I worked late last night and wanted to blog but had no motivation. Andrew offered to do it for me, and he hasn't written a post for me since last August, so here are his two cents today.
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Long time no talk, blog people. I'm Andrew, Lauren's husband. If you read along, you surely know we eat out a lot and are fairly adventurous eaters. I know many people are picky, and some who claim to not be picky eaters actually are quite selective in their meal decisions; they just may not realize this. As Lauren is sure to edit this and weed out some of my lengthy chatter, I'll do my best to be succinct. No promises though.
Signs you may be a picky eater:
1. You tend to order the same type of entrée on most of your dining out occasions. While there may be slight variations, you stick to a fairly small comfort zone, drawn to culinary buzzwords and phrases such as "baked to perfection" or "mango-habanero." Honey-chipotle is another chain restaurant fave as they try to maximize on the sweet heat trend that appeals to so many. It is a common food crutch. I can look at a menu and predict what my father will choose before he ever sits down to the table.
2. You have a standard order at multiple places. We all have our fallbacks. When you go to place ABC you always order XYZ. I don't fault you for it., I have my food staples too. But if you start to notice that you have an "I'll have my usual" moment at numerous local restaurants, you may be stuck in the dreaded comfort zone.
3. You intentionally avoid ordering a dish based on one ingredient that is part of the plate, and you have not tried that ingredient since you were less than 18 years old (i.e. a yuck that has mushrooms moment). I'm a big supporter of try everything as an adult. I promise, tastes change. If they didn't I would still eat nothing but bagel bites and Oreos.
I tell you all of that to tell you this: take a chance. It's the only way you'll learn to appreciate more types of cuisine. I'm not saying go out to the fanciest, most expensive restaurant in town and order something you're relatively certain you won't like. I don't expect you to empty your wallet in the name of risk. But the next time you go to one of your normal spots (which I assume is fairly affordable because most of us don't have a regular routine restaurant that costs a fortune), order something you wouldn't normally order. What's the worst that could happen? You don't like it and don't order it again. It's one meal in your life that didn't satisfy, but at least you tried.
I say these things not as a food snob, but someone who adores the experience of dining and the endless possibilities involved in it. If you're at a restaurant where the chef has earned your trust, either through reputation or personal experience, then put your faith in them that they would not put something on the menu that they don't feel you'll enjoy. And when you start to turn your nose up about a plate of food based on an ingredient, try to remember the last time you tried the ingredient. So often the answer is either "never, I just know I won't like it," or "my mom made me eat it growing up." We all love mom, but let's be honest, she was capable of messing up a meal from time to time.
I don't expect everyone to want every meal to be an experience, I know I'm a nerd about food. But I hope minds continue to stay open to new things in a culinary sense. One of the things I love about my city right now is the growing willingness for the community to try new things. Try to put aside common misconceptions about different ethnic cuisines. Not every Indian dish is heavy on the curry. Not every Mexican dish is smothered with cheddar cheese. Vegetarian food is not just tofu, I promise. Great barbecue has NOTHING to do with sauce, and please do not be happy when your ribs "fall off the bone." It means they're overcooked- please believe me that this is fact!
Food is fun, food brings us together and is an integral part of so many of our memories. Turkey and fixings surrounded by family around the table, shoving cake into each other's mouths on our wedding day, a greasy burger on a hot afternoon. You never know when you're going to make your next food memory, but the opportunity is always there.