I really only recently “got into” food. I’ve been eating it my whole life, but by golly, I did not enjoy it!!!! I was so picky. I didn’t really like vegetables (always liked potatoes though) or meat, I only liked specific types of apples, I was annoying about pickle brands. I am definitely a creature of habit, and it really showed when I ate. Eating new things, even things I was pretty much sure to like, was something I wasn’t always up for. Although my mom (who did all the cooking for my family) made amazing stuff that was very unrelated to chicken nuggets and tater tots, my favorite foods growing up were still chicken nuggets and tater tots (shout out to the Midwest!!!).
It changed a little when I went to college. At my small liberal arts school, it seemed like everyone there was a health freak who ate enormous salads that took up literally entire cafeteria trays and used no fucking dressing. So I started eating shitty salads because I felt bad about myself if I didn’t have spinach on my plate. Turns out, you get used to vegetables if you eat them a bunch of times in a row, but they also aren’t that great raw with the weird thick balsamic vinaigrette my school served.
Things changed a little more when I studied abroad in Rome for 3 months. It was the first time I ever really had to cook for myself for a long period of time, so I was figuring out flavors and foods I liked, and it’s honestly easier to like food when you made it (or at least it is for me. But then again, I’m kind of a bish). I also just found myself eating a lot of food I had never eaten before. For example, I didn’t like tomatoes that much before going to Rome, and then I ordered $10 bruschetta by accident once at dinner while I was there, and I wasn’t about to let $10 go to waste, so I ate the whole thing, and then I liked tomatoes after that.
After Rome, I had one more year of college left, and I lived in a house with four of my friends, off the meal plan for the first time (other than our study abroad experiences). We each took a turn cooking dinner once a week, so I cooked for 5 people once every week and for myself every day. Like Rome, it forced me to continue to figure out dishes I liked and dishes that other people liked too. I had taken up a loose vegetarianism the summer before my senior year started (still goin! it’s still casual tho) and was also experimenting with finding veggie meals my meat-loving housemates would like too.
A lot of my habits related to food have changed over the past year and a half (never really cooked before spring 2015 ayy), and I’m sure they’ll continue to develop as I live my life. But I was reminded of my Midwest roots after graduation this spring. I stayed at a cabin in rural Minnesota with some friends for a few days, and we went to dinner at another friend’s house one night. His family made us burgers, corn, and tater tots, a beautiful MW spread. His dad asked if we should make a can of baked beans too, and I responded in the enthusiastic affirmative. His dad said, “You’ve got the Midwest palette!” He’s not wrong.