I’m a bit of a picky eater, although not as bad as I was when younger, there was a time when I wouldn’t eat anything green (apart from peas and only if mixed into mashed spud with ketchup, I have no idea why) and was exceptionally choosy about the fish that I would eat, usually only deciding whether or not I would eat a certain fish when I smelt it cooking. So one day I would eat haddock and the next I wouldn’t. I’m still not sure how Mum put up with me.
In truth most of my picky eating has disappeared as I’ve grown older, there are still some things I don’t particularly like and as a result avoid, asparagus jumps to mind, I’m just not fond of the flavour. To be honest, the more I cook and explore food the more I’m interested in trying things I haven’t tasted before and also re-visiting ones that I decided I didn’t like previously.
There is one food that is extremely popular and I simply will not eat it, if you’ve been following the recipes you may have noticed that I have never published a recipe with mushrooms in.
This is often raised as a topic for conversation, when I politely refuse them at dinner or pick them out of a dish. I really wish people wouldn’t ask me this when they’re eating as the reason comes from an experience I had as a child and it’s not really suitable for the dinner table. Invariably my reluctance to tell only makes people more curious until eventually I (reluctantly) tell them the story and then I’m the bad guy for telling the story at the dinner table.
When I was a child my family would at certain times of the year spend Sunday afternoons wandering the fields and hedgerows of friends’ farmland foraging for wild fruit, nuts and mushrooms. It was a great family pastime, we all got exercise, fresh air, no admission fee (other than the occasional few pots of wild jam mum made from the fruit, dropped on the relevant doorsteps) and effectively free (incredibly fresh) food.
Part of the excitement on the mushroom days was getting home, and selecting the choicest ones from what you had collected, giving them a quick rinse, removing the stalk, adding a nob of butter and throwing them directly onto the hot plate of the cooker. Where they would sizzle for a few minutes until they were ready to eat and we’d scoop them up with whatever was to hand add a sprinkle of salt and devour them.
It was after one of these mushroom foraging excursions when I couldn’t have been more than four years old that we arrived home and I was eager to get a few large ones I had found onto the hob. As soon as we were in the door I bolted into the kitchen and rinsed mine off, pulled the stalk, added the butter and threw them onto the cooker, I wasn’t about to be delicate about it.
As soon as the first one was done, it was handed to me and I took a big bite and while the butter was still dripping down my chin, I noticed something unusual about the piece still in my hand. I was trying to work out what it was when a small piece fell out of the remaining mushroom leaving behind an almost perfectly round tiny little hole and I started to know what the guy who discovered what’s worse than finding a worm in your apple felt like. There was spitting and coughing and I’m not ashamed to admit that four year old me burst into tears at the thought of having eaten half a worm.
That was the last time a mushroom knowingly passed my lips. It’s the weirdest thing because even the smell of raw mushroom now turns my stomach. It happened so long ago that I can barely remember the taste or texture of a mushroom and the part of me that has become adventurous about my food and cooking thinks, “Well you really liked them until that happened so why not try them again?” keeps getting overruled by the memory of that one event.
I have decided that this fear needs to be conquered – it’s irrational and too much like a phobia not to be confronted. So in the next few weeks I will be trying dishes with mushrooms, it may be a bit longer before I start adding them to the recipes but who knows.
So, are you a picky eater? Are there any foods that you simply won’t eat? Have your say below.