Work With It Wednesday: Five Foods That Required Practice

An Edible Education

They say that for children, it may take 10 or even 20 trials with a certain food before one acquires a taste for it. I think this applies to adults as well. I suppose it depends on where you live what sorts of foods and tastes you become accustomed to. Thai and Indian children grow up liking curry, American kids, not so much. There are a number of different foods that took some time for me to finally appreciate. Some were foods that were just foreign to me because of how I grew up. A couple were all around me, but some reason it took years to finally understand what all the fuss was about.

Here Are My Top 5 Most Difficult Foods:

  1. Cooked Greens– Growing up, the only leafy green I ever ate was spinach, which was usually buried in a casserole. Otherwise, the only greens I ate were in salads. I suppose if I was from the South, I would understand cooked collards, but I never had those until much later. Because of the bitterness, it took some practice to like cooked kale, collards, or to even learn what chard is. Now, I love me some greens, even though I don’t (yet) wear  a kale t-shirt.
  2. Beets– Another vegetable that I didn’t grow up on, except occasionally in canned form. Never quite sure what they were about. They have a funky, earthy, yet subtly sweet taste that is just plain confusing. Now I like them a lot, but I’m still not quite sure what to with them. I do know that juicing them makes me faster!
  3. Winter Squash– Like beets, this vegetable has a strange, not quite vegetable taste. They’re a little sweet, but not strongly so, and rather mushy when cooked. It took me awhile to like these, a little less for their counterpart, sweet potatoes and yams. Now, except for needing a battle axe to prep them I love them.
  4. Turnips and Rutabagas– These vegetables, espeically rutabagas, were a part of my childhood, as my mother loved them. Growing up in North Dakota, root vegetables were a big deal for her, but the bitter taste of these two put me off for a long time. It was only after I learned to like bitter greens that I realized these were good.
  5. Avocados– Growing up in California, I was surrounded by Mexican cuisine, and avocados were worshipped like they were their own food group. I didn’t get it for a long time. Where other tasted “creamy,” I tasted “greasy.” No thanks. Somehow, I finally got let into the club, and now like any true Californian, I adore avocados.

What I have realized is that just because something tastes weird at first, doesn’t mean it’s no good, or that I will never like it. So now I actively seek out new and strange tastes to see what else I can find. Variety of foods means a more complete profile of nutrients and phytochemicals. This is also good news for anyone trying to escape the toxic Standard American diet but just can’t used to taste of less processed, healthy food. Your tastes can change, you are not locked in for life, although it may require some patience.Since I stretched out and learned to appreciate leafy greens in order to get their health benefits, I can now try some newer, stranger things. Currently I’m excited about nopales cactus paddles and bitter melon.

What else is there to try?

What about you? What took time to appreciate? Anything that you still can’t handle, no matter what?


About vegpedlr

Plant powered off-road triathlete

Posted on November 18, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. Life In The Blue Zone

    Lance- I enjoyed this post, sound’s like you have come a long way in expanding your palate of produce : ) Have you tried fresh beets grated into a mixed green salad? roasted concentrates the sweetness of the beets, or steamed beets marinated with a little balsamic, evoo, raw honey, salt and pepper? this is always a win at our house. How do you prepare the paddle cactus? love love bitter melon. So far there hasn’t been any vegetable or fruit that I do not like. Dr. Joel Fuhrman speaks about how one needs to offer a wide assortment of green vegetables to kids/adults at least 7-8 different occasions before determining that they do not like it. Dried Shitake mushrooms smell and texture used to almost gag me- if something was cooked with dried shitake mushrooms I did not want to eat it for many many years, but after cooking fresh, tender ones stir fried I really have acquired a taste for Shitake mushrooms. Our tastes change… Enjoy your universe of phytonutrient plant rich foods.

    • Thanks for stopping by! It’s funny how tastes can change. I think the further you get from processed food, the more you can appreciate different vegetables. I’ve forgotten about grating beets into a salad, I’ll restart that. Roasting is what I’ve usually done in the past. Borscht is up next as an experiment. As for nopales, you simple cut off each nub where a needle grows from with a paring knife. Latin markets often sell pre-cleaned and chopped nopales. Here is how I did it:

  2. I agree. Cooked greens are quite a challenge. As for beets, I like them in tomato sauce. I put them in the pan first (along with garlic/onions), later I add chopped tomatoes and spices.

    I still can’t handle Brussels sprouts. Do you like them? If so, how?

    • Thanks for stopping by!
      Beets in tomato sauce is brilliant! I will definitely try that. I saw a recipe once for a tomato-free sauce using beets, but I never thought about combining them. I don’t eat Brussels sprouts that often, though I do like them. I don’t understand the bad rep they get. They’re just cute little baby cabbages. I usually add them to other mixed dishes so just take on the character of whole dish. But like all cruciferous veggies, they have some inherent bitterness. What I find works best is some combination of the following: mustard, salt, vinegar, lemon, pepper, garlic, dill, and/or hot pepper. Salt, acid, and heat are the most universal that I’ve found. These could be made into a sauce, or used as dry type seasoning. Good luck!

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