I was sitting at the very first unagi (eel)-based restaurant that has opened in New York City today with Chris and our two friends at lunch today, and we were talking in general about people who are picky eaters and not. Chris was spending time hating on vegans and vegetarians, saying their lives suck because they are consciously making the choice to deprive themselves. Our female friend was critiquing quinoa, saying it’s tasteless and when it does have a taste, it seemed off or stale. Our other friend, who is this woman’s husband, gave me a sly look, saying he knows for a fact that if anything comes out of his mouth that he claims he doesn’t like that my response will be to turn him on it immediately and prove him wrong. He recounted a time not too long ago when he insisted to me that he wasn’t a fan of Indian or North African spices — so he meant spices like cumin, coriander. So I made a North-African spiced red lentil soup and asked him to come over and try it. Not only did he like it, but he actually loved it and was tempted to have a second serving.

It’s not that I cannot handle rejection or the fact that everyone has at least a short list of things they refuse to eat (I have yet to be turned on regular mainstream Heinz ketchup and will very likely spend the rest of my life refusing to touch it). It’s more that I feel that most of the time when people say they do not like something, it’s because they’ve had a bad version of it. That’s how I was, once upon a time, with things like organ meat or congealed blood. So I think it’s more about the tolerance of increasing one’s exposure to foods and trying to approach foods with an open mind, even if you think you do not like it.

What is also amusing is when people hate on picky eaters’ choices of things they do not like, but then do not call out their own. Our friend was appalled that one of my good friends hates shrimp and refuses to eat it (well, when she knows she is eating it), but she was completely fine when I said she used to have an aversion to oysters. We always make exceptions for the things we agree with, don’t we?

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