There’s a lot of food I will not for one reason or another. I hate cilantro, especially when it appears without warning in a broth and I have to scramble to remove as many traces before the flavour infuses throughout the broth. Sure, cilantro garnish makes the dish look prettier in my pictures, but yech! I don’t like bland vegetables or fruits–this generally means “watery” vegetables and fruits like, but not exclusively, green or red peppers, cucumbers, celery, Asian pears, and iceberg lettuce. On principle, I also disdain and try to abstain from Asian-themed food. I was writing up a review of President’s Choice potato chips and two two flavours I refuse to try are the “Szechwan” and “General Tao Chicken” flavours. Please.
I think the root of my attitude comes partly from being from a restaurant family. Sichuan is a distinctive culinary region but the it’s totally butchered at the hands of Cantonese cooks who (1) never tried authentic Sichuan cuisine (2) never visited Sichuan region (3) held some kind of non-chef job back in China. Some indignant cooks will claim that the Cantonese adaptation is taster anyhow because 食在廣州 (“do your eating in Guangzhou”). It is my impression that General Tao/Tso/So Chicken is prepared 100 different ways if you visit 100 different restaurants and I haven’t the faintest what it really tastes like.
As for fortune cookies, I flatly refuse to eat them. First of all, if I receive the unwrapped fortune cookies, I get paranoid that they were leftovers from another table, recycled to serve to me. Sometimes, Chinese restaurant entrepreneurs are pretty unscrupulous. Also, what if the server lapsed in hand hygiene and instead of picking out the cookies with tongs, grabbed them with bare hands? If the cookies are served in wrapping, I recall just how much I hated having to clean up after people had opened theirs–the staticky wraps would float and fly. If I can save the establishment a fortune cookie in a wrap, I will. Second, there’s the quality issue. I like a crispy, lightly burned fortune cookie. The wrapped cookies are generally subpar in that aspect. The unwrapped ones are more to my liking, but I have that issued of them being recycled. Third, if I just didn’t want the cookie much and the calories even less, can’t I abstain? I’ve felt undue pressure to read my fortune anyhow, and that comes from people who did not grow up working in a restaurant and thus have already read every fortune there is out there. (A fortune cookie has 30 calories. That’s not a lot of calories to burn off, but what about the Chinese meal that preceded the cookie on top of that?!) Finally, some people say that if you eat the cookie, your fortune is granted so eat it if you like it. I’m not superstitious, per se, but I do not like to be put on that spot.