I have yet to meet a vegetable I didn’t like . . . eventually. Take avocado, for example. I mean that figuratively, of course. I will hide avocados with the chocolate to keep them safe, if necessary. But that was not always the case. Avocados are actually a fruit masquerading as a vegetable, and when I was growing up, I loathed them. The mouth feel (mushy) and the bland taste planted it firmly on my “never passes my lips again” list, along with Spanish rice, but that’s another story. Then one day, my boss took the staff out to a Mexican restaurant where they served—you guessed it—guacamole, made from the despised avocado.
What to do? I didn’t want to appear ungrateful. I was still young enough to be timid about stating my preferences, and I wanted to fit in. I decided to brace myself, go with the flow, and eat some. Not much, mind you. I would eat enough to be polite. I would take one for the team.
Now, it is true that avocados are mushy and bland, but when they are paired with garlic, lime, and salt, they transform into ambrosia. It was love at first bite. Guacamole may still be my favorite way to eat avocados, but I now love them enough to eat them with a dusting of Cajun seasoning (delicious!) or even completely unadorned. When I contemplate a life without avocados, it makes me sad. And all because I was peer-pressured into eating them once in a new and different way.
Often, we develop vegetable prejudices as children when our palettes are uneducated. Children are not known for their love of vegetables, which is why parents are encouraged to feed them a variety to introduce them at a young age to various flavors and textures. It’s likely you developed a few of your own vegetable prejudices when you were growing up, but I’d like to encourage you to give them another chance. Try the ones you aren’t crazy about again and again, in different ways, and see if you don’t change your mind about them.
When I was growing up, there were very few vegetables to choose from, and most of those came out of a can unless you had a backyard garden or lived on a farm. Now, farmers markets and grocery stores abound with access to not only fresh, but often organic produce of the sort that was unimaginable in my youth. Today, there are many interesting choices lining the produce aisles. Don’t be shy; try them all.
And unlike previous generations, ignorance is no excuse. A quick search will produce not only recipes for vegetables you are unfamiliar with, but videos guiding you step-by-step in their preparation, thereby removing the last of your excuses for not trying new things.
Today is the day to expand your vegetable horizons. Give peas—and broccoli and artichokes and brussels sprouts and okra—a chance.
Céleste Perrino loves vegetables. All of them. She even likes brussels sprouts if they’re cooked the right way.