When I was a child, my parents and I would go deep in the mountains of West Virginia to visit my grandmother every few weeks. We could always expect to find some sort of main course for Sunday dinner when we arrived. I remember on many occasions, the main dish of choice would be vegetable soup. My father would get a bowl of soup, which he enjoyed, and then proceed to picky out all of the peas in the bowl and discard them. Many times my father was made fun of and ridiculed for what others considered as an unnecessary quirk. The family would say things like “You can’t even taste the peas,” or “What’s wrong with peas?” Attempting to defend his position, my father would ask them this simple question: “If you can’t taste them, why did you put them in?”
This brings me to an interesting point that most chefs and cooks overlook. If we believe that everyone is created equally, but differently, why is one considered odd or strange for not liking a food? The truth about ingredients is, all are there for a reason. That reason could be taste, or texture. Most people never think about the texture of a food being a defining factor, but for some people, texture can be the difference between a quite delicious and appeasing meal, and a trip to “yell at john.”
In most cultures, it is considered rude to tell someone you do not like their food. I propose to you that it, in fact, it should be considered rude to try to make someone eat something they do not like. If you have someone over for dinner, remember it is a great gesture to ask someone if they do not like a certain ingredient, or if they are allergic to any particular ingredient as well. To insist someone eat what you put in front of them can be considered palate imprisonment.
I urge us all as chefs and cooks in the culinary world to consider our guests and let’s stop creating the awkward first dinner dates, cookouts, and dinner parties. I know you are a good cook. I just do not share your love of onions or mayonnaise. Please don’t feel bad for asking me not to use ketchup on your hamburger. I will not be offended. In short: Leave out the peas!