It’s not that there is anything wrong with my mom’s cooking. It’s just — um — a little bit basic. Growing up, we always had enough (or too much) to eat, but things didn’t vary much. My family probably has the same jars in their spice rack since they moved a decade ago.
But when I moved out of my parents’ house and started cooking for myself, I realized how hard it is to feed one person three times a day. Doing that for a total of five people must be impossible. My mom cooked with love, and now I understand that she couldn’t make every meal by hand.
Since a lot of flavor was left out of my life, I distinctly remember some foods changing me.
As a kid, my first sleepover was an amazing experience. Not only did I get to stay up past 9 p.m., but I also discovered “Mystery Science Theater 3000,” drank an entire can of Coca-Cola all by myself and ate Doritos. Those three things changed my life. “MST3K” taught me how enjoyable making fun of stupid movies was, Coke helped me stay awake and Doritos were just an entirely new taste for me that I thought were completely delicious beyond all reason.
The next morning also improved me. Between my two brothers and me, a box of Froot Loops or Lucky Charms would barely last the ride home from the grocery store, so we rarely had anything more exciting for breakfast than instant oatmeal. At my sleepover friend’s house, his mom cooked up some CoCo Wheats, which were yet another most amazing thing I’d ever eaten. Chocolate for breakfast? How amazing! I recently bought some, and it turns out Coco Wheats don’t taste revolutionary anymore, but more like chocolate- flavored Metamucil mixed with cement.
What other tastes and flavors blew my mind?
I hated eating fish because we only ate it during Lent, and Mom only cooked it with lemon. I thought being a pescatarian must be some kind of punishment. When I moved to New York, my uncle took me out for sushi. What? Honestly, I kind of thought sushi was fake. Not only did fish taste disgusting, but now we’re eating it raw and with white rice and sea slop! How could this get any worse? Well, after that first magical bite, I could have cleaned the ocean with my appetite for uncooked salmon.
I felt incredibly confused during my first Thanksgiving away from home. My friend told me I’d be amazed by his grandma’s macaroni and cheese recipe. Why? I always thought it came out of a blue box. There are other ways to make it?
Over the years, flavors throughout the world completely changed my palate and opened my eyes — things like Korean kimchi, New York bagels and Dutch pastries. As much as those things are classy, I still wish I could find foods to blow my mind as much as the Bloomin’ Onion from Outback Steakhouse. Or maybe it was just that magical sauce.