About bad experiences with food and that remaining culinary curious is worth it
Anyone dedicated to cooking, dining and food should be open minded and open to everything. I would like to know how coriander really tastes but, sadly, never will. I cannot help being unable to eat it. It is genetic: to me it tastes like soap and is unedible.
I am convinced that bad experiences engrave themselves into our culinary memory so that sometimes it is impossible to overcome those inscriptions. And in those cases genes do not matter! One bad experience, made with some dish or even a single ingredient only, shapes our eating habits for the rest of our lives. For me, there are four of them. And they all happend very, very long ago. For many years, nothing like this happened to me again - fortunately! I just love food and want it to stay that way.
Sweet and Sour Seventies
Back in the seventies, Chinese restaurants opened everywhere in West Germany and were trendy then. So we visited one and the adults did not care that I was not happy there. They thought that, if everyone ordered something "sweet and sour" (because it was new then and "in"), I should eat that, too. I remember an unpleasant slimy mass with red peppers and pineapple. And that I tried to eat it but could not swallow it. I chewed on sticky rice for the rest of the evening and suffered in silence.
I love red and yellow peppers - they taste cooked or uncooked, fit into every ragout and enrich every salad with their colors, let alone their taste. And pineapple is so luxurious and tasty. But under no circumstances I combine both in some cooked dish. I cannot eat that. Because it swam in that ghastly unappetizing sauce back then.
Offended by Offal
Innards, offal - traditionally prepared in my home region, never in my family. Kidney? Liver? No way! After school, I was invited to lunch at a classmate's. Her Mom had cooked kidney, with great sauce and pasta - dark brown gravy and noodles - heavenly! I had no idea what the bits in the sauce were, just wanted to eat - but could not swallow it. The consistency of what I could not identify and how it felt to have that in my mouth caused insurmountable gagging. However, this could not stop me from finnishing my noodles and that great gravy.
Today I live in the region of the river Rhine, where good pubs and traditional inns offer all sorts of offal. I am not drawn to these dishes. But once or twice a year I eat veal liver in the regional version with seared apple and onion rings, preferably with mashed potatoes.
The third drama: Crab Cocktail. A newly opened pizzeria served a small glass of crab cocktail as a starter to all guests during their opening week. We were happy about the free extra and wolved those crabs down, emptied or glasses to the bottom. Where, soon after, I suspected the cause of the subsequent food poisoning and its dramatic symptoms. Probably a mix of cognac and mayonnaise. The alcohol was certainly not the trigger of the disease, rather another ingredient, eggs or oil.
I still love to eat shrimps and scampi today. I have no problems with store bought Mayo and think of the self-made version as something special. I trust in the absolute freshness of my organic eggs and the good oil that I use. But homemade mayonnaise with cognac? I feel queasy at the very thought of it - who ever comes up with something like that?
I know those recipes for cocktail dressings that get a splash of brandy to taste at the end. Nope. Will not do that.
Curse of Coarse Sausage
Coarse sausage and bratwurst. This is really stupid, because: coarse kind of sausage is made of the same ingredients as those fabricated with a finer grind (possibly offal - Hah!). With a fine grind, I just cannot see what is in there and will not recognize the big chunks of fat, right? Whether fantastically spiced, Italian Salchicha, Spanish Chorizo or the German coarse Bratwurst, fried or grilled: I cannot eat them. I had one, many years ago, fried - followed by two days with accelerated bowel movement, a rare home visit by my then doctor, an hour-long infusion due to massive dehydration... I will never have another coarse sausage again.
Fortunately, these are my only lasting memories of bad food experiences. Far more significant, of course, are the good ones. So always and everywhere be open and unbiased, enjoy new things and dishes. May you always be spared serious bad experiences.
I remain culinary curious and will not be fed up with sharing my discoveries or ideas with you at the table - and to write about them. It is so worth it.