Yes, I confess.  I am afraid of peanut butter - one of America's favorites.  Let me help you understand.

1. Early Life

Since the age of 6 or 7, I would sit down at lunch time and open a brown bag my mom had given to me that morning.  I would curl open the aluminum foil to see a "sandwich" made up of whole wheat bread and *drumroll please* .... turkey, just turkey. Is that really a sandwich? I guess it qualifies, but what a sad sandwich. Along with this, she used my weakness against me - cookies. She would tempt me with peanut butter cookies disguising them as if they were solely PLAIN cookies.  As she betrayed my trust,  I spit them right out with disgust and it always caused a scene. 

2. Angsty Teen

When I hit high school, things got serious.  I was a big girl and had to live up to my new reputation.  Thus my sandwich finally welcomed some lettuce and tomato. (Looking back at it I will forever regret depriving my taste buds the joy of some actual flavor).  My whole family called me "Plain Jane" and there was a serious concern for my deep unsought desire for condiments

3. Mid-Life (CRISIS)

Skip to college and studying abroad in Vietnam.  There I was in a land of delicious mystery meat, I probably ate dog once or twice for all I know - sorry to all the dog lovers out there, I love them too.  You can imagine the look on my mom's face as she sat across from me chowing down happily on "jumping chicken," also known as frog's legs.  

Dana Gross
Dana Gross

The disgust was equivalent to the excitement as there was no fear in my eyes. I told her all the things I had tried:

"Yea mom, so one day we had barbecue crocodile. It really just tastes like chewy chicken, so good! We also had fried snake skin. That was good too, a little too greasy for me. The real delicacy is weasel poop coffee; they feed the coffee beans to weasels and after they digest them, scrap off all the poop! Also, we need to take shots of scorpion wine. It tastes like moonshine and don't worry the poison of the animals is canceled out by the alcohol content."

Dana Gross

Who had I become? She was amazed. 

4. Retirement

When I went back to school my friends had the same reaction as they watched me attack my foods with spice.  I insisted they try it, but a glass of milk (which was not always readily available to tone down the heat) was always necessary after eating off my plate.  When I told them all the "weird" foods I had tried, of course, they asked me the same questions my parents and sister asked me.  

5. Grave 

Here are some questions that may never die:  "Are you going to try peanut butter next?" "NO."  "What about tuna fish?"  "Definitely not."  "Mustard? Mayo? Ketchup?" "No, no, no."

Even though I won't try these foods which show up in many of our daily lives, I did come home and try avocado, hummus, oysters, heart of an artichoke, lots of hot sauce, etc. Therefore, for all the college students who have heard this once or twice before, I think it is safe to say... #AbroadChangedMe.