Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Saturday 30 April 2016

How we eat, how we are taught to eat in our home environments

People's eating habits are often defined by their childhoods and whether their own parents were 'conservative' or 'adventurous' in their eating habits. I am thankful that both my parents, specially my mother, were reasonably adventurous (not so much my father, admittedly), but both were good cooks and pre-prepared rubbish was never a part of my growing up. That's another thing, my father was not a stranger to the kitchen, so whilst growing up neither me nor my brother thought there was anything remotely strange about trying out new ideas in the kitchen. Obviously I am now somewhat older, so my childhood relates to the 1950s and 1960s, and I have become aware since then that for some of my contemporaries their home environments were radically different. One's home environment as children helps to define the adults we become, for good or ill. Some of the best people, however, are those who have transcended the most difficult early years - I can't say I'm one of those, but I sure do admire those who are.

I'm often astonished at the food 'dislikes' that some of my acquaintances exhibit - and I don't mean those who are vegetarian or vegan, for example, because I've eaten some delicious food of both varieties over the years. What I do mean though is those who are unwilling even to try anything 'different' from what they have ever eaten before, or people who, for example, live in places where abundant local delicacies are available, but who studuously avoid/loathe them in favour of heavily-advertised processed food instead, because that's what they were encouraged to eat by lazy parents. It applies also, incidentally, to those who don't wish to try vegetables or fruits different from the limited range they were exposed to by their own parents in earlier years, whether it might be an avocado pear, an asparagus spear, a pomegranate or a persimmon, etc., not that there's anything wrong with a potato or a carrot, of course. One thing I just cannot understand, though, is that many children (and perhaps their parents too) seem to find perfectly ordinary, nutritious and delicious green vegetables or salads "yukky"; even from my youngest years I LOVED things like broccoli and lettuce, for example, even if it took me a little longer to appreciate the joys of a fresh beetroot. I don't recall ever being pressurised to 'like' anything (well, apart from salted herring, which both my parents relished, for some inexplicable reason, ha ha), but it was never suggested to me that I was somehow being 'brave' when given a piece of broccoli or some Savoy cabbage to eat - my own parents enjoyed eating these so I learned from them - well apart from the afore-mentioned salted herring,the problem being not the taste or even the texture, but the fine bones.

In my area, with an abundance of fish and seafood, or excellent beef or venison, for example, I occasionally encounter people who HAVE NEVER EATEN FISH, for example, not that they have tried it and found they don't like it. I recall years ago being at a dinner party not far from here and one of the other guests, having said he had never eaten fish (having been born and brought up in a small coastal town not so far from here, with a major fishing industry), relishing a delicious salmon mousse and on being told what it was, admitting to our hosts how delicious it was. So my message is - try it, you may like a food unfamilar to you, you may not, but then at least you'll have knowledge rather than prejudice to guide you.

There are of course a few foods I don't like, or in a very few cases actively"loathe" (e.g. tripe), but I have formed my views by trying them, not whining "yuk" when first presented with them, but I don't discount the possibility that at some stage in the future I might come to tolerate if not actively "like" them, hopefully not at pistol point, ha ha.

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