(Sorry, though this picture was taken in Japan, this isn’t going to be a post about Japan, just one of my musings. I’m not sure what time we’ll be returning tomorrow, so I don’t know if I’ll get back in time to make my photo-a-day blog post, so I’m pre-writing it.)
I hinted at my reluctance to eat traditional Japanese breakfast foods earlier, and that’s nowhere near the extent of my pickiness. While on the train ride from Kyoto to Tokyo (~3 hours, but longer today because of the snow), I was thinking back to my childhood eating habits. I remember only eating rice, as it was one of the things I was familiar with. Then slowly my parents managed to incorporate new things into my diet. I think a lot of kids loved going to McDonald’s, but for me, I didn’t – the food was too foreign. I would get a burger, and scrape everything off the meat patty, and just eat that and the bottom bun (because the top bun had sauce all over it that I couldn’t remove). That was pretty much what I would eat: meat and rice (or some other carb if rice wasn’t available), and it had to be completely plain, no sauces or garnishes at all.
I think people at school thought I was weird, as I was completely happy eating two pieces of white bread. I was often asked if I was going to put anything on it, and I happily replied that I was not. Eventually, I discovered tomato sauce, and I fell in love with it. Not just because it was delicious, but also because it helped me blend in with others. I could eat anything as long as it was completely covered in tomato sauce. I wasn’t that weird kid who only ate plain white bread anymore, I was the weird kid who ate too much tomato sauce, which seemed to be less weird than just eating plain white bread.
Over time, my repertoire grew, and I came to love Italian food and eventually take-out Chinese food (though for a long time, I didn’t enjoy eating that outside as I ate so much Chinese food at home). Now I can mostly eat like a normal person, though there are a lot of things that I still refuse to eat.
Despite my guilt over my workplace crush (who will now be called MrCrush), there have been some positive things that have come out of it. One of them is that he was the straw that broke the camel’s back when it came to my habit of always ordering the same thing at a restaurant.
We had lunch together, and I pretended to look at the menu, but in reality, I had decided what I was going to order long before we even left the office, as I always order the same thing. He hadn’t been to that restaurant before, so he asked me what was good. Normally when that happens, I usually repeat feedback that my other friends have given, but I think I was too nervous and nothing came to mind. So instead, I sheepishly admitted that I always order the same thing, so I have no idea how good the other things on the menu are.
He looked at me weirdly and I explained that it was because I knew that this thing was good, and if I ordered something else that wasn’t as good, I would be eating with the feeling of regret that I hadn’t ordered this good thing. And since I don’t like to waste food, I would force myself to finish eating this less superior meal. Seems perfectly logical to me. (I pointed this out to Uni Paul during a lunch we had together, and he made fun of me and so I picked a different dish, and it was terrible. This was before the lunch with MrCrush, so I was determined not to make the same mistake again.) He pointed out that I could be ordering one of the average dishes on the menu, and could be missing out on the many better dishes, but I said if it was average, then there was a roughly even chance that I would get something better versus getting something worse. I was willing to settle for average if it didn’t run the risk of something worse.
When the waiter came to take our order, I ordered my usual dish, and then MrCrush said he was about to order that, too, but now he had to change to something else. I felt vindicated in my choice, as if he wanted to order it as well, then it must be the best thing on the menu, which I pointed out to him, but he said that might not be the case, and ordered something else. I asked him why he changed, and he said that this way, I can try something else on the menu, without feeling obligated to force myself to eat it, and if it is good, I can order it next time.
He ended up ordering a cream-based dish, so I wasn’t able to try some of it, but the intent was there. It made me think about all the meals that I have had with MrFodder in the past, and how I’ve been forcing him to eat what I eat – not just because of my allergies, but because of my pickiness. In trying to maximise my own enjoyment, I have been forcing MrFodder to live with averageness. I may be perfectly fine with average, but I know that he likes to try new foods. I know that in the past, my reluctance to eat things like kangaroo meat has frustrated him. I also know that he has tried to trick me into eating new things, which made me angry at the time, but should have been a warning sign to me that maybe I’m being unreasonable if he has to resort to that kind of behaviour.
I feel bad that it took a crush for me to realise how bad I’ve been. And now to loop it back to the image for today (as the challenge isn’t to post random images and write text). I’ve never been a fan of Korean BBQ, so if given the choice, I would never have gone to a restaurant like Chifaja (with the all-you-can-eat meat BBQ). But MrFodder was keen, and in the spirit of trying new things, I went. I ate liver (still not a fan), but I also tried shabu-shabu (thinly sliced meat), which actually ended up being my favourite thing. We did go some of the safer options as well, like chicken thigh and pork ribs, but I am proud of myself for trying beef tongue and I was willing to give heart a shot, too, but we were pretty full by that point, and the restaurant charges you a fee if you have too much food leftover.
Have I been converted? I still wouldn’t choose to go to that kind of restaurant of my own volition, but if someone else wanted to go, I probably wouldn’t dread it.