

Almost every year, I miraculously develop a taste for a food that I once disliked. And, often, I don’t just grow to tolerate a new food; instead I find that I love it.

Olives made the transition from “Won’t Eat” to “Love to Eat” a few years ago, although my parents still tease me about how I’d hold my nose at Andronico’s, making no secret that I thought their olive bar smelled like a a port-a-potty. But one day, I ate an olive and found it deliciously salty. Now, I love eating olives.

I learned that with some foods, I was picky about how they were prepared. Goat cheese, for instance, always tasted to me like an actual goat, like a barnyard with a hint of urine. But then I tried fresh goat cheese made by Andante, and found their cheese wasn’t goaty at all. I liked it and I liked it even more when Mr. WholeHog baked it and served it on a salad with chunks of bacon and croutons made from Tartine’s amazing bread. (The recipe is from Weir Cooking and it’s a worth the price of the cookbook).

I began to like lamb when I had lamb chops at a restaurant served with lavender salt. Somehow the herb and salt countered the gameyness I had disliked in lamb. After a few tries, I grew to like lamb in nearly any preparation, although this summer, I was partial to the lamb burger.

But olives, goat cheese and lamb are just a few success stories. I’m ashamed to admit that I still can’t really tolerate blue cheese. I still think mayonnaise is an insult to eggs and to olive oil. I haven’t eaten a banana since I was about 6 years old and I don’t plan to start any time soon.

I keep trying, though. In 2007, I tried bone marrow, boudin, and wild boar salame for the first time, but sadly, I only really loved the salame.


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