Please welcome today’s guest writer, Jill Geyer. Jill (’20) graduated with a major in civil/environmental engineering. Originally from Missouri, she now lives in Duluth, MN where she works as a water resources engineer for a consulting firm. She enjoys all things outside, karaoke, quality time with her cat, Emma, and napping public parks.
“Do you have any dietary needs?” she texted. “Just vegetarian,” I replied. A few days later, I found myself in front of a bowl of mushroom soup. Let me clarify, the mushrooms were not part of some larger cornucopia of vegetables floating around in broth, they were the only thing in the broth. I blamed myself. How had I forgotten to admit to my courteous host ahead of time that I had a secret disdain for a few select vegetables, number one on the list being mushrooms? Trying to set a good example for my host’s two-year-old, I swallowed each fungi down, albeit very slowly.
I was raised on plain-ish food. My family avoided condiments, pickles, and creamy salads you might find at the grocery store (e.g. potato, egg, tuna), and I was aloof to the idea that some of those things might be good. I distinctly recall my father offering to buy a can of soda (a rare treat in my childhood) for me or my siblings if we ate the pickle spear on our plate at a restaurant. Lured by my sweet tooth, I consumed my first and last pickle at the age of five. No wager would convince me again to eat one. In my young mind, I figured my parents were superior adults with superior taste buds, and if they detested certain food items, then the people that enjoyed them must be nuts. Luckily, TV shows like Diners, Drives-ins and Dives and Chopped played a role in leading me to believe that maybe everything, if prepared the right way, could be good. And thus began the journey towards convincing myself to like foods I had formerly disdained.
The day I decided to like avocado, I went full mom. Instead of sneaking vegetables into pasta sauce, I slid thin slices of the green slime into a quesadilla. My thought was that the creamy refried beans and melty cheesy goodness would provide a solid cover. Soon, I started increasing the amount I was putting in, and somehow I began to crave avocado. Within a matter of months, I went from eating it in small quantities to being comfortable with the ultimate millennial staple: avocado toast.
Now, I could mark my adulthood by any number of things: filing my taxes, building my bed frame, or holding a job, but maybe my favorite measure of growth is the expanding list of foods I enjoy. I am not quite sure why liking food that the masses like is such a big deal or why it makes me feel like more of an adult. I have heard it said that “the story you live in is the story you live out,” and I am trying to live in the narrative where all food is beautiful and blessed whether I grew up eating it or not. I look forward to the day when mushroom soup isn’t cause for panic, but a reason for celebration. A chance to affirm with my neighbor what is good.