Monday, August 10, 2009

Finicky Eater

Dads are supposed to be role models. They're supposed to provide guidance and an example of how a child should live his or her life.

I'm going to have a problem.

I'm a finicky eater.

Sometimes it's a texture thing. Sometimes it's the taste. Sometimes it's the result of a prior bad experience. Sometimes it's just the fact that something doesn't look particularly appealing. When I was 16 and at Disney World with my family, my mother offered to buy me any book I wanted if I'd just try an oyster in cream sauce while at the French restaurant in Epcot Center. To this day I can still feel the sensation of that thing sliding down my throat, and I think my mother still feels guilty.

As a result, I'm the person who, when going out to a new place with friends, always gets the odd look followed by the query, "Will you be able to find something you like here?" Even after I say yes, I often get the question at least once or twice more prior to ordering, apparently on the assumption that I lied the first time and am tamping down a queasy stomach just to be polite.

Usually, it was simply an issue that affected me and perhaps friends when selecting places to eat. Now I realize I'm going to be faced with our Plus One looking to me for guidance on what's good to eat.

I might be totally screwed.

In the last few days, the degree to which I will be out of my depth was brought home to me, first as I read "Hungry Monkey" by Matthew Amster-Burton, the Seattle restaurant critic's riotously funny look at trying to teach his daughter to be an adventurous eater and the eating habits of children from birth to 4 years old. Then I watched "Julie & Julia", the tale of Julia Child discovering and teaching her love of French cuisine in parallel with a Queens, NY blogger's quest to cook every one of the 524 recipes in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" in 365 days.

In both cases, I looked at the recipes, the food being prepared, the food being eaten, and thought to myself "Ummmm...I hate mushrooms." Well, I thought a few more things than that but that's a quick and easy summation of my approach to food.

It's limited, I know, but it's worked for me for the last 40 years.

Now, things may have to change a bit. I'm pretty sure I'll need to learn to suppress my inner Calvin. If Plus One is going to need to learn new things, it looks like Dad is going to have to go along for the ride. Otherwise, when it comes time to eat dinner, I'll be reap in spades what I've sowed over 40 years of finickiness.

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