Culinary exploration vs the picky eater

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Caramelized Chili Shrimp from Betty Crocker

When I was a little kid, I was a really picky eater. Everything had to be plain: hot dogs, cheeseburgers, salads, chicken – condiments were my enemy. The only vegetables I would consume were baked carrots or green beans (only canned and only “French style”). My mother would roll her eyes every time I mentioned that something smelled or tasted weird.

When I was a teenager, my best friend persuaded me to try a chicken caeser salad – an item I would have declared disgusting before even trying it. Why would you combine MEAT with LETTUCE and DRESSING? But once I tried it, I was hooked. It started me thinking, what other foods had I misjudged?

As an adult, I eat a lot more variety than I did when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about my boyfriend. Awesome’s top favorite foods include tuna fish sandwiches, potato chips, grilled cheese, spaghetti, plain burgers and French fries. He doesn’t use condiments, he doesn’t add cheese, and he most certainly doesn’t let any of his foods touch each other.

One of my favorite hobbies is baking and cooking. My grandmother and mother make everything from scratch and they taught me how to cook and bake everything homemade. As I’ve gotten older and discovered websites like Pinterest and channels like the Food Network, I like to experiment with new foods and flavors. I like to try at least two new recipes a week and I enjoy it.

I would love to be able to share my culinary hobby with Awesome. Unfortunately, when he tried to make instant mashed potatoes (which he has declared superior to homemade mashed potatoes – a statement that hurt my heart when he said it) he grew frustrated and almost threw them away until I “fixed” them by adding more milk. He then told me how much he hates being in the kitchen.

So then I figured maybe even if he doesn’t share my love of cooking, maybe he will share my love of trying new foods. This is also a failure on my part. It’s not like I’m serving him crazy stuff like fish eyeballs and cow tongue. We’re talking about chicken stuffed with herb butter, or sweet chili shrimp, or cheesy baked pork chops. He has the same reaction each time: “It’s good.” But then he leaves most of it on the plate and when I badger him about it, he says something like “it was just too much cheese for me” or “I’m not really into pork chops” and then I know the entire time he was wishing he just had a grilled cheese sandwich instead.

However, though I have been discouraged in the past year and a half I’ve been cooking for him, I haven’t entirely given up. I still continue to try new recipes, but try to cater to his tastes a little more than my own (less cheese, more red meat, sauces on the side). And even if he continues to only want tuna, at least I’ve been able to get him to try some new things, even though he still won’t eat goat cheese in any form.