My grandmother wasn’t exactly the greatest person in the world, and that’s putting it nicely, but she did teach me one lesson that I’ve held on to my whole life.
When I was young and food was put in front of me, I tried to do what many children do: “Eww. I don’t like that.” She would always respond the same way: “If you haven’t tried it, you can’t say you don’t like it.” I was always required to eat at least one mouthful of anything that was put in front of me. I was strongly encouraged to try everything that was around. I wasn’t really keen on it at first, but over time I started to love it, and it really opened me up when it came to food.
Some foods just sound horrible. Kimchi for instance. Fermented spicy cabbage. Yeah, that sounds yummy, not. Well, it turns out it’s pretty good. Squid and liver don’t sound very appealing, but when prepared correctly, they can be delicious. Being forced to try everything as a kid woke me up to how many things are actually good, even if they don’t sound or look like it at first.
As I got older I learned another lesson. Even if you had something once and didn’t like it, that doesn’t mean you really don’t like it. Just as an example, I used to hate deviled eggs. Well, I’d always had them made with mustard. I got to try them once made without, and I loved them. When I was a kid I hated venison. It turns out my grandmother just didn’t cook it right. Later in life I tried it prepared in other ways and found several that I liked. Preparation can make a big difference, and your taste buds change over time, so things you used to think tasted bad may taste good later in life or vice versa.
I always encourage people to try every food they can. You never know what you might like. Don’t let the name or some preconceived notion keep you from something you might enjoy. And it’s a good idea to revisit foods later in life. If you haven’t tasted something in three or more years, give it a go now. Your tastes may well have changed. If not, one bite isn’t going to kill you.
Being open to food is just one way to expand yourself and your enjoyment of the world around you. Being closed-minded to food is just as bad as being closed-minded in any other way. Keep your options open and always be willing to explore. Encourage your kids to do the same.