Shiitake, That's Gross!
I'm always talking about food I love, which encompasses pretty much everything. I have an iron gut, and an unpretentious palate, if that's a thing. I appreciate many foods that are common dislikes. I love olives, sour pickled things, and liverwurst. I mean seriously, liverwurst has "wurst" in it's name. That said, There are a few foods that I just don't like, and it's a little embarrassing to talk about because some of them are trendy foodie favorites. I think they all stem from bad childhood experiences, but I've managed to block out the exact moments. I believe this to be the cause for many people's no-go food lists. My daughter for instance loved peas until the age of three when she choked on a mouthful. Now she can't stand them unless they are mixed into something.The following are my top three least favorite foods, in order.
My mother frequently cooked various Asian dishes when I was growing up. Many of them were a real treat, and I still enjoy kimchi, candied ginger, and fermented black beans. I haven't eaten shiitake mushrooms in years. In fact, the last time I had them was on accident. I ordered veggie pho, and I could immediately taste the shiitake in the broth. It permeated every bite with a terribly strong dirt flavor. I don't often use this word, but it's safe to say that I hate shiitakes. I recently ordered a dish with them on top, and proceeded to pick them all off and give them to my friend's 10-month-old son who happily gobbled them up. I was terribly embarrassed. I quietly judge people that pick at their food, but there I was, picking away. I know plenty of people enjoy shiitakes, and it breaks my heart that I can't stand them. I miss out on many tasty dishes, but the flavor is so strong to me that it overwhelms everything else.
My dislike of goat cheese is a source of much sadness for me. I constantly want to order items that look super cool and innovative, only to see the words "goat cheese" and change my mind. Sometimes I don't catch the mention in time, but in the first bite I know my mistake. This isn't as severe as my dislike for shiitake mushrooms, so I usually look at my dining company, crinkle my nose, and say "Meh, goat cheese." I do remember my first taste of goat cheese. It was fresh from the farm, a little runny, and mixed with chile peppers. The texture and acidity reminded me of throwing up in my mouth. I've never recovered. I recently tried a mild goat cheese from our local co-op and found that to be edible, but still not desirable. Oh well...
The image above actually appeals to me, and I admit that I've never tried caramelized pearl onions, so maybe that's worth a try. As a child we had the exact same meal for Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then we ate those same dishes for what felt like weeks. So there wasn't much recovery time between the two holidays. One of the dishes on the menu was peas and pearl onions. I love peas, but the onions added a slimy and pungent aroma/taste. I've heard that one of my older brothers hated pearl onions so much, that he had to sit in front of peas and pearl onions for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for two days before caving.
What your least favorite food?
In Support of Fast Food
Fast food gets a bad rap, and it's mostly justified. It typically contains high fat, high sodium, and a plethora of ingredients that I can't pronounce and were most likely created in a lab. Fast food is frequently blamed for the obesity epidemic facing America. I'm here argue that fast food has it's place in this world. I'm going to give you permission today to eat that Guacamole Bacon Six-Dollar Burger and fries in the daylight. You no longer have to pull into a seedy alley, hide the wrappers under your car seat, and then spritz yourself with cologne before going home.
I'll start by stating that if you're eating fast food for it's nutritional value then that's what we need to address, nutritional education. No one should eat fried chicken nuggets for the protein, or a quesarito for the calcium. If that's your goal, then you have already failed. I propose a new way of looking at fast food. Think of it as an experience. Most fast food is genetically engineered to reach our pleasure centers for sugar, salt, and fat. That's ok. It's like reading "Fifty Shades of Grey." If you're reading that to expand your vocabulary, or test you literary aptitude, then you're doing it wrong. If you're confused about the fact that fast food is a "sometimes food" as Cookie Monster would say, then you need to do some research. If you hate Taco Bell because it's not authentic Mexican food, then you're missing the fact that they legally have to call it 4th meal, because it's not real food. It's an experience.
I would also recommend avoiding fast food if you're trying to lose weight. It can be done. In fact, if you eat less calories than you burn, it doesn't really matter what you eat. You will lose weight. However, you most likely will be missing the nutrients your body needs, and it is possible to be "skinny," but "fat." That means your BMI matches what your PCP would recommend, but your fat percentage is high, and you're out-of-shape despite appearing to be in good health. I could eat 1,200 calories a day in Twinkies and HoHos and lose weight, but that would make me sick. Obviously.
Life is about balance, everything in moderation. Eat your quinoa, kale, and beet salad. Heck, that sounds great, is there a drive-through where I can get one of those. No! There isn't, but I can go and get a Bacon Ultimate Cheeseburger that will give me 10 minutes of happiness and a 2-hour tummy-ache. Eating fast food is a personal choice, like watching "The Bachelorette," or playing Candy Crush. It's easy to judge, but even if you're a vegan-diy-free-range-parent type of person, you still have your vices (though they may be slightly boring). Everyone makes choices every day that that aren't the best. It's ok. We're human, and being a human being is hard. My suggestion is that if you want fast food, do it, just don't make it a lifestyle.
I can count on one hand the foods I dislike, and I'll typically even eat those. Typically frugal, but I'll pay top dollar for an amazing/unique dining experience. Never passed up a free meal, which has led me to become the #36 ranked eater in Major League Eating. July 4th, 2020 will be my third time competing in the Nathan's Hot Dog eating contest at Coney Island. I've been on ESPN. That's right people, I'm an athlete.