There are two perspectives one may take on my eating habits. The first is that they are horrible, reprehensible, and borderline unforgivable. The second is that they are a lot better than they used to be.
Prior to my mission, my culinary pickiness was as distinctive a personality characteristic as my knack for drawing and my obsession with Star Wars. There were about four foods I liked, and I wouldn't touch anything outside that list with a fifty-foot spork. But after two years of obligatory dinner appointments with local member families and potential church investigators I feared to offend, I at least learned to muscle down a number of foods I deplored. I still didn't like them, but I could usually slide my disapproval under the nose of the unsuspecting host.
These days I'm still pretty picky. I don't think I will ever embrace tuna fish or macaroni and cheese, no matter who I have to impress. Just can't do it. I also despise most all forms of white sauces. Ranch dressing, clam chowder, sour cream, mayonnaise, stuff like that. I don't know why it is I don't like white sauces, anymore than I can explain why the sound of Country Music makes me feel violent inside. Mayonnaise just seems like a perfect way to ruin any sandwich, and ranch dressing strikes me as the kind of thing you embrace once you lose the ability to detect flavor in general, kind of like how old guys get into golf because they can't play basketball anymore.*
I think it happened at a restaurant some time back where I ordered a shrimp cocktail, and somehow got some horseradish on my shrimp along with the cocktail sauce. The result delivered quite a kick, and I was instantly converted to the condiment. I was so impressed, in fact, that the last time I went to Dick's Market to buy cocktail sauce, I also snagged a little bottle of horseradish to help fuel the fire.
It may not mean much, and I'm guessing a painful slap of reality is probably still waiting for the moment I'm forced to adapt to the menu of married life, but for now I feel happy with my progress, and I'm sure my family is, too. In fact, I'd like to think that somewhere my paternal grandmother is smiling down at me as I sit on the couch at 1AM eating a horseradish-enhanced shrimp cocktail and watching downloaded episodes of "Chuck." If that doesn't do the trick, I'm sure she'll crack a smile once my firstborn decides he hates tacos.
*I am dreading this day. I simply can't embrace any sport that doesn't allow heckling.