While I’ve gotten older, my taste buds have been stuck at the age of 6. I mean, you could send me to any Michelin-star restaurant and I’ll immediately scan the menu for my comfort foods — chicken tenders or pasta. There’s a limited selection of foods that will never disappoint my palate, and as much as I would love to be the daring and brave young woman who is down to try anything, my mind forbids it.
My parents often told me that I would eventually grow out of this picky eating phase. But I’m an adult now, and I’ve managed to prove them wrong. To this day, every time I attempt something new, I find myself taking a deep breath and convincing myself that it won’t be that bad. Whether it’s a burger that has mushrooms in it or a salad dressed in ranch, one tiny thing can ruin a whole dish for me. Sometimes I do wish that I could wake up one day with more mature taste buds, but I think I’m finally ready to accept the truth: I will forever be a picky eater.
As a picky eater, I consider myself the toughest food critic that only the best of chefs can please. It’s truly an accomplishment for one to get me to eat a dish that’s foreign to my tongue. A plate must not only be delicious but also satisfactory to my other four senses. Before I eat, I examine the dish as if I’m a forensic scientist or a casting director. I closely observe each individual ingredient, and then secretly rate the plate on how visually pleasing it is. Most dishes fail to meet my standards of consumption, so I always end up retreating to foods that I know will never disappoint me.
It’s one thing to make a dish that the highly acclaimed Gordon Ramsay adores, but you know you made it in the culinary world if I, a notoriously picky eater, would rather eat your dish than my safe choice of a peanut butter sandwich. Some have succeeded, but many have failed when it comes to adding a new dish to my personal repertoire of food favorites.
I still cannot deny that my picky eating habits are bound to land me in many difficult dining experiences. While the pandemic did give me a reprieve from smiling through the pain as I take microscopic bites of food that friends and family graciously give me at their dinner table, I know that I will soon be forced to wear a mask over my picky eater identity when it comes to eating out with others. I’d have to return to being indifferent instead of selective when my friends ask me where we should go for lunch because I’d be truly embarrassed if they hear that 80% of the restaurants in a 10-mile radius offer nothing tasty for me.
I’ve gradually learned how to navigate my life with an inconvenient relationship with new food. My taste buds may still be young, and I accept the fact that I’m a picky eater, but I will continue to pray for my dreadful dining experiences to change.
Contact Zara Koroma at [email protected].