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Chuck Thompson on Being a Picky Eater Abroad

Stashed in: Good Eats!, Travel!, Yum, That's not food., Travel

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Economy class, parasites, and crappy hotel pillows I can handle. What torments me is the prospect of being the honored guest at some exotic native banquet, presented with a sizzling plate of halibut ovaries or octopus eyeballs. All watery creatures are on my verboten list—fresh-water and salt-water fish, shrimp, turtles, any form of mussels, scallops, ceviche, calamari—but it doesn’t stop there. A short version of my “No thanks, I’m good” food roster includes: eggs, ham, tofu, milk, jellies, jams, cocktail wieners, convenience-store pump cheese, game animals, inexplicably trendy vegetables (kale? seriously?), most things pickled, all face parts, the entire organ oeuvre, chicken thighs and legs, anything in casings, cream of whatever, cheeses that float in jars of cloudy liquid, wheatgrass shots, anything associated with lactation or reptiles, bok choy, raisins (would it kill someone in this country to make a plain oatmeal cookie?), the spines of romaine lettuce leaves, apricots, most plums, orange juice pulp (grapefruit pulp is OK), the last bite of a banana, green tomato sludge, and all mushrooms, which to me taste like soil and have the mouthfeel of sputum.

Then there are my maddening inconsistencies. Tomatoes are magnificent in pizza and spaghetti, edible as soup, fatal as a juice. Black beans are an impenetrable mystery. Sometimes they’re perfect, but sometimes they’re a pile of repulsive goop, and there’s no way to explain why to a layman.

Beef is fine, as long as it’s well-done. For you, steakhouses are places to reconnect with masculinity and big, bold cabernets. For me, they’re places to confront supercilious waiters who act like it’s an outrage to leave my goddamn $45 rib eye on the grill a few extra minutes.

I like how cranky he is.

He's fed up!

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