My Bubba Gump

Foodie And The Man By Carla Thomas

I have a problem: I am a lover of good food whose lover has the palate of child. How can I, an enthusiast of foie gras, truffle oil, sushi, and escargot, live with a man who orders chicken at every restaurant? Though we have common interests elsewhere, my love of food and his lack of interest in food makes cooking, dining and food-shopping less sexy and more confrontational.

As an adventurous eater, I look constantly for a new restaurant to try. I skim the latest food magazines for new recipes and I fall asleep watching Food Network. Meanwhile, my significant other is like Bumba Gump: he believes that chicken is the "fruit of the land." You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it and never deviate from it.

When I make a meal at home, I struggle to please my tastes with a dish that he will also enjoy. One time I cooked Chicken parmigiana for him. As I set the plates, he said, "I would have liked my chicken breast without the sauce and the cheese." Really? After I had already baked the chicken in the sauce and with the cheese? And that was light! To me there is nothing adventurous about cheese, sauce and chicken.

There was also a time when I made salmon. Inside a packet of parchment paper I layered fennel, onions, garlic, and capers. I seasoned the salmon with salt and pepper, topped it with parsley, and placed the fish on top of the layered vegetables. Then I drizzled the fish and veggies with extra-virgin olive oil. To make the parchment envelope, I folded the top and bottom edges of the parchment paper together, creased the paper several times, and then creased up the ends of the paper.

As it cooked, the smell of the salmon paired with the anise-like aroma of fennel made my mouth salivate. I served dinner, yet my boyfriend picked at his salmon. I asked if there were a problem with his fish. He replied, " I was never much of a fish eater, salmon reminds me of the goldfish I had when I was younger."

Great! I wish I knew about his emotional attachment to fish before we went to the market together, before I prepared the food in front of him, and before I cooked a bigger version of his pet goldfish.

So after multiple half-eaten dishes, bickering about where to go out eat and discontentment with the meals we cooked for one another, I decided there had to be a better way to make sure we both get the most out of eating meals together. We sat down and discussed our favorite foods, which foods we enjoyed snacking on, and the restaurants where we both had a joyous meal.

In our years of dating, I knew that our palates were different, but the significance of our differences truly surfaced once we moved into together. Food is meant to bring people together, so I didn't want our relationship to be strained over a disparity in tastes. I am in love with my Bubba Gump, so from here on out, I'll just have to embrace new dietary changes while trying to revolutionize his.