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Confessions of a Picky Eater

OR Why You Don't See More Restaurant Reviews on About LA Travel

By

Cruciferous Vegetables

Cruciferous Vegetables - Yuck!

© Blue Jean Images/Getty Images

In order to understand any restaurant reviews on this site, you need to first consider this. I am a very picky eater.

I never used to think of myself as a picky eater. My family considers me to have quite adventurous culinary tastes compared to the Campbell's soup and Velveeta cheese diet we grew up on.

I like food, and I appreciate many flavors from around the globe, but it turns out there are almost as many flavors I don't enjoy. I feel that this puts me at a disadvantage when writing about food, or I should say: it puts some foods at a disadvantage.

I used to think that bitter meant bad until I discovered that there are people who actually prefer bitter flavors. That explains mustard. And dill. And black coffee. And beer.

There are so many things that taste bitter to me (due to extra taste buds, I'm told), and bitter to my palate IS bad. All the cruciferous vegetables, from broccoli to cabbage to kohlrabi, are unpalatable to me. So are arugula, curly endive and beets. Cilantro is in a nasty category all its own, and tops my list of NOT FOOD.

I eat meat, although I limit fatty varieties. Well-prepared frogs legs, alligator, snake, no problem. I don't eat organs. No kidneys, brains, lungs or intestines. It doesn't matter what animal or fowl it comes from, liver is evil. Liverwurst, pate or foi gras, to me all tastes disgusting. The same goes for extremities, whether it's Chinese chicken feet or pickled pig's feet, I just don't want a foot in my mouth.

And then there's fat. Years ago, in an effort to be more health conscious, I cut most fat from my diet, and now greasy, fatty foods pretty much gross me out. Straight fat like pork rinds, German schmaltz, and most bacon goes directly into that NOT FOOD category (although a bit of crisp bacon might slide by). If a chef tries to serve me pork belly, I'm not going to have anything nice to say about it, and if it's paired with Brussels sprouts, even worse (hmm, which chef invites me every year for pork belly and Brussels sprouts?).

I used to relish the occasional spicy Italian sausage with peppers and onions, but the ones I've had in recent years have been too fatty (my uncle used to make a leaner variety). I avoid most other sausage, some for fattiness others for unappetizing flavors. I'll pass on kielbasa, bratwurst, salami, mortadella, chorizo and even the common hot dog.

Uncooked meat and fish are not things I'll ever order off a menu. This is more a matter of texture than taste. The feel of sashimi or steak tartar on my tongue is not pleasing. Why is it that chefs think that squab should not be cooked? I think people just pretend to enjoy squab because they think they should. Crispy Asian pigeon is much better, even if it is fried.

Funky texture also eliminates anything in aspic, whether it is meat, vegetable, fruit or dairy. Jelled or jellied anything besides Jello is a no go. Custardy things aren't high on my list either. Mousse good. Flan bad.

All of that said, there are some chefs who manage to take flavors and textures I don't like and transform them into dishes I enjoy, and I shower them with praise when that happens. But if I see a menu that has cilantro, dill, mustard and arugula on every plate, I probably won't dine there (sorry Emeril), so they won't have a chance to show me.

I eat gluten, dairy and meat, but in recent years I've developed an allergy to wine and wine vinegar, which eliminates a bunch of sauces and salad dressings that I might otherwise enjoy (or not).

I can identify a good steak, a promising chicken Florentine, a flavorful burger, a decent Pad Thai and even recognize a superior Cambodian samlaw koko (fish stew). But when reviewing restaurants for LA Travel on About.com, I make a point of dining with companions who savor more of the flavors I don't, so I can report back to you another opinion besides my own. I also have enough sense, when I have a choice, to only order items I think I might like, even if there's only one on the menu, which is often the case.

To provide readers with more information, I appreciate when you add your personal reviews in the User Review section of any restaurant review if you've eaten at a restaurant I've reviewed.

Here are some other websites with more copious restaurant reviews.

www.yelp.com/la
losangeles.citysearch.com
www.losangelesrestaurants.com
www.laweekly.com/restaurants/
www.latimes.com/features/food/

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