I went to a Japanese restaurant this week and had some sushi. I also had some things that I could not recognize that looked kind of good. I ate calamari, both raw and breaded, octopus with the suction cups still on and crunchy and even cold soybeans. This may not seem unusual to you but you must remember that the first 18 years of my life were spent on a farm in Indiana. I grew up on mashed potatoes and gravy, roast beef and a choice of three vegetables: corn, green beans or sweet peas. The most adventurous foreign food that I remember was pizza or maybe some Chef Boyardee. My mom may have tried to introduce some variety but like many teens I rebelled from oppressiveness of trying squash, cooked onions, broccoli, and cauliflower.
It wasn’t until I got off the farm did I take a few chances in the available culinary cornucopia. My wife was my primary influence in pushing me to try new things. I would refuse at first but I finally gave in to those radical veggies. She dragged me into Italian restaurants and I would eventually get beyond recognizing nothing past lasagna and ordering some of the more radical pastas. She would push me into an oriental restaurant and I would get away from simple sweet and sour and get into Szechwan. Then, after years of indoctrinating, I grew beyond even my wife into seafood, raw and cooked, tentacled and shelled, wrapped in seaweed and rice to the point where I will try anything – once.
Sometimes I have to wonder: What were they thinking? When I slurp down an oyster. Who thought of doing this first? Who would think of chopping up an octopus into bite-sized chunks? Who would wrap seaweed around raw fish and think, hmm, maybe if I put some rice in there too?
Sometimes, I even take the radical chance of going to a local restaurant and ordering … mashed potatoes, gravy, corn and some roast beef.
This year expand your horizons a bit. Eat something you’ve never tried. Go someplace you’ve never gone. Do something you’ve never done. Meet someone you’ve never met. Take a chance.