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Pleasant pheasant…

It may have been noted by regular readers of the blog that Mister North and I do like a bit of game, but I have to admit to being rather challenged when he got a pheasant recently from Stansfields of Todmorden. Thanks to a childhood experience of a pheasant that had been too well hung and gone into a whole new realm of gameyness, I have been dubious about eating this beautiful bird for years, but the suggestion of using the tin of foie gras or libamáj that Mister North picked up in Hungary as a sauce with it convinced me otherwise!

Neither of us had ever eaten foie gras before and while I’m aware of how it is made and that a lot of people find it incredibly cruel, I have to say that I have always wanted to try it at least without getting into a huge debate about the stuff, so being able to test it out at home with someone with a similar mind set was ideal, because more than anything, I was worried it would be too rich and I wouldn’t like it…

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Pick and choose…

Are you a fussy eater? That was the question on everyone’s lips over the Guardian Word of Mouth blog recently as they discussed people’s foibles and finickiness.

I was amazed by how many people both outed themselves as fussy eaters and seemed quite proud of that fact. I consider myself a fairly fussy eater and am quite embarassed by it since I’m a grown woman and the rest of my family are fairly unflappable when it comes to food. I hoped that some of Mister North’s sangfroid would rub off on me when we started this blog…

And I think it might be working. In the past few months, I have tried quite a few things I would usually have skipped in favour of something less challenging to me. Bad childhood experiences with liver have left me wary of offal for years, but I have eaten liver and hearts recently and enjoyed both of them greatly. I have long been suspicious of broad beans as drab little bitter things after eating frozen ones as a side dish in the 80s, but have been converted to their charms when served peeled and fresh.

I also ventured out for an Indian meal recently with Mister North, setting aside my lifelong distaste for garam masala, curry powder and tumeric to at least try something different. I also didn’t baulk when my dining companions ordered cumin chilli chicken at Chilli Cool despite a deep loathing of this retch-inducing spice. I actually quite enjoyed the dish when I tried it, but that was probably because I couldn’t taste the cumin…

However my new found bravery (and fear of looking like the fussy one when eating out) will not get me over my previously mentioned loathing of bell peppers. Unlike my childhood dislike of mushrooms which has more or less faded to an indifference now, my hatred of peppers is for life. That’s a carefully nutured abomination, cultivated over years of sitting at the dinner table until finished as a child, vegetarians dishes that didn’t mention them yet are chockful of them and a late 80s belief that stuffed peppers were the height of swank at the dinner table. It’s a dislike that has come to define me and I’m not letting it go.

While I fully admit to being (rather) judgemental of really fussy eaters who as adults can only force down chicken nuggets, potato shapes and boatloads of ketchup, I think it’s perfectly normal to have at least one thing you really dislike whether that be because of taste or texture. I would also never judge if someone is forced into fussy eating by food intolerances, allergies or illness, but I admit to a few qualms about people who refuse to at least try new things.

I shall be continuing to try something new as often as possible, even attempting to challenge my dislike of fruit in savoury dishes with the very generous gift from loyal blog reader Margo-a-go-go of the beautiful The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit which seeks to encourage the creative cook to try new and unexpected flavour combos. I’m particularly keen to see if I can overcome my antipathy to oranges…

So what say you? What’s your dealbreaker? Or what are you secretly yearning to try despite the fear that it make you spit food into your table napkin?

Portuguese Tapas…or how I learned to love liver.

Mister North was in London for the evening and it would have been sacrilegious to miss the opportunity to eat out together. We considered several cuisines before deciding on Portuguese. The South Lambeth Road is one of the borough’s best kept culinary secrets with its large selection of Portuguese cafes and bars, perfect for anything from a full meal to a custard tart and a coffee.

After some deliberation we decided to eat at Bar Estrela which is one of the largest and best known bars in this bit of Little Lisbon. We’ve both eaten there before and were keen to see if was as good as we remembered. Read more