How I Became a Fearless Food Adventurer

If I could walk into a time machine to speak to my younger self as an adult the first thing I would say to me is “Don’t be afraid, try it!” I remember growing up with a very limited palate and knowledge of ingredients that now that I look back in retrospect, stole a little joy from my life that I never knew I needed at the time. I despised food like tomatoes, any type of fish and was repulsed by mushrooms! 

Luckily for me, I fell into a career that forced me out of my ignorance and hesitation towards eating new foods. I grew up in a very traditional West African home eating a variety of different ingredients that were mundane in my household but were considered exotic and foreign elsewhere, even to this day. I think being wrapped up so deeply into West African food and culture, I felt like I didn’t really need to venture off into other foods; what I was eating was delicious!  

At a young age I fell in love with plantains, fried yam, fufu, braised oxtails and goat but never gave much love to ingredients that I normally didn’t see at home. I think subconsciously I built on that ignorance until I went to college for culinary arts and was academically pushed to eat those foods I ignored when I was younger. 

It wasn’t until I knew how to prepare a composed dish did I realize how in-the-dark my palate was. I started eating the things I avoided when I was younger all to realize how delicious these ingredients are. 

It really is only our ignorance that stops us from not only trying new foods but trying new things. I’m proud that I was brave enough to try what I once hated again and now I can’t imagine a life without trying something at least twice. 

Challenge yourself and your palate! You might be surprised at what delicious flavors you can discover when you have an open mind.

Photo by Nhuri Bashir (@nhuribashir)

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Sarah Thomas

Eric Adjepong is chef, restauranteur, and author who is passionate about culinary arts, public health and food culture. He is known for being a favorite contestant on Top Chef, and also for being his daughter's favorite tickle monster.

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