Trying new food worth risk

Jonathan Willett

Earlier this weekend I was going over the news online, and I came across a column on Yahoo! Shine that really intrigued me.  The author, Tracy Sestili, had written an open letter to her young niece expressing a desire for her to really appreciate her food.  Fearing that she would grow up in the fast food culture that plagues many nations around the world rather than acknowledging her strong Italian and Irish roots, Tracy implores her niece to explore a world of culinary adventures.

This was so in line with my thoughts on food, as well as my own experiences with younger cousins (though they are significantly older than Tracy’s niece), that I found myself having to share this with you.  It is understandable that people have aversions to vegetables, foods that look or sound strange, or are just unappealing to the senses.  After all, much of the food that is native to our state is derived from German, Dutch, Russian, and Native American heritage.  While these foods are delicious, they are not known for their variety, and usually have a heavy starch focus, due to that shortened growing season and relative availability of grains versus greens.

But this does not mean that you cannot revel in authentic, exotic food experiences when given the opportunity.  For example, last week The Cousin  and I went to Hemmer Brothers in Sioux Falls, where for the first time I enjoyed the delicacy known as the Squealer Burger.  It was ethereal, 6 oz. of hand ground beef and bacon in a patty.  I had never eaten nor heard of such a thing outside of South Dakota, but it was a simple and delicious example of eating what is good, where it’s good.

The same applies when you go outside our area on vacation.  If you find yourself in Mexico or one of the Caribbean countries, don’t just eat at McDonald’s or the hotel bar, wander down a side street looking for Jerked Chicken grilled in a drum, or a friendly wet taco vendor.  You’ll be exposed to a new community of food, as well as perhaps experiencing tastes beyond your wildest expectations.  While you may not always be able to drink the water everywhere, remember one thing, everyone has to eat the food.  After all, how long do restaurants stay in business that poison their own customers?

Finally, I just want to encourage you to expect more from your food than gross poundage, or how much cheese, grease, and crunch someone can inject into your meal.  If you’re on the coast, don’t go to Red Lobster, try the local fish shack.  If you’re in Chicago, go to a local pizza place.  Eat what’s good and authentic wherever you happen to find yourself, and I assure you that your culinary adventures will be fruitful.