When people ask me what kind of food I like, I usually hem and haw before I say something innocuous. “I don’t have a preference. I’m not really a picky eater.” But perhaps that is only out of politeness, because if I just think a little, I really am picky if the choice is left entirely up to me.
I like bland things. If I have to cook my vegetables they should be boiled or steamed or baked. I like tofu without any seasoning. I like plain or vanilla yogurt. I like oatmeal (but not oatmeal cookies). I dislike most seasoning–hot sauce, fish sauce, gravy–because when other people cook, they drown the rest of the food in that stuff. I find fried and greasy food disgusting, but I will eat it if there’s nothing else offered. These preferences were developed very early. When I was much younger and my parents took me over to other people’s houses for dinner, I would be offered sauces and seasonings. I would refuse and in return I would get strange looks.
Come to think of it, there are a lot of things I don’t like–and I have a suspicion that it may be due in part to growing up westernized. I don’t like ginseng. The durian, even forgetting its off-putting smell, is much too sweet. I despise ramen noodles. Those tin cans of pickled vegetables found in oriental food stores are a little too weird for me. I would rather eat foo gwa (which literally means “bitter gourd” in Chinese, and believe me, it’s really bitter) by the bucket load.