“Just try it,” said my mom, offering me a taste of her boiled cabbage. “It’s not like it’s going to hurt you to just try it.”
I looked at the mushy, green cabbage she was offering and quietly disagreed. It must be admitted that boiled cabbage can look pretty scary no matter how you feel about its taste.
For most of my early childhood, I had a very real fear that some food could theoretically taste so bad that it could inflict actual physical pain. I ignored the fact that any foul flavor could be dissipated through a quick drink of water and instead dreaded food tastings.
My imagination convinced me of how disgusting the food tasted before it ever touched my tongue. These picky eating habits became so out of hand that I shied away from most sauces, vegetables and even some desserts.
However, my mom never gave up hope and would often leave a bite of some new fare on my plate to try. As I grew up, I started to realize that I was being a coward for not branching out to different flavors and started making up for lost time by at least sampling everything offered to me.
Nowadays, I enjoy almost every kind of cuisine. I pour on the sauce, gobble up vegetables and never, ever refuse a dessert.
In fact, through my travels for The Group Travel Leader, I have tried some things that even my mother wouldn’t touch, such as crickets in Mexico, blood pudding in Ireland and dried capelin fish in Canada that seemed to be smiling at me.
When you sample local cuisine while on the road, you learn about an important aspect of that location’s culture. Going into a local pub and ordering fish and chips in England opens a window into everyday life in that country that you wouldn’t see just by visiting the main tourist sites.
The next time you have a choice between your standard favorite and a local dish that you aren’t completely sure about, I encourage you to choose the local one. You may be out of your comfort zone or you might end up not really liking it, but the experience still helps to immerse yourself in the destination.
After all, it couldn’t hurt to try.