After witnessing many fine examples of picky eating during the Ashland trip last week, I thought it would be a good time to share my opinion on this juvenile behavior.
But on Sunday morning I realized doing so would be hypocritical.
For years I have quietly prided myself on eating anything I’m served without having to tediously pick out the tomatoes or thumb my nose at shellfish.
And there was a lot of that on the Ashland trip.
Seriously, are you still going to sloppily pick off the mushrooms from your pizza when you’re an adult at a dinner party?
I mean, you might as well try to like certain foods instead of telling yourself, “I don’t like this food and I never will.”
But until Sunday, I never truly realized how long I had gone against my own preachings.
That morning, while I was pondering my next cooking column, I went for some organic honey-nut 0’s. I opened the fridge, but, alas, there was no almond milk—only cow’s milk.
When I was young, plain cow’s milk “tore up my stomach,” as my mom would say, making me vomit. I could eat cheese and yogurt, but not plain milk. So I grew up on soy and almond milk.
Over the years, I became able to tolerate milk in my coffee and even chocolate milk. And I guess I could have tolerated plain milk at that point, but by then the taste was so foul to me.
I need coffee and chocolate flavor to mask plain milk.
So, for over 17 years, I have avoided plain cow’s milk, opting for the soy and almond analogues.
With the “picky eaters” cooking column topic in mind on Sunday morning, it dawned on me: Am I going to go my whole life avoiding something as commonplace as cow’s milk?
After all, I can’t preach about how everyone should try sushi when I can’t even drink milk!
On my trip to China in freshman year, I ate jellyfish, frog, and tripe. If I can handle those, I can definitely handle milk.
So that morning, I decided to put an end to my incomplete palate. Because, otherwise, I can’t say I’m not a picky eater.
So I came up with this game plan: I’m going to force myself to drink cow’s milk until I like it. No more almond milk in my cereal. No glass of soy milk with dinner. Just cow’s milk.
I opened the fridge and grabbed the two-percent (as opposed to the fat-free we also had), figuring the extra lipids would help me stomach it.
I poured it over my o’s and went in for the first spoonful. Immediately, I could smell the milk’s buttery gaminess wafting from the spoon.
I tasted nothing at first, but then that awful gaminess came through. It’s that same sharp earthiness in goat cheese but with a bovine spin.
I like goat cheese, but not so much in my milk.
My head tilted back and I stared at the ceiling. I inhaled sharply and my nails dug into my legs.
I focused on trying to appreciate the flavor, but my attempts were futile.
I’m assuming that cow’s milk-drinkers don’t notice that gamy flavor I speak of because they are so used to drinking milk.
I guess the same thing applies to soy milk. Cow’s milk-drinkers say soy milk tastes sour, but I taste nothing of that sort.
But then came the worst part.
I had eaten all of the cereal and was left with a small pool of milk.
I knew I had to face it. I considered plugging my nose while I drank, but that would be cheating.
I’m trying to actually like milk, not just tolerate it.
Throwing my head back, I drank it all in three gulps. I may have let out a four-letter word.
Once the taste left my mouth, I smiled to myself, knowing that I had conquered that bowl of cereal.
So do I like cow’s milk?
No, not at all. Not yet.
Just give me a few weeks, though, and I’m sure by then I’ll be drinking cow’s milk like a true champ.