I was once dumped by a guy because he said I “only ate chicken,” and he inferred that that was somehow indicative of my personality.
I’m soooooooooo not kidding. Ouch.
True, in my earlier years I was not very adventurous with food. Despite being fun-loving and warm and outgoing, even pre-disordered eating, even pre-WW … I did tend to eat the same things over and over … and chicken was a favorite of mine. So easy. So versatile. So what?!
I always ate what my mom cooked growing up, and we ate normal, American cuisine — with some awesome Italian thrown in (Mom’s sausage and peppers and meatballs and sauce are unrivaled — my paternal grandpa even told her, “S., for a Jewish woman, you sure make good Italian)!
And then once I was on my own in college (where I met “the ex”), I stuck to (mmm buttery!) grilled cheese sandwiches and routine grilled chicken salads for meals, grilled chicken sandwiches, grilled chicken skewers/kebobs — always with fro-yo for dessert.
Making matters worse, I didn’t always eat breakfast, and often would have two (relatively) huge meals instead. And snacks –I just ate them when I felt like it. And my hips showed it.
Part of my Type A personality means aside from being a perfectionist (something I’m working on!), I am a creature of habit in so many ways …
And so once I started Weight Watchers, like a good Flexer, I focused on lean protein, whole grains, fruits, veggies, fat-free dairy (or low-fat) and low-point snacks/treats: things that filled me for not a lot of points. (Cereal and a Skinny Cow was often my dinner; it was all I’d have points left for).
Still, for the first few years, I was still pretty unadventurous and rarely went beyond my comfort zone.
In fact, my husband is from El Salvador, and every time we’d go to the beach there and eat at one of those ocean-front restaurants high on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific, he’d get coctel de concha (or ceviche ) and some type of seafood… and (before I learned to be more experimental) I’d get (boring) chicken.
One afternoon, after many years of unsuccessful attempts at trying to help me see the light of eating seafood at the seashore … I finally let him order a piece of white fish for me, sauteed in garlic. (*This was pre-WW; today I’d never order something sauteed in anything unless I was making it on my own).
It was amazing … and once I made the leap, I never looked back. From that moment on, I started eating salmon, halibut, shrimp, rainbow trout, rockfish, monkfish, Chilean sea bass … you name it, I’ve tried it, expanding my horizons “under the sea.”
(I laugh now because I can’t go to El Salvador today and eat chicken at the beach; it’s just not right.)
I think it’s great that I love seafood now, something I shunned as a child and thought “disgusting” as a teenager. (Truth be told, my mom’s severely allergic to shellfish so we never had it at home or out, for fear of her having a reaction. So in my “defense,” I just wasn’t around it til later in life).
I am proud to say that experimenting with food has broadened my palate and helped me appreciate new cuisines and types of food. I feel like a more wholesome eater now, too.
When I got married, I made a personal vow to learn to cook — and learn to enjoy it, savor it. I’ve experimented now with seafood, pork, steak. Things I maybe ordered out — but never made at home. I
I’ve developed a love of bulgur wheat, whole wheat pasta, and oats. (No more instant oatmeal packets for me!).
Now I eat zucchini, butternut squash, asparagus, cranberries … And I’ve learned the splendor of cooking with onions and garlic.
So much for only loving chicken …
How about you? What foods have you come to love that you didn’t grow up on?