Early this year, my wife had a plan: She was going to force herself to like all the various foodstuffs that she had avoided all her life. The idea was that if you make yourself eat something often enough, you'll get over your distaste for it. And you know what? It works! I used to be an excessively picky person. Less so in recent years, but I'd still get fussy about very ordinary things that billions of other humans enjoyed every day. I realized that I was clearly in the wrong and that it was time to get over myself. So I joined my wife's crusade. Here is what I can eat and drink now, which I absolutely refused to do even a year ago:
- Mustard. You have no idea how many times I have ordered sandwiches and hamburgers without mustard. (Ditto mayonnaise.) And how many times they came with mustard anyway - mustard that I fastidiously scraped off with my knife, no doubt acting like the biggest pain in the ass in the whole restaurant. I hated mustard so much I even told people I was allergic to it, just to make sure they didn't give me any. But this year I tried it on a hot dog and had no problem with it whatsoever. It didn't even take getting used to. I instantly got over my lifelong aversion to this common condiment.
- Avocados. This is usually the one where people say, "What?! You didn't like avocados?!" This fruit/vegetable (fregetable?) has a strong cult following, and I've met many folks who insist that it's one of the most delicious things on the planet. It took me a while to get to liking it, I must admit. Frankly, I just found avocados too slimy. But my wife made an incredibly tasty, lime- and onion-heavy guacamole to ease me into the process. At this point, I can readily consume slices of avocados in sandwiches, chunks in salads, and so forth. Haven't yet brought myself to eating one on its own, though.
- Beer. Did you know that beer is older than the wheel? It literally is. And it's such an entrenched part of culture throughout the world that I was a real chump for avoiding it, even after I started drinking alcohol (at the ripe old age of 33). I don't yet like all kinds of beer - the bitterness of "hoppy" ales still does not appeal to me. But bring on the Belgian Wits.
- Radicchio. I didn't like radicchio for the same reason I didn't like beer: too bitter. (I have a sensitivity to bitter things. I still haven't been able to start liking coffee, tonic water, or grapefruit. A friend says I might be a "supertaster", which sounds incredibly sexy, so that's what I'm calling myself.) Now I can eat radicchio in a salad and accept that it was put in the recipe for a reason. Doesn't even seem all that bitter anymore.
- Pickles. Strangely, I used to love pickles as a kid. Then around adolescence, I lost my taste for the stuff. It took fried pickles to bring me back to the pickle camp. Now I enjoy them in most formats, though I'm still a little timid around relish.
- Cucumbers. Most pickles are made from cucumbers, so there's probably a connection. But I never enjoyed the weird soapy/creamy texture of a raw cucumber, and usually picked them out of my salads. No more! I don't adore them, but I can definitely handle them.
- Cantaloupes. I never exactly hated cantaloupes, but I took no great pleasure in eating them. Fruit salad? The cantaloupe chunks would usually be left at the bottom of the bowl when I was done. Strange, since I have always loved honeydews, and they're not phenomenally different in flavor. Anyway, I got over myself, and today I can thoroughly enjoy a cantaloupe just as I can any other melon.
- Celery. So crunchy. So bland. I think I could deal with this vegetable as a child, as long as it was smothered in peanut butter. But I detested the distracting crunch it added to recipes, much in the same way that walnuts in chocolate chip cookies always kind of bummed me out. (Seriously, what's wrong with plain old gooey chocolate chip?) But just like cucumbers, I am able to chew them up and swallow them down without making a face.
- Sweet potatoes. As with avocados, a lot of people think I must be insane to not like sweet potatoes (a.k.a. yams - the exact same thing, research has shown). And in fact I'm still working on liking these things. Slowly but surely. I find the concept of a sweet mushy vegetable to be off-putting, though I'm getting over it. Once I conquer them, then it's time to deal with coffee and grapefruit. (Oh, and bourbon. Can't stand the stuff. Tastes like iodine.) Well, maybe next year.