Going Bold: Portabellas and Artichoke Hearts

Those of you who read this and either don’t know me in real life or who haven’t known me for very many years may be surprised to hear that until age 19 or 20, I was, in almost every regard, a very picky eater. I’ve never been very selective about desserts, but healthy stuff? It was war getting me to touch it. My favorite meal as a child was noodles covered in butter and salt. When we went out to a restaurant, Chinese, Mexican, American or other, I would order a plain hamburger, put ketchup on it, and eat it. The rule was pretty much if it’s green, I’m not eating it. It’s a good general rule, but the fact is that the only vegetables that I would really eat were tomatoes, carrots, and corn.

My parents thought they were clever. Knowing how much I love dessert, they declared the year 2000 “Year of the Green”, asserting that if I did not finish the vegetables served to me at dinner time, I would not get dessert. I think they were disappointed but not surprised that I chose the option of not eating dessert for as long as they held to that policy. That idea, along with the one about teaching my brother and I how to cook by requiring that we prepare one meal a week during the summers of our last years at home before college, were only moderately successful. Sure, I eat vegetables now, and I’m not a bad cook, but it wasn’t until I took a nutrition class in college and moved out of the dorms that I really owned the fact that there might have been some sense in what my parents had wanted me to do.

This year, 12 years after my parents’ “Year of the Green”, I will eat most vegetables. Brussel sprouts, cabbage, and asparagus are still no-gos, but overall, I’m a lot more adventurous in my eating. Tonight, for instance, I prepared a recipe for a stuffed portabella mushroom filled with spinach, artichoke hearts, cheese, onion, garlic, and bread crumbs. This recipe would have been way outside my comfort zone even two years ago, and tonight I proudly declare it the best meal I’ve eaten all week.

How have your likes and dislikes for certain foods changed over the years? What was a defining moment for you when your perception of the food on your plate changed?