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The Picky Eater Goes to a Woefully Coastal Town

As much as I’d like to pretend that I haven’t been writing any new posts for weeks because I’ve been on vacation all this time, it would be a lie. The truth is I really haven’t tried many new foods this summer.

I found out I really like pineapple (go me!), but I didn’t really have much else to say about the subject so I spared you all from what would have been a very boring read.

However, I actually was on vacation this past weekend in Bar Harbor, Maine where I tried too many new foods if you ask me. Bar Harbor, being on a harbor and all, has a plethora of seafood at its disposal, which meant that I had a lot of new foods to try that I really didn’t want to try.

Lobster Pizza...DUN DUN DUN...

Lobster Pizza…DUN DUN DUN…

Let’s begin with the lobster pizza. This was a particularly bad experience for me because it involved three or four cameras flashing in my face and lots of people eagerly awaiting my verdict (I probably should have mentioned that I went on vacation with The Picky Eater Chronicles’ biggest fans). Honestly, they were like paparazzi fighting over the money shot (LOVE YOU GUYS!). Anyway, the lobster was really chewy and combined with the cheese I was just really grossed out, it took me about ten years to swallow one bite, and I was most certainly not left wanting more. Basically, the lobster pizza had me feeling like a nauseous Justin Bieber (’cause of the paparazzi, not because anyone tried punching me in the face or because it inspired me to put out my own line of nail polish).

It's like the pizza is coming for me in this picture

It’s like the pizza is coming for me in this picture

Sheer terror.

Sheer terror.

Next was New England clam chowder. ‘Twas yummy. Even the clam part. I was terrified to try it. It actually took me two days to build up the courage, and even then I think I was peer pressured into it. But it worked out for the best, and I would probably try it again so I’d saying I’m making waves in my seafood diet (LOL at ocean puns).

So nice and harmless compared to the pizza

So nice and harmless compared to the pizza

To keep on the soup theme I also tried some of my mom’s lobster bisque (except I obviously was not about to try any of the lobster in it after that pizza fiasco). I decided if I poured that over some pasta it’d be really yummy (again, sans lobster, obviously), but I wouldn’t want it as a bowl of soup. Then again, there are very few things I would want as a bowl of soup except for ice cream and now maybe clam chowder (as long as it’s a small bowl–baby steps).

Sweet action shot, Laura

Sweet action shot, Laura

I know what you’re thinking: surely, this blog post must be coming to an end. WRONG! I wasn’t kidding when I said there was a plethora of foods to try. However, I can feel you getting bored and slowly moving your cursor to the Facebook tab of your browser so I’ll make this quick…

Scallops: gross.

Peas: not so much. Pretty tasteless. I liked ’em.

I ate something that was green and a vegetable. I'm awesome.

I ate something that was green AND a vegetable. I’m awesome.

Last but not least, we ate breakfast at our favorite pancake house in Bar Harbor, Jeannie’s where I tried their homemade strawberry rhubarb jam. Honestly, I liked it but don’t have much to say about it. I wouldn’t have even included it in this post except I’m really proud of the picture I took of it and needed somewhere to put it. It’s very rare that I take a nice looking picture–I had to seize the opportunity.

I think with all the things I tried in one weekend I just bought myself a few more weeks of vacation time from being an adventurous eater, especially considering how many of those things came from the ocean. So if you don’t hear from me for awhile it’s because I’m still recovering from the lobster pizza.

TRY and tell me that's not a good picture!

This is as good as photography gets for me

The Picky Eater is Back with a Vengeance

The Picky Eater is back by popular demand (that’s actually only half a joke)! My biggest fan (Mama Lina, you know I’m talking about you) insisted on my trying new foods the last two times I saw her for the sole purpose of me blogging about it. So here’s how I did:

1. Fried calamari with tartar sauce

2. Rice balls

3. An assortment of fruit

OK, so technically I’ve tried fried calamari once before, but never with tartar sauce. In fact, I never actually knew what was in tartar sauce until about six seconds ago when I googled it. I still don’t fully know because I stopped reading the sentence after “mayonnaise-based”. I feel dirty. It now sickens me to admit that I actually kind of liked it. I ate multiple pieces of sqiud dipped in the MAYO-BASED sauce. Ugh, I need to shower. **

