The other day my friend Liz said, “I’m gonna eat the frog.”
I looked at her for a moment, my face scrunched up in a combination of confusion and disgust.
“It’s a thing. Eat the frog. Do the hard stuff first, then everything else is easy.”
The side of me that loves a good metaphor thought this was great. The literal side of me couldn’t stop thinking about actually eating a frog.
I don’t want to eat the frog. Metaphorically or literally.
Besides excelling at being a procrastinator (everyone has their gifts) I also excel at being a giant chicken. I’m not typically a risk taker (see previous posts about being a rule follower). Part of being a rule follower is the logic that parameters are put into place for a reason. Rule followers love the feeling of security that boundaries create.
We also tend to be creatures of habit. We find what we like and we stick to it. Going outside of the norm is scary, taking risks terrifying.
Risk taking hasn’t always worked out for me. Like the time I jumped off a cliff at Flaming Gorge. I spent over an hour trying to psych myself up.
This photo doesn’t do these cliffs justice. It was a 30 foot drop. I’m afraid of heights. And deep water. And falling at tremendously accelerating speed.
When I finally got the nerve to jump off, I was amazed at how slow it felt like I was moving. I started off in a straight vertical position, but as I moved closer to the surface of the water, my posture began to shift, so that by the time I landed, I was in the same position someone would be in if they were sitting in a recliner. (see diagram below)
For three weeks I had large purplish-blackish bruising on the backs of my arms and the back of my thighs, and a bruised tailbone that required sitting on a donut shaped pillow.
For me, taking the risk only confirmed my worst fears, and pushed me back into my safety zone.
I should point out that some of the things I view as risks, other people view as a normal part of life. When you read my examples you may say to yourself, “what’s the big deal about that?” You’d probably be right.
If you ever go out to dinner with my husband and I, you are likely to hear him say, “She’s a meat and potatoes kind of girl.” (My vegan friend Sam is starting to hyperventilate. Get a paper bag, Sam and breathe deeply.)
While not a very flattering statement (am I the only one for whom that phrase conjures up an image of a burly woman in a flannel shirt and a slight mustache?) , it’s also not an inaccurate one. If I had to pick my final meal on this earth, it would be a nice filet smothered in Béarnaise with a loaded baked potato.
My husband likes to use this phrase A LOT, however. He gleefully announces it whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Growing up, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of exotic foods, it’s true. Unless, of course, you count some of my father’s food creations. Sometimes they worked, sometimes they did not. My mother served delicious casseroles, pastas, salads and a lot of Mexican food. Mexican food was very common in my house as a kid, and very common in my house now. My father was the griller. Still is, actually. During the summer months my mom often took a “cooking hiatus” so my dad would take over. We would have something off the grill nearly every night all summer long. His grilling wasn’t limited to summer months, though. His barbequing philosophy is similar to the US postal service- “Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays this barbeque from the swift completion of grilling this meat.”
My dad likes a little seafood, my mom not at all.
My dad enjoys Asian foods, my mom not so much. I remember as a kid going to the Peking Duck downtown Snohomish ONE TIME. She probably is intolerant to something in Asian foods and that’s why she’s naturally disinclined to consume them. Her stay in the hospital with major stomach pain a couple weeks ago following a rare dinner at a Thai restaurant has reinforced her aversion. Forever.
So, as a result of not being exposed to these foods, I never developed a taste for them.
When I was about Zoe’s age, we had a Japanese exchange student come live with us for 3 weeks. She despised us. Seriously, she barely spoke to us. My mother kept lamenting why we didn’t get the fun one, like the neighbors had.
Part of her program included her making a traditional meal for her host family. She didn’t choose teriyaki.
There was soup with floaty things and seaweed, rice wrapped in seaweed, seaweed with a side of seaweed. I, with my impeccable manners gagged, cried, and was banished from the table.
I survived my high school trip to China by subsisting on cookies, a hunk of chocolate I bought at a marketplace, and rice. The pizza I ordered once we arrived back in Hong Kong after 10 days on the mainland tasted like the best food I had ever consumed in my life up until that point. It was Domino’s. That tells you how desperate I was.
Over the years, many people tried to cajole me into trying new foods but I resisted.
My ex-fiancé’s mom insisted I would like lobster. I told her not to buy me any. She swore if I just had it fresh, cooked the right way, I would like it. I begged her not to buy me any. She did. I gagged, I cried, and she ranted about how much money she spent on the lobster that I refused to eat.
My husband eats almost anything, which makes my job as a cook way easier. He’s mostly just grateful for the meal, and has endured a lot of my mistakes over the years with a smile on his face and a “Thank you.”
His former assistant was from Cambodia and she often picked his lunch up for him. I remember one day he came home and I asked him what he had for lunch, since his breath was a little strange.
He answered, “I have no clue. It was some sort of soup that looked like they took a giant scoop of whatever was lying on the ocean floor and threw it in a bowl. Including sand.”
As I have gotten older, though, I’ve become more interested in taking risks, particularly with food.
A few years ago we celebrated my friend Christin’s birthday at a Vietnamese restaurant. When the invite went out along with a link to the menu, I started panicking. I’d never eaten Vietnamese food before.
As we arrived at the restaurant and were seated at the end of a table filled with 5 other couples, my husband loudly announced “She doesn’t eat this stuff. She’s a meat and potatoes girl!”
As a result, although the restaurant serves food family style, someone ordered me a bowl of Pho. Determined to prove my husband wrong, I tried several of the items that were ordered for the group and LOVED them. The thing I liked least? The Pho.
A few months ago, Christin and I were meeting up for dinner. She called me and said, “What are you in the mood for?”
I said, “I’m open.”
She laughed and said, “Katie. I know you. You don’t like anything strange or out of the ordinary.”
I said, “Well, I’m trying to get over that.”
She told me she would send me a menu of a restaurant and I was to look it over and see what I thought. It was Mediterranean.
I texted her and told her I thought it looked good. She nearly fell over in surprise.
The place is the Mediterranean Kitchen In Bellevue, WA. It’s a tiny little place, and day and night there are lines out the door of people waiting to get in. It’s Zagat ratings are off the charts.
Christin chose something she couldn’t pronounce- DAJAJ MISHWI. I decided to go with the chicken shawarma. It was love at first bite.
A new obsession was born.
My husband seemed slightly offended that I was willing to try new foods with someone else, when I never will with him. He was also terribly offended at the garlic breath that meal produced.
In one week in January I took Sydney to the Mediterranean kitchen on a Monday and ate at Shawarma King in University district on a Wednesday. (also amazing!)
Yesterday Jeff said, “What did you have for lunch?”
I looked at him sheepishly. “Shawarma.”
“There’s a new place at the mall. The Blue Olive.”
“You know, I was impressed at first that you were willing to try something new. Now you are so fixated on shawarma, I will be more impressed when you choose to eat something else.”
I guess that makes me a meat, potatoes and shawarma girl