Eat Your Peas!

August 24th, 2010

I was a picky kid, skilled in the art of avoidance. When Mom tried to make me stay at the table and eat my peas, or try just one bite of the sweet potatoes, I didn’t exactly make it easy on her.

Try as she might, my stubbornness persevered and I entered adulthood with a meager diet. Throughout college I found myself tempted to try new things – after all, my metabolism was slowing down, and avoiding veggies wasn’t doing me any favors. For the most part, I enjoyed what I tried. And then I met the cucumber. I tried it, it failed, and I set it to the side of my salad plate for a few more years.

Eventually, I came across an article on how a child must be exposed to a new food 15 times before accepting it. Realizing I was as picky as a nine year-old, I conducted an experiment. I chose to revisit the friendly cucumber. I had inexplicably disliked it, even though it seemed perfectly harmless (those peas are another story).

Fifteen times I hesitantly ate those cucumbers, through the gags and the wrinkled faces. Amazingly, as I approached number 12, it didn’t seem so bad. But I still thought, eck, this won’t keep. Wrong I was…

Today, cucumbers are one of my favorite foods. I like cucumber slices in my water. I pile my salads high with them. Heck, one of my favorite snacks is cucumber slices dipped in tzatziki, a sauce made from yogurt, garlic, and, get this, more cucumbers!

So, why this stroll down memory lane? A colleague sent me a blog post from The Guardian (UK), in which the writer overcomes a similar aversion to horseradish. (She also notes a popular hatred for cilantro – something I never could understand as I tend to eat it by the bucketful.)

It made me think that my own child-inspired method wasn’t far off the mark – aren’t we all cranky nine year–olds when we really don’t like something?

I’m proud to say that over the years, I’ve developed an “I’ll try anything once” philosophy when it comes to food. (I mean, I’m not the next Andrew Zimmern or anything, but I am a bit more adventurous than your av-e-rage bear.) But, this article has me thinking I should give some things a second shot. First stop – those putrid peas.

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