I can’t remember the last time I had to choke down some sauerkraut or man-up and finish a huge omelet, but I remember vividly the horrors associated with dinnertime as a child. It was always a toss up. Would it be something delicious like Mom’s lasagna, or would I have to confront a plateful of beef macaroni? Pierogies were absolutely ruined for me the first time I smelled them cooking in all that oil.
If you’re having trouble remembering what it was like to eat as a child, check out the scene that starts at 26:18 minutes into this video. Watch for about two minutes. It’s a scene from A Christmas Story, my favorite movie of all time, where Randy is forced to eat meatloaf.
The good thing about having to eat beef macaroni as a kid is that I’m not a picky eater now. Sure there are things I’d rather not eat or look at, and I definitely have my favorites, but I can rest assured knowing that I can stomach almost anything someone puts in front of me; crab, refried beans, asparagus, tofu — I can handle it. I’ll admit, if it’s a choice between Charbroiled Loch Ness Delight and pasta, I’m going with pasta, but for the most part I won’t moan and groan about what I’m forced to eat.
Growing up, my sister and I envied our neighbor Jason whose daily meals consisted of one of three things: SpaghettiOs, picture macaroni and cheese or hot dogs. I swear to you. The kid lived on these three things and Kool-Aid. It was always exciting to hear that our mother had left us in the care of the neighbor and we’d be feasting like kings on Ninja Turtle pasta and “meat” balls.
It was great to get to eat those things, but Jason is now one of the pickiest eaters I know. The kid doesn’t like pineapple, popcorn or gum. Yes, gum. If I hadn’t grown up with Jason and if I didn’t know him so well I would probably judge him for being a picky eater.
Because what really chaps my ass is finding out that someone hates Mexican food or has never tried fish. It’s not because I think everyone should like those things; it’s because I’ve found that the tendency to not be willing to try something usually correlates to another undesirable personality trait. It’s not a standard correlation. I can’t say that all people who don’t try new things are also spoiled, or annoying, but there is usually something I don’t like about them.
Being able to eat whatever is a good skill. It’s going to be useful when you find out your future in-laws traditionally prepare liver and onions the first and third Wednesday of every month. It’s going to be nice when you find yourself at a five-star restaurant with potential employers who also happen to be connoisseurs of Loch Ness Delight.
My sister apparently doesn’t get the pleasure of choosing her diet, so it was difficult to prove my point to her.
“But when was the last time you ate something you didn’t want to?” I asked.
“Today,” she said.
“What was it?”
I’m a fan of sloppy joe so it was hard for me to sympathize with Katie on this one, but our conversation did bring something to light. Katie still lives at home and is therefore still subject to my mother’s cooking. My mom cooks good stuff, but of course it might not always be what Katie has a taste for. That made me realize that the reason I haven’t eaten anything gross for a while, and the reason I’m rounder than I was in high school, is because I go to college now where I can usually eat whatever I’m craving whenever I’m craving it. It’s a wonderful and terrible thing, being in charge of your own diet.
But we won’t always be in college. There will come a time again when we must eat that which disgusts us. So I would like to now address those picky eaters of the world with this profound message: suck it up, literally. I don’t care if you think calamari is icky, or pudding makes you gag, it’s what’s for dinner and you should try it.
Kristine Gill is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected]