When watching contestants eat strange animal parts or bugs on the cancelled show Fear Factor, it seldom made me flinch. Bear Grylls boiled a mouse in urine and ate it. I nodded my head and said, “I could do that.”
But hand me a plate of acorn squash with its savory steam rising up to fill my nostrils and I gag.
When I was a kid and my taste buds were all fresh and new, a lot of flavors were too strong for my virginal palette. I’m an adult now. My tongue has gotten around. Years of burning out taste buds by accidentally eating hot peppers, or tasting hot soups and stews still bubbling in the pot, has made them less sensitive. About the only foods I won’t eat is something that tastes spoiled….or squash.
Let’s get something straight. I’ll try anything and have even eaten bugs, some inadvertently, but there’s something about stringy mustard-colored squash that makes my face twist. My tiny olfactory internal muscles attempt to pinch my nose shut and I purse my lips in a tight frown. My shoulders tighten up and my stomach screams, “Please. Don’t do it!”
I’ve tried it with brown sugar, with melted butter and disguised in casseroles, but I just can’t.
Give me a plate of zucchini, crooked neck, turnips, or rutabaga and I’ll lick my plate clean. Patty pan sliced up with fresh herbs and fried in olive oil is delish. Autumn is the time of year when I can’t get enough pumpkin. I bake bundt cakes and pie. You see, I love all of acorn squash’s kissin’ cousins.
It’s September which means squash season. They are piled high in grocery bins and farmer’s markets. They are offered as a side dish at farm-to-table restaurants. I should keep trying it until I like it, but even I have limits.
For two decades I’ve bought acorn, butternut and spaghetti squash. They sat in a bowl on my countertop throughout the fall season. When Christmas rolled around, I tossed their hard as rock carcasses out in the compost. This year I’ll do the same.
If I had been a contestant on Fear Factor and a plate of slimy squash had been placed in front of me, I would have attempted to swallow the putrid portion. Heat would have rushed to my spastic face while my stomach screamed. Perspiration would have broken out on my upper lip. Not relying on those tiny internal muscles, I would have pinched my nose tight and swallowed enormous gulps to get it over with. Afterward, while wiping sweat from my brow, I would suck big deep breaths to calm my stomach and keep from retching the nasty vegetable.
But I’m badass like that.
Is there a common food you won’t eat? Do you like squash?