I am an omnivore. I eat gluten, lactose, nuts, soy, red meat, white meat etc. You get my point. I try almost anything. I may not choose to eat some things a second time, not because I especially dislike them, but I choose to fill myself with foods that I enjoy. If I am going to take in calories, they are going to be delicious calories.
When I lived in China, we had a policy of eat and don’t ask. In all the time I lived there, there were only a couple of dishes that I would not order again. If my students ordered them, I politely took the first bite as is required of the honored guest, but because there were so many dishes on the table, no one noticed if I didn’t help myself to more later on.
One of the dishes was duck feet in mustard oil. I don’t mind duck or chicken feet at all and have had some truly wonderful dishes prepared with them. The problem with this dish was the mustard oil. I understand now how mustard gas can kill. The oil was truly nasty stuff.
The honored guest always gets the eyes of the fish when steamed Li with scallions and ginger is served. I eat these, but they are not a favorite. They have little flavor, it is just the eye-dia.
Another dish which was offered to me at numerous festive dinners where I was the guest of honor was coagulated duck blood. This is about the consistency of soft jello, difficult to pick up with chopsticks as it is jiggly and very soft, the cubes breaking easily. Nothing worse that staining the front of you blouse with duck blood. I ate it everytime it was offered, but I opted out of it on following turns of the lazy susan in the middle of the table. No one noticed as there was so much food. Duck blood is not cheap as it is hard to keep fresh. My students, wanting to impress me, would order it as a special dish.
There is a somewhat humorous story about duck blood that happened to my husband when his students took him out for an end of term celebratory dinner. I quote it from my manuscript below.
“….Bob tasted this one dish, coagulated duck blood, which was one he didn’t especially care for and had had before. He went on to the next dish after surreptitiously rinsing his mouth with beer. As continued eating, one of the other students took a taste of the duck blood. The student made a terrible spitting noise and hacked the mass onto the floor, stood up and started yelling. The duck blood was spoiled. When Bob came home he said, “If I die tonight, I want you to know I ate spoiled coagulated duck blood.” The students were most apologetic. I guess it might be a good idea to have a guinea pig to do your tasting for you, but that is not the Chinese way, the honored guest is the guinea pig, going first and dies first, if it is bad. Bob didn’t even get sick.”
Now we mostly prepare our own Chinese dishes and we choose only the most delicious to eat. When we can find ingredients, we prepare them at home for ourselves and we omit the mustard gas (oh, I mean oil), the eyeballs of animals including fish and coagulated duck blood.
There are two foods that I WILL NOT EAT, never. There are only two. One I don’t run across but occasionally. Parsnips are on my HATE list. I will refuse them if you offer them to me. There is not being polite here. I even hate the ones that come in those chip bags of mixed vegetables. It isn’t the texture or the appearance, but the taste that you sense in the back of your nose. When I was a young girl, I had several surgeries. These entailed putting you to sleep by putting a cone over you face and drizzling ether onto the cone. Parsnips taste like that smell. Ether made me throw up and parsnips make me gag.
The other food I dislike and will not eat is runny eggs. I do run across this often. If we eat breakfast out, I almost always order scrambled eggs as they will usually be completely cooked. I would eat a runny white, but a runny yolk tastes like….well….coagulated duck blood. It tastes like blood. I love eggs Benedict. Do you think I can convince the cook of the meaning of petrified? Never. I always have to send them back while my table mates eat their meals before they get cold. Once at the local café, I sent them back twice and they were still soft. I kept the fruit bowl and told them to cancel the eggs Benedict. What don’t they understand about petrified?
Now when I go to that local café, the cook gives me the stink eye and hopes that I don’t order anything with poached eggs. I would rather green yolks than soft orange ones. It’s too bad, because this is a dish that I would not make at home as my husband is not partial to it and it is too much work just for me unless I am making crab cakes eggs Benedict, in which case my husband will eat those with me.
I am an omnivore. I will eat almost anything and I am willing to try anything at least once. Try it, you might like it.