I guess many of us have, at one time or another, taken one of the many quizzes (like the one below) that appear from time to time on social media platforms, testing whether we are picky or fussy eaters.
When you consider this list, it’s pretty anodyne. ‘Western’ even.
As for me, there’s just one item on this particular list—snails—that I would balk at completely. And it would have to be cooked oysters. I have no real issues with any of the others. There are a couple of others items. namely liver and raw fish, that I’m not overly fond of but would eat.
Yesterday evening, as Steph and I were enjoying a barbecue with chicken, sausage, burgers, salad, and grilled vegetables, I asked her whether there were foods she had refused to eat when growing up in the 1950s. I’m not sure how this came up in conversation. Maybe my memory was stirred by a piece of avocado that I was about to eat. More of that later.
I am fortunate that I have never faced hunger. Even when I was very young and my parents were raising four children, there was always food on the table.
One food item we both agreed that we ate quite frequently when young was liver, usually fried. I quite like fried liver but I haven’t tasted it for years. Chicken livers on a stick (anticuchos) were a particular favorite at a restaurant near Lima where we used to dine we lived in Peru. Delicious!
But how picky would you be if the list was rather more wide-ranging, not western diet biased? Very, I’m sure. Given that so many food preferences are cultural, I have to say there are many foods I could bring myself to try. Here are a few examples.
However hard my colleagues in the Philippines ‘encouraged’ me to try balut (a fertilized developing duck egg embryo), for me that was a step too far. Likewise on my first visit to China around 2005, I declined the ‘exotic’ dishes typical of Cantonese cuisine, becoming vegetarian for the duration of my visit to Guangzhou.
Let’s not even think about insects, especially large juicy grubs. Shivers.
As for very spicy food, I have my limits. So, much as I enjoy Mexican and Indian dishes, I much prefer a delicate blend of spices to the searing heat of chillies.
I’ve always enjoyed trying new fruits, although my favorites are apples and bananas, both of which I eat daily. Until I lived in the Philippines I’d never enjoyed mangoes. But the varieties widely available there are succulent and sweet. Fruits to die for!
But there is one fruit that I have tasted just the once. And once was almost one time too many. The durian! If you can get past the smell the flesh doesn’t actually taste too bad, but is rather rich. However, it was the after-effects. It certainly was the fruit that kept on giving, as I wrote in 2014.
So, provided with a different picky food list, I’m certain my score would be very high indeed.
I mentioned avocado earlier in this narrative. Until I moved to Lima, Peru in January 1973, I’d never tasted this particular food item. And my initial experience put me off it for decades to come. It wasn’t the avocado itself, but the chicken salad (or similar) stuffing of palta rellena that made me violently sick. Steph suffered exactly the same experience when she arrived in Lima some months later on, and for many, many years afterwards, neither of us could face tackling an avocado. However both of us are now enthusiastic avocado aficionados.
I can’t say I was particularly impressed when faced with ceviche for the first time, raw fish marinated in lime juice. It’s a very typical Peruvian dish. However, washed down with a pisco sour or two, what a delight it is.
So, if you ever come across one of those quizzes, try and put it in context, and think about all the cultural differences we experience with regard to what foods we consume – and enjoy.