Thanks to my Southern upbringing, I’m no stranger to deep fried, covered in Hidden Valley Ranch-style comfort foods. As a half-Cajun I learned young how to de-head and peel a crawfish, but never came around to liking their fishy taste. I didn’t mind gumbo as long as the okra didn’t get slimy, but loved the hell out of some Low Country Boil. My mom is a Texan so there were many a chicken-fried steak and mashed potato dinner. The worst I remember was the corned beef and cabbage. She and Dad loved it. Big bro and I thought it smelled like feet, tasted worse, and we staunchly refused to eat the boiled, salty pink meat. “Fancy” veggies like brussel sprouts rarely made an appearance in our house and my first encounter with asparagus was as a mushy, broccoli-turned-bad tasting thing from a can. I didn’t consider myself a picky eater, as long as it involved normal things. Like mac and cheese, fish sticks, shake ‘n baked pork chops, chicken nuggets, tacos, or chicken pot pie.
There’s nothing wrong with these humble foods, but I’ve come a long way since then.
Moving to the Midwest for grad school helped – it was a very large and very diverse college town with a plethora of international cuisines my palette had never tasted. Indian, Vietnamese, Thai, Japanese, and Mongolian were a few. Who knew I’d love Butter Chicken or sushi so much? But I also came to know and love better quality ingredients. I fell in lust with fine cheeses. I worked at a winery and educated my palette on wines from sweet to dry, white, red, port, late harvest and ice wine. My favorite spot’s filet with port reduction and desserts so good I wanted to hump the chef paralleled my awakening to the understanding: with better ingredients came better tastes. Brussel sprouts and asparagus when fresh and cooked to perfection? Now a whole different story. This was around 2005, the front end of the farm-to-table movement. If it meant food tasted this good, I was fully supportive.
Then I moved to the NY area and my food world exploded. I wanted to try it all, from the salty boiled bagels with lox to matza ball soup to real New York pizza. From Little Italy’s gelato and gnocchi to Morimoto’s steamed pork buns to Mario Batali’s Lupa, Bobby Flay’s Mesa Grill, wild boar pasta from some place in the Village and 2am Korean barbecue-it-at-the tables with steaming cauldrons of bibimbap. My ex was half Ecuadorian and introduced me to maduros, chicharones, papa rellena, chuletas, adobo, yuca fries, ropa vieja, pan con bistec, churrasco, ceviche and the list goes on.
Good grief, I’m a grown-ass foodie but it’s amazing to me that there are still so many types of food I haven’t tried.
Next up on my life list is a controversial one.
Here’s where I say that I’m just a girl… standing in front of a boy… telling you that I want to try foie gras. Be nice.
A lovely friend with many Atlanta chef contacts decided he wanted to tackle this item with me. He not only tracked down the best foie gras place for me, but handled inviting all our friends and booking the reservations. Thank you, Russell! (ps – Russ is awesome. And blushes easily, which is why I’m doing this. He’s probably red to the tips of his ears by now.) I decided my Paleo diet is being put into time-out for the evening, too. Gimme the bread, bitches.
Excited doesn’t cover it and we plan to make an evening of it! My friends don’t know this yet, but I want everyone to try a food they’ve never tasted tonight. Because it’s not just about the foie gras, it’s also about the whole experience. Being brave. Trying. Living.
Now excuse me, I have to go figure out what I’m wearing since the temperatures decided to drop from humid-rainy to BALLS-IT’S-COLD. I’ll report back soon on how it went!
What foods have you never tried, and are a little scared to try!, but are going on your Life List anyway?