I want to set a scene. It starts at a restaurant. As I sit with my cousins, aunts, uncles and siblings, I somehow get nervous as I receive my dish. Unlike a normal dinner, this was a reservation and we all have the same meal. I feel as if my heart will come out of my throat as I stare down at the unfamiliar piece. The worst part is when everyone notices that I am not eating it and pressures me. In these moments, the world starts to close around me and I feel trapped. Sound dramatic? It’s okay because it is. Ever since I was a little girl I have always been a picky eater. From noodles to soup to all greens to even grilled chicken, I somehow proclaimed them as “not good”. The only thing was I usually had never actually tried them or if I did, it was a simple nibble. Being a picky eater sucks but what’s worse is being an adult and having similar habits. As I’ve gotten older, my palette has grown much more and has led me to find some of my favorite meals, but I still have a long way to go. As I travelled to South Africa and Italy, I tried many new foods but I also held myself back from trying even more. In the future, I want to keep traveling the world but I want to be able to enjoy the food that a country has to offer. This week for every lunch and dinner, I decided to try a new food and see if I would live to tell the tale. So here it goes!
For lunch on Monday, I tried ratatouille. For my first meal, this was pretty safe considering it was just steamed vegetables. Unfortunately, I did not get to try the food in the amount I wanted to because I ran out of time before a tutorial however, I realized that it was much more enjoyable than I would’ve thought. Of course I ate a sandwich before I headed out! I am still bummed that I did not try all of the vegetables but I think it excited me for more meals to come.
My review: 5/10 would probably try again
At dinner, I embraced the unknown as I tried Balti chicken. As seen in the picture, I have a sweet and sour piece of chicken on hand just in case I did not like the curry sauce. So I am not sure why I had never tried this before because honestly it was pretty good. I think the idea of something having curry made me think it would be too spicy or I had the thought that it would be too much for me to handle. The beautiful part about this project was I got to embrace the unknown and learn that food is not as different as it appears. My review:8/10 would most defiantly try again and possibly with some rice on the side and vegetables. Honestly, I can’t wait to go to new restaurants that serve these meals!
Ah day 2; a day that did not start out as well as I had hoped. For lunch, I faced my fear of pasta and tried the bowtie pasta being served. I was excited to see what this meal had to offer but as I took my first bite, I knew it would not click. Maybe it was the feta cheese or the lemon I ate my piece with but this experience was pretty disappointing. Luckily I had a ham and cheese sandwich to fill me up before the rest of my day! My review: 2/10 would maybe try again with a different recipe. Sometimes the dining hall just doesn’t do a meal justice.
Dinner however was very different as I tried a new food that really shocked people when I said I had never eaten it. No it is not the fajita on the plate, although I am proud that I ate that meal with peppers. Yes, I am taking about the guacamole and when I took a bite one of the first thoughts that came into my mind was “OMG why have I never tried this before?! This is amazing! I have missed so many great chips and guac moments in my life.” As I took a couple more bites, I cursed myself for never trying something as amazing as guacamole. Needless to say, I left the meal full and satisfied. My review: 10/10 I WILL EAT THIS AGAIN. It might be a little getting used to but I’m ready to be an avocado lover.
So finally something great came out of my lunch as I tried couscous. Before trying this, I really had no idea what it was and saw it as just an unfamiliar side dish. I was delightfully surprised when I took my fist bite, especially since the only starches I usually eat are potatoes and I have never been a big tomato fan. Couscous is pretty good and I know the next time it is offered; I will be putting some on my plate. My Review: 8/10 will eat again and will remind myself that that I liked it the first time I tried it. Note: I did not eat the pork on the plate because it was very undercooked but again ate another sandwich.
At dinner, I took another big stride as I tried corn. Anyone who knows me knows that I have always said that I HATE corn but the funny story is I have actually never tried it. This week I knew I had to give this vegetable a shot and so I did. Surprisingly, I did like it. I mean I didn’t LOVE it but it wasn’t the worst food I have ever tasted and I can now see that I made such a big deal over nothing. I also tried a porkpot sticker and even ate a bit of rice (I have never really enjoyed rice in a full capacity). Unfortunately, I did not get a big bite of the skewer but I would say it was not bad. My review of all:7/10 will possibly eat all again. Actually, I will eat them again but let’s hope not all together!
Thursday’s lunch was difficult for me. If there is one food I have always had true anxiety about, it is any soup or broth and noodles. At lunch I ate chow mien noodles with chicken broth and even some bamboo shoots. I kid you not, for a solid 5 minutes, I just stared down at the bowl and moved my spoon around. When I finally took up the courage, I was still not a huge fan but I did not hate it. Unfortunately, I did not finish it. I liked the noodles but the broth was still a little too much for me. I tried the broth with the noodles and on its own and I really liked it better with the noodles. However, trying this food without anyone telling me to took some courage and I am so proud that I tried a dish that I was so nervous to try. My rating: 4/10 might try again with more substance such as carrots and bamboo shoots.
For dinner, I decided to take things easy and got some broccoli along with eggplant parmesan. I really liked the eggplant parmesan and I thought it tasted so good with the cheese and sauce; I didn’t even feel like I was eating a vegetable! The broccoli however was gross; I can see now why it is not a favorite among kids. My rating: 7/10 would probably eat both again. I think if I get something more with the broccoli rather than just it being steamed, it might be more enjoyable but I will most definitely eat some more of the eggplant parmesan.
Okay I am going to be honest and say that for both lunch and dinner, Friday was lacking in adventure. For lunch, I ate a Mediterranean wrap but after I took the first bite, I realized that what I was eating was not very new to me except the cranberry spread. But when I look to where I was four years ago, I realize that if I had seen a wrap with that spread and the onions surrounding the plate, I would have not eaten that meal. That being said, I have come so far from where I used to be and I can eat a wrap that may have some unfamiliar aspects to it. The other food I tried was a nibble of a Brussel sprout and just like the broccoli, I was not a huge fan. I guess certain green foods just don’t taste very good to me. My rating: 6/10 would eat the wrap again and would probably give the Brussel sprouts another chance as well… maybe.
At dinner, I really did not eat anything too new. After some games with some of my teammates, I was pretty tired and not really in the mood to try anything to new. Plus, there was not much to choose from. However, I did put a couple chickpeas on my plate and some rice. I ate parts of both and I can say that chickpeas are good but I would rather put them with a salad. I have tried rice before, but it is still a food that I am picky with so having two bites of it was pretty reassuring. Not really any reason to post a picture here so let's just say envision the meal! My rating: 6/10 would eat both again but not on their own.
So that is it. I survived. For those five days I tried a new food at every meal. The road to hell is seasoned, sautéed, and spiced but sometimes to face our inner demons, we have to take those chances. I am so glad that I did this because coming out of it, I feel so much more confident about trying new foods. In a review of what I tried,I can say that I ate (or nibbled on) meals from France, Italy, India, China, North Africa, the U.S. and Latin America. If I could give this week’s experience a rating it would be: 10/10 would do again but the next time I do this experiment, I hope to be somewhere else besides a college dining hall. Somewhere abroad or even just a week at home or on vacation. This experience had been so rewarding. Thank you all for reading! And as the great Julia Child once said “Bon Appetit!"