Dislike of slimy, spicy, stringy foods doesn't make one picky - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

Dislike of slimy, spicy, stringy foods doesn't make one picky

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Lynne D. Schwabe Lynne D. Schwabe

Lynne D. Schwabe is the director of development for the National Youth Science Foundation. She can be reached at schwabestatejournal@gmail.com.

I like to think of myself as a broad-minded person, open to new adventures, ready for anything that comes my way. This is especially true with food. I love to eat; I love to cook. So I was bowled over when a friend said to me, “You're a very picky eater.”

Moi? I could hardly believe my ears. But intense self examination revealed the gritty underside of my consuming habits. Oh, dear; I am a picky eater.

After all, there is cilantro in the universe. Why? I am not entirely sure, since it tastes exactly like turpentine. This alone is enough to make a person stop eating. I am told that cilantro grows on one. Well, not on this one, since I can't get past the gagging reflex, even when I just smell it at the grocery store, having picked it up instead of parsley.

My mother, who was a terrific cook, fed me canned asparagus when I was tiny. The lifelong result of her actions is that I can't bring myself to taste even fresh asparagus. My gourmet-inclined friends tell me I am missing one of the world's great treats. But, I can't bring myself to do it. I mean, have you ever smelled canned asparagus? It's seriously icky.

This tells me I am not as flexible and open to new things as I've always thought.

Garbanzo beans. I love beans and love the variations of their color and texture as well as their taste. But garbanzo beans? Cardboard. They look and they taste like cardboard. I can think of no use for something that tastes like cardboard.

S'mores. Wasn't that first bite of a s'more just a tiny bit of heaven when you were 8? Today, even thinking about those three intense layers of sugar makes my teeth hurt.

And then there is kale. Suddenly kale is everywhere, despite the fact that as Dave Barry says, “It is an unappetizing form of plant life that recently was primarily used for insulation.” Even goats won't eat kale, choosing to chew on old tires instead. And why are people suddenly so entranced with kale chips? I get recipes for them all the time, and I think, “Ok, let's take a veritably unchewable item and make it even more impossible to eat. Why didn't I think of that?” Besides, it doesn't even taste good.

I don't like food that is rubbery (octopus), slimy (okra), visciously spiced (curry), stringy (spaghetti squash) or tough (see kale, above). Oddly, I love very hot Chinese food, Scorned Woman Hot Sauce and pickled pigs' feet. I haven't ever had the nerve to try brains or intestines, although I love sweetbreads. Steak tartare is fabulous. There's just no rhyme or reason for these peculiarities. And, while I am content to slave over things like racks of lamb, fish chowder, paella or cowboy steaks, it's embarrassing to admit that I also love Velveeta cheese and Cheetos. I mean, have you ever tried to eat just one Cheeto? Impossible.

There are regional or global foods that require introduction from birth. Few adults, for example, can just walk into a Filipino village and eat a balut, a fertilized duck or chicken egg that is boiled and served with vinegar. When I lived in the Philippines, I was often offered baluts. I escaped gracefully every time. Worse, there is a process for eating them, which involves first drinking the juice from the shell … I needn't go on. I'm sure that in the Philippines there are people who wait with bated breath for a balut (“Oh, boy! It's balut night!”); God love them.

I find Lutefisk a challenge; to me it tastes like fish-flavored jello. Durian … which you can get in Chinese drinks has a smell that can strip paint off walls. In Iceland, they eat smoked sheeps' heads; in Korea, silkworms. No thank you very much!

This reminds me of a long-ago dinner party at my friend Candy Galyean's house. Newlywed, Candy was just learning to cook, and she was following a recipe for fresh peas that instructed, “cook until the peas are smiling.” At about 10 p.m., when the peas still had not smiled, one of the guests piped up and said, “You did say dinner, didn't you?” Thus spurred, Candy rushed to get the first course, a soup, on the table. Direct to a fault, this same guest tasted it, put down his spoon, and said, “Tastes just like camel piss.”

The only possible response was, “How do you know?”

That was pretty much the end of the evening. We never did eat smiling peas. And too bad. I think I would have liked them!

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