The Perils of “I just don’t like it…”

24 Mar

I’m back!

It’s been a hellacious few months for us.   A project I’ve been working on since September finally culminated last week in success, but all the overtime, stress, and sleepless nights took their toll. Jason and I went out to celebrate me being a free woman again, and after two very well-made margaritas from Paco’s Tacos I was finally able to exhale. 

Unfortunately, during the next breath I inhaled the lovely pollen that Charlotte springs are famous for (our pollen count is currently at 80 bazillion in case you were wondering) and immediately became a fevered, sneezing, coughing phlegm factory.  When your doctor runs some tests and then declares she’s not sure exactly what’s wrong, “but take these antibiotics anyway,” you know it’s time to retreat to the couch and catch up on the Netflix queue. 

As usual, my timing was bad.  My first day of riding the couch with a box of Kleenex in one had and a bottle of cough syrup in the other also happened to be St. Patrick’s Day – and the start of Charlotte Craft Beer Week.  All week long there have been some amazing craft beer events at our favorite places, and it seems like the entire craft beer Twitterverse has been taking part in, minus Jason and me.  Well, last night we finally got to participate by attending the NoDa Brewing dinner at The Liberty in SouthEnd.

This isn’t a review of the entire dinner, other than to say it was great.  We had the pleasure of sharing a table with some close friends and with Courtney Valvo and Chad Henderson from NoDa Brewing.  We had great conversation and learned a lot about beer (Chad is an encyclopedia of beer knowledge and Courtney’s no slouch herself!) Of course the beer was fabulous and the food was great too.

Nope, this is a review of one dish.  The salmon.  Specifically: Pan-Seared Maple Chili Wild Alaskan Salmon with Black Beluga Lentils, Olive Poached Tomatoes, Wild Arugula & Balsamic Syrup.  It was served with NoDa Rye Z’d Double Rye IPA

Yep, that's a HUGE pour of NoDa Rye Z’d in the back 🙂

I loved it.

Now here’s why that’s notable – I don’t like salmon (I never have).  I like the smoked salmon dip my dad makes, mostly because it doesn’t even taste like salmon. My dad’s a food preparation badass by the way – he likes smoked meats and fish, so he built a smokehouse in his yard.  No Green Eggs here – an actual smokehouse.  He periodically smokes salmon and then gives it to my mom who mixes it with all sorts of wonderfulness and it becomes something tasty to dip crackers in.  But I digress…

I don’t remember the first time I tried salmon as an entree, but I’m willing to bet it was probably in college and it was probably at a Chili’s or a TGI Fridays.  I just remember it tasting really fishy and a little suspect – not exactly what I’m looking for in seafood.  I’ve tried it a few times since, with the same results.  I’ve never ordered it at a quality restaurant, because why take a chance on a dish that I know there’s a good likelihood I’ll dislike when there are so many other wonderful things on the menu? 

So when I saw the menu for the last night’s dinner I was a little bummed, because it seemed like there was a course that I was going to automatically dislike.  But with four other courses that looked great…not loving one dish would be a small price to pay. 

Against all odds, I loved the dish.  The salmon wasn’t fishy at all, the lentils and tomatoes balanced it well.  The fish wasn’t some weird pink color that didn’t seem proper originating in nature.  Everything was prepared beautifully, and I would order it again in a heartbeat.

So that got me thinking.  Have I disliked salmon all along?  Or was it that I disliked the disgraceful preparation that I was exposed to back when I chose restaurants based on happy hour specials and my need as a college student to dine cheaply?

It also made me start thinking about how many times I’ve heard someone say that they didn’t like a food that I love.  There’s always been a tiny moment of pity, “How sad!  You don’t know what you’re missing!”

People have strong opinions about a lot of things.  Politics.  Religion.  Sports.  Beer.  Hopefully we make the effort to thoughtfully articulate why we have an opinion on things that are important.  But ask someone why they don’t like a food, undoubtedly one of the most ubiquitous aspects of our lives, and usually the response is “I just don’t” or “I’m finicky.”  It’s like we’ve regressed back to childhood and don’t have the capacity or the language to adequately define or express how we feel. 

Sometimes you don’t eat something because of lifestyle choices or religious beliefs.  Sometimes you associate a particular flavor with something bad.  The next time I turn down a food because “I just don’t like it” I’m going to force myself to examine why I don’t like it, and depending on the reason, I may try it again.  It certainly wasn’t salmon’s fault that it was prepared horrendously the first few times I encountered it, and I’m willing to bet there are a few other foods out there that deserve another chance as well!


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