I remember my older cousin being very vocal about his dislike for mushrooms when we were younger, and I remember following suit. It probably stemmed from the classic childhood distaste for vegetables in general, but we really pulled out every excuse we could to avoid them. Our family had told us that eating burnt food caused cancer, and my cousin and I used this as an excuse to pick out all the mushrooms from our plates. We would just refuse to eat the leftover pile out of principle even after our parents corrected our ignorance.
I remember going over to my cousin’s house one day at some point into this phase and seeing a cheese and mushroom pizza on a table in his family’s kitchen. I remember seeing him and his older brother sitting in front of the television eating their slices, and my uncle offering me some.
I remember that as the moment I stopped giving a fuck about my dislike for mushrooms. I had some pizza that night, and it tasted fine.
I remember my cousin and I sharing a similar aversion towards tomatoes, and my dad was always quick to point out my hypocrisy where it popped up. Whenever we went to In-n-Out, I would never want my burger unless I had fries, I would never touch my fries unless I had ketchup, and I would never eat my burger until I took out the tomato. He often joked that I needed ketchup on everything or else I wouldn’t want it, which wasn’t completely untrue. It was familiar, and fast food is pretty bland until it’s drowned out in sauce.
I remember seeing a movie in elementary school about a young girl-detective that ate mostly tomato and mayo sandwiches, wondering how she could possibly choose to eat that. I saw her scrape the insides and just lay the skins on the sandwich, thinking this can’t be right.
I remember watching an episode of Full House where the family ends up in some tomato countryside. They walked into a police station, and behind the desk was some guy in uniform kickin’ back going in on a tomato, sprinkling on pepper between bites while mocking Bob Saget. To me, it looked like he genuinely enjoyed eating a whole raw tomato.
I remember having feelings of disgust watching other people do it, but I wanted to feel what that actor was pretending to feel. I wanted to enjoy a tomato as much as he faked enjoying it.
I remember asking my dad for a tomato, and watching some glee spark within him as I attempted to overcome this childish aspect of myself that had been fairly defining in my eating habits.
I remember taking the first bite, hesitantly chewing it, and regrettingly swallowing it. I didn’t care much for the taste, but the texture felt like a horrifying slime swishing between my teeth. That was the only bite I took out of that tomato. My dad ended up finishing it, somewhat proud that I at least gave it a shot.
Since then, I’ve gradually come around. I started off by tolerating that one slice in every burger, mostly because I didn’t want to embarrass myself growing up by being too picky. Eventually, I just didn’t mind it being in any dish I had. I often like to pretentiously tell myself that I’ve formed a genuine appreciation for them whenever they happen my way.
Now, whenever I go grocery shopping, I make sure to pick up some cocktail tomatoes because when I eat them, I feel like I can enjoy things.