I still don’t know if I’m ready to give seafood a shot… or…
A story about shrimp


Several things have happened in recent weeks and months (and years), and they have me thinking. I guess the most accurate credit for it deserves to go back to the group trip to San Francisco in October of 2007. On that adventure, I was a bit surprised by how underwhelmed I was by the food.

My brother-in-law… Mike, you’ve met him on the site before… believes that a portion of my feelings about the food on that trip comes from how I limit myself. He wasn’t accusing me of anything wrong in saying I prefer chicken and beef dishes while avoiding seafood. His thought wasn’t to compare me to a picky eater that wants nothing but chicken fingers and fries. Instead, his point was… or at least seemed… more geared to the idea that, for all practical ways of explaining, I am picky in a way that has closed off experiences with some great food.

I don’t necessarily agree with Mike’s take, but I can’t fight him on it. I can claim to be easy all I want. The reality is, as long as people are out there saying “Bob’s coming over too, so we need to have something that isn’t seafood” the results are clear… I’m fussy.

And so I’ve been giving alot of consideration to my thoughts and preferences about food. While reading a book or watching a show involving Anthony Bourdain for instance… and even some Top Gear travels to Japan and Vietnam… comes the question: What would I be willing to try if I traveled to Japan or China or some other exotic locale where perhaps the food was amazing, and yet the virtually unyielding focus was squarely on seafood? Would I really skip these meals (and possibilities) during a never to be repeated journey?

And then, after spending an afternoon speaking with Tom Colicchio last summer, and having eaten at Craftsteak… consideration must be given to the idea that perhaps there are other things I need to try.

And I have tried.

Calamari. There’s one. Three years ago… not a shot. About three months ago… yes, and I even can name a couple of versions I like more than others. But that doesn’t mean I’m ordering calamari on a regular basis. And I’m certainly not craving it.

And… I definitely can’t forget the scars from years ago, when I gave in and tried something I was sure I didn’t like.



One day at work, someone new walks in. Cute girl. Great to be around and talk to at work. Friendly enough that I’m interested in getting to know her better. I eventually ask her out and she accepts.

(At this point, there are roughly 47,000 comments I’d like to make. A ridiculously high percentage of those comments will do little to advance this particular story. So allow me to simply say two things, and you can use them in any way you wish, applying them to this tale or not as you deem fit.

Number one ~ Until I met my lovely wife, you could make a very good argument that I should have just given up on dating completely and waited for her to arrive. I have a running joke with Justin, where we will say “everything ends badly or else it wouldn’t end” as a way of letting go of those inexplicable moments where the world just doesn’t look kindly upon you. (We also have a few sayings about how women tend to be involved in everything evil brought upon us. That’s just not important right now.) The fact remains… and oh yes, it is a fact… my social life before my wife was a mess. Just a joke. I was, frankly on an inexcusably high number of occasions, the nice guy that over and over and over again suffered the fate of not enjoying a fun or lasting relationship because I wasn’t a jerk.

Number two ~ This particular girl would eventually take over spot number two on the list of “Reasons why every girl named Jennifer should be avoided at all costs” in my life. Face it… we all have a name that we should avoid… due to experiences with one person or several. Jennifer is that name for me. And considering legendary tales… “The Work Christmas Party of 1992” and “Hey, there’s a pool table in this basement”… there are two things that I will never be able to overcome and should just simply accept: (1) This particular Jennifer honestly should be number one on my list of reasons to avoid every Jennifer in the world. (2) That particular Christmas party, and how I behaved, should have earned me instant sainthood as well as sap-of-the-decade honors.

Let’s get back to 1992…)

We had gone out and it went fine. She was a bit younger than me… a few years in age, and a few decades in maturity. (Item number three… but not related to her name, so I didn’t include it there… there is a reason why the better relationships I have had involved older women. (Wait… I mean older woman… singular… lovely wife of mine… older woman.)) And it did become apparent that we didn’t have much in common.

Still, we got together once or twice soon after that first date, and for some reason she invited me over for dinner. I don’t recall why.

She made shrimp parmigian.

(I’ll pause here while those that know me really well chuckle for a few minutes.)

And I ate it.

(And now I’ll pause while those same friends wonder whether or not they’re shocked.)

I don’t know why I ate it. (Ok… that’s a lie. We all know why I ate the shrimp. Because she cooked it. And despite every sign saying we weren’t in a relationship and it wasn’t going to develop into one, it was still in those early stages of trying to make the right impressions instead of standing up for likes and dislikes and differences. But I ate the shrimp and still didn’t get the girl. Pay attention and stay with me and where I’m going here.)

And so here I am today… torn.

I don’t need to impress anyone these days. I can say no to my wife when she suggests a restaurant or movie or whatever and not panic that there won’t be a second date because of it. (In fact, I can say no to my wife and the end result will likely be her leaving me alone while the ballgame is on. That’s like a win.)

But the lessons learned in the past are simple. My educated guesses… I don’t like most seafood for a reason… generally turn out to be pretty accurate. And experience shows that when I’ve given in and gone against those instincts, I wind up losing in more ways than one.

Still… I can’t help but thinking that I do need to take more chances. I need to say yes a bit more and try some new things. (It would probably help if Zooey Deschanel was involved in the process… Yes Man wasn’t awesome, but I enjoyed that film.)

I won’t be tossing swordfish on the grill… but I suppose if I plan on going to the Great Wall or Tokyo Disneyland or experiencing some fantastic cooking, I shouldn’t punish myself by saying no just because of a girl named Jennifer and a plate of shrimp.

At least, I think that’s what I think.

If you have any comments or questions, please e-mail me at Bob@inmybackpack.com