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by Asa Butcher
2008-01-05 09:46:22
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"You don't like potato! Who doesn't like potatoes? Go on, try one… just one! It won't hurt you… give it a nibble… okay, why don't you try it with some baked beans? What! You don't like baked beans either? How about some other vegetables? Oh, come on! You'll never grow up to be big and strong if you don't eat your greens! What am I going to do with you?" I hope you enjoyed that whirlwind of phrases from my childhood and, dare I admit it, a few from the last few years.

Yes, I was and still am a picky eater. However, I would rather describe my condition as knowing exactly what I like and don't like, instead of being labelled picky. Yes I did feel guilty when my mum would make two separate meals in the evening, but I couldn't help the fact that so many foods would make me gag as soon as they were in my mouth. It was with some revulsion that I recently discovered that 2008 has been declared the International Year of the Potato by the United Nations because the potato is a staple food in the diet of the world’s population - not mine!

I can manage potato if it is in minute amounts, such as a French fry or deep-fried beyond recognition into a crisp, and if it is heavily disguised among a rich sauce then it may make it past my epiglottis. If you serve me boiled potatoes, roast potatoes or - god forbid - a jacket potato then prepare to have your feelings hurt because the only place it is heading is the waste. I hate the texture, the taste, the smell and even the unpeeled is unappealing, but the worst part is explaining these reasons every time I go for a meal at a friend's house.

The potato conversation then opens the vegetable door. No, I don't like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, aubergine, avocado (guacamole is ok), sweetcorn off the cob, runner beans, asparagus, celery, leek, carrots, parsnip, radish and turnips. I mustn't forget peas, those pesky little green balls that pop up everywhere as 'filler' - "You can't taste the peas, Asa!" Actually, yes I can and you can watch in amazement as I surgically remove each and every one of them from the meal. You would also be surprised to see how many Pinto beans can be removed from a single serving of chili con carne.

There are some saving graces, such as my carnivorous dedication to my surname. Sadly the absence of vegetarian Butchers in the family has stolen some great jokes, but it has meant that I do obtain nutrients and energy from the extensive range of meats available. I think the wonderful, magical animal called the pig deserves three meaty cheers for generously providing bacon, ham, pork chops and gammon, while the cow receives a tip of the hat for its juicy steaks… mmmm, medium rare!

Fish, on the other hand, is a different kettle of, err, fish. As the comedian Jim Gaffigan once said, "How can you tell when fish goes bad, it smells like fish either way! 'Mmmh this smells like a dumpster, let's eat it!' Do you know what goes well with fish? Anything that hides the taste of fish!" However, there is an ocean of difference between delicious smoked salmon and "Oh no, fresh salmon for dinner again", yet I'll happily eat calamari, rip apart a lobster, scoop out a crab's claw and suck on a frog's leg (they do spend most of their life in water!).

You'd think that there must be one dinner course in which I could redeem myself and I admit that dessert should be served first. I have a sweet tooth, but too much chocolate is sickening; I hate it when ice cream is decorated with fresh fruit; and I absolutely loathe banana. If there is a food worse than potato then it is banana, with its… no, I can't describe it without gagging and tears welling up in my eyes. Ever since I was a baby I have hated the sight, smell and mere presence of the bendy yellow fruit and it continues to this day. I used to dread getting ill because children's medicine was often flavoured banana to help the fussy kids take it without complaint - how often did I spray the walls, Mum?

One of my earliest memories was a visit to my grandparents when Grandma served us a banana dessert and told my brother and me that we weren't leaving the table until it had been cleared. I stuffed my cheeks full of the poison, mumbled that I needed the toilet and ran off. I was about to dispose of the load down the toilet, when the door flew open and my Grandma said, "You're not going to spit that away, are you?" The panic triggered a reflex swallowing action and the trauma has remained with me ever since.

Under-cooked toast is another turn-off, soggy cereal goes in the bin, warm milk turns my stomach, jam sarnies are just nasty, cucumber in a sandwich makes the bread too wet, limp French fries are shunned and tea makes me retch - yep, it's shocking, I'm English and I don't like a cup of tea! I don't know how my parents endured my eating habits and I can only marvel at the patience of my wife, yet I can only apologise for knowing exactly what I like and don't like; it isn't really my fault that one category has more than the other.

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Thanos2008-01-05 19:34:33
Well the other day you had ...fish soup with ...potatoes!!! :)))

Asa2008-01-06 00:03:15
Shhh... or you'll blow the whole thing out into the open!

As I said, I have my moments, especially if the tastes are disguised.

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