That's shrimp and mayonaisse, folks (and I ate it)

That’s shrimp and mayonnaise, folks (and I ate it)

Tartar Sauce Pic 2

I’ve also technically tried rice balls before (so far this is proving to be a pretty lame post, huh?). Every Thanksgiving we go to our neighbor’s house before dinner, and being an amazing Italian cook, she always has a huge spread of food out as “appetizers”. She makes rice balls every year, and I always eat exactly one. I definitely don’t dislike them. But I’m also pretty sure I only eat them because (1) I want to be polite and (2) everyone else raves about them so I know I’m supposed to like them. Well anyway, I tried a rice ball again the other day and actually loved it–I even went back for more (have you noticed that I measure if I liked something or not by if I agreed to go near it again?) So yeah, I look forward to next Thanksgiving so I can give rice balls another shot.

See what I did with the zero and the rice ball? Tee hee :>

See what I did with the zero and the rice ball? Tee hee :>

My body has consumed more fruit this week than the past year combined because of all the fruits I tried for the first time. First there was a blueberry (yes, one single blueberry). I gave it a second shot after trying one in Ireland, and I can now conclusively say that I DO NOT like blueberries. I’m sorry everyone– I tried, I really did.

Next I tried a kiwi. I honestly don’t even remember what it tasted like, but I’m pretty sure I liked it. Mama Lina told me it wouldn’t have much of a taste, and we all know that’s my comfort zone, so I guess it’s no surprise that it went well.

Look how the sun so conveniently spotlighted the kiwi and blueberry. Thanks Sun, Mr. Golden Sun.

That’s a kiwi and a blueberry that the sun is so conveniently spotlighting

Then, last night, I tried a piece of papaya and mango (I know, things are getting crazy here at The Picky Eater Chronicles). The papaya was pretty good, actually. I also felt very tropical and exotic for eating it, so I think that helped. The mango, not so much. I really can’t remember why so I can’t give a nice description of what turned me off of mangoes, but I know that I am most definitely turned off! No more mangoes. I feel comfortable with this declaration having just said that I like papaya– seriously, I feel way too proud of that.

The pasta salad containing the papaya (YAY) and the mango (BOO)

The pasta salad containing the papaya (YAY) and the mango (BOO)

Shout out to the lady who made this post happen, Mama Lina. LOVE YOU GIRL COULDN'T DO IT WITHOUT YOU

Shout out to the lady who made this post happen, Mama Lina. LOVE YOU GIRL COULDN’T DO IT WITHOUT YOU (P.S. that’s her making me a plate of foods to try– I wasn’t kidding about her making this happen)

**CORRECTION: The original post said that calamari is shrimp which I KNOW IT’S NOT! Needless to say I’ve corrected it and am eternally embarrassed. Thank you, Laura, for pointing it out and for being SO COOL ABOUT IT! -_-

Mama, I’m a Big Girl Now

So yesterday marked my last day in Europe. I’ll miss being there, but I really couldn’t wait to see everyone at home and turn my phone off airplane mode (in that order, I promise).

My friends and I basically spent the whole day reflecting on what an incredible, life-changing experience this has been and how lucky we are to have gotten it. I could go on and on about all the things I’ve learned about myself since coming to Ireland, but that’s not what this blog is about. Instead, I want to impress all of you with all of the things I will willingly eat entire plates of now that I’m such a big girl. And if you don’t believe me you can ask my suite mates–they’ve seen me eat this stuff with their own eyes!

So last weekend a couple of us went to Spain where we stayed with a family one of my friends knew. That means I automatically had to eat whatever they gave us because they were being so nice letting us use their apartment and I couldn’t be rude or high-maintenance. Believe me, this realization was very daunting to me.

Our first day there we had the biggest plate of seafood paella I’ve ever seen. I had tried paella when I was in London (because obviously), but it didn’t have seafood in it, so this was very scary for me. I ate most of what was in it, and I can’t even confidently tell you what that was. I did start picking around the squishy stuff after awhile, but my friends can attest to the fact that I ate a full serving of seafood paella. That’s pretty impressive if you ask me.

Look at all that seafood

Look at all that seafood

During lunch we also had chipirones which are basically Spanish shrimp. They are slimy and squishy and a weird purplish-grey color. And I ate TWO! They didn’t have a very strong taste, so it was just the awful texture that I had to get over. To be honest, I think I only ate the second one so that I could write on my blog that I ate two.

So slimy. So squishy.

So slimy. So squishy.

For dessert we had ice cream with fresh strawberries and cinnamon. First thing, this ice cream wasn’t quite vanilla. I can’t remember what made it special but it was this very white, sweet ice cream. Second thing, do y’all remember my post about strawberries? I basically forced that little sliver down my throat. Well, I’m happy to report that I am a bona fide berry-eater now! Third thing, I ate my first bite of this dessert without the cinnamon because I was being ignorant. Once I put the cinnamon in everything changed. It was so delicious. I strongly suggest all of you put cinnamon in your vanilla ice cream. I know I just said whatever I ate wasn’t vanilla, but I’m sure the same principles apply. So yeah, do that.

The rest of the weekend consisted of mostly tapas. I tried lots of them when we were in Madrid (if you don’t know about that, you have been neglecting my blog and I’m mad at you). So this trip just confirmed that I will, in fact, eat these tapas and be very happy to do so. With everything from Spanish tortillas (which are my favorite, by the way) to more jamón Ibérico, I ate lots of tapas for the second or third time that four months ago, I wouldn’t have touched. Good job, me.

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Side note: drink sangria de cava

Conclusion: Besides all of the valuable life lessons and incredible experiences I’ve had in Europe, I’ve also gained a much more balanced and normal repertoire of foods that I will happily eat. At the beginning of the semester I titled my post about eating a strawberry “I’m Such a Big Girl” sarcastically. Today, I titled this post pretty sarcastically again, but also with a little bit of seriousness. I’m probably as big as a twelve-year-old now based on the foods that I’ll eat. And when you compare that to the three-year-old I was in January, I’ve really made a miraculous improvement.

Now that I’m home I will continue to keep this blog going due to popular demand (just kidding), but I’m making no promises that I will continue to improve at such a rapid rate. I spent the semester eating lots of new foods in quick succession. That’s very new for me. I have an excessively long summer break. There’s no need to overdo it too soon.

A Tea Party in London

I spent the last weekend in London with my cousin and told her I wanted to try tea while I was there. She then excitedly insisted that we go to a proper afternoon tea the next day. As it turns out, this was a good call.

Our tea showed up in separate tea pots which I thought was very fancy but also a little intimidating because that’s A LOT of tea to drink if it turns out you don’t like tea. Well it all worked out because I took my first sip, so nicely photographed below by my cousin, and found that I quite liked it. Who woulda thunk it? Hot water and grass? It’s very strange, but I won’t question it.

When in doubt, pinkies out

When in doubt, pinkies out

However, afternoon tea is so much more than just tea. It also comes with a three-tiered platter of little snacks and finger sandwiches. So let me break ’em down for you.

First, there were the sandwiches. One had ham and some kind of mustard. One had something very yellow, but I forget what my cousin decided it was (needless to say, I did not try that one). The other was the classic cucumber sandwich: cucumbers and a mayo-garlic powdery spread. I could’ve lived without the mayo bit, but I had to try a bite because it’s just so English. And also because of The Importance of Being Earnest. Consensus: I don’t know what Algy sees in them.

Moving one tier up, we had the scones. THE SCONES! They were delicious. And tiny. So very very tiny. I’m determined to learn how to make them when I get home so that I can make them big and wonderful. I never understood the appeal to scones before because they just seemed so dry to me. But then I tried them with clotted cream (nasty name, yummy taste) and strawberry  jam, and everything changed. So bottom line, I liked the scones.

Which brings us to the top tier: the pastries. Given my sweet tooth, you’d think this would have been my favorite part. But if you think that, I suggest you re-read the last paragraph. The pastries were OK, but in my opinion, if you’re going to have something so sweet, there better be a lot of chocolate in it. I just don’t see the point otherwise. I mean don’t get me wrong– I ate the pastries. All of them. But I’m just saying, if the restaurant was looking for any constructive criticism: more chocolate, less fruit.

