Friday, February 1, 2013

Carmel Restaurants: Then and Now

As far back as I can remember, I was a picky eater. I'm talking the type of picky eater that drove her mother crazy, sitting at the dinner table for hours, stubbornly staring at a plate of cold food, yet refusing to eat it. My taste buds were traumatized by foods that I truly detested: split pea soup, canned spinach and peas, pot pies, and anything with sauce or gravy, just to name a few. I became fearful of trying new foods, and I'm sorry to admit that this fear lasted well into adulthood. Whether I was at a friend's house, a party, a restaurant, or at home, I routinely picked at my food and turned my nose up at anything that looked or smelled the least bit risky to my sensitive taste buds. I'm not sure at exactly what age my food aversions began, and I wonder if they were already established by the time I was a tot. Some of my earliest memories involve sitting in restaurant booths while my mom and I lived in California for a short time. Whether I actually ate anything at those Carmel By The Sea Restaurants, however, I'm not sure.

When Chris and I began dating, he gradually began convincing me to expand my dietary horizons. I took little chances, and discovered that I actually loved calamari and salad, but I was only willing to go so far. "No thank you" was still my catch phrase when it came to food. A little at a time, I became more daring. But certain categories of food still made my mouth very nervous, including vegetables and sea food. However, a couple years ago, I had an experience that changed my opinion of sea food for the better.

We were visiting with some of Chris's family when his uncle offered to cook my family a meal; his specialty: perch he had caught himself. I didn't know what to do. Refusing to even try the fish would be inexcusably rude, especially considering we were guests in a family member's home. Plus, it would be a terrible example for my children. I wanted them to try the fish, so I had to lead by example and try it for myself. And guess what? That was one of the most delicious meals of my life. I'm not even exaggerating. I wish I could go back in time and sit at that table again, with the seemingly endless supply of perfectly battered and fried perch being heaped onto the serving platter in a steady stream. The fish was tender, the batter crunchy and flavorful. I have no idea how many servings I ate, but I should have probably been embarrassed by my gluttony. Instead I shamelessly ate until my belly couldn't hold another morsel. Even though I am now a vegetarian, I still dream of that meal, and I don't think I could say no if Chris's uncle showed up in my kitchen with a fresh catch of perch and a bowl of his special homemade batter.

I learned some important lessons that day. I learned that taking risks with food could actually be a good thing. I realized that I could be foolishly missing out on many tasty foods that I had been afraid to try. I learned that I needed to stop being fearful and open my mind to trying new foods. That doesn't mean I rushed out and started eating everything I had ever hated or was nervous to try. But the experience was an epiphany, no doubt about it, and it did help me become more willing to take a chance. I'm fairly certain that if I visited a restaurant in Carmel nowadays, my experience would be quite different than it was as a presumably very picky toddler.

Are there any foods that you feel strongly that you wouldn't like, or that you're very reluctant to try?

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions expressed are my own.

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