Thursday, October 10, 2013

Is there really anything I won't eat?

Darn, I missed National Kale Day last week! The parades, the costumes, the kale massage contests! How will I ever get over this?

I really have no opinion on kale and it's special day. I mean, I like kale, been eating it for years....sure, why not have a parade? It is now sort of the ubiquitous hipster of the food world. But I do eat it.

I often talk about how I will eat (or at least try) everything. There's only one food I CAN'T eat and that's mussels, to which I developed an adult-onset allergy, and evidently that's pretty common. It's too bad because I do love them, and I can no longer truly bond with my Flemish pals.  

Het spijt me, mijn mosselen eten vrienden!

But if I had to list one food product I that prefer to consistently avoid it would be nutritional yeast and yeast spread. In other words, Marmite, Vegemite, that crumbly stuff on raw kale chips, an everything in that genre.
Now I love salty, funky, umami tasting foods, but these always seem a little ... wrong. I can't describe it, but it's just not worth eating. I always found it bad combination between a cheesy-beefy-tangy taste without the better notes of actual cheese and beef (and Tang).

Then when I was in France this past summer, my English-Dutch hosts had a variety of spreads on the breakfast table every morning:

What? no marmalade?
And every morning, I would watch their kids combine two of these spreads on their toast. And while we Americans may immediately assume it would be the two great tastes of chocolate and nuts, it was in fact peanut butter and Marmite.

Peanut Butter. And. Marmite.

That just seemed wrong. 

I of course did what any good American older gentleman would do: I made fun of them.

Soon after, my current "dating companion" wanted to try Marmite. So we bought some (it is available in many shops around NYC). There was one recipe for Marmite mushrooms, which only one of us liked (and it wasn't me). I thought that might be the end of it.

However, I am taunted by this image every morning in my kitchen:

*Sob* What do you WANT of me???

And one day, I was spreading plain peanut butter (just peanuts, no salt, sugar or additives) and I thought I'd give it a little kick.

So I ate the Marmite with peanut butter. And I've done it more than once.

So what made me do it? I'm not sure. Studies show that we are often conditioned by societal and cultural factors as to whether we will like food and changes in our diet. Now these two studies and many others focus on healthier eating habits but I think it's apt for many aspects of food preference.

When I started on my Streamlined Ska Librarian lifestyle, I had to make some major changes to my food intake. But because I was open to lots of tastes already, I didn't find it hard to alter my meals. nothing was too "odd."

But just because I do eat everything doesn't mean I want to eat everything. But it also doesn't mean I forgoo any usual conditioning and start liking it. 

So, will PB&M be my new go-to breakfast? Ummm....will there be kale?


Nestle, M., Wing, R., Birch, L., DiSogra, L., Drewnowski, A., Middleton, S., Sigman-Grant, M., Sobal, J., Winston, M. and Economos, C. (1998), Behavioral and Social Influences on Food Choice. Nutrition Reviews, 56: 50–64. doi: 10.1111/j.1753-4887.1998.tb01732.x
A. Eertmans, F. Baeyens, and O. Van den Bergh.Food likes and their relative importance in human eating behavior: review and preliminary suggestions for health promotion. Health Education Research (2001) 16 (4): 443-456 doi:10.1093/her/16.4.443

     n.p. (2004, July 9). "Seafood allergies often begin later in life." Medical News Today. Retrieved from  10 Oct., 2013


  1. I hear that Down Under they eat Vegemite with avocado and it's quite good. Here are Amanda Palmer's thoughts on the matter:

    1. That can open up a whole new topic, "Is there music I really don't like?" :)