I’m not the pickiest eater, but I’m also not a foodie by any means.
There are certain restaurants where I’ve discovered I like one of their dishes more than any other — the burrito at this place, the baked potato soup at that place, the Mediterranean salad at another place, etc. So whenever I eat at any of those establishments, I order the exact same things.
One factor in foods I avoid are ingredients I know I don’t like or, in some cases, don’t like me. I can’t eat Thai or Korean or Indian food because they’re all too spicy for my tender stomach. When we were in Santa Fe, New Mexico last month, many businesses — restaurants, boutiques, even our hotel — had bunches of red chili peppers hanging near their front doors. For me, that meant I’d have to exercise caution when ordering food, because I’m not one of those guys for whom the Scoville Scale — which measures the relative heat of peppers — is a challenge I want to take on. I have friends who can eat a habañero and, even as they turn red and break into a sweat, enjoy the experience. For me, not so much.
I try to avoid onions completely because they’ll produce some uncomfortable gastric distress. I can’t stand the after-taste of cilantro and rue the day (relatively recently) someone decided it should be included in every Mexican recipe. I had to stop eating egg yolks and red meat after my cardiac scare last year.
I’m always amazed that anyone can take a bite of something and know what went into it. Oh, sure, I can be pretty accurate with a guess about a grilled cheese sandwich, but my taste buds aren’t developed enough to recognize that a dish has tarragon, cumin, or coriander in it. I can’t tell a pine nut from an annatto seed. I don’t know how bay leaves affect a dish or why they’re left in for me to throw away.
But the biggest problem for me is when I look at a menu and don’t even recognize some of the words. I’ve kept a list of a few I’ve seen just in the last few months: kasundi, sweety drop peppers, chimichurri, poblano, pistou sauce, soppressata, and giardiniera. In each case, I took out my phone and looked them up, only to discover that I’d be better off not introducing them to my taste buds.
As for parsley — which they add as a garnish at the place I always order the Mediterranean salad — it affects the taste of food in the same way putting your hand out the window while driving down the highway decreases your speed. That is to say, not one bit.
At least I know it’s not going to cause me any problems.