A dear friend since college days was staying with me last week and mentioned being served “lettuce wraps” for lunch during her conference. I lit right up, because I love lettuce wraps and have just recently discovered that Jimmy John’s sells sandwiches wrapped in lettuce rather than buns (if requested). You can also get such a thing as a “naked burrito” (all the fillings on a bed of lettuce rather than in a tortilla) at some Mexican places, such as in San Diego’s Old Town. Just think! All the goodies in a no-cal package! Well, my friend didn’t share my enthusiasm but said with a good-natured twinkle, “They must be an acquired taste!” I hadn’t thought of that, but it did make me think about acquired tastes. In fact, don’t you suppose most things we eat are exactly that: acquired tastes? How do babies learn? By exposure and imitation…and somewhere down the line, they develop discretionary tastes. I’ve always been a big fan of fresh fruits and veggies, and most of my kids like them too. But, what if you don’t like veggies? Can you acquire a taste for them just by trying?
While we were in San Diego a couple of weeks ago, I had veggies at several restaurants that were so delicious I want to share the recipe ideas (not the real recipes, because I don’t know them):
1. From Searsucker’s in the Gaslamp Quarter: Brussel sprouts: Steam them for 5 minutes and then finish by sautéeing them in a little butter and balsamic vinegar reduction with salt and walnuts. The vinegar makes them almost sweet and really perks up the flavor. 2. Corn on the cob: One of the things I miss on my low-carb, low-sugar diet is corn bread, but at the Rockin’ Baja Lobster Cantina, they served corn-on-the-cob that melted in my mouth and made me feel like I’d had cornbread without the corn flour. All they did was serve it with butter that had been whipped with honey and chili powder. It was dynamite!3. One evening Alan and I ate at Fillipi’s, which is “the” original famous Italian restaurant in “Little Italy.” It’s a hole-in-the-wall eatery in the back of a grocery store, but the food was terrific! Of course, we had to have pizza, which was what made this restaurant famous after World War 2. But, I’d not eaten any pizza since beginning my diet. At first I felt a bit guilty scraping off the mountain of cheese, meats, and veggies and leaving the crust, but then I felt very “liberated.” Actually, I like the toppings much better than the breadings anyway and was glad not to feel obligated to eat them! After 2 months of dieting and quietly opting out of foods that are primarily sugars or starches, I’m actually uncovering my latent natural tastes!4. On another night we went to Coronado Island to watch the sunset over the vast Pacific Ocean and enjoy the ambiance of the Hotel del Coronado (which was the inspiration for Disney’s Grand Floridian and a gorgeous resort). Afterward, we stopped at an Italian restaurant on Orange Ave. They had an incredibly delicious Italian salad made with a mix of finely chopped lettuce, onions, peppers, tomatoes, black and green olives, and a variety of Italian meats and cheeses. Out of sight!I don’t know if I’ll fare so well the next time we travel, but this Wednesday my weight was down, which doesn’t usually happen after a trip, so I’m guessing it had a lot to do with acquiring new tastes…and discovering that what I really like is good for me anyway!
“Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good” (Isaiah 7:15). (Or, at least know to choose what’s good for us!)