Mac N Cheese, bread, cereal, or pasta (with only butter and cheese)— to me, those were the only tasteful food options when I was growing up. Anything that was not a high-carb and flavorless meal would never even go near my mouth. The rest of my family, on the other hand, loved to explore new foods and flavors. While I was perfectly content having bow-tie noodles with butter for every meal, my family was not. I was always pushed to “just try” new foods, but the stubborn tastebuds I had could not be more resistant to change. One might think that, as a kid, I must not have been exposed to exciting and culturally charged foods. Quite the opposite happened.
My Argentinian culture was often celebrated in my family with empanadas and never-ending servings of different meats at Argentinian barbecues. But, even with these foods, I made sure to make my plate as plain as possible. No chimichurri, no meat empanadas (because they had too much flavor), and definitely no blood sausage at the barbecues for me. Not to mention, my mom always made food that was outside of my carby comfort zone. To put it in plain terms — I was a stubborn little girl with a never-ending love of carbs and plain foods. It took a long time, but eventually, I somehow gained the courage to really give good food a chance and let my tastebuds explore the different flavors of my culture and cultures around the world.
Now when I say it took a long time, I mean it took a long time. I only really started to try new foods and enjoy them about two years ago. But, in these two years, I have made leaps and bounds and I have definitely become significantly more adventurous. Last year, the thought of having to eat sushi would immediately result in a disgusted face and begging to go somewhere else. Now, I actually crave sushi. Eventually, the things I once thought of as food I would never even come close to eating again, became some of my favorite foods. Now, I try everything! In this way, I do believe I eat “like an American.” By that I mean, I eat foods from around the world, the same way America is home to many cultures from around the world. But, I am also an American eater in the sense that I still love to eat a good In-N-Out burger and some Chick-Fil-A nuggets.
To me, food is something we all tend to bond over. Due to conflicting work, school, and after-school activities in my family, eating dinner together was something we always saved for Sundays. On Sundays, my dad will get to the barbecue and grill or smoke something special for us. Our Sunday tradition was always a time for us to talk about the week, random stories, or just how good the food was. Whatever the conversation ends up being, it’s being together that makes me appreciate Sundays (but the good food is always a plus). Nevertheless, in all my relationships, food is an important bonding mechanism. Sure, we don’t talk about food too often, but the social aspect of getting the food is what brings us together. What is the one thing you can always do if you run out of ideas when you’re seeing a friend, partner, relative, or even meeting a stranger? Get food. Even asking someone what their favorite food is or what their favorite restaurant is is a great way to get insight into someone’s personality. I have found that food is a lot like the weather. Whenever you run out of things to talk about, you can always talk about how great or even how awful the food is; you can always count on food.
I have to admit I can still be picky with my food (especially with fish), but with a little push I try to at least taste new foods. Although, to some people, I may just be a normal eater. Since I had little to no exploration in food before a couple years ago, what I think of as an adventurous food may be completely normal and out of the ordinary for others. Maybe it has to do with the new friends I have made, the places I have traveled, or just the natural maturation of my tastebuds and personality, but trying new and exciting foods is not something that I dread anymore— it is actually something I look forward to. It may have taken me a while to fully appreciate tasteful meals, but getting to know food has been a pleasure and I can’t wait to continue exploring it and making memories with the people I eat with.