We all know one. In fact, you may even be one. They’re the bane of every dinner table, the difficult friend who your parents never want over for meals, and definitely the ones who need to choose the restaurant reservation after a thorough perusal of the menu. (Groan.)
Today I definitely don’t qualify as a picky eater. In fact, if you asked any of my friends, they’d pretty much unanimously agree that I am the least pickiest eater (is that a real phrase?) ever, ’cause I eat E-VERY-THING. Seriously. I once ate a slice of lime covered in chili powder just ’cause it looked good to me, #sorrynotsorry.
An interesting fact about me, though: growing up, I was a ridiculously picky eater. I would only eat chicken cooked by my parents or in nugget/tender form, or bread, french fries, pasta, or other carbs, so, basically, I was operating on a pretty limited palate. It got to the point my mom would make me drink a milkshake with an egg in it everyday after school just so I would get enough protein and dairy in me.
Now, I know what you’re all thinking: “How totally awesome is that diet?” But honestly, it was horrible. Being picky wasn’t caused by any kind of aversion to other foods, but rather a need to control everything I ate. I struggled to eat almost anywhere other than my house (and, let’s be real, there are so many awesome restaurants out there, and you miss out big time). It got to the point where dining out caused so much anxiety I would become physically ill. God bless my parents, ’cause they put up with this for years until they “accidentally” cured me.
I first learned to cook at the age of ten simply ’cause my Dad didn’t want to constantly stand over the stove and stir the risotto, so he decided to teach me to (thanks, Dad). Then, to ease their burden, they taught me the basics of cooking, like cutting, mixing, stirring, and measuring. All basic stuff, but one day my parents were throwing a party and were running behind schedule, so my dad had me make the tuna tartare (an excellent dish, BTW — try this recipe here) by myself.
I remember how good it smelled but never actually considered eating it. It had no bread in it, and it wasn’t chicken, so it didn’t seem like an option. Apparently I made it really well, though, because my family had me prepare it again. And again. And again. Then, on my fourth time, my Dad told me I had to try some. Like, seriously?!
It did not go over well… Many tears and foot stomping in true 12 year old fashion were involved… But I finally agreed to one tiny bite.
It was then that I had what can only be described as both the most important and stupidest epiphany of my entire life: FOOD TASTES SO GOOD!
It was then that I started to actually eat. Literally. If my parents or I cooked something, I would eat it. My palate started to grow. Of course, it was a long process to eat every food out there (’cause there’s seriously a lot), but I grew to love food through learning how to cook, and I’ve never looked back.
I really encourage all y’all picky eaters out there to try cooking something new once a week. It may seem scary, but trust me, you can do it. You never know what dish you could discover; in fact, it could be the dish that makes you love food too! And if all else fails, use the recipe that opened my eyes: the tuna tartare by Ina Garten, The Barefoot Contessa herself!