April 29, 2010

What can you do with a picky eater?

I was kind of a picky eater as a child, I admit it. I didn't like onions or mushrooms, particularly, and the trauma associated with green beans, yellow beans, and peas (which were always canned, until they were available frozen) took the better part of forty years to get over. I mean it; it's really only within the last twelve months that I've approached green beans with anything other than fear and loathing, and even then, I'll only speak to fresh ones. I don't even know if they still make canned green beans. I hope not.

I liked roast pork, but not pork chops (though that might have had something to do with the mushroom-soup sauce my mother insisted on overcooking them in), and I liked everything to do with beef - including liver - except the tongue roast my mother tried to slide in under the radar that one time. I liked lamb any way I could get it, but didn't like any kind of fish except salmon. And we ate a lot of bland, baked white fish (cod, halibut, sole) because my dad had an ulcer, and we were still 30 years away from identifying heliobacter pylori as the cause for all the pain, and were still treating them with bland food and milk to drink.

But that was all when I was a kid. I grew up, and so did my tastebuds, and I learned to appreciate the onion's contribution to flavour, the mushroom's fantastic adaptability and variety, and even the taste and texture of a properly cooked fresh green bean. I like all kinds of things now that I didn't then. Exceptions include kidney (as in steak and kidney pie), canned or frozen beans or peas, and bland white fish. I kind of fell in love the first time I tasted broccoli; I was fifteen, and at a friend's house for dinner. And I fell in love again with cauliflower.

Fifteen years ago or so, I fell in love with another human. And I married him. And I slowly discovered that I'd married an eater whose pickiness put my own childhood aversions in the shade. I am reminded of this because I've been surfing cooking websites, finding recipes that sound fantastic to me, but that contain one or more ingredients that would put My Beloved right off his feed. The first to fall were broccoli and cauliflower, followed quickly by Brussels sprouts; any kind of chicken on the bone, other than wings; any chicken other than breast meat; turkey in all its forms, unless it's Christmas dinner, and then only the one meal; any kind of squash, summer or winter; cucumbers; pretty much all fruit unless it's in a fruit salad or over ice cream; goat's milk and its products; avocado in any form except inside a California roll; spinach, unless it's in things like lasagna; eggs unless it's breakfast time; chickpeas... the list grows every time I whip something new on him.

Between his vegetable aversions and my previous aversion to beans, the only green non-leafy vegetable we agreed on, for several years, was asparagus.Which can be horribly expensive, even in season.

He surprised me last night by actually liking the couscous we had with dinner. I'm not sure he's ever had it before, but it turned out well, and he said he enjoyed it. Thank goodness that's one for the "like" list; it makes up for the nose-wrinkling about the chicken thighs (which were at least boneless and skinless anyway). He ate the chicken because he thought I'd be upset if he didn't (I think he confused me with his mother for a minute there), but even though the one thigh he ate was tiny, he didn't want to finish the last one.


  1. Cous cous is a weird food really. I like it for salads. I make a great salad with cous cous, multi coloured peppers, onion, cucumber and feta cheese, spritzed with a home made dressing made from olive oil, lemon juice, vinegar and a little Worcestershire sauce. YUM!

    Your Beloved probably wouldn't like it. :)

  2. Heh. Well, he'd pick out the cucumber, for sure. But I think he'd be OK with the rest. And you know what, that sounds pretty delish, like a variation on tabouli/tabbouleh (however you choose to spell it); I must try it!

    I suck at salad dressing - what kind of proportions do you use, oil to lemon/vinegar?