I Hate __________.

Fill in the blank. These words are a challenge. I love when a member of my family tells me they don’t like a particular food. I then am on a mission to show them that they just haven’t had it made in a way they like. Ruling out an entire ingredient is just crazy!

For example, my husband doesn’t like squash. My Katie doesn’t like lentils. Tonight, I made a roasted squash and lentil dish with feta and scallions. They both had two servings. The good thing is that they are very willing to admit to liking it when I do these things and they are a success. And this is not the first time I’ve gotten them to admit to liking a dish with these ingredients. I make an awesome daal and even the child who claims not to like spicey loves it. Granted, she downs a few glasses of water with it!

Now that youngest one has been a great challenge. When I first met her, her diet consisted of eggs, bread, grilled cheese, cheese pizza, corn and a few vegetables. She is the one that commonly says, “I don’t like _____” and you can fill in the blank with almost any ingredient or food. I drive her crazy because my next question is “when was the last time you tried it?” The answer is almost always that she has never tried it or at least cannot remember doing so. She gets very annoyed when I point out that you can’t say you don’t like something if you haven’t tried it. You can say you don’t think you’ll like it. You can say you don’t like the idea of it. But you cannot say you don’t like it because you just have no information to base such a statement upon. Yes, as you can guess, my day job is being an attorney. Anyway, in the beginning there were some hard-fought battles. However, through time and effort, she has become more open to trying new foods. She still says she doesn’t like something she hasn’t tried. She still refuses any all forms of sauce or salad…when I tell her that is what they are. I still have to occasionally make the thing, let her try it and then tell her what it was. We avoid certain words or ingredients when describing a dish. But things have improved.

My husband was also a bit picky when we met. He apparently had some past trauma surrounding certain foods. And no, I’m not mocking a seriously traumatic life event. He just happened to live with someone who seemed to deliberately want to irritate him with foods he truly disliked. However, in an effort to show our youngest that it’s good to try new things, he has been willing to suck it up and try things like squash, kale, and eggplant again. He has not liked every one of them. But he has liked some of them. And he’s definitely open to the possibility that when prepared a different way, some of these foods can be edible and dare I say good. One trick I use is that there’s always something he really does like on the table too. Actually, I do that for everyone in the house. It just makes sense. Some people are going to pick the carrots out (I’m some people) so you want to have another veggie on the table.

Hell, I myself am guilty of this. I didn’t eat olives for years. I once had some pickled olives in a bar and I just loved those, but otherwise never. By pickled, I mean that these were literally in a pickle juice, not the normal brine you see in the stores most often. I recently went to Spain and while there had some olives. And then I had some more olives. I have discovered that I love olives. Not black olives. You can keep those black olives they put on pizzas for now. But I love Kalamata olives and green olives. A similar thing happened with mushrooms. I had never liked mushrooms. But with a vegan daughter and a vegetarian daughter, I found myself cooking a lot of mushrooms. And there are a lot of ways to prepare them. It turns out, in some cases, that I like dishes with mushrooms. I’m not just sitting and eating a grilled mushroom like the girls and I’m not replacing my burger with a portabella anytime soon, but I like a few dishes that are pretty mushroom heavy.

The bottom line is that you should not rule an ingredient out in its entirety. Sometimes you just need to try it in a new form. Or you need to find someone who can prepare it well. That is my plan with mole sauce. I have not historically liked it, but maybe when I find the right person to make it, it will be different.

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