I am admitting, ashamedly but entirely honestly that I don’t like food. I genuinely see eating as a chore most of the time. It took me until I was 16 years old to even like pizza! Of course there is the odd food that I do take some delight in (such as the wonderful pancake, the gloriousness of a good cheese or chocolate that was made in Turin) but most things I just can’t seem to enjoy munching on.
Apparently I wasn’t always like this. My dad delights in telling people the story of my eating habits. Up until I was 2 years old I devoured everything in sight.
And then the switch was flipped!
I would refuse everything offered to me. I would sneakily throw food in the bin, claiming to have eaten it and I would indulge in great tantrums if a vegetable came within 10 metres of my plate. Unfortunately my relationship with food is still somewhat difficult 25 years on. I do not have an eating disorder but I do struggle to find foods that I like, particularly in Asian countries.
99% of the time I have hated the Vietnamese food which I have tried. The fact that rice and I have had a long and happy understanding to avoid each other where possible definitely does not help matters. So life is currently a balancing act between wanting to try new things and not wanting to waste money on buying something I will not actually eat. Thankfully food in Asia is incredibly cheap. And there has been the odd occasion where I have been pleasantly surprised. Seaweed soup is a revelation!
Ovens do not exist in Vietnam. Sliced bread does not constitute a staple. Meat is questionable both in origin and in texture. All these differences present challenges to your average fussy eater. But I have found that travel is proving to be the biggest difference to my diet because it opens up so many more opportunities.
I do try new foods, I promise that I do, but never before have I been forced to try so many new tastes due to lack of the familiar. And because of this I really have discovered some foods that I enjoy (both eating and cooking).
In Spain the food festivals were frequent and everywhere. In Italy Peter and I both gained an obscene amount of weight. In Norway we thought we experienced the best burgers in the world, only for them to be topped by what we tried in New Zealand. And that is not to mention the cheeses, the chocolate, the pies, the fruits, the meats, all phenomenal on their own right and reminiscent of a particular place in the world.
Although Asian cuisine does not delight me in the same way, taking your tastebuds with you on a tour around the world can actually be yet another intoxicating way of experiencing it. And so even if you are like me; the bane of your family’s kitchen and the constant checker of online restaurant menus for fear there is nothing in the selection you are willing to try, I implore you to still attempt it.
I was terrified before setting off on our adventure that I would slowly starve but actually I did the opposite. And along the way I found another joy in life (thanks in huge part to the Italians if I’m honest). Although eating is still a chore for me, I can now at least say that I do find some delight in the task. Even if I don’t end up enjoying what I am trying I am still sure that each new flavour will teach me something about my own palette and solicit a new memory. And that in itself is something to take joy in and take along with you to all the other cafes, restaurants, farmers markets and family kitchens that you might come across on your flavour filled journey through life.