Cooking in the Cave: If I can chug milk, then you can get over your pickiness

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.

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