Things I just can't get down with.

Whenever anyone asks me what I don't eat, I always reply, "I eat everything!". Most of the time, they don't believe me, since Americans in Asia have a bad reputation for having food phobias and food allergies galore. However, as I was laying in bed early this morning during my current wave of insomnia, I thought, There really are foods I don't eat. That's because I don't like them, not necessarily because they're not prepared well or that I break out in hives when eating them. Case in point:

1. French Toast.

I really don't like French toast. It seems like such a waste of perfectly good bread, which you can just toast up, slap on some good butter, and call it a day.  Okay, traditionally French toast is supposed to be made with day old bread, and it derives from pain perdu, which is in fact a French dish made with leftover, stale bread. But who makes French toast with stale bread anymore? I've seen it with croissants, Texas toast, biscuits; all fresh.  And while we're on the subject, I really don't like sweet breakfast items, other than fruit and the occasional jam on my toast (but even then, i'm picky - I like marmalades and sour cherry jam).  I don't mind a spoonful of brown sugar melting into a bowl of oatmeal, or a piece of toast slathered with peanut butter, but that's about as sweet as I go. The idea of eating something sweet first thing in the morning makes my teeth ache.

2. Vanilla + Seafood.

My sister-in-law loves to pair a vanilla beurre blanc with her shrimp/crab/lobster. And she makes a great beurre blanc; but Lord Almighty I can't stand it.  Vanilla and any seafood just don't work for me. Vanilla automatically reminds me of ice cream and custard, and I just can't wrap my head around seafood hanging out in that bathtub.  On the flip side, I do like a savory creme brulee (such as infused with fresh thyme), so who knows what my taste buds are all about.

3. Cheese + Seafood.

Just. Gross.

I'm so grossed out by the idea of cheese mixed with seafood that even typing this makes me nauseous.  Every once in a while on the food blogosphere, some article will come out and praise the merits of cheese and seafood together, and people will firmly fall into two categories of lovers and haters.  I think the general idea comes about when the old argument of putting Parmesan on seafood pastas gets hashed up, and then that spawns heated debates of whether or not the Italians do it that way.

Lobster mac and cheese - which was on everyone's menu stateside for way too many years - vile. And don't even get me started on the "drizzle of truffle oil" that everyone used to Jackson Pollack all over the dish, because that's just blasphemy (and usually it's not made with real truffles).

The only time I find the idea of cheese and seafood sort of acceptable is with shrimp and grits , however that doesn't mean I eat my shrimp and grits that way (I prefer my grits to be well-seasoned without unnecessary gobs of cheese).

4. Milk Chocolate.

I just don't get it.

5. Shiokara.

This is a type of Japanese fermented squid that, though i'm a big fan of all things fermented, I just can't get down with.  I've eaten a lot of really wonderful Japanese food while in Vietnam; there are a large number of great places here, one of which is about a 45 second walk from my front door.  We've become friendly with the chef (who is Vietnamese but has been studying Japanese cuisine for 12 years), and the Japanese owner is an interesting character.  One night, I ordered a dish of shiokara, and I just couldn't get down with it, or get it down.  I don't think a lot of western palates are ready for that level of gutty fermentation quite yet.  I'll try it again someday.

Side note: speaking of guts, since living in SE Asia, i've only gotten food poisoning once - and that wasn't from eating street food, it was from a well-respected, super fancy, expensive restaurant owned by a Viet Kieu acquaintance of mine.  It was some kind of fermented shrimp that I knew on first bite wouldn't agree with me, but I didn't want to be rude - enter two weeks of taking Ciproflxacin and Dukoral. So the moral of the story is to trust your gut (no pun intended) when you think something tastes off.


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