I can’t say I will eat just about anything. I am, however, willing to eat just about anything.
So many of the issues other eaters have I don’t. Texture: Food could be jellied, slippery or grainy. No big thing if it tastes good enough. The smells of funky — Maceo Parker funky, OK? — almost-overripe cheeses don’t bother me. Gamy meats I have no problem with. I don’t care if it still has eyes or a head or feet.
If it tastes good.
Oxtails, dried whole shrimp, cactus, okra, chicken livers. The wrong cook can torture each of them. But done well and they’re excellent.
Now, overcook something, oversalt it or bomb it with unnecessary fruit or sugar — that’s when I have a problem. Too much cumin, say, that buries the delicacy of a dish is not fun. Flourishes that add nothing to flavor — edible gold paper comes to mind — I tend to find garish and off-putting.
But I’m very forgiving of something I didn’t expect to like if it’s made well.
That list of things up there — oxtails, okra, etc. — I didn’t used to like any of them. Or I thought I wouldn’t, which can be more powerful.
I think milk is what started me on getting over things like that.
I went more than a decade without drinking milk. In cereal, maybe, but definitely not drinking it. I got a bad carton in elementary school once.
Just once. It ruined me.
I only tried it again when a friend made me. Told me I was being stupid and thrust a glass in my hand and wouldn’t stop staring at me until I drained it.
She was mean. But she was right.
I slowly started trying other things. There’s no way I can pretend I’m Andrew Zimmern or anything, but there started to be nothing that could scare me off from trying it once if someone told me it was good.
But put some on the next time you’re making a giant pot of stock or prepping steaks or dicing potatoes. Let the music get into you. It’s good.