Afternoon tea

Afternoon tea is so pretty

At the end of the day I learned that I like tea (so much so that I ordered another cup the next day while I was waiting to board my flight back to Dublin), I love scones with clotted cream and jam, and I constantly want chocolate (OK, that I guess I confirmed more than learned). And I just really liked the whole experience of afternoon tea– I felt very fancy and sophisticated (especially when I took pictures of myself drinking tea– I think that really adds to the look I was going for). It was like a tea party for grown-ups. I like that. Thanks, cousin, for making me try tea the right way instead of out of a Lipton packet. Good looking out.

Afternoon Tea Pic 1

I’m clearly not posh enough for this

My Experience with Coffee in Gilmore Girls GIFs

I started a new internship last week. It’s really good, I like it a lot, the people are all really nice. Blah blah blah. That’s not what this post is about.

On my first day my boss offered me some coffee and to be polite, I accepted. I don’t drink coffee. I’ve had a sip here and there and hated it immensely. Also, my mom is the only person I ever get coffee for and she drinks it with “cream, no sugar”, so that’s what I asked for when my boss asked. It was total instinct, I didn’t even think about it. Had I thought about it I would have said “Sugar, no coffee”. Dumb.

Well since last week I’ve been thinking a lot about my interesting relationship with coffee, and it turns out that my favorite show, as usual, knows exactly how to handle the situation. Gilmore Girls, preach.

My turbulent relationship with coffee actually started last year when someone at Starbucks accidentally put some coffee in my doubly chocolate chip frappuccino (yes, that’s my drink at Starbucks), and I suffered through it only because there were still giant chunks of chocolate in the drink. I spent the rest of the day acting like this:

Gilmore Girls Gif 1

And my friends were all like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 2

And all I could do was be like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 3

So I avoided coffee for the next year or so. That brings us to last week.

My boss offers me a cup and I’m like:

Gilmore Girls Gif 4

Do I Dare?

I dared. And then I spent the next week and a half thinking endlessly about how I downed an entire mug of unsweetened coffee. Even when it got cold! I lost myself. I really did.

Throughout the week I would catch whiffs of other people’s coffee and suddenly get the urge to drink some of my own. I didn’t even enjoy the coffee that much–I drank it because I didn’t know how to say no–and yet the smell triggered some animalistic need within me to have more.

Gilmore Girls Gif 5

I resisted for as long as I could out of fear of myself. Everyone I know is so addicted to caffeine that they can’t start their day until they’ve had a cup of coffee. I don’t need that kind of dependence in my life. Gilmore Girls Gif 6

Gilmore Girls 7

Gilmore Girls Gif 9

Also, there’s only room in my heart for one hot beverage, and that spot belongs to hot chocolate.

But then today happened. I needed to know. I just needed to know if these feelings were real. So I went to a cafe on my lunch break and ordered a mocha (because it has chocolate in it, obviously). Yes, that’s right. I PAID for coffee.

Gilmore Girls Gif 10

And then I felt all light headed and woozy for the rest of the day. I swear, coffee really is a drug.

Gilmore Girls Gif 11I know that’s not the normal reaction to coffee. But clearly we just don’t mix. So now I know. Coffee: not for me. I tried it. I gave it the ole’ Gilmore Girl try, but I just don’t have the taste for it like Rory and Lorelai. Oy with the poodles already, ya know?

At least there are still a few things Gilmore Girls and I still agree on.

Gilmore GIrls Gif 15

Gilmore Girls Gif 12

Gilmore Girls Gif 14Gilmore Girls Gif 13Gilmore Girls Gif 16And now just for some perfection I stumbled upon in the form of one simple picture:

Gilmore Girls Perfect

Believe it, babe.

Believe it, babe.

Thank you, Gilmore Girls, for always knowing just how I’m feeling.

The Picky Eater Goes to Portugal

After eating my way through Madrid, I made my way to Lisbon, Portugal. Surprisingly, most of the restaurants we found were either “American” restaurants (they had hamburgers) or Italian restaurants. The only real Portuguese food we could find was seafood, and I ain’t going down that road just yet.

So most of our meals were ordinary, nothing special. I had chicken fingers and french fries one night and was very happy about it. Another night I had pizza and was equally pleased. We also ate at McDonald’s one night. That one was bad, I admit. I probably liked Lisbon’s food most out of everyone because we ate such boring stuff.

But then there was dessert. While in Sintra, Portugal, we went to a bakery called Fabrica Das Verdadeiras Queijadas Da Sapa (they should really work on that name) where we had three traditional Portuguese pastries. And then life was never the same again.

Our three desserts: Pasteis de Nata (bottom-right), custard (bottom left), sugar cake (top)

Our three desserts: Pasteis de Nata (bottom right), custard (bottom left), sugar cake (top)

First there was the plain custard. It was just a few bites of sweet custard in a little muffin-tin shape. It was wonderful. Also, it was fun to poke with a fork because it was really bouncy. So that was nice.

Next was the Pastéis de Nata. This is the pastry that everyone says you have to try if you’re going to Portugal. Everyone was right. It’s that same custard from above but baked into a pastry shell. So more butter and sugar and flaky goodness, basically.

Last we had a small pound cake-type pastry with cinnamon sugar (but mostly sugar) on top. It was so simple and yet so wonderful. I’ve never enjoyed three chocolate-less desserts so much in my life. I didn’t even know I had it in me. Apparently all it takes is a shovel full of sugar. Good to know.

The Picky Eater Goes to Madrid

I recently got back from spring break where I went to Madrid, Lisbon, and Copenhagen (yes, I do know that my life is awesome). I wanted to try at least one new thing in each place since I know I’ve kind of been slacking on this whole trying new foods thing for the last couple of weeks. Luckily, we ate gooood in Spain.

Our three days or so in Madrid consisted of a lot of tapas-eating and sangria-drinking. The tapas ranged from tostadas with cheese on them to more elaborate dishes like tortillas.

Queso Manchego was probably the most popular tapa in all of the restaurants where we ate. It was literally just a piece of toasted bread with some Manchego cheese on top and a drizzle of oil. It was good, but that is one simple signature dish. How did the Spaniards get away with that while the Italians have to slow roast garlic before putting it into a pot of tomato sauce to simmer all day while they roll out handmade pasta dough? The extra 45 seconds it would have taken to melt the cheese onto the bread would have made this dish a lot better, but whatever Spaniards, you do you.

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

Queso Manchego and the tapas with ham and shrimp

Next was the variety of jamón (Spanish for “ham”) tapas that we ate. These mainly consisted of a crostini with some sort of cheese and a slice of jam on top. They were quite delicious. I was skeptical because that’s how I am with things that aren’t chicken or french fries, but this ham was way better than the stuff you get at the deli counter in the grocery store. Me gusta jamón. There was even one where the cheese was melted over the ham. It was perfect. It was like the chef had read my mind after eating the unmelted Queso Manchego and then made this tapa specifically for me. That was so nice of him. I love that guy.

Melted cheese, hallelujah!

Melted cheese, Hallelujah!

On the same plate were some other crostinis, these ones with different toppings. I tried one with this thick shrimp spread over it because my friend said it was crab…people, man. It all worked out for the best, though, because the shrimp spread was actually pretty good. Another weird thing about my eating habits: I’ve eaten shrimp with garlic sauce at Chinese restaurants since I was a little kid, but I never eat shrimp in any other dish. I don’t know why, but I think it might have something to do with the fact that the Chinese restaurants cover it in sauce so I can’t see how shrimpy it looks. Yes, my condition is that serious. Well, anyway, thanks to my friend’s error, I tried shrimp in a different setting and found out that I don’t spontaneously combust upon consumption! Yay learning!

We had another tapa, but I can’t remember what it was called. It started with a piece of bread (are you seeing a trend here?) and had a tomato-based spread over it. It was kind of like pizza but without the cheese. It was decent. I ate it. But cheese, you know?

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread

The Spanish tortilla and the tapa with tomato spread | Props to my, girl, Kayla, for taking these photos

Lastly, we have the tortillas. In Spain, tortilla doesn’t refer to the wrap that we use for tacos and stuff. In this case, it was some combination of potatoes and eggs baked in a shallow, circular pan to make a kind of potato-ey pie. That was an awful explanation–the truth is I don’t really know what it was. The best way I can describe it is like a potato omelette. But it was good. And gooey. Which makes it seem gross. It kind of looked gross. But you knew I was going to like it at the mention of potato.

Overall, Spain gave me a chance to try a lot of new foods because we ate tapas for every meal–a lot of different small dishes. I’d say out of everywhere we went this break, I probably ate the best in Madrid. The bread, the cheese, the ham: yum. Oh God, and the churros! I almost forgot the churros! España, te quiero mucho.