Until the age of 23, I was the fussiest eater you could ever meet. By the age of five I had decided to become a vegetarian; a vegetarian that didn’t eat vegetables. Or fruit. My diet consisted primarily of chocolate spread sandwiches, plain cheese pizzas and tinned spaghetti.
Where did this weirdness come from, I hear you ask? And why am I writing a blog about food? In this, my first post, I take a walk down memory lane and explain how I have come from fussy to foodie.
A typical Sunday dinner, by me, aged 4
We’re off to a bad start as Mum burns the mince, the acrid smell hanging in the air. My mother has many qualities. Cooking is not one of them. Dinner is scraped from the blackened pot onto our plates. Cue the teasing from my older brother. Like many 9 year old boys, one of Alan’s favourite past times is tormenting his younger sibling. He proceeds to make ‘moo-ing’ noises and tell me that the cow I’m eating has left behind a poor wee orphaned calf that’s now looking for its mummy. As an animal enthusiast, he soon has me in tears. Mission accomplished, my brother tucks into his cremated cow – now smothered with brown sauce to mask the taste.
I push the lumpy mashed potatoes, watery Bisto and blackened mince around the plate. The Sunday stand-off is in full swing. Mum tells me I’m not leaving the table until I’m finished my dinner as I force another forkful of now cold, burnt mince. Boak. “If you don’t eat it now, you’ll get it for your breakfast” Mum says. A threat which I’m happy to say was never carried out.
Fast forward to my late teens and after years of fussiness-induced vegetarianism, I have my first encounter with bacon. Bacon, I find out, is the magical cure for the effects of my other recent discovery – booze. Friday nights spent in Bathgate’s finest establishment, Room at The Top, drinking sugary alcopops and dancing until 4am tend to leave you feeling a bit worse for wear. These after-effects, I quickly realise, are best combated with salty slices of fried piggy, nestled inside a soft white roll and lightly seasoned with half a bottle of HP. It goes without saying that there is no better accompaniment to this delicacy than our national drink – Irn Bru.
Through my early twenties my progress stalls and I point blank refuse to try anything new, convinced I’ll hate it. Friends are forced to put up with endless visits to Italian restaurants, the only place I’m able to eat out and have something other than chips. I am 23 years old and have never tried a banana. This is CRAZY! So I make a concerted effort to expand my diet. It’s the textures that I struggle with most. Onions are like slimey slugs and grapes like eyeballs, bursting in my mouth….
At 24, I meet Eddie, my now husband, and my food journey begins to pick up some pace. Not wanting to seem like a complete weirdo, I push myself out of my comfort zone, trying a well-done steak. With his support, I begin to sample wide and varied dishes from across the world. Some I love, others you could not pay me to try again. Celery and brussel sprouts are the devil’s spawn. Salads are for rabbits.
I’ve also learned to cook and I discovered I love the buzz of experimenting with new recipes and one of my favourite things to do is have good friends round for a meal. Going out for dinner is now a pleasure and finally, at 29, I’m at a point where I don’t need to read a menu online first. Although there’s always that little part of me that worries about turning up to a restaurant where they only have burnt mince and tatties!