Friday, February 26, 2010

Polite Bite

My younger son, Weston, had a fantastic teacher last year. Ms. Sehgal, his Pre-K teacher, was smart and patient, loving and firm. Yet there was one quality Ms. Sehgal possessed that outshined all the others and that was her love of cooking. In Pre-K they have “letter of the week” where the class focuses on the sound the letter makes and words starting with that letter each week. Weston’s class cooked something starting with each letter. There were pumpkin muffins for “P” week and quesadillas for Q week and suddenly Weston was trying all sorts of things he never had or would try before. At lunchtime during school, where a hot meal is offered daily, children were required to take one “polite bite” of the entrĂ©e of the day. Ms. Sehgal succeeded at doing what many parents attempt, that it encouraging children to sample new foods.

Many of us persuade or even bribe our kids to experiment nutritionally though we don’t necessarily do the same. At Foodtrainers, clients fill out paperwork before their initial session. One item asks for favorite foods (healthy and unhealthy) and also foods clients dislike or do not eat. I have always prided myself on creating realistic, individualized food plans for clients. I incorporate clients’ favorite foods or healthier versions of these foods and work around the disliked foods. Occasionally, if a client avoids an entire food group I will offer subtle suggestions. For the most part, I do not push or pursuade them to re-try foods. I then go home and chart my kids “new foods” and for every 10 they get a sticker. I wrote earlier last week about Health Hypocrites  and I’m starting to think this may be an example of that hypocrisy.

As adults, we sample new preparations of foods we like at restaurants or with recipes but feel we know the foods we do not like. For some it’s Brussels sprouts, for others sashimi. I’ve found there are common foods that appear on the dislike list such as cauliflower and mushrooms, mayonnaise and organ meats. A blog called Fit Sugar got my attention today with a post entitled “learn to love: broccoli rabe”. I liked this concept that we can learn to love a food we previously didn’t. I heard a chef, I can’t recall which one, once say that if you think you don’t like a food it’s because you haven’t had it prepared correctly. I think there’s a truth to that and also that we may like certain preparations of foods better. But how will we know if we don’t continue to taste test? Maybe these disliked foods deserve a second date.

I consider myself a pretty broad eater but do have a few foods avoid (or am scared to try). One is sardines, another happens to be broccoli rabe and the final food is organ meats. I purchased sardines and plan to try them this weekend; I am also open to giving broccoli rabe another go. As for organ meats, for many reasons, I’m not interested…not even in one polite bite!
What are some foods you dislike? Are you open to trying them again? Do you think we should learn to love certain foods?


  1. Sometimes I think we don't like certain foods because they were never prepared well to begin with...i.e.- my issue with beets (my only exposure to beets were pickled beets. To this day they make me gag.)

    I am a big fan of trying it the way it was meant to be eaten - and I will give almost anything a try once (though I do not profess to be as brave as Bordain or Zimmerman, but, hey, pay me and I'll consider it). After a trip to Barcelona, sardines AND anchovies were added to my "love" list...and I eat them every time I return to Spain (or get to D'Espana). Otherwise, don't even put them in front of me.

    Things I can say I honestly just won't touch (despite my best efforts) - pickled herring. Sushi (astounding, since I love tartare and carpaccio). Sea urchin. Veal kidneys. I highly doubt haggis will make it into my mouth. And I am curious enough to try durian....someday.

  2. Lauren, LOVE THE BLOG! Thanks for stopping by mine as well. I finally posted an answer to your question about shower filters, but since it's been so long since you posted, I thought I'd post the answer here, too, to make sure you see it. :) I've been gone from blogging the last few weeks, but a big comeback is in the near future. Please stop by again :)

    Here's my shower reply:

    Lauren, I use a Wellness Water filter. I was a firm believer in the product, but when we did a chlorine test, it didn't prove as reliable as I expected--this was about a year into the two-year filter life. The PUR filter on my faucet was taking out the chlorine, and the shower one wasn't. There are a couple of companies that make ionizing filters that I talked about earlier in my blog. They have shower filters that would be amazing, but be ready to pay a lot. Right now it's something on my dream list.

  3. what a fun question to answer: OK I hate sardines, organ meats, sea urchin and eggplant if the texture is too firm - freaks me out ! I plan never to revisit any of these and feel not a whit of remorse or guilt !!! Oh and I hate sweet pickles - GROSS ... haggis and durian ? don't know what that is but since Jennifer and I hate the same things mostly I would say I hate those also by deduction. :)
    By the way you are so lucky your son had that teacher. I would KILL for a teacher like that to get my picky daughter to try new things. Her reluctance is exhausting.

  4. Durian isn't all that bad! The smell is horrific, but the taste and texture are rather nice. Haggis and fermented shark...let's just say that I took that one for the team and no one else ever has to eat those two foods again.

    Grilled fresh sardines and anchovies are great, a thousand times better than canned.

    I cannot abide most condiments, dried beans, and slimy things. I don't love sushi, but that's more about the wasabi.

  5. I just had to comment on your sardine post! Now, you've made me a little nervous about trying them....but I still will. Just wish I could take a little trip to Spain to eat them like Jennifer :-)