This whole Eat It and Like It thing has evolved dramatically for us. I get asked all the time how much fun it must be to get to eat all kinds of different foods. I can’t lie, it is.
I was privy to a conversation recently between two people who love food. Love to cook and love to eat. I didn’t say a word, just listened as part of my continuing education on food and being a so called “foodie.” I found what they were talking about to be fascinating. It was about people’s tastes in food. What they like, don’t like and turn their noses up at. Interesting examples were presented and I found myself applying them to myself. Literally applying all of their theories to see if I believed it or not. I will plainly tell you when Eat It and Like It was born, I did not eat nor did I like fois gras. Is it a favorite now? No. But if it is served I’m not going to run up a lamp post and hide until it’s gone, like I may have five years ago.
For those of you who are curious enough to want to experiment but afraid to stick your toe in the water…
- It all depends on how it is prepared. We knew that. But it’s absolutely true. I mean, seriously, you can go down to River Street and have some fried whatevers and have them taste like bowling balls. Rubber, chewy, salty. Just not good. It’s times like that when people say “No, I don’t like fried oysters.”, for example. Then you get someone who makes them fresh. Flash fries them in a light corn meal type coating. Nothing heavy, nothing overpowering and it winds up being one of the best things you’ve eaten. It’s happened to me. It’s happened with shrimp, with oysters and calamari. Calamari is a great example, too. Find someone to do it right with a great dipping sauce and it’s divine. Find someone (most) who doesn’t do it right and it is average at best. Horrendous, at worst. So what put me in a position to determine what is great and what is horrendous? I’m glad you asked.
- People’s palates move forward. Never backward. This was a point made in that conversation that I was listening in on. No, it doesn’t mean the first time you try caviar you will be hooked forever because many things are an acquired taste. What it does mean is that the more you try, the more you will find things you like. Things you love. We had antelope on a recent Eat It and Like It Foodie Tour and I will be honest, people around the table were looking at each other with kind of an “uhhhhhh” look on their faces. Some people just stuck a fork in it and when to town. Others didn’t even try it. I won’t lie, I was spooked. But I had to try it, right? What do you know? It tasted just like beef. It really did. Now, will I be ordering antelope off of the next menu I see it on? Probably not, but I tried it. Got a feel for it and moved on. Next time I won’t be intimidated. Same goes for sushi. We did a whole show on Sushi in Season 2. We did it because I wasn’t a big fan of sushi. Too fishy. Well, after traveling around eating all kinds of different sushi and getting educated about the stuff that isn’t as fishy, I actually do enjoy it now. It’s all about learning, tasting and moving forward with your experimentation. I’ve probably eaten scallops more times in the last year than in the ten previous years combined. They come out, I taste them. Some I’ve liked. Others I have absolutely loved. That goes back to the first point. It’s all in how it’s prepared. That brings me to:
- People are afraid of the unknown. Someone I know recently called Pappardelle Bolognese “weird food”. Seriously. I thought, “Well, OK…they just don’t get it.” The point is, though, they don’t understand nor care to understand what is being put in front of them. Is pasta with meat sauce really that intimidating? It doesn’t seem to be at Olive Garden. Too many people see fancy words like “aioli” or “remoulade” or “panini” and can’t get out of there fast enough. If you take the time to ask what is being offered to you, you may just realize that there isn’t a secret conspiracy out there trying to get you to eat monkey eyeballs with liver sauce. When in doubt, ask.
All of this said, no one expects you (or anyone) to go hog wild this weekend making runs on sea urchin and roe or liver or anything like that. But don’t be afraid to try something. What is the worst that can happen to you? You spit it out? Or you eat it and don’t like it? For that I say…there’s always a next time. Just make sure you don’t pass it up.