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Eating Your Veggies

I’ve recently seen commercials for V-8, touting its serving of vegetables and fruits in drink form. What I find interesting about them is that they typically show men being the ones who are less inclined to actually eat the vegetables. And it makes me wonder. Are men genetically less inclined to have a taste for vegetables? Is it societal? Do women take the time to eat vegetables more often, or is that a stereotype?

What I also can’t help wondering is if the real problem is not gender, but in how the food is prepared. A good example is that a few years ago I was convinced that I didn’t like eggplant. It has kind of strange, mealy texture, and it’s not my favorite flavor – or at least, I’d never had it prepared in a way that I liked. But I decided to give it another try last summer when eggplant started popping up everywhere at the Farmer’s Market, in part of an attempt to eat foods when they’re in season.

I started experimenting. I found a Szechuan Tofu and Eggplant recipe that sounded interesting, and with a little trepidation I tried it – and I loved it! Encouraged, I made the Moosewood Cookbook version of ratatouille, heavily featuring eggplant. I loved that as well.

Admittedly, I might be more inclined to like vegetables than some people, but I really do think it’s largely about how the food is made. Many New Englanders (or at least Mainers), for instance, have a tendency to overcook food until it’s all a bit mushy, and not to flavor things strongly. Well, if that’s the case, I have to agree that I don’t like it. I don’t want to eat broccoli, for instance, if it has no crunch to it, if it’s a drab grayish green instead of a bright vibrant color.

I would therefore encourage anyone who thinks they don’t like vegetables to consider how they’ve tried eating them, and perhaps to give them another chance. If you still don’t like them, at least you can say that you gave it a good effort, and if necessary return to your V-8. But me, I prefer the satisfaction of eating my calories. And so my next attempt is to see if I can find a preparation of fiddleheads that I like. Wish me luck!